Govt can take policy decisions till election schedule: Muhith

Govt can take policy decisions till election schedule: Muhith

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Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Monday said the present government will have the authority to take any policy decision until the schedule for the general election is announced.   “Many think, the government’s authority to take any policy decision will be over this month, but I think we’ll have such authority until the next election’s schedule is declared,” he said.   The Finance Minister was addressing a seminar titled ‘Bank Interest Rates and Charges in Bangladesh’ at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).   Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) organised the seminar with its president Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed in the chair.   The Finance Minister’s comment came in response to a demand of the businesspeople for lowering the bank interest and bringing charges to facilitate the economy.   “You can discuss the matter and place your recommendations to the government and we’ll make a policy decision later,” he told his audience of mainly businessmen and bankers.   The seminar was addressed, among others, by Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman, Banking and Financial Institutions Division Secretary Dr Aslam Alam, former FBCCI President and Shahjalal Islami Bank’s Chairman AK Azad, Bangladesh Association Banks’ Chairman Nazrul Islam, BGMEA President Atiqul Islam and Partex Group’s chairman MNA Hashem.   Executive Director of Policy Research Institute Ahsan H Monsur made the keynote presentation on the topic.   Muhith claimed said the inflation, which is one of the key factors behind high bank interest rate, has been contained by the government. “Still, there’re so many factors which need to be addressed to lower the interest rate.”   In Bangladesh, the Finance Minister said, the spread between the bank deposit rate and interest rate is the highest in the world.  “The government will sit again with business leaders to address the issue.”   Muhith informed that he is leaving the country on Monday on a long tour and will return at the end of this month.   Dr Atuur Rahman said the bank interest rates will be coming down in the days to come. As per economic rule, the interest rate comes down when the inflation rate comes down.   He said Bangladesh’s economy is one of the stable economies because of the central bank’s prudent monetary policy.   Dr Ashan H Monsur said that bank interest rate is high in Bangladesh because of increasing default and non-performing loans (NPLs) in the banking sector. “It’ll be very difficult to lower the interest rate until the NPLs are decreased,” he added. – UNB

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