Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Finance Minister AMA Muhith has asked state-owned banks (SCBs) for taking effective measures to curb ‘lobbying’ (Tadbir) within ‘reasonable limit’ and increase efficiency.

“Overnight abolishing of ‘lobbying’ is not practical and our challenge is to keep it within controllable limit”, the finance minister told reporters after a meeting with board of two SCBs -Sonali Bank Limited and Agrani Bank Limited –held at the state gust house Padma in Dhaka on Thursday.

Mr. Muhith also defended the appointment of politicians as the directors of SCBs saying: “We used to choose directors from among businessmen earlier, but experience showed that they tend to be greedy when money is involved.”

The remarks came amid widespread criticism over appointing ‘non-professional’ bank directors for SCBs, particularly from political parties.

The directors of SCBs were allegedly involved in intervening in different policy decisions of banks including loan sanction and transfer and promotion of employees, two leading dailies reported lately.

The minister informed this meeting was just an ‘exchange of views’ with the banks concerned after the appointments.

The minister also reminded the top officials of two SCBs of upholding the stake of depositors as the state-owned banks are government property.

“We’ve specially asked the bank officials to invest more in rural areas and mobilize more savings there”, the minister said.

When asked about the treatment of UniPay2U, a fictitious company about which the central bank recently issued warning, Muhith said, “We can’t stop them overnight, but legal procedures are in progress for them.”

UniPay2U recently started shifting money from its bank account to other accounts and the minister said the central bank will be looking into this matter.

The minister will also attend another such meeting with top officials and directors of two other SCBs-Janata and Rupali-on February 3 this year.

Governor of Bangladesh Bank Atiur Rahman, members of board of directors, chairmen, and managing directors of Sonali and Agrani Banks, top officials of the central bank were present at the meeting.

BBN/SI/AD-28Jan11-1:18 pm (BST)