8 years ago

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The news that Janata Bank, too must be probed for inappropriateness in loans sanctions close to Tk 7.42 billion (742 crore) has had more impact than the now usual, if sad, bank scam. This was the only public sector bank that returned a profit and wasn't seeking liquidity injections from the government. And it raises the obvious concerns. They are the largest in terms of deposits and transactions, spread across the lengths and breadth of the country. They have brand recognition that even multinationals envy and they are run by experienced bankers that have grown through the ranks. So the issue has to be personal intent than inefficiency. And though they run the risk of over-analysis, properly laid down processes and back-checks are the remedies to such malaise. The concept of capacity building is well favoured by many except those at the top-who tend towards a trend of thought that it doesn't include them.
Following their book is a good idea and the central  bank's response by forming enquiry committees and sending observers is natural. But while quinine will cure the fever, who will cure quinine, to quote a translated version of a well known Bengali adage. Perhaps the concept of picking up on the good things is a better idea. How is it that multinational banks have yet to fall under such shadows? They have the same manning base give or take the international staff but have processes that either address the issue or have built mechanisms to be detected early. Yes, they too have been guilty of naughty things internationally and have been penalised for the transgressions. That's precisely it. Bangladeshi banks have never been penalised for any such misadventure, the Board has never taken any raps and no one has lost directorship. And as always the deterrent is no longer just a trial and firing personnel but appropriate penalties and obstacles in the way of these personnel to find their way in to the banking system. With the government inclined towards greater transparency, it flows naturally that processes are required to protect depositors' wealth and prevent large and whole-scale wrong-doing. And these processes must involve punitive measures to prevent recurrence. Perhaps the worst part is that the money siphoned off is never recovered even though the government has been successful in repatriating moneys illegally transported abroad.
At the same time one has to question the role, efficiency and effectiveness of the internal controls, internal audit and indeed external auditing processes that, year after year provide clean chits to the annual reports and accounts. It only appears to be the Comptroller and Auditor General's office that blows the dust of files of eons ago to come up with startling revelations of wrong-doing that make headlines all right but never quite get followed up. Even if they do, no one is any the wiser about the actions. The time has now come when technology and know-how, expertise and experience must be shared between private and public sectors to raise efficiency levels. The private sector also has to acknowledge that there's no lack of talent in the public sector; it's just that talent is not always allowed to thrive.
(The writer may be reached at [email protected])

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