The central bank has approved six more private commercial banks (PCBs), aiming to help strengthen the ongoing financial inclusion programmes through bringing unbanked people under the banking network, Bangladesh Bank (BB) officials said.
The decision came at a meeting of the BB's board of directors, held at its central office Sunday, with BB Governor Atiur Rahman in the chair.
The six approved PCBs are:
Union Bank Limited,
Modhumoti Bank Limited,
The Farmers Bank Limited,
Meghna Bank Limited,
Midland Bank Limited
South Bangla Agriculture and
Commerce Bank Limited.
"The board has approved the six PCBs after a thorough scrutiny of all 16 short-listed applications one by one," Deputy Governor of the BB SK Sur Chowdhury told reporters after the meeting.
He also said the board has also decided to issue letters of intent (LoI) to the approved six PCBs, giving them a period of six months to comply with the existing rules and regulations for setting up new commercial banks.
"We'll issue licenses to the PCBs after their proper compliance with all conditionalities," Mr. Sur said, adding that loan defaulters and tax evaders would not be allowed to be the directors of new banks.
The proposed chief executive officers (CEO) of the approved PCBs will have to present their business plan before the board, he said while explaining the conditionalities for the new banks.
The central bank on Wednesday approved three new banks sponsored by non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) on condition that they would help bring in more foreign currencies.
However, the Bangladesh Bank (BB) board could not decide about giving the go-ahead to other new banks for which it received as many as 37 applications.
"The board will take a decision on others on Sunday (Apr 8)," deputy governor SK Shur Chowdhury told reporters after the board meeting.
He said the board meeting has been adjourned until Apr 8.
US expatriate Farashat Ali and Nizam Chowdhury, and UK expatriate Iqbal Ahmed are main sponsors of the NRB banks that got the central bank's nod.
As sponsors, Nizam Chowdhury and Iqbal Ahmed, proposed the same name for two banks – NRB Bank Limited – the deputy governor said it would have to be changed after discussion.
The proposed name of the other bank is NRB Commerce Bank.
Chowdhury said they received five applications for banks to be run by NRBs.
On the condition for the three news banks, Chowdhury said, "These three banks will have to play a role in increasing inward inflow of foreign currency."
Board members finance secreaty Mohammad Tareque and Rajshahi University professor Sanat Kumar Saha were not present at Wednesday's board meeting chaired by governor Atiur Rahman.
Asked why the board could not take decision on others, deputy governor Chowdhury said, "This is the jurisdiction of the board. But all the proposals are being scrutinised in detail."
The move to allow more banks drew controversy as critics say 'such a decision is politically motivated'
Replying to such criticism, Finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith had earlier told reporters that 'approving new banks is solely a matter of the government's political wish'.
According to central bank sources, among the short-listed applications, there is one 'Farmers Bank' proposed by Awami Leguae presidium member and MP Dr Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir. His name has been proposed as the bank's chairman.
AL lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh has applied for proposed 'Madhumati Bank'.
Prime minister's income tax adviser M Moniruzaman Khondokar has applied for proposed 'Midland Bank'.
The list also contains the name of 'Union Bank'. The application names one Shahidul Alam as the bank's chairman and one of the sponsors is Golam Mosih, who is international affairs secretary of HM Ershad-led Jatiya Party. Rumours have it that Jatiya Party chief and ruling alliance partner HM Ershad is the main man behind this bank.
AL youth wing leader Mirza Azam is also seeking licence for 'The People's Bank'.
Ruling party MPs H N Ashikur Rahman and Nasrul Hamid have applied for 'Meghna Bank' with Rahman as its chairman.
Nitol Group chairman Abdul Matlub Ahmed has applied for 'Katak-Bangla Bank' in joint venture with several other businessmen.
State minister for liberation war affairs AB Tajul Islam has sought licence for 'Federal Bank' with ruling party lawmaker Shahriar Alam as its chairman.
'People's Islami Bank' has been proposed by Abul Kashem, an expatriate. Ex-BGMEA (apparel manufacturers' and exprters' association) president Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez is also a sponsor of proposed the bank.
On Sep 27 last year, Bangladesh Bank (BB) issued a circular seeking application for new banks. Interested entrepreneurs were asked to apply by Nov 30 following procedures along with a Tk 1 million non-refundable deposit.
A condition was also attached so that the loan defaulters cannot seek licence. Applications of those would not be considered who had a record of loan default in last five years or facing any such cases, the central bank prerequisite says.
Other conditions included paid-up capital of Tk 4 billion, holding 10 percent share by an individual sponsor, keeping no more than 13 members in the board, providing the bank capital from the investors' properties as shown in the income tax statement.
Central bank received as many as 37 applications and it reportedly short-listed 16 after preliminary screening.