September 25, 2020, 6:26 am


Siyam Hoque

Published:
2020-06-02 10:36:40 BdST

MBL puts thrust on financing health sector, MSME


NEWS DESK

Mercantile Bank Limited (MBL) has taken a series of measures to bring un-banked people into the banking network through boosting micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) across the country.

"We are also going to establish a high-quality hospital and finance the health sector vigorously," the MBL CEO disclosed.

The Bank will disburse loan to the interested entrepreneurs to invest in health sector at a comparably lower rate of interest.

Under the moves, the leading private commercial bank (PCB) is going to launch its agent banking with setting up 23 outlets at different parts of the country within June 2020, the bank's top executive has said.

Besides, the third generation PCB is also working to open 10 Islamic banking windows -Taqwa -by the end of this month, according to Md. Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of the MBL.

"Actually, we're working to facilitate the ongoing financial inclusion programmes across the country through introducing different products and services," the senior banker disclosed while sharing his future strategies including liquidity management of the bank in an exclusive interview with the Financial Express (FE) to mark the bank's 21st anniversary.

The MBL started its journey on June 02, 1999 with a slogan 'Efficiency is our strength.'

The CEO said Mercantile Bank has already introduced a product - UDAYAN -to help developing entrepreneurship among the young graduates who have talent to be innovative and creative but lack initial fund.

"We're trying to facilitate developing entrepreneurship through providing initial funds," Mr. Chowdhury, a 37-year experienced commercial banker, said while replying to a query.

The MBL is also now in the process of establishing two new subsidiary companies -MBL Asset Management Limited and MBL MyCash Limited -aiming to provide better services to its clients.

The scheduled bank is rated by the global rating agency Moody's that reflects MBL's good profitability, well matched maturity profile, modest asset quality and solvency profile, according to the CEO.

Like other banks, the MBL is now receiving applications from its customers to provide loans under different stimulus packages, announced by the government and the central bank to help business community amid Coronavirus pandemic.

"We've already signed participatory agreements with the Bangladesh Bank (BB) to implement different stimulus packages with using the BB's refinancing scheme and other facilities," Mr. Chowdhury said while explaining the MBL position on implementation of the packages.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has so far announced a total of 19 stimulus packages worth Tk 1.03 trillion to stave off the shock of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on various sectors of the country.

"We're taking supportive steps in line with the BB's instructions," the CEO said while explaining the preparations to offset economic effects of Covid-19.

He, however, said the actual business effect will depend on how long this pandemic persists and how financial regulators and world leaders devise policies and strategies to address the crucial issue in the last 90 years in world history.

The senior banker is optimistic that the impact of pandemic will be minimized by the end of this calendar year if all work efficiently in a coordinated manner.

Regarding fund management, the CEO said the MBL is managing its fund smoothly with availing recent policy supports of the central bank.

All the scheduled banks are now free to use more than Tk 190 billion as loan-able funds after the central bank slashed the cash reserve requirement (CRR) by 150 basis points to 4.0 per cent from 5.50 per cent earlier.

The central bank has also cut the repo rate by 75 basis points to 5.25 per cent from 6.00 per cent earlier to help the banks manage their funds properly.

Besides, the BB had already introduced 360-day special repo facility to help banks and financial institutions secure funds needed to implement the economic relief packages.

"Revised advance-deposit ratio (ADR) limit has also helped managing fund efficiently," Mr. Chowdhury added.

Earlier on April 12 last, the central bank increased ADR limit by 2.0 percentage points to help the banks for implementation the ongoing stimulus package through investing more in different sectors.

The ADR has been re-fixed at 87 per cent for all the conventional banks instead of 85 per cent earlier while such limit has been revised at 92 per cent for the Shariah-based Islami banks from 90 per cent.

The deposit of the MBL grew by 5.43 per cent to Tk 250.08 billion at the end of April 2020 to Tk 237.21 billion a year ago while loans and advances rose by 5.55 per cent to Tk 235.95 billion from Tk 223.55 billion.

"But some indicators including the flow of inward remittance, export earnings and import are now showing a decreasing trend recently mainly due to the virus pandemic," the senior banker explained.

Currently, the MBL serves a large customer base comprising individuals and institutions through a network of 149 branches across the country.

Besides, the bank is providing services to the clients through 181 ATM (automated teller machine) booths along with 20 cash deposit machines at different parts of Bangladesh.

On the other hand, Mercantile Bank Foundation (MBF) has begun operations since 2000 with a view to enforcing the BB's guidelines for carrying out broader Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity through the Foundation.

The MBF has been undertaking a range of activities over the past twenty one years with the sole purpose of helping its target people to improve the quality of life.

More than 4000 staffs family get support from the MBL. It is contributing in employment creation by creating quality manpower.

The MBL has been awarded 'Certificates of Merit' at the ICAB awards for Best Presented Annual Report 2018, in testimony to its commitment for promoting transparency vis-a-vis multiple stakeholders.

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