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Write about media owners defaulting on loans: Hasina

Published : Saturday, 15 June, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 138

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged journalists to report on owners of news media outlets who have defaulted on their loans.
She made the call at a media briefing on the proposed national budget for fiscal year 2019-20 on Friday.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal unveiled a Tk 5.23 trillion budget - the biggest in Bangladesh's history -- for fiscal year 2019-20 in parliament on Thursday.
However, the prime minister took on the task of presenting a large portion of budget after Kamal fell ill midway through his speech.
Hasina addressed the media on the government's spending plans at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka, before fielding questions from reporters.
During the briefing, the prime minister's attention was drawn to the alarmingly high figure of bad loans in the banking sector, with the total amount of defaults currently ballooning to Tk 1.1 trillion from Tk 230 billion a decade ago.
On the cause of the loan defaults, the prime minister said, "I won't have to answer if you (the reporter) look into who the owners of newspapers are, the banks from which they've taken out loans and the amounts they've borrowed."
Hasina then urged the media to find out if such loans have been repaid and write reports on it. "Go to your owners and tell them to redress the loan defaults. Then there won't be any loan defaults," said the Awami League chief.
"Another thing is that the interest rates are very high. Compound interest is charged. Also, the figures take into account the compound interest rates, making the amount of loan defaults seem larger," she added.
Pointing to a vested interest in holding out unpaid compound interest as loan default, Hasina pledged to 'gradually address the issue.'
"We have previously said that we will give opportunities for defaulters to repay their loans."
"We will also keep track of all owners of newspapers and other media who have taken out loans. It is my request that they repay their loans before writing about this issue in their papers."
The latest data from Bangladesh Bank shows the total amount of default loans exceeded Tk 1.5 trillion or 11.87 percent of total loans disbursed at the end of March. The amount includes about Tk 392.5 billion in written-off debts.

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