Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh’s Parliament passed Banking Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2018 on Tuesday allowing four from a family to be bank directors at a time, amid strong opposition and criticisms from various quarters.

Furthermore, the tenure of directors of private commercial banks has been extended for three consecutive terms to nine years from the existing two terms following the amendments.

The Banking Companies Act 1991, amended in 2013, allowed two members of a family to be included in a bank’s board. The tenure of a director was set at three years and a director was allowed to hold the post for a maximum of two terms — three years each.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith moved the bill in the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) and it was passed by voice vote with Deputy Speaker M Fazley Rabbi Miah in the chair.

Placing the bill, the finance minister said the amendments would bring changes for fulfilling a longstanding demand of the private-bank owners.

However, the opposition and independent lawmakers led by Opposition Chief Whip Tajul Islam walked out of the House on protest and urged the Finance Minister to withdraw the bill and send it to the committee for eliciting public opinion.

They said the ammenbments will not protect the interest of the banking sector.

Experts and members of the country’s civil society had earlier strongly opposed since the draft bill seeking amendments to the Banking Companies Act 1991 was approved by the Cabinet in May last year, saying it would widen family control on private commercial banks.

Experts also observed that the move to amend law came at a time when there were widespread allegations of loan scams and irregularities against bank directors.

Previously, economists, politicians and experts on several occasions had said such amendments would widen control of a family over a bank, leaving depositors’ interests at stake.

Currently, 57 banks are running their business across the country.