'Unofficial terms' stand in way of PKB loans for migrant workers

Posted by BankInfo on Sat, Jul 29 2017 01:25 pm

Officials ask for land documents as collateral

Many outbound workers are facing difficulties in getting loans from the Probashi Kallyan Bank (PKB) due to 'unofficial conditions' and indifferent attitudes of bank officials, migrant workers have alleged.

Although there is no mention about submitting land documents as a condition for availing any migration loan from the PKB, its different branches are demanding the same from the borrowers.

Besides, the PKB officials are asking the migrant workers to make government service holders guarantors of the loans. This requirement is also not mentioned in terms and conditions set for PKB loans, they said.

Talking to the FE, a large number of foreign job aspirants highlighted these problems with getting the loans.

Some of them said, it is almost impossible to get a loan from the specialised bank without lobbying.

However, officials of the PKB denied the allegations about the loan disbursement system and said because of manpower shortage, they could not provide proper services at its different branches.

Of the total 45 branches across the country, 30 are running with one manager and one office assistant.

The remaining branches also have no sufficient manpower.

The PKB officials, however, said the problem would be resolved shortly. After the bank's conversion as a scheduled bank, its services to the migrant workers will be expedited, they said.

Wishing anonymity, a migrant worker, who went to the Jamalpur branch of the PKB, said he faced sufferings as officials asked him for his land document and a lot of papers for a migration loan.

"Even I am forced to lobby for the loan," he said. Officials misbehave with poor and weak job-seekers, he added.   

He also did not get any grace period in repaying instalments of the loan as mentioned in the PKB terms, he said.

Ali Hossain, brother of a migrant worker, said they completed all procedures as per the requirements of the PKB. But officials of its Comilla branch refused to provide the loan to his brother without any land document and a government service holder as a guarantor.

"My brother needs Tk 450,000 to go to Qatar. At last, we collected the money from a village money-lender at a high interest rate," he mentioned

Milon, another outbound worker, said he went to the Narayanganj branch of the PKB to get a loan.

But officials told him that Oman-bound workers would not get any loan from the PKB. "I did hard work to collect all necessary papers," he added.

Some workers, who visited the same branch, also claimed they were forced to give Tk 10,000 each to an intermediary to get loans. The agent is employed by the branch.

Official statistics showed that less than one per cent migrant workers received migration loans from the PKB in the fiscal year (FY) 2016-17.

According to the PKB, the number of migration loan beneficiaries was 6,304 out of 904,297 who migrated abroad in the last FY.

The PKB started its operation in April, 2011 with a capital of Tk 1.00 billion (100 crore) aiming to provide collateral-free loans to overseas job-seekers and to give loans for rehabilitation of returning workers in income-generating activities.

Of the total fund, the Wage Earners' Welfare Board provided Tk 950 million and the finance division of the government provided the remaining Tk 50 million.

Migrant rights activists said it is very unfortunate that migrant workers are not getting due support from the bank.

If the PKB fails to provide necessary loans, poor workers will be forced to go to money lenders to arrange the cost of migration. The authority should take proper initiatives to check all irregularities in providing loans to the migrant workers, they suggested.    

Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme (OKUP) chairman Shakirul Islam said the PKB was established to provide collateral-free and low-cost loans to the migrant workers but the bank has failed to meet the requirements.

It is a tough job for a migrant worker to submit land documents as many of them are landless. So, many workers will fail to avail the loans. The authority should check such a malpractice, he said.

He also said rates of interest against the PKB loans are very high. It is not suitable for workers as they are from lower-income group. The interest rate should not be more than 2.0 to 3.0 per cent, he observed.   

He also said returning workers usually can't fulfil the conditions set for availing income-generating loans of the PKB.

After turning of the PKB into a scheduled bank, it is necessary to make the terms on collaterals for income-generating loans simple, said Mr Islam.

The rate of interest is now 9.0 per cent on migration loans and 11 per cent on income-generating loans. The maximum limit of a migration loan is Tk 200,000 for one person.

Faruque Ahmed, secretary general of the WARBE Development Foundation, said it has become difficult to get loans from the PKB because of unofficial conditions.

A large number of workers, who applied for loans with the help of WARBE Development Foundation, failed to receive the funds, he added.

When contacted, PKB managing director ANM Masrurul Huda Siraji said he did not get such complaints so far. He said he would order investigation into various complaints.  

But the PKB maintains the condition on guarantor strictly to help recover the loans, he said.

He also said there is a manpower shortage in different branches. So, loan disbursement activities are being hampered. Already the central bank has issued a circular to employ officials in the PKB as per organogram of the bank.

He also said after conversion of the PKB as a scheduled bank, they will be able to expedite their loan services to the clients. Presently, the bank can disburse loans to only a few persons.  

Replying to a query, the PKB MD said all migrant workers are entitled to get migration loans. But the bank gives first priority to the workers whose visas are available online to check.

"So there is no reason to refuse a loan to any worker," he added.  

Since its operation, only 23,731 outbound Bangladeshi workers were given loans worth Tk 2.29 billion by the bank from fiscal year 2011-12 to 2016-17, according to official data.

Of the total beneficiaries, some 156 returnees received loans for income-generating projects at home. During the period, the bank recovered Tk 1.55 billion.

Meanwhile, the government recently decided to give Tk 2.50 billion to the PKB for turning it into a scheduled bank. The Wage Earners' Welfare Board has also given Tk 500 million to the bank to help raise its paid-up capital to Tk 4.0 billion.

News:Financial Express/29-jul-2017
Posted in Banking, News