Ahmed Akbar Sobhan urged the government to reduce the rates of interest on savings instruments to help banks

Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan on Thursday urged the government to reduce the rates of interest on savings instruments to help banks and other financial institutions offer loans at single-digit interest rates.

“Bankers and businesses want single-digit interest rates. I request the government to reduce the interest rates on savings tools. Otherwise, banks will not be able to provide loans at single-digit interest rates,” he said.

The chairman of country’s largest business and industrial conglomerate made the call at a ceremony arranged to sign the agreement of a syndicated loan facility at a city hotel.
Under the agreement, Bank Asia, lead arranger of the syndicated loan, and four other lenders sanctioned a term loan facility of Tk 2.85 billion (285 crore) in favour of Bashundhara Industrial Complex Ltd for expansion of its cement plant at Madanganj in Narayanganj.

The total cost of the project has been estimated at Tk 4.47 billion.

Bank Asia, one of the fastest growing banks in private sector, is the lead arranger and agent of the loan. The other lenders are state-owned Janata Bank Ltd, Pubali Bank Ltd, NRB Bank Ltd and Uttara Finance and Investment Ltd.

Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Bank Asia President and Managing Director Md Arfan Ali, representatives from the participating lenders signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.

Janata Bank CEO and Managing Director Md Abdus Salam Azad, Pubali Bank Managing Director Md Abdul Halim Chowdhury, NRB Bank Deputy Managing Director Md Khurshed Alam and Uttara Finance Managing Director SM Shamsul Arefin were the other signatories.

Bashundhara Group Vice-Chairman Safwan Sobhan and high officials of different banks were also present on the occasion.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Bashundhara Group chairman said around 60 banks have been operating and contributing to the national economy. “Private banks are extending loans aggressively and it seems that they will continue their efforts in the coming days,” he said.

Ahmed Akbar Sobhan urged the banks and other lending agencies to examine details of the loan seekers before lending so that the lenders do not need to run before them after extending loans.

“We always talk about classified and defaulted loans. If any loan gets classified or defaulted, it puts pressure on the entire business community,” he said.

He said Bashundhara Group has been doing business for the last 30 years, but never defaulted on any loan.

Thanking the banks for their wholehearted support during Bashundhara Group’s business journey, Ahmed Akbar Sobhan said banks have contributed the most for the today’s position of Bashundhara Group.

“Bashundhara Cement ensures quality and strength. Bashundhara Cement has been used in major projects of the country and we hope the cement brand will contribute to upcoming projects too, he added.

Talking about the tourism sector, the Bashundhara Group chairman said they are planning to contribute to the tourism sector as there is huge prospect of the industry in the country.

“We’re planning to establish a couple of theme parks in tourism city Cox’s Bazar,” he said.

Bank Asia Managing Director Arfan Ali said the expansion of Bashundhara Cement factory will increase its annual production up to 3 million tonnes from existing 2.1 million tonnes.

Shedding light on the present scenario of country’s cement sector, he said average yearly per capita cement consumption is average 500 kgs in the world while it is around 120 kgs in Bangladesh.

“Currently the total estimated annual sale of cement in Bangladesh is around 32 million tonnes. Therefore, there is a huge potential of growth of the sector,” he added.

Arfan Ali also said Bank Asia has long been closely associated with Bashundhara Group and arranged three syndicate loan facilities for the group.

Top officials of different units of Bashundhara Group were also present at the signing ceremony.