Muhith, yet, speaks for political appointment in govt banks!

The Daily Star November 12, 2012

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday defended political appointments to the boards of directors of the state-run banks even though political nominees have often been blamed for being involved in loan scams and influencing recruitments.

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Therefore, some of them might be appointed to the boards,” Muhith told reporters after a meeting with a Turkish delegation at the Economic Relations Division in the capital.

The minister, however, did not comment on how strong the presence of political appointments could be on the boards of the state-owned commercial banks (SOCBs).

The tenure of the SOCB boards expired in the first week of September this year. But the government could not appoint board directors due to intense lobbying from vested quarters, said a finance ministry official.

The government, said Muhith, has picked as directors other professionals as well, such as teachers and bankers. “It is a combine. Not all the directors have political affiliation.”

He added that the board directors will be appointed by the next week.

Officials in the finance ministry’s banking division said they are clueless about who might get appointed as the board directors, as the finance minister is yet to give the division a short list of selected candidates.

Meanwhile, powerful vested interests are lobbying for the posts at the banks, which have been plagued by irregularities due to interference from some outgoing directors with political influence.

There are allegations that some of the directors take payoffs from business firms as well as individuals in return for helping them get loans from the state-owned banks, said a finance ministry official.

Some former SOCB directors have been lobbying government high-ups to get appointed once again. Besides, people with political affiliation are pursuing the same path, said sources at the finance ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.

The government appointed some former leaders of Jubo League and Chhatra League as SOCB board directors after coming to power in 2009.

In September, a central bank report said the overall control system of the state-owned banks has broken down due to a weak internal monitoring.

It said a number of big corruption scams, including that involving Hall-Mark, have been detected in the banks in recent times.

A central bank official alleged that some board members were also involved in the Hall-Mark scam, adding that the Bangladesh Bank informed the finance ministry about it.

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