Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – The central bank of Bangladesh has asked the commercial banks to boost investment in productive sectors particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) for achieving maximum economic growth by the end of 2016.

The advice regarding banks’ role in boosting the economy for the new year 2016 came at a meeting of bankers at the central bank headquarters in Dhaka on Tuesday with Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Dr. Atiur Rahman in the chair.

“2015 brought a milestone for us: Bangladesh attained the lower middle income status. We want 2016 be the year of growth and investment,” BB Governor Dr. Rahman said while addressing at the first bankers meeting of this calendar year.

Describing the economy and the financial system made good progress in 2015, the central bank chief also said: “If we work hard and together, we can upgrade our growth to the 8.0 per cent trajectory.”

The country’s financial system is now around US$150 billion, which has reached a critical mass to support the needed improvement in efficiency and innovation, he added.

“The BB remains committed to working with all of you to serve the savers and the borrowers through better intermediation service, governance, and transparency,” Dr. Rahman explained.

He also said the good news is: at current momentum and with right reform, “we can easily transform Bangladesh from a 200 billion dollar economy to over 500 billion — half a trillion — dollar economy before 2025.”

At the meeting, the managing directors and chief executive officers (CEOs) of all banks have also been asked for taking effective measures to reduce the volume of classified loans through expediting recovery drives across the country.

The BB’s instruction came against the backdrop of rising trend of non-performing loans (NPLs) recently despite close monitoring by the central bank.

The amount of classified loans rose by more than 4.0 per cent to BDT 547.08 billion during the July-September period of 2015 from BDT 525.19 billion in the preceding quarter. It was BDT 546.58 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2015.

“We expect that the amount of non-performing loans (NPLs) will decline to some extent in the fourth quarter of 2015,” SK Sur Chowdhury, deputy governor of the BB, told reporters after the meeting.

He also said the BB advised the bankers to extend their credit facilities to SME and MSME along with large ones for achieving sustainable development. “The SME and MSME will be engine of the economic growth.”

“We’re hopeful about archiving maximum economic growth through boosting investment in different sectors by the end of this calendar year if the stable political situation continues,” Anis A Khan, newly elected chairman of the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh (ABB), said while replying to a query.