The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party claimed on Friday that Tk 90,000 crore was looted from banking and other sectors during the three consecutive terms of the ruling Awami League in the country.
The party alleged that the AL government was responsible for extreme mismanagement in the banking sector, rampant corruption, and money laundering.
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir made this claim at a news conference on the present scenario in the banking sector at BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office in Dhaka.
Reading out a statement, Fakhrul said that many local private banks, established purely on political considerations, were focusing their main focus on embezzling public money instead of giving attention to banking.
‘It is completely a hollow economy. The economy is in shambles. In fact, they [AL] looted the country’s resources and laundered their money abroad,’ Fakhrul said.
He said that banks and non-banking financial institutions had experienced serious ‘disasters’ and ‘unrest’ situations since 2009 when AL grabbed state power.
Fakhrul said that presently, the banking sector remains in an ‘unstable’ and ‘anarchic’ situation due to a lack of good governance and accountability.
He said that the positions of every major economic indicator, including inflation, foreign exchange reserves, remittance flow, and currency depreciation against foreign currency, are so deplorable that they have pushed the overall economy towards catastrophe.
Mentioning that many countries are succeeding in reducing inflation, he cited the example of Sri Lanka, where inflation was a record 69.8 per cent in September 2022 but only 2.1 per cent in August 2023.
‘However, our economy is on a declining trend. Uncertainty in the economy has increased due to the way in which attempts have been made to deal with the problems in a non-transparent and uncoordinated manner,’ Fakhrul said.
He said that currently, the dollar price has increased in the banking channel. Now customers have to pay Tk 117 to Tk 118 taka to buy a dollar on the open market, while the decline in foreign exchange reserves is also unstoppable.
‘According to Bangladesh Bank, the reserves are now down to $21 billion, but as per the calculation of the IMF, the current net reserve is $17 billion in Bangladesh.’
About the remittance issue, Fakhrul said that the remittance crisis had deepened. The remittance was $1.34 billion in September, the lowest in 41 months.
Fakhrul said that the businesspeople could not open LC due to a lack of dollars, but the ‘illegal’ prime minister said that there was no tension over the reserve.
The AL has pushed the country into bankruptcy by taking loans in the name of development. Now, the state loans are around Tk 20 lakh crore, he added.
He said that government policy, political weakness, personal interest, and embezzlement of money were gradually destroying the economy.
Although 13 private banks have been established in the country since 2009 based on political considerations and many foreign banks have come to Bangladesh, existing foreign banks are also struggling to survive.
About the liquidity crisis in the banking sector, Fakhrul said that many banks had been operating by borrowing money. The excess liquidity in the banking sector has decreased to Tk 3,909 crores, compared to Tk 2,03,435 crores a year ago.
Mentioning that the rate of opening LC was decreasing and inflation was on the rise, Fakhrul said that the country’s economy was now running at an unprecedentedly slow pace.
Imports of raw materials and capital equipment have declined significantly, he said. It means investment is decreasing and new employment opportunities are also decreasing, which is a big challenge for an import-dependent economy.
Fakhrul said that the banks were also failing to preserve minimum capital. The government has been giving public money to state-owned banks for years to meet capital shortages.
Around Tk 14,505 crores have been given in eight years, from FY 2009–10 to FY 2016–17, to the banks. But still, the deficit is increasing, he said.
Mentioning that defaulted loans have tripled in the past 10 years, Fakhrul said that in 2009, the amount of defaulted loans was Tk 22,000 crore, and it has increased to Tk 1,31,620 crore in March this year.
He also mentioned the loan scams that took place in banking and non-banking institutions, including Islamic Bank, Basic Bank, Janata Bank, Farmers Bank, Union Bank, Social Islamic Bank, National Bank, and AB Bank.
Mentioning the Tk 810 crore reserve heist from Bangladesh Bank, Fakhrul alleged that government high-ups might have been involved in the incident.
Referring to various incidents of money laundering, Fakhrul said that the present government and their illegitimate beneficiaries had turned the country into a haven of corruption.
A huge amount of money and wealth gained through corruption has been laundered abroad during the tenure of the AL government, he said.
The BNP leader also said that the current ‘fascist’ AL government had no accountability to the people as nothing, including the economy, politics, and judicial system, was safe in their hands.
He urged the people of the country to participate in the ongoing movement of the opposition to restore democracy, with the aim of establishing a truly accountable democratic government in Bangladesh.