The government seeks $1 billion in assistance from ADB, a part of which may be used to create employment
Three specialised banks and the Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) are ready with separate action plans aimed at distributing loans toward creating employment for youths and the rural poor and to rehabilitate returnee expatriates hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
They will finalise the draft plans at a Monday meeting with Financial Institutions Division Senior Secretary Md Ashadul Islam. They will start loan disbursement as soon as they obtain the allocated fund.
In the budget of the current financial year, Tk500 crore has been allocated to Probashi Kallyan Bank, Karmasangsthan Bank, Palli Sanchay Bank and the PKSF each to create employment.
Top policymakers of these specialised institutions said they are fully prepared to disburse loans. The government is trying to finance the loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Therefore, it is yet to be confirmed as to when the budget allocation will be available.
Finance Division officials said the government has sought $1 billion in assistance from the ADB for the 2020-21 fiscal year. From that assistance, Tk2,000 crore will be released to these four lenders. If that is not possible, these institutions will get money from the government fund or the Tk10,000-crore bulk fund created to fight Covid-19.
An official from the ADB's Dhaka office told The Business Standard that the government has proposed obtaining a new loan of $1 billion on which discussions are underway. The relevant ADB board will decide on the proposal.
Meanwhile, Karmasangsthan Bank, outside its budget allocation, is getting an additional fund of Tk300 crore from the Bangladesh Bank to create small entrepreneurs by giving loans in the fisheries and animal resources sector. The central bank will release the money as soon as the government gives it a guarantee letter.
In addition, the Probashi Kallyan Bank will provide loans up to Tk5 lakh for the rehabilitation of returnee expatriates from a package of Tk200 crore from the Expatriates Welfare Fund. The disbursement of this loan may start this month.
Kaniz Fatema, chairman of Karmasangsthan Bank, told The Business Standard on Saturday that she was still not sure as to when the budget allocation would be available. "However, we have made a [draft] plan on how to distribute it if we get the allocation."
She also said her bank would provide loans to unemployed youths countrywide. However, the borrowers must be trained by the Department of Youth Development or the Department of Women Affairs.
She added that two lakh unemployed youths will be made entrepreneurs in the country on the occasion of Mujib Year. As a part of that initiative, already over 4,300 youths have received more than Tk59 crore.
Begum Shamsunnahar, chairman of Probashi Kallyan Bank, said the returnee expatriates who have no jobs in the country will be given loans of Tk2-5 lakh each. With it, they will be able to start small shops or businesses in their villages.
She, however, said the interest rate on the loan has not been finalised yet.
The managing director Akbar Hossain of Palli Sanchay Bank said that from the Tk500-crore allocation, Tk250 crore will be given to old borrowers affected by the coronavirus.
"In this case, we will re-lend 40 percent of the total amount so that the affected entrepreneurs can turn around with a new capital."
The remaining Tk250 crore will be distributed among fresh borrowers. Each of them will be given a loan of Tk40,000-50,000 to enable them to start small businesses, including raising poultry and cattle.
According to the Financial Institutions Division, the government wants to keep the rural economy afloat by increasing the cash flow during the coronavirus. That is why the national budget has made allocations to the banks to create employment in villages.
The finance ministry will oversee the implementation of these bank programmes so that the objectives of the government are successfully achieved.