Congratulation to all loan defaulters!
You have been able to effectively flood the banking sector with default loans. For your superb performance, team loan defaulters will remain unbeaten for years to come. This must be a unique record in our financial history.
The byproduct of your uninterrupted success is also noteworthy. The international standard on non-performing loans can never catch up with Bangladesh. The standard speaks of keeping default loans under two percent of gross loans. But you, the loan defaulters, have been successfully keeping the ratio much, much higher over the decades.
At present, the ratio is 10 times higher than the international standard, if we take into consideration all of the bad loans. Your past record however is much stronger. You were once able to make the ratio go 20 folds higher than the standard. That was possible two decades ago. Records sing a song of your success.
But no loan defaulter has grounds for complacency. You alone have not made it possible.
You could not have performed so well unless you enjoyed government policy support. That policy worked efficiently year after year. The central bank's role also favoured you, as the High Court in May observed that the central bank is patronising big loan defaulters by giving them various facilities.
All the support resulted in the successful growth of non-performing loans—the aggregate amount now stands at Tk 2.40 lakh crore or more.
Loan defaulters must share the credit with the government.
If any of you hesitate to give the government due credit, you may revisit the policies which are/were conducive to the growth of non-performing loans.
Before the last three general elections, the party now in power promised people they would take stern action against loan defaulters.
Did the government take any stern action against loan defaulters like other countries?
China penalized loan defaulters by putting restrictions on enjoying different social benefits that regular citizens are entitled to. Loan defaulters are unable to purchase air tickets, purchase tickets of high-speed trains, serve as executive or representative of corporate entities. This blacklist contains many political bodies, legislative and government staff, of China. There are no exceptions in this punishment. They cannot even buy any real estate.
Malaysia also took punitive action against loan defaulters. Defaulters in Malaysia are not allowed to leave the country.
Did the government take any stern action against any big defaulters? The answer is: NO.
Moreover, in 2015, as many as 11 big loan defaulters were given the scope to reschedule their defaulted loans by giving only 2 percent down payment, which was less than one fifth of the standard rule. Under a special package, you restructured the loans amounting to over Tk 15,000 crore.
At the time, you promised that you would regularly pay installments and you would be marked as defaulters if you fail to pay two consecutive installments. If that happened, your benefit would be cancelled and you would be barred from any loan rescheduling benefit in future.
But four years down the line, the central bank walked back on that stance and offered you an olive branch again.
The new policy offers all of you loan defaulters - big or small - the scope to reschedule defaulted loans by giving two percent down payment for 10 years. You will enjoy one-year grace period at nine percent interest rate.
Isn't the policy again supporting you - the loan defaulters?
Records say the government is always generous towards you. But why?
The answer may lie in the finance minister's remarks in April. In his view, the country will not be functioning if all the businessmen are sent to jail for defaulted loans.
Based on his remarks, we may conclude that we are unable to move forward without loan defaulters. And one thing for sure, we are unfit to retain the unique record on default loans without them.
So, long live loan defaulters!