Sick industries continue to get govt largesse

Shakhawat Hossain

The government is going to waive interest on loans taken by some 346 industrial units in the private sector which have been identified as sick, officials said.
Moreover, the entrepreneurs of those industries might be allowed to regularise their loan portfolios by paying only 1 per cent of the principle amount as down payment.
The officials said banking and financial institution division is expected to issue a notification in this connection this week.
The officials said the down payment will help the sick industries to be excluded from Bangladesh Bank’s list of loan defaulters.
They pointed out that the move would be most generous to the sick industry entrepreneurs who have traditionally enjoyed such government largeese since 1998 from successive regimes.
There is no specific data about the amount which needed to be waived by banks as interests against loans.
A previous assessment by the banking division found that banks, mainly the state-owned ones, needed to waive interest around Tk 850 crore of some 273 industries, identified as sick industries.
On September 17, industries minister Dilip Barua told parliament that a taskforce had already scrutinised the applications and finalised 264 and 80 industries as sick industries in two phases.
They were selected from around 700 industries falling sick in the country — 270 industries in the RMG sector, 100 in the specialised textile mills sector and 80 in the tannery sector.
There were some 108 industries that became sick, mostly textile spinning mills, when the taskforce was formed way back in 1998 to help them.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith had stated that the industries remaining sick for more than 15 years had no right to exist.
He criticised the Bangladesh Sick Industry Association saying such association was a disgrace.
The association has long been demanding for amending the Aurtho Rin Adalat and withdrawal of cases under this law, to bail out the sick industries. They wanted new laws for dealing with the sick industries.

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