Most of farmers’ bank accounts still remained inactive in Q1AKM Zamir Uddin
Majority of the farmers’ accounts which were opened with Tk-10 initial deposit remained inactive in the first quarter of this financial year like the previous financial year as banks did not take initiatives to activate the accounts, said Bangladesh Bank officials.
According to the latest BB data, only 1.97 lakh farmers’ bank accounts out of a total 96.09 lakh remained active in the first quarter of the FY 2012-13.
Among the active farmers’ bank accounts in the period, 1.49 lakh accounts were used for disbursing farm loans, 41,422 accounts for savings, 2,782 for receiving local remittance and 4,170 for receiving foreign remittance, the BB data showed.
The BB data showed that around 16 lakh farmers’ accounts, out of a total 95.86 lakh, were active in the FY 2011-12 when 5.41 lakh accounts were used for disbursing farm loans, 10.01 lakh for savings, 35,806 for receiving local remittance and 26,801 for receiving foreign remittance.
A BB official told New Age on Sunday that most of the farmers’ accounts, which were opened with the four state-owned banks and the three specialised banks as per the central bank directive, remained inactive because of the banks’ reluctance to disburse farm loans through the accounts.
He said that the BB had frequently asked the seven banks to take necessary measures to activate the accounts by distributing farm loans through them.
As a part of the move, the central bank on November 6, 2012 issued a circular to the seven banks advising them to provide the farmers’ account holders with 1-2 per cent more interest than the common savings accounts for deposits.
The seven banks operating the farmers’ accounts to disburse loans and subsidy are Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, Agrani Bank, Rupali Bank, Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank and BASIC Bank.
The banks can consider to disburse up to 90 per cent loan against the savings by a farmer in his account, the BB circular said adding that the banks in no way could close those accounts.
Although the seven banks, which opened the accounts between 2010 and 2012, disbursed Tk 2,292.53 crore in farm loans in the first quarter of the FY 2012-13, only Tk 57.74 crore, or 2.50 per cent of the loans, were distributed through 1.49 lakh farmers’ accounts.
Another BB official said that the central bank had taken the farmers’ accounts initiative to widen the financial inclusion of the farmers across the country.
He said that the BB had taken the initiative in 2010 to ensure farm loans and subsidy distribution and bring the savings of the farmers into the banking channel.
‘But most of the banks are yet to follow the BB directive. We fear that the real farmers are deprived of getting expected amount of farm loans,’ he said.
The BB data showed that only Tk 27.01 crore were deposited in 41,422 farmers’ accounts in July-September of the FY 2012-13.
Besides, only Tk 9.27 crore in foreign remittance and Tk 4.07 crore in local remittance were deposited in the farmers’ accounts in the first quarter of the FY 2012-13.
The BB official said that despite the central bank’s directives, banks had not taken enough programmes to popularise banking among farmers.
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