Economic growth to remain comfortable despite damage

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 17 Aug 2017, 00:43:08
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Economic growth to remain comfortable despite damage

Says Muhith, advising people not to worry over flood crisis
FE Report


Finance Minister AMA Muhith expects country's economic growth to remain in a comfortable zone despite possible crop losses caused by current flood onslaughts.

He said the latest spell of flooding posed a sort of crisis and the government is capable of facing the situation.

"There is no reason to be worried about flooding as the government is capable of coping with such situation," Mr Muhith told his audience at a function Wednesday.

"Though the import costs of rice have swelled up due to loss of crop production, but we can do this; we are capable of doing this for the people of the country," he said  at an agreement-signing ceremony at a city hotel.

PRAN Dairy Ltd and Sonali Bank Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on lending to contract farmers of PRAN Dairy for raring high-quality cattle breeds and increasing production of dairy products.

Director (Corporate Finance) of PRAN-RFL Group Uzma Chowdhury and General Manager of Sonali Bank Rafiqul Islam inked the deal.

Terming agriculture the base of the economy, Mr Muhith said whatever other sectors bring for the economy, agriculture always will be the prime sector.

The finance minister noted that Bangladesh has achieved consistent growth for last eight years.  "It is impossible to remain poor for a country if the country achieves consistent growth for 10 to 12 years," he said.

Speaking as chief guest, he thanked the state-owned Sonali Bank for such initiative as he thinks such loans would be able to bring the bank out of present losing state.

Mr Muhith said PRAN is one of the top agro-product companies in the country. They ushered in horizons of prosperity in many other modes of agribusiness.  

Under the agreement, the bank will provide loans to the dairy farmers as per recommendation of PRAN Dairy.

Farmers will receive collateral-free loan worth Tk 50,000 to 200,000 while Tk 300,000 to 1,000,000 with collateral. The farmers will have three to five years to pay back.

The bank primarily granted Tk 100 million. This amount will rise gradually, PRAN group sources said.  

Speaking at the programme, Bangladesh Bank governor Fazle Kabir said more than one-third of Sonali Bank's loans are non-performing loans, and this has, like other state-owned banks, concentrated loans.

He urged the Sonali Bank management to find such sectors like PRAN Dairy to provide loans to overcome the present situation.

Senior Secretary at Financial Institutions Division Eunusur Rahman termed this loan to PRAN Dairy unique.

"State-owned banks are worried about bigger loans. The repayments of the loans are not coming to the banks. They can provide loans to such smaller sectors and bring those loans back in time," he said.

Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PRAN-RFL Group, said his group will take responsibility of the loans.

He said there is huge potential untapped in the dairy sector as the country produces only 30 per cent of total demand for dairy products.

He told the function that the contractual dairy farmers will use the loan to buy cows, prepare shed, buy cattle feed and carry out other farm-related development activities.

The company chief said more than 11,000 registered dairy farmers are working with five PRAN Dairy hubs at Gurudaspur of Natore, Chatmohor of Pabna, Shahjadpur and Baghabari of Sirajganj and Rangpur. They bring up 55,000 heads of cattle.

PRAN Dairy provides various facilities, including vaccination, treatment, training on farm setup and development, and artificial insemination, to the dairy farmers.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sonali Bank Ashraful Moqbul said this loan under marketing-plus programme has a unique condition, a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

Md. Obayed Ullah Al Masud, Managing Director and CEO of Sonali Bank, said the bank provides loan for country's agriculture, industry and other potential sectors. PRAN Dairy is one of the major organizations contributing largely to development of the dairy sector.

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