The Financial Express


DT: Articulating the gloom

DT: Articulating the gloom

Given that there are three possibilities to the outcome of this month's general election one can only hope whoever lands up with the Finance Ministry portfolio has nerves of steel. There's an awful mess out there through a combination of massive bank default, shortfall of capital and swindled foreign exchange reserves. All three combine further to put some gloomy looks on the faces of bankers themselves.

A number have had travel restrictions out on them for having been part of a malady they were pushed in to. Others are fearing the sack if unable to either bring in deposits or loanees. Both are out of their hand simply because there's an apathy among depositors scared of watching their money get almost irretrievably stuck. Too many are complaining that on demand they either get partial return or are politely asked to wait for a little longer. Neither should be the case but then that's as real as Sharif Khan winning an Academy Award.

Matters have gone from bad to worse by a silly decision to allow families to become legible for directorship as well as extensions to directorship by individuals who have run banks almost like their own piggy banks. On one hand, leaving shares in the family elevates them to untouchables while extensions just prolong the debacle they are in. With all factors weighed in bad default ranks around Tk 1.3 trillion (1,30,000 crore) - money that if properly circulated could have begotten good, decent business. The word 'could' is relative given that businesses are shy to take up loans in the first place. Those that do are quickly on the path of rescheduled. No wonder so few were denied acceptance of nomination papers for the election on grounds of having loans re- rescheduled and thereby green or clean loans. As everyone knows rescheduling is all about postponing that what is inevitable - bad debt. Unfortunately, ours is a process that provides enough loopholes to escape the noose.

The Bangladesh Bank heist is in a state of doldrums. The enquiry committee report remains unpublished even though the chief of the committee is contesting the election and the Sonali Bank scam accused's  assets remain free for had. This is accountability at its worst further demeaned by a willingness to put more funds in to plug the capital hole that has been created.

Then again rude questions prior to an election where muscle and money will undoubtedly reign are enigmas to the natural order of things. Most of the delinquents will have gone abroad while just one or two serving short sentences for minor offences such as spending beyond their means. Perhaps that's a better option if the pilfered money is written off. As for the crow shit on collars - well a good laundry can deal with that.

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