Political unrest pushes up defaulted farm loans

February 20, 2015

The defaulted loans in the agriculture sector increased by 14.42 per cent in the first seven months of this financial year despite a downward trend in farm loan disbursement in the period as farmers failed to repay their loans for not getting fair prices of their products due to a supply chain disruption amid political unrest. According to the Bangladesh Bank data released last week, the defaulted loans in the farm sector rose to Tk 7,218.66 crore as of January 31, 2015 from Tk 6,308.95 crore as of June 30, 2014.
A large number of farmers failed to repay their loans mainly in January this year as they counted losses for failure in supplying their products to upazila and district headquarters and to metropolitan cities due to a countrywide nonstop blockade and frequent hartals enforced by the opposition political parties in the period, a BB official told New Age on Thursday.
He said that the defaulted farm loans had decreased significantly in the first quarter of the FY15 due to an eased political situation in the period. The defaulted loans in agriculture sector were Tk 6,006.80 crore as of September 30, 2014.
The farm sector defaulted loans accounted for 23.72 per cent of the total loans (Tk 30,434.66 crore) disbursed in the sector as of January 31, 2015.
The classified loans in the sector were 21.92 per cent of the total loans (Tk 32,074.66 crore) disbursed as of January 31 last year.
Six state-run banks — Sonali, Janata, Agrani, Rupali, Bangladesh Krishi and Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan banks — held the majority of the defaulted farm loans.
The defaulted farm loans also increased year-on-year.
The farm sector defaulted loans in the six state-run banks increased by 2.64 per cent to Tk 7,131.63 crore as of January 31, 2015 from Tk 6,947.73 crore as of January 31, 2014.
The farm sector defaulted loans in the six banks stood at 28.97 per cent of the total loans amounting to Tk 24,614.34 crore disbursed by the banks to the sector as of January 31, 2015.
The agriculture sector defaulted loans in the private and foreign commercial banks increased to Tk 87.03 crore as of January 31, 2015 from Tk 82.17 crore as of January 31, 2014.
The sector’s defaulted loans in the PCBs and the FCBs stood at 1.47 per cent of their total loans amounting to Tk 5,573.42 crore disbursed to the sector as of January 31, 2014.
The BB official said that the state-run banks held larger amount of the agriculture defaulted loans than those of the PCBs and the FCBs as the state-run banks usually disburse the majority of the agriculture loans in the banking sector.
The political unrest also put an adverse impact on the farm loan disbursement as it (farm loan disbursement) decreased by 3.80 per cent in the first seven months of the FY15 compared with that in the same period of the FY14.
The farmers are now reluctant to receive farm loans as they are not getting fair prices of their products due to political unrest, the BB official said.
According to the BB data released on Thursday, farm loan disbursement by all scheduled banks decreased to Tk 8,484.42 crore in July-January of the FY15 from that of Tk 8,819.96 crore in the corresponding period of the FY14.
The BB official said that the defaulted loans in the agriculture sector would increase further in the coming months while loan disbursement would decrease if the political unrest persists.
Prices of the majority of the farm products declined significantly at the upazila level in the last few months as the farmers failed to supply the products to the district headquarters and the metropolitan cities due to a setback in the transportation system amid the ongoing political violence, he added.

-With New Age input

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