As Covid-19 infections have risen in border districts of Rajshahi and Khulna, the Bangladesh Bank has directed banks to spend 50% of their special corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds in those areas.
As per a previous directive issued on 26 April, banks have to spend an additional Tk116 crore on CSR due to Covid-19.
As a result of the new directive issued on Monday by the Banking Regulation and Policy Department, half the money, Tk58 crore, will have to be spent in Rajshahi and Khulna divisions.
But if a bank has already spent more than 50%, the amount of new expenditure will vary, said an official of the central bank.
The 26 April directive said 50% of the fund should be spent in city corporation areas and the rest in districts, upazilas, and unions.
Monday's circular said another reason why the new directive was issued was that many banks showed interest in spending more CSR funds in Rajshahi and Khulna.
Under the new directive, banks will also be able to implement their special CSR programmes themselves.
Earlier, there were instructions to implement such programmes through deputy commissioners or non-governmental organisations or microcredit institutions.
The 26 April directive asked banks to carry out special CSR activities by June this year to deal with the pandemic.
It said banks have to spend an additional 1% of their 2020 net profits under special CSR programmes. They were directed to spend the money by 30 June.
The deadline was extended to 16 August in the new directive.
The central bank has not yet received information on how much banks have already spent from this fund, said one of its officials.
He said banks that have already spent more than 50% will have to spend the rest in Rajshahi and Khulna divisions.
The central bank in the previous directive said the special CSR fund should be used to cover medical expenses and create jobs for unemployed people.
According to the new directive, CSR implementation information has to be submitted to the Sustainable Finance Department of the central bank by 31 August. The deadline was 30 July in the previous directive.
The central bank says banks spent Tk968 crore last year as part of their CSR programmes, mostly on disaster management and healthcare.