Aggrieved for not being awarded a separate pay scale for the four state-owned banks despite government's nod, the officials of Janata, Sonali, Rupali and Agrani banks have reiterated their demand for immediate implementation of such pay scale.
In a recent letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith, they once again raised their demand for a separate pay scale, pointing to the higher cost of living.
They also said there exist separate pay scales in other countries in the world, even in neighbouring India.
When his attention was drawn to the demand, a former central bank governor extended his support to it but questioned efficiency of the state-owned commercial bank (SCB) officials. In this connection, Dr Ahmed pointed to the anomalies in pay scales between SCBs and PCBs.
"A negotiation on separate pay scales for central bank and SCBs was going on for a long time. The vice president of a private bank gets an amount four times what a General Manager of a nationalized bank draws as his monthly pay." He, however, opposed any rise in the number of SCB officials in this case.
Questioning the eligibility of the SCB Board members, he suggested that these Board of Directors should be freed from political interference. He also recommended raising the efficiency of SCBs like the PCBs. "Use of technology will have to be increased," the former top official of the country's central bank said.
On the separate pay scale, a senior official at the Finance Ministry said, "Such a pay scale has been finalised for the state-owned banks. But because of some legal complexities it is not being possible to implement that. The Finance Minister himself looks into the matter." The SCB officials in their letter to the Finance Minister said many executives switch over to PCBs because of low pay at the state banks. As a result, SCBs are being devoid of merit, they said, adding that it takes a long time to recruit afresh. The aggrieved officials also pointed to different types of job they have to discharge at the SCBs.
"Especially, we pay old age allowance, widow allowance, pensions, freedom fighters allowance, military pension and deposit government money of public exchequer. The government borrows loan from nationalized banks whereas it cannot borrow private banks. No budget has been made for the nationalized banks, rather they collect tax at source and duties for the government with which it pays salary and allowances. None of these jobs is done by PCBs. Yet, neither Finance Ministry nor Bangladesh Bank has any headache for them," the letter mentioned.
The letter also pointed out that it becomes difficult for SCB officials to run their family because of the rising trend of prices of goods and services and house rent.
It mentioned, "Regarding the rise in house rent the government has no headache because ministers do not have to pay house rent. It is necessary for the city corporation to fix house rent as per square feet."
The letter pointed to the fact that the SCBs are made public limited companies (PLCs) by name only. "None has so far got any benefit of being PLCs," it said.
In other countries, there are independent pay scales for bankers and their salaries are higher than government officials' because bankers work between 10 in the morning and nine at night and on the other hand government officials leave office at or before five in the afternoon. Although office opens at nine in the morning none turns up before ten. On Thursdays they leave office before two in the afternoon, the SCB officials further said in their letter.
They also referred to the Finance Minister's promise for separate pay scales for nationalized banks before 2011-2012 fiscal year. But until now, the issue remains unresolved.
In the letter, the SCB officials came down heavily on Shafiqur Rahman Patwary, outgoing Secretary of the Banks and Financial Institutions Division. They alleged that Patwary misappropriated hundreds of crores of taka from banks and made his fortune.
In the letter it has been alleged that Finance Ministry and Bangladesh Bank officials take bribes in different ways.