Loan rescheduling keeps below expectation

Marksman   | Published: December 04, 2018 22:19:51 | Updated: December 05, 2018 21:29:58

The electoral process  has   entered   a  crucial  phase  with  the    scrutiny  of nomination papers and  their filtration  against  some  set criteria. Already a record number of proposed nominees have been   rejected; they have a narrow window for   appeal though. After this has been  availed of by  rejected nominees, result  going one way or the other;  and  following   withdrawals  of candidatures in a multiple nominee settings, we  will  get to know  who shall be in the race. Everyone hopes that  the much-vaunted  election  will be participatory, competitive and inclusive.

In this backdrop or, foreground, if you will, one of the acid tests the party, 'jote'  or independent nominees  must  go  through   relates to  loan default, more precisely, its standard  euphemism, called  loan rescheduling. In this election season bankers   eyed   on a   loan rescheduling spree by   aspirants so as to avoid falling foul of Representation of the People Order (RPO). It debars loan defaulters from contesting in the election.

It  must be made abundantly clear that  when   loan recovery  is reduced to  10 to 30 per cent down payment  by way of  allowing  rescheduling  of  loans, the banks  are   settling  for a minimalist, even indulgent   approach  to loan default of the wilful variety.

That said just to underline the need for a reasonably effective drive against  a habitual  and entrenched  default culture, let's assess the  mixed bag   impact  of   the national election on  loan rescheduling. On the one hand,  there hasn't been  the   rush for loan rescheduling  experienced  before  the   previous  elections; on the other, we   have   reports saying a sizable number of the  nomination  papers have  been rejected on grounds of loan default. In fact, why a    flurry  of applications  for   repayment  scheduling  recast  was   missed this time is baffling because participation  in the  current   election looks to be the broadest-based in recent  history. 

The  statistics  portray  a low  demand  for  rescheduling: Sonali Bank, the largest state-owned  bank,  rescheduled  10 defaulters  recovering a mere Tk. 170 million (17 crores); Agrani and Rupali  received Tk. 20 million (2.0 crore) and Tk 50 million (5.0 crore)   respectively .

Private banks - Prime, Pubali and Dhaka -rescheduled 12 defaulters and  recovered  Tk. 10 million (10 crore)  put together.

Between  November 08 and 27  a total of 202 applications were filed  for  rescheduling   loans, out of which 42 applicants were turned down  on the ground that they had applied  too  close to the deadline for submission of the nomination papers - November 28. It is worthwhile to note though,  the RPO this time allowed candidates to get their loans rescheduled  until  a day before  the submission of  nomination papers. The cut-off time reduced from a week to a day could be of little avail in terms of facilitation, it seems.

Many candidates 'got stay orders from court instead of seeking rescheduling    loans'  because  their loans were already  rescheduled thrice, the maximum number  allowed  under the Bangladesh Bank rules.  

However,  what   needs to be   emphasised  here is the fact that  many  heavy to mid-weight defaulters  have outwitted  the banks  by  rescheduling  their loans  well ahead  of  time to render their candidature "unproblematic." 



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