Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – The central bank of Bangladesh has decided to introduce double-shift in its Credit Information Bureau (CIB) aiming at faster delivery of credit reports to entrepreneurs.

“We’ve decided to start double shifts in the CIB. We will hire university students as interns to clear the existing back log of requests for CIB reports,” Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Atiur Rahman told reporters after a routine bankers’ meeting held in the central bank Wednesday.

The BB governor also said the central bank has a plan to put the CIB reports online for the entrepreneurs in the near future.

The central bank has already appointed an Italian company to implement CIB automation project, a BB executive told the FE.

Under the existing provisions, outstanding loan amounting to a minimum of Tk 50,000 minimum is included in the CIB reporting system.

Currently, the commercial banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) submit over 3000 applications for CIB reports every working day, which were only 400-500 around five years back.

The number of applications has suddenly marked a sharp rise due to inclusion of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the CIB reporting system, another BB official said.

On the other hand, businessmen alleged that they receive the CIB reports from the central bank nearly one month after the date of submission of their requests that hampers their business activities.

“We do not get CIB reports in time due mainly to huge back log. We receive such reports from the central bank 10-20 days after the date of submission of our requests,” Chairman of the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh (ABB) K Mahmood Sattar told reporters.

He also said the central bank will start double shifts in the CIB as an immediate relief. But the CIB will ultimately be automated, according to the vision of the new BB governor, he added.

It was the first banker meeting for Mr. Atiur after taking over as the central bank governor on May 3 last.

The central bank chief has asked the commercial banks to comply with the latest instructions relating to interest rates on lending to help the economy face the challenges posed by worldwide recession.

“Some banks are not following the central bank directives relating to the interest rates on lending. They are still charging higher than what has been fixed by the BB,” the BB governor said.

He also said confusions are being created over the lending rates for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are not desirable. “We hope that you will take appreciate measures considering the intrinsic motive of the instructions relating to interest rates on lending,” he added.

The central bank has already asked the commercial banks to bring down the lending rate on import financing for nine essential food items to a maximum of 12 per cent from the existing 13 per cent.

 The essentials are: edible oil, sugar, gram, pulses, peas, onion, spices, date and fruits.

On April 19 last, the BB asked the commercial banks to fix the interest ceiling on lending for five specific areas at maximum 13 per cent to help mitigate the impact of the ongoing global recession on the country’s economy.

The five areas are agriculture, large and medium-scale industries in respect with term loan, large and medium-scale industries relating to working capital, housing, and trade financing.

 “We’ve discussed with the bankers about how to overcome the impact of the ongoing global meltdown on the national economy,” Mr. Atiur said, adding that the central bank is trying to manage the country’s banking sector through participatory process.

During the meeting, the BB governor has asked the chief executives and managing directors of the commercial banks to provide adequate credit support to the productive sectors like agriculture to increase the overall production.

 “The banks should provide loans for keeping the price level of the essential commodities stable in the market,” the BB governor said, adding that the bankers will not lend to any project that can hamper environment and climate.

“We’ve given priority to agriculture sector, women entrepreneurship and employment generation,” Mr. Atiur said, adding: “We’re trying to create a synergy between agriculture and industry.”

The central bank wants to sustain the existing growth of gross domestic product (GDP) with an accommodative monetary policy, he added.

 “We’ll change the outlook of the country’s banking sector, which will be welfare oriented, humanitarian and environment friendly within the next four years,” the central bank chief noted.

Replying to a query, the BB governor said the central bank has issued a circular to remind the board of directors and chief executives (CEOs) of the private commercial banks (PCBs) about their areas of accountability, duties and responsibilities.

“It is not a new circular. It has been re-issued only to remind the directors and CEOs about their accountability and responsibilities,” he added.

On Tuesday, the central bank issued the circular and asked chairmen and CEOs of PCBs to ensure the accountability, duties and responsibilities of the directors and CEOs.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-14May09-12:13 am (BST)