Probashi Kallyan Bank, a specialised financial institution for migrant workers, is struggling to conduct its day-to-day activities due to manpower shortage.
The bank has 64 branch offices all over the country, including a principal branch located at the Probashi Kallyan Bhaban in the capital. It also has a booth at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
But it currently has only about 210 officials, apart from some drivers and office assistants, said a top official of the bank, on condition of anonymity. As a result, they are facing difficulties, especially at field level, as they need to do field-level inspections before disbursing every loan, irrespective of amount.
"It is tough to cover the whole country with the bank's existing manpower," the official added.
Bank sources said it submitted to the authorities concerned a proposal for eight additional personnel, including officials and other employees, for each branch, which is at the final stage of approval.
The bank's work rate will increase significantly once it gets the required manpower, the top official said.
In addition to its regular activities, Probashi Kallyan Bank has recently been tasked with disbursing the "special reintegration loan" from a Tk 200-crore fund created for returnee migrant workers economically affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The government established the bank in 2010 to provide collateral-free loans to migrant workers for employment, loans to returnees to assist them in getting employment in the country, facilitate sending remittance, and encourage wage-earners to invest in the country, according to the bank's official website.
On April 20, 2011, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated the bank during the Dhaka Consultation of the Colombo Process, a forum of labour-sending countries in Asia.
The bank accepts deposits, extends loans to migrants and returnees, and buys and sells foreign currencies.
Up to August 2020, it has sanctioned migrant loans worth Tk 516 crore with a recovery rate of about 86 percent. The loan amount was disbursed to 42,613 people, said the bank's website.
Besides, it provided rehabilitation loans to 170 people with a recovery rate of about 62 percent.
The bank usually grants migrant loans of up to Tk 2 lakh for each individual, while rehabilitation loans for returnees range from Tk 2 lakh to Tk 10 lakh. Both loans are sanctioned at nine percent interest rate.
Besides providing loans, the bank also handles fees collections from about 2,000 overseas job-seekers per day across the country.
The bank's assets value is about Tk 628.83 crore, according to the audit report on its financial statements for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Mahtab Zabin, managing director of Probashi Kallyan Bank, pointed at manpower shortage and said the bank has submitted a proposal for additional manpower, which was at the final stage.
"Once we get the manpower, we will be able to fulfil all targets swiftly," she told this newspaper over phone recently.