Banks to remain closed in lockdown
Banks, however, asked to ensure uninterrupted service for imports of essentials, healthcare products
Banks will be closed from Wednesday during the weeklong lockdown the government announced to deal with the rising Covid-19 infections.
However, bank branches adjacent to ports, branches dealing with foreign transactions and ATM booths will remain open upon discussion with the customs.
In the meantime, the daily withdrawal limit from ATM booths has been increased to Tk1 lakh from Tk50,000.
The central bank officials held a meeting on Monday afternoon followed by the cabinet division lockdown curbs. The decisions were taken at the meeting.
In the new directives, the central bank said bank officials and employees are not allowed to leave their workstations although the scheduled banks will remain shuttered during the lockdown.
Contacted, Bangladesh Bank Spokesperson Sirajul Islam said workstation here means if a banker works in Dhaka, he will not be allowed to leave the capital during the lockdown.
He said bankers will stay home during the lockdown and try to keep themselves and their families safe by following the health guidelines.
The central bank in the directives said even if the normal bank transactions will remain suspended, bank branches, sub-branches or booths adjacent to ports will take appropriate measures to continue operations upon consulting with the customs authorities.
Besides, adequate notes will have to be provided at the ATM booths. At the same time, arrangements will have to be in place for continuing internet banking round the clock.
On daily ATM withdrawal limit, a central bank official said the limit has been increased considering customers' additional needs for cash, especially for the medical bill payments, during the lockdown.
The official added mobile banking agent points have also been instructed to keep sufficient money.
In the first weeklong lockdown from 4 April, transactions at banks were limited to 10am to 12:30pm. As 12 and 13 April were later included in the first phase lockdown, the central bank extended the transaction hours to 1pm for the two days.
In another circular, the Bangladesh Bank on Monday directed authorized dealer banks to ensure uninterrupted banking services for the import of daily necessary commodities, health care products, and electronics, in light of the Covid-19 infection surge.
The Foreign Exchange Policy Department (FEPD) of the central bank issued the circular to this effect.
The circular was issued following up on a gazette notification issued by the commerce ministry on 6 April in this regard.
Alongside keeping the import of these products uninterrupted, the unloading, transportation, courier and warehouse facilities for imported goods should be continued, maintaining hygiene rules, according to a BB circular issued on Monday.
Earlier, the central bank had asked scheduled banks to charge margins at a minimum rate against opening of import letters of credit (LC) for essential kitchen commodities ahead of the month of Ramadan.
If a trader or importer does not have cash in hand, he can take a bank loan to cover the entire import cost by paying a small amount of money.
The small amount of money that is taken by banks from importers is known as an LC margin. Banks take LC margins ranging from 2 to 5 percent.