Cabinet clears draft law to check loan defaulters29 March 2023
Staff Reporter :
The government has approved the Bank Company (Amendment) Act 2023 in a bid to check willful loan defaulters, which also include the provision that no more than three directors of a bank can be from the same family.
Apart from this, it has also in-principle given approval of the draft amendment to the 'Electoral Act Public Representation Order (RPO)' proposing to have one Returning Officer for each constituency in the Jatiya Sangsad elections.
At the same time, the proposed 'Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2023' has provided for imprisonment of 2 to 7 years for obstructing the media and observers during elections.
The decisions were made at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
After the meeting, Secretary of the Cabinet Division (Coordination and Reforms) Mahmudul Hossain Khan informed the media of the decisions.
He said that the Bangladesh Bank can impose travelling restrictions on "willful loan defaulters" as per the approved draft Bank Company (Amendment) Act 2023.
Besides, the central bank can ban loan defaulters from being issued trade licences and registering companies with the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) and the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC).
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its $4.7 billion loan conditions had asked that the Bank Company (Amendment) Act 2023 be implemented soon.
The IMF also asked non-performing loans for state-owned banks to be reduced by 10 per cent.
According to Mahmudul Hossain Khan, currently there can be four directors from one family, but this has now been reduced to a maximum of three.
Under the draft law, maximum three members (instead of existing four members) of a family will be allowed to be directors of a bank.
Now the banking activities are run under the Bank-Company Act, 1991.
Its amendment proposal was brought in order to make the law modern and time-befitting one, said Secretary (Coordination & Reforms) at the Cabinet Division Mahmudul Hossain Khan.
He said that those who are willful loan defaulters are defined and what actions will be taken against them are mentioned in the law.
Talking about the actions, the Secretary said the banks must send the list of willful loan defaulters to Bangladesh Bank and it can impose ban on going abroad, issuance of trade license (against them), and registration under the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission and the Registrar of Joint Stock Company and Firm.
Besides, a willful loan defaulter can't be eligible to be a Director of a bank or financial institution until five years passes after being excluded from the list of willful loan defaulters, he said.
If any Director of a bank becomes a willful loan defaulter, Bangladesh Bank can declare his post vacant, he added.
The secretary said if a bank fails to send the list of loan defaulters to Bangladesh Bank in time, the bank can be fined Tk 50 lakh to Tk one crore. The bank will have to count additional Tk one lakh as fine for every each day delay, he said.
"As per the existing law, the maximum four members of a family can be directors of any bank, but it has been reduced to three now," he said.
The bank directors and their family members must provide collaterals, bond or security for taking loans from the bank as per a new provision incorporated in the draft law.
A provision was also included here so that Bangladesh Bank can regularly inspect different institutions and foundations run under the law, he added.
However, the cabinet also approved the draft of Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2023 in principle.
"The proposed amendments will be finalised in next cabinet meeting," Secretary, Coordination and Reform Wing, the Cabinet Division Secretary said.
Alongside district based returning officer, constituency-based returning officer has been incorporated in the proposed amendment of the act, he added.
If the amendment proposal gets approval, the Election Commission can appoint a returning officer in each constituency; Mahmudul said adding one returning officer can be appointed for all constituencies under a district in the existing law.