Bangladesh Commerce Bank Ltd incorporated in Bangladesh on 1 June 1998 as a banking company, it started banking operations on 16 September 1999 with an authorised and paid up capital of Tk 2,000 million and Tk 920 million respectively. The share of the government of Bangladesh in the bank's paid up capital is Tk 300 million while depositors of the former Bangladesh Commerce and Investment Limited (BCIL) contributed Tk 520 million. The balance of Tk 100 million is to be subscribed by banks and financial institutions under guidance and supervision by bangladesh bank.
The former BCIL was set up on 27 January 1986 as a non-bank financial institution. It continued its business till April 1992. Consequent upon its liquidity crisis, Bangladesh Bank suspended its operations in April 1992. As a result, the investors of the company suffered a lot and its employees became jobless. Both the depositors and the jobless employees launched a movement for reopening the company in some form or other and demanded return of their money and dues. With a view to safeguarding the interest of the depositors, employees and the general public, and to protecting the banking system itself from contagious effects of bank failures, the government of Bangladesh established the Bangladesh Commerce Bank on the ashes of the collapsed BCIL.
Subsequently, the government on 8 February 1998 constituted a 10-member board of directors to organise and transform BCIL into BCBL and to administer the affairs of the bank. The 24 branches of BCIL were reopened as full-fledged branches of BCBL. The broad objective of the bank is to carry out all kinds of commercial banking activities and to respond quickly to the changing demands for modern banking products.
In its three months of operations in 1999 starting on 16 September and ending on 31 December, BCBL had mobilised deposits of Tk 83 million. To augment its deposit collection further, BCBL introduced a number of deposit schemes suited to the needs of all classes of people in society. These schemes include a) Monthly Profit Based Deposit Scheme, b) Pension Saving Scheme, c) Interest Free Deposit and Loan Scheme, d) Consumers' Credit Scheme, and e) Money Plantation Against Saving Certificates. It has also offered competitive rates of interest on its deposit holdings, which varied between 7.75% and 12% since the inception of its operations through May 2000. Total deposits stood at Tk 1,294.2 million on 31 December 2000, when its gross loans and advances amounted to Tk 1,311 million.
The first priority of the bank in 1999 and 2000 was the recovery of the past loans of the BCIL. It has managed to recover Tk 523.3 million in cash and Tk 1,788 million by adjustment against past liabilities. The bank is overburdened with the liabilities and the non-performing classified loans of BCIL. The bank also suffered losses in the years 1999 and 2000 and was not able to maintain necessary provisions for classified loans. Investment of the bank has increased from Tk 20 million in 1999 to Tk 95 million in 2000, mainly in government treasury bills. Because of the huge stuck up loans inherited from the BCIL, the bank's credit-deposit ratio stood at 101.30%.
Total assets of BCBL, including the Tk 1,423.99 million of former BCIL stood at Tk 3,763.7 million on 31 December 2000. The bank's off-balance-sheet reserve was only Tk 95.8 million, a figure which has contributed little to the increase of its asset-mix. In 2000, BCBL maintained liquid assets of Tk 1,052.6, a sum hardly sufficient to meet its accumulated short-term/current obligations. On the other hand, statutory liquid assets of the bank were 15.08% in 2000, which is below the 20% SLR requirement envisaged by Bangladesh Bank. Because BCBL had absorbed huge amount of liabilities and non-performing assets of BCIL, it was not possible for the bank to make net profits during the short period of its existence in the new set-up.
The bank is managed by a 9-member board of directors
appointed by the government. A total of 590 officers and other staff work
in the head office and the 24 branches of the bank. It has inherited a
training institute from BCIL. This institute is being reorganised to provide
training to its employees in modern banking services.
[S M Mahfuzur Rahman]