Bank accounts with Tk 1cr soar

The number of bank accounts with more than Tk 1 crore in deposit in the country soared by 4,860 to 1.08 lakh at the end of June from 1.03 lakh at the end of March in 2022 as the rich continued to get richer amid increasing economic woes oppressing the poor and limited-income people.

The number of such bank accounts was 1,01,976 at the end of December 2021 and 99,918 at the end of June that year, according to a Bangladesh Bank report.

In a further sign of the growing inequality, the number of the country’s bank accounts holding above Tk 25 crore in deposit was 4,118 at the end of June in 2022 while the figure was 3,975 at the end of March.

Anu Muhammad, professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, told New Age on Tuesday that the number of bank accounts having more than Tk 1 crore was a partial reflection of the concentration of wealth in society as a huge amount of money was likely laundered abroad or converted into other assets.

He said that people with opportunities took advantage of the current economic crisis, including the rising inflation, with businesses abnormally raising prices of products to make high profits.

Many people, he added, have been involved in inflating government development project costs and in over-spending in public purchases to make money.

Bribery, commission business and other means of corruption, too, continued to be rampant, said Anu Muhammad.

Thus, the economic crisis rather appeared as a boon for the rich, he observed.

Some bankers reasoned that the lack of investment opportunities for the wealthy had also contributed to the growth in the number of big bank deposits.

The wealthy people could not invest large portions of their money and, therefore, they kept the money in bank accounts, they said.

Besides, they noted, the country has been going through a macroeconomic crisis due to the rising inflation, record trade deficit, huge external debts and shortage of dollars.

The concentration of almost half of the deposited money in the banks in a small number of accounts also signifies the growing inequality in the country, they also said.

There were some 9.5 crore bank accounts that held below Tk 5,000 each while the number of accounts with less than  Tk 1 lakh each was 11.61 crore at the end of June 2022, according to the central bank report.

The number of such bank accounts was 93,890 on December 31, 2020 and 83,839 on December 31, 2019 against 75,563 on December 31, 2018.

The volume of money in such bank accounts rose to Tk 6.80 lakh crore at the end of June from Tk 6.63 lakh crore at the end of March in 2022. The amount was about Tk 6.54 lakh crore at the end of 2021.

According to the BB data, the number of accounts holding above Tk 1cr is less than 1 per cent of the total bank accounts, which hold more than 40 per cent of the total deposited money.

As of June 2022, the total number of bank accounts in the country stood at 12.95 crore, with some Tk15.73 lakh crore deposited in them.

Wealthy people also found keeping money in bank accounts better than other investments, bankers said.

Besides, as the scope for money laundering was very slim and there was little global demand for investments amid the global economic slowdown, extra money was kept idle in bank accounts, they added.

According to the Bangladesh Bank data, the number of bank accounts with above Tk 1 crore in deposit was 19,636 in March 2009.

Since that year, deposits in such bank accounts have increased by more than seven times until this year.

The number of such accounts was only five in 1972 and 47 in 1975.

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