Operation of Samabaya Bank in Rajshahi remained closed for over two decades. As a result, marginal farmers and small entrepreneurs are being trapped by the loans sanctioned at high interest rates by the NGOs and other commercial banks.
Sources close to Samabaya Bank informed, the activities of Samabaya Bank were closed as the bank failed to repay a loan of Taka 55 lakh to the government. As a result, activities of 186 units of Samabaya Samity in various areas of the district remained stalled. At the same time, a substantial amount of money sanctioned to the field levels through various samabays also remained unrealised for a long time.
It is learnt, only under Godagari upazila, there were 20 unit-samabaya samity. Only two of these remained somehow active through the own initiatives of the members and others are now almost non-existent. Out of two active units, one is situated at Rishikul Union Bohumukhi Samabaya Samity Limited.
Years ago, farmers and small entrepreneurs used to get small agriculture and other small loans through these samabaya samities at a nominal interest rate. There was also no scope of becoming loan defaulter by any member because the loan was being sanctioned through forming co-operative societies.
As the activities of the Samabaya Bank remained closed for years, almost all the co-operative societies formed years ago no longer exist. As a result, farmers and small business entrepreneurs were drawing loans from various NGOs and the commercial banks at an exorbitant, multiple interest rate and are turning paupers.
Farmers of the district, however, demanded to restart activities of the Samabaya Bank as early as possible to save the existence of the farmers of the region.
According to sources, the last loan issued from the own fund of Samabaya Bank Limited was in 2005 while the government disbursed its last loan through the samity in 1990-’91. The amount of disbursed loan through various branches of the bank was only taka One crore three lakh 67 thousand during the tenure 1972 to 1991 whereas Rajshahi Samabaya Bank repays loan with interest taka 27 lakh 62 thousand 270 during the same time.
Out of the rest 76 lakh four thousand and 730 government paid taka 20 lakh 88 thousand and 649 as subsidy. The government had, however, ordered Central Samabaya Bank to repay the remaining Tk 55 lakh 16 thousand and 81 to Rajshahi Samabaya Bank and to start its activities again but no further step was taken in this connection later on.
According to an estimate of Samabaya Bank Limited, Rajshahi, there are outstanding or classified loan of Taka four lakh 29 thousand with units of Bagmara upazila, Taka three lakh 98 thousand with units of Mohanpur upazila, Taka dour lakh 37 thousand with Godagari upazila, taka two lakh 60 thousand with Tanore upazila, Taka 11 lakh 93 thousand from Puthia upazila, Taka 10 lakh 13 thousand from Durgapur upazila, Taka eight lakh 80 thousand from Charghat upazila, Taka six lakh 27 thousand from Bagha upazila and Taka 5,000 only from Paba upazila.
Meanwhile, due to closure of loan activities, the committee of Rajshahi Central Samabaya Bank has also been dissolved. Due to closure of activities of the bank, none was now interested to remain as a member of the committee, sources informed.