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Banking services vulnerable to theft-robbery

17 November 2020

It is mystifying that nobody knows what is going to be happened in Sonali Bank's Uthali branch in Jiban Nagar upazila of Chuadanga district on Sunday afternoon. The daring act of a group of three armed robbers in broad daylight has left locals and employees of the bank branch, which has no CCTV cameras, terribly shocked.
It is quite unacceptable that such an important branch of a government-run bank does not have any CCTV camera installed and allegedly there is nobody to look after the bank's safety and security affairs.
A report published in this newspaper on Monday said that the armed robbers in movie-style came on a motorcycle wearing PPE, facemask and helmets and entered the bank at 1:15pm on Sunday. Within few minutes they confined security guards and all the bank staff in a room at gunpoint and looted around Tk 900,000. After looting the money, the robbers fled the scene with the same motorcycle.
Fortunately, the robbers could not take money kept at the bank vault, it was learnt.
Actually, the robbers used toy pistols, according to Jiban Nagar police sources.
Mentionable that it is not the only first Sonali Bank branch robbery. Earlier in March 2014, robberies also took place in many branches of this state-owned bank across the country. Of them, a daring robbery was committed in Adamdighi upazila branch of Sonali Bank in Bogura district in March 2014 when the robbers looted over Tk 30 lakh from the bank's vault by digging channel from a nearby house.
Earlier in January the same year, Tk 16.40 crore was also stolen from the same bank's main branch in Kishoreganj district.
It seems, Sonali Bank has not taken any lesson from the earlier mishaps that happened in its different bank branches. Since the state-run bank run directly under the aegis of the Finance Ministry, it overwhelmingly allows bad loans to multiply to an unsustainable degree. In a recent study conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management, the percentage of non-performing loans in state-run banks is as high as 29 per cent, while the international standard is 2 to 3 per cent.
We ask the authorities concerned to instruct all banks to strictly adhere to the directives given by the central bank. Moreover, the banks found culpable of negligence should be held accountable and appropriate measures be taken against them in an effort to secure banking services for the people. Will the banks able to come out of the political influence?

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