Tk 10 farmers’ accounts fail to serve purposeAKM Zamir Uddin
The facility of opening bank accounts with Tk 10 initial deposit by farmers failed to serve the purpose as most of the accounts opened were not being used for transaction of farm loans or for savings, said Bangladesh Bank officials.
Informed sources said the ‘real’ farmers were deprived of getting farm loans and hence most of those easily opened accounts have been useless to them.
According to the Bangladesh Bank data, the commercial and the specialised banks used around 2.68 lakh, or only 2.81 per cent, of the 95.54 lakh accounts opened by the farmers for availing farm loans in the first half of the current financial year.
BB data showed the state-owned and the specialised banks had disbursed only Tk 90.11 crore in farm loans through farmers’ bank accounts during the period.
The seven banks operating the farmers’ accounts to disburse the loans and subsidy are : Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, Agrani Bank, Rupali Bank, BASIC Bank, and two specialised banks — Bangladesh Krishi Bank and Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank.
According to BB data, the seven banks from July to December had collectively disbursed a total of Tk 3,930.56 crore in farm loans, of which only Tk 90.11 crore, or 2.88 per cent, loans were distributed through the farmers’ account.
During the period, around 6.10 lakh accounts were being used for saving deposits in which the farmers deposited only Tk 49.29 crore.
A BB official told New Age that Bangladesh Bank in January 2010 had authorised the seven banks to open farmers’ accounts with an initial deposit of only Tk 10 to facilitate agriculture credit as well to encourage savings among the farmers.
Any farmer can open such accounts with Tk 10 initial deposit submitting copies of national ID card or birth registration certificates or the card issued by the Department of Agricultural Extension.
The central bank had taken the move so that the rural farmers could easily get farm loans and subsidies provided by the government on easy terms.
But the accounts have so far been used in a limited volume for transacting the farm loans.
An official of the Bangladesh Krishi Bank, who is working at Teknaf upazila under Cox’s Bazar district, said that they were disbursing the farm loans based on a list which was sent by the chairman of the local union council.
He said, ‘Majority of the people on the list are not farmer and they do not maintain the Tk 10 accounts for farmers. We have no official scope for monitoring the programme at the field level. ‘As a result, the real farmers are deprived of obtaining the loans.’
BB data showed the seven banks from October to December of the FY2011-12 had disbursed Tk 54.05 crore as farm loans using 1.66 lakh farmers’ accounts.
In July to September of the year, the banks disabused Tk 36.05 crore farm loans through 1.02 lakh accounts.
Sajjad Zahir Chandan, general secretary of Bangladesh Krishak Samiti, said the real farmers had been deprived of obtaining the farm loans as the banks were reluctant to disburse the loans through farmers’ accounts.
He alleged that the banks had disbursed the loans on ‘political consideration’. ‘As a result the middlemen, especially with blessings from the ruling party, are benefited by the farm loan programme.
He said, ‘The farmers would have got the loans, if the bank officials directly disbursed the loans at the field level.’
The banks should take steps to activate the accounts ensuring that they disburse the loans to the real farmers through their bank accounts, he said.
Economist Hossain Zillur Rahman said the real farmers were yet to get the farm loans as the banks were reluctant to disburse the loans to poor but the real farmers.
Hence, the objective of the central bank to ensure access of the poor farmers to farm credit and subsidies could not be achieved, Rahman, a former adviser to interim government, said.
Bangladesh Bank governor Atiur Rahman said the central bank would take steps to ensure disbursement of the farm loans through the farmers. Tk 10 bank accounts as early possible so that the real farmers get the benefit of farm loans.
Under the proposed agriculture loan disbursement policy of the BB, it would be mandatory for the commercial banks to disburse the farm loans through the farmers’ accounts, he told New Age.
He said, ‘If required, we would issue a circular among the banks to confirm us that the accounts are being used for disbursing farm loans.’
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