In its policy response, the government has taken steps to ensure financial stability in the country aiming to establish an improved loan culture in the coming days to tackle the adverse economic setback triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a government document, future steps will be included in preparing a concept paper on macro-prudential policy, drafting a Financial Stability Map taking international best practice into consideration, and formulating a Stress Testing Guideline taking systemic risks into consideration.
It said that earlier by making a 2 percent down payment, borrowers were allowed to reschedule their classified loans for a period of 10 years with a grace period of one year.
The Finance Ministry said this step helped reduce classified loans, which has gone down to 9.32 percent of total loans in December 2019 from 11.69 percent in June last year.
"To establish an improved loan culture in the country so that the loan recipients can repay their loans in time, necessary reform initiatives have been taken," the document reads.
The government has already established a Central Database for Large Credit (CDLC) for close monitoring of large loans and strengthening the monitoring system of banks and financial institutions.
Sources at the Finance Ministry said that properly implementing these initiatives will help the country have a better loan culture where the number and amount of loans will be comparably much lower, restoring financial stability in the coming days.
Macro-prudential policy has been defined primarily as the use of prudential tools to limit systemic risk.
Systemic risk is generally recognised as having two dimensions -- vulnerabilities related to the build-up of risks over time, and vulnerabilities from interconnectedness and the associated distribution of risk within the financial system at any given point in time.
In addressing these vulnerabilities, the macro-prudential policy complements its focus on the safety and soundness of financial institutions. By mitigating systemic risks, macro-prudential measures ultimately aim to reduce the frequency and severity of financial crises.
Macro-prudential policy encompasses a variety of instruments, including measures to address sector specified risk (for example, loan-to-value (LTV) and debt-to-income (DTI) ratios), counter cyclical capital requirements dynamic provisions, reserve requirements, liquidity tools, as well as measures to affect foreign currency based or residency based financial transactions.
Stress testing is a simulation technique, which is used to determine the reactions of different financial institutions under a set of exceptional, but plausible assumptions through a series of battery of tests.
At institutional level, stress testing techniques provide a way to quantify the impact of changes in a number of risk factors on the assets and liabilities portfolio of the institution.
At the system level, stress tests are primarily designed to quantify the impact of possible changes in the economic environment on the financial system.
The system level stress tests also complement the institutional level stress testing by providing information about the sensitivity of the overall financial system to a number of risk factors.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, during a parliament session in January, informed that as of November 2019, there were 8,238 defaulters with debts totalling Tk 96,986.38 crore in the country.
Of that amount, Tk 25,836.04 crore has been paid back.
The finance minister also gave detailed information on how much bank directors owe to their own institutions, as well as to other banks.
From their own organisations, bank directors borrowed Tk 1,614.77 crore as of September 13, 2019. This accounts for 0.166 percent of the total loans given by those banks.
From banks other than their own, the directors took loans worth Tk 171,616.12 crore, which is 11.21 percent of all the loans given out.
Mashrur Uddin Anwar, a former lecturer of Chittagong University, has set an example of how people can change their occupation by making pizza, a savory dish of Italian origin, at home launched a successful startup in his life.
Once he used to make pizza of different flavours as a hobby but now it is his livelihood. He not only makes pizza at home but also delivers these personally.
After leaving his job as a lecturer of Chittagong University (CU), Mashrur started his own business named ‘Pizza at Home’. He makes pizza after taking orders and then delivers it to his clients personally.
Mashrur completed his Honours and Masters degrees from Chittagong University on English Literature and then joined as a lecturer of the university.
Healso served as the head of the English Department of the University of Science and Technology Chittagong (USTC). Later he resigned from the post for different reasons.
After that he started his own business and opened his own organisatiaon ‘Pizza at Home’. He is all in all at his organisation. He does everything from taking order to delivery at home.
“I love my work and I am not ashamed of it,” he said. Since its inception, he has been getting a huge response from all, he added.
Besides, the pizza lovers of Chittagong have started to rely on the pizza of Mashroor due to the combination of service and taste.
Poaching of the famed spotted deer has by now become a fixture violating the Sundarbans ecosystem, beyond the reach of state-led, often multilateral initiatives to clamp down on this transnational criminal enterprise.
Side-by-side with the economic fallout due to the Coronavirus, and taking advantage of it as well as other difficulties stemming from the pandemic, poaching of deer has been rife for most of 2020.
Sundarbans Forest Department seized 200 kg venison, held 40 poachers and rescued 22 deer alive from different traps already this year. As with many types of crime, the real magnitude can only be estimated from the amount the authorities manage to catch, which is assumed to be a small percentage.
Sources said that only a tiny fraction of poachers are tracked down while majority of them escape any obstruction successfully.
Read Also: Three deer poachers arrested in Sundarbans
Taking the opportunity of relaxed security measures amid Coronavirus Pandemic, a vested quarter became more active in hunting deer from Sundarbans and selling the venison to make easy money.
Although currently all kinds of official entry permits in the largest mangrove forest are halted, poachers are taking different illegal ways to pursue their purpose. They are placing traps and poisoned mush to chase down the animals mainly deer due to its high price.
Villagers adjacent to Sundarbans said poachers hunt deer all around the year while law enforcers try to restrict it but in the past few months gangs of poachers became more active.
It is hard to predict as there is no specific statistic or survey done to measure the fall in the number of deer in the Sundarbans each year, they said.
Forest Department rescued 22 deer alive from the poachers from Tiarchar an area of East Sundarbans on May 4 and also rescued two more rare deer from Mathbaria in Pirojpur on April 23, April 24. The next month on May 28, another deer was rescued from a village in Sharankhola.
Read Also: 60 ‘deer poachers’ held in Sundarbans
According to Sundarbans Forest Department, a total of 158 kg venison, three heads and four rawhides of deer were seized from different areas during June of 2019 to July of 2020.
Besides, 28 boats, six trawlers, 10,000 feet of haunting trap were seized and 40 poachers were arrested and 37 cases were filed during this time.
Forest Preserver of Khulna region Moinuddin Khan said some outsiders returned to their home near the Sundarbans area dui to Covid-19 situation, they are invading the forest as there is no job. They are taking different measures in this regard, he said.
Bashirul Al Mamun, Divisional Forest Officer of West Sundarbans said they have increased the smart patrol in the forest and forest department is alert and seriously working to prevent the poachers.
Divisional Forest Officer of East Sundarbans, Muhammad Belayet Hossain said the poachers who were arrested were residents of Rampal in Bagerhat, Sharankhola, Mongla, Morelganj, Dakop of Khulna and Mathbaria and Pathaghata of Pirojpur.
Meanwhile, despite preservation commitments and a total ban on all killing or capture of wildlife in the Sundarbans, there is a consistent pattern of depleted biodiversity or loss of species which is declining the ecological quality of the forest, according to experts.
Railways Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujan has said only those who have purchased their tickets online for the Eid journey will be able to travel by train this year during the Eid-ul-Azha holidays.
“To reduce the risk of Covid-19, no additional passengers will be able to get on trains this time,” he said in an online interview with UNB.
This year, Bangladesh Railway authority took an initiative to sell all of its tickets online through their mobile app and website. The minister said this timely initiative is for avoiding the huge crowds.
“Every year we used to sell some tickets online and the rest at the counter drawing a huge crowd there. To control this, we have sold all the train tickets online, so that there is no crowd at the counter of any station,” he said, reiterating that it is all for a safe journey.
“There is a possibility of spreading coronavirus during the Eid journey. That is why we have set up access control at Kamalapur and Airport railway stations to ensure the safety of the passengers,” he added.
The minister noted that hand sanitizing stations have been set up at the railway stations and trains are being disinfected as well. “Alongside these activities, we have decided to carry half the passengers on the train.”
He elaborated on the benefits of selling all tickets virtually. “The passengers will purchase tickets through the mobile app. As a result, there is no opportunity for anyone to go on the train except the passengers and we are not allowing anyone at the station if no one has a ticket,” he said.
There will be no stoppages for the trains leaving Dhaka at the Airport, Joydebpur, and Narsingdi stations to get rid of unwanted passengers.
The Railways Minister told UNB that the government plans to expand the use of trains in delivering products.
“Air-conditioned refrigerator wagons are coming from abroad for delivering fish, meat, milk and other perishable food items to different parts of the country,” he said.
Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim said that over one crore cattle are ready in the country for Qurbani (sacrifice) during the Eid-ul-Azha this year.
“Ill or sick animals with diseases will not be allowed to enter the sacrificial animal market and medical teams will be active in each market,” the Minister told UNB in an online interview.
Asked about the possibility of the sick animal entering the market, the Minister said “The authorities will strictly monitor that and the medical team will not allow owners to take their ill animals into the market.”
“There’s a religious norm as well that sacrificing a sick animal is not legal and the sacrifice means nothing in that case,” he said adding that during this Covid-19 pandemic, we won’t let people get sick by consuming meat of sick animals.
Minister kept on saying that on every spot from city to rural area, veterinary doctors will be there and check each and every animal’s health status.
Asked about the number of medical teams in the capital, the Minister said “the number is not yet fixed, but medical teams will be in every animal market.”
Besides, veterinary surgeons of upazila level and their assistants in field level will go to every sacrificial animal market, he said.
If any cattle farm owner desires to get a certificate for their animal, it will be provided, said the Minister, adding that “We don’t want any sacrifice to be conducted with sick animals.”
UNB wanted to know from the Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim, if he has taken any steps to stop entry of harmful steroid and hormonal medicine for animals through borders before the ensuing Eid-ul-Azha.
To that question, the Minister said “Border security is not under my Ministry.”
“We urged the authorities concerned to stop animal entry from India, Myanmar or any country as sufficient numbers of animals are being produced here in Bangladesh,” he added.
The Home Ministry and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to be vigilant in this regard, he said adding that Livestock offices in bordering areas were also asked to be alert as no animal can enter Bangladesh illegally.
Livestock Minister also urged all to inform BGB, Police, Local Administration if they have any information about sacrificial animal entry through borders. Actions will be taken, he said.
Answering a question about the Livestock Ministry’s step to stop rawhide smuggling, the Minister said BGB will supervise this issue.
“We don’t want a single rawhide going out through the border,” he said.
The Commerce Ministry will see if it is necessary to export rawhide or not, but we want fare price for it and let it not be spoiled, Karim said.
Asked whether the Covid-19 pandemic would reduce the number of sacrifices, the Minister said “We have 1 crore sacrificial animals for this year’s Qurbani.”
Usually some family sacrifices five to six animals during Eid-ul-Azha, said the Minister adding that “We fear that they will not do that this year.”
Meanwhile, the low-income families have been struggling to recover the financial loss of Covid-19 pandemic, cyclone Amphan and Bulbul, he said.
“I think that some will not sacrifice animals if they are incapable of, and middle-income people also may not participate in Qurbani this year,” the Minister said.
I guess the number of sacrifices will come down this year in comparison with the previous year, he said however, “farmers are ready to provide one crore sacrificial animals.”