Around the entire globe, people have been worried about the approaching catastrophe. The first-world country commonly experiences economic instability and is embroiled in turmoil. The effects of this crisis are being felt by the people of Bangladesh as well. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has spoken to the media about the anticipated food catastrophe in 2023. We also have a reserve-related issue, which has pushed Bangladeshis to be frugal in preparing for possible upheaval. The government has also made some attempts to deal with or resolve the problems. Based on the importance of doing what is required or not required, both the government and the people of Bangladesh have duties to be serious and careful. More essential than practicing frugality is preventing money laundering.
The world is aware of Bangladesh’s corruption. The straightforward analysis of corruption in Bangladesh will demonstrate how it impacts the stability of the economy and the growth of our culture. Today, it is common to come across corruption when reading newspaper articles.
The Criminal Investigation Department of police reported that in the last four months, at least 5,000 agents from various mobile financial services made suspicious transactions totaling about Tk 25,000 crore that were intended to be sent home by Bangladeshi expatriates. Through this hundi method, we have been deprived of receiving a significant amount of money. They also claimed that Hundi traders used mobile financial services to launder Tk 75,000 crore in a single year ( MFS).
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) reported this year that around USD 3.1 billion (Tk 26,400 crore) is unlawfully transferred from Bangladesh each year. It is highly remarkable that only one guy, PK Halder, a Bangladeshi-Canadian banker, looted Tk 10,000 crore, which could be recovered as a significant fraction of the overall cost of an expensive bridge like the Padma Bridge. In June 2020, the CID filed a lawsuit against Sajjad Hossain Barkat, the leader of the Faridpur AL, and his brother Imtiaz Hasan Rubel for laundering Tk 2,000 crore obtained through contract fraud, narcotics smuggling, and other means. The list will gradually expand longer if I include each of these incidents of money laundering individually. Bangladesh loses around Tk 750 billion in remittances every year as a result of money laundering by at least 5,000 Mobile Financial Services (MFS) agents in the country.
Over 500 thousand takas have reportedly been laundered in the past ten years, almost as much as Bangladesh’s whole national budget, according to Global Financial Integrity. Every year, an average of 55,000 crore taka is removed from our nation through money laundering. The top country on the list for money laundering is Bangladesh.
Another part of the crisis in our country is the shortage of reserves which has shocked us intensely. This is the first time in two years that Bangladesh’s foreign reserves have fallen below 40 billion US dollars, having previously surpassed 48 billion dollars during the COVID-19 crisis.
Since then, it has been getting worse. Bangladesh has sought the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a 4.5 billion dollar loan as its reserves are decreasing as a result of growing import costs. However, one of the key requirements for receiving a loan is that the government cannot provide a subsidiary for the importation of fuel. The Bangladeshi government revoked its restriction on fuel imports after accepting the requirement. Bangladesh imports oil, hence the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has a negative impact on our economy. The cost of fuel soared as a result. It raises the cost of practically every good and service. The cost of a daily consumable good has exceeded our capacity. The lives of the indigent are miserable. The World Food Program claims that almost 68% of individuals have difficulties paying for food because of price hikes.
The Bangladeshi government is facing a catastrophic future as a result of this decreasing reserve, which the citizenry is gradually realizing. Therefore, the government has taken some action to reduce the strain on reserves by reducing the waste of fuel and power. The government made the decision to shorten office hours at institutions like banks, courts, and other financial institutions. Additionally, the administration chose to open schools three times per week for several days. The government ordered that all shops close before 8 p.m. Although this directive did not apply to the hospital or stores that sold medical supplies.
Most of the country’s corruption, money laundering, and power shortages are tied to our reserve currency. It has been obvious that applying load shedding in order to reserve fuel not only affected our daily essential activities but also disrupted the production and services of the relevant businesses or organizations. The term “black money” can be used to refer to money that has been illegally obtained, and this situation highlights the importance of preventing money laundering. Although wasting anything is never a good idea, the government’s determination to stop the wasting of fuel and electricity has made our lives miserable by forcing us to do things we are not accustomed to.
Before reducing waste through load shedding and reducing office hours, the law enforcement agency must stop money laundering. In the midst of this crisis, taking strict and fair action against hundi is essential. First, the government should address significant problems like money laundering to cut down on waste rather than interfering with our daily lives.
The writer is a student, Department of Accounting and Information Systems Islamic University, Kushtia, Member, Bangladesh Tarun Column Lekhok Forum, Islamic University Unit.
Published : Wednesday, 26 October, 2022
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