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Banking sector was steady in 2016

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Banking sector passed a steady year in 2016 as there was no report of any big corruption though Bangladesh Bank (BB) continued to face reserve hacking problem during the period.

Unidentified hackers stole a total $101 million from Bangladesh’s account at the New York Fed in February. Of the amount, $81 million was transferred to four accounts at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp in Manila and another $20 million to a bank in Sri Lanka. But the transfer of $20 million to Sri Lanka was failed because of a spelling error by the hackers.

Later, Bangladesh got back a total of US$35.25 million of the stolen reserve as Sri Lanka returned $20 million and Bangladesh Bank (BB) recovered approximately $15.25 million from the Philippines. The recovery of the rest of the amount is now under process.

“The political stability in 2016 has helped the banking sector pass a steady year,” said Association of Bankers’ Bangladesh (ABB) chairman Anis A Khan.

“With all the major indicators, including deposit, advance, foreign exchange reserve, exchange rate, export, import, inflation and private sector credit growth are in good position. The banking sector was stable in the year,” said BB’s Deputy Governor Abu Hena Mohammad Razee Hassan.

According to the central bank, from November 2015 to November 2016, the deposit and loan amount both witnessed a sharp rise of 13 percent and 14 percent. During the period, deposit was Taka 8.86 lakh crore and loan Taka 6.56 lakh crore. But in September 2016 classified loan was 10.34 percent which was 8.79 percent in December, 2015.

From July to September FY17, import stood at $14,394 million, a 7.93 percent rise, comparing the same period of the last fiscal year while export witnessed a 6.30 percent rise to $13,690,97 million from July to November of FY17.

The forex reserve hit a record of $32 billion in 2016, which was enough for meeting the country’s eight months import costs.

But the inflow of remittance witnessed a downward trend in the last couple of months of FY 17 as the country received $5207.13 million from July to November in the fiscal which was 15.67 per cent lower than the same period of FY16 when it was 6,174.57 million.

“Inflow of remittance in the last couple of months was slow as the non-residence Bangladeshis (NRBs) are facing problems to send their overtime money through proper channel,” said BB Deputy Governor Abu Hena Mohammad Razee Hassan.

Besides, different countries have taken strict measures to check money laundering and terror financing.

BB’s Chief Spokesperson Subhankar Shah said falling currency rate against dollar and low oil prices have hit the incomes of the Middle Eastern countries where most of Bangladesh’s migrants work.

“Some NRBs are also using informal channel for sending their money home,” he added.

A committee has already been formed to check such practice, especially the hundi (informal channel), he said, adding that BB has already provided necessary directions to the authorities concerned in this regard.

Saha said BB has already achieved 43.0 percent of its agriculture loan distribution target as the banks have already distributed Taka 7,551 crore out of Taka 17,550 crore in first five-month of FY17.

“The money flow to all sectors including Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), industries and agriculture and non-farm rural sector increased significantly.” he added.

In 2016, he said, banks distributed Taka 1.01 lakh crore SME loan, which helped farmers grow more crops and create more jobs in the agriculture sector.

He said the central bank is now working on agent banking and green banking to make the economy further vibrant to help the country achieve middle income status.

BB has also received international award “child and youth finance” for school banking like previous year, he said, adding that about 12 crore accounts have so far been opened under the school banking while the deposit amount is Taka 900 crore.

BB’s economic adviser Dr M Akhtaruzzama said the central bank continued ethical pressure on the banks to bring down the spread (difference between deposit and lending rate), which is expected to be around 4.7 percent in November.

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