Keeping secret the draft Bank Companies (Amendment) Act is not advisable

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The government, rather dubiously, has not published the draft Bank Companies (Amendment) Act despite the fact that it is not a secret document. The cabinet reportedly approved the draft of the Act in order to reform the banking sector on March 28 but, by keeping the draft secret, the government has violated the people’s right to information. The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has rightly urged the government to publish this Draft Act.
The TIB pointed out that when the draft got the nod from the cabinet nearly one month ago, it was expected that the government would publish it in order to receive feedback and recommendations from stakeholders.
We have noticed in the past that the government deliberately kept important papers hidden because once they are made public, they create furore among the people in general because of their anti-people content. Banks are important financial institutions in modern economies and people who become their clients must know the relevant laws of the banks.
It has been surfaced in the newspapers that the banking division of the Finance Ministry declined to share the Draft Act with a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which is now in the town citing it as a classified document. This is really absurd.
Now withholding the Draft Act makes it all the more urgent for the government to make it public. The government’s bank management has been so controversial during the last one decade that people in general have lost their trust in these institutions. Under the watch of the government as well as Bangladesh Bank, the banks, public or private, have been plundered.
The loan scams of the country’s Sharia-based banks including the Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) sent shockwaves not just among the clients of these banks but also the people in general. The government’s transparency in running the affairs of the state including the financial one has been always in question. People now want to know whether the government is trying to take control of people’s money through manipulation of the words of law.
By making the draft Bank Companies (Amendment) Act public, the government will have to ensure that money in the banks is not for vested interest, but for genuine interests of people in general.

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