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Implications of Defaulted Loans on the Financial Stability of Bangladesh

Implications of Defaulted Loans


The rise in bad loans poses a serious threat to the economic sector of Bangladesh with far-reaching consequences for the financial stability and banking sector across the country. These crises occur when borrowers fail to comply with pre-established loan repayment terms, triggering a domino effect that threatens not only individual financial well-being but also the country’s broader economic health. As of 2023, Bangladesh finds itself grappling with an alarming rise in non-performing loans, which emerges as a critical concern that demands urgent attention. Its effects extend beyond immediate financial losses to lending institutions, transcending into a systemic risk that undermines the stability of the entire financial sector. The multifaceted impact of this crisis requires a comprehensive understanding and strategic intervention to mitigate its adverse effects and pave the way for a more resilient and sustainable financial environment in Bangladesh.

What is a defaulted loan?

A loan default occurs when a borrower is unable to meet the agreed terms of a loan, usually involving the timely repayment of borrowed funds. Reasons for loan defaults can vary widely, including economic downturns that affect the borrower’s financial stability, instances of poor financial management, or unforeseen circumstances such as job loss, illness, or other unforeseen events that impede the borrower’s ability to meet loan repayment obligations. In such situations, the borrower is deemed to be in default, which may include additional fees, penalties, and in severe cases legal action by the lender to recover the outstanding loan. Defaulted loans not only have personal implications for the borrower but also contribute to broader economic challenges and concerns within the financial sector.

Total defaulted loans in Bangladesh 2023:

Bangladesh’s bad debt crisis has reached alarming proportions as of June 2023, as reported by Bangladesh Bank (BB) on 1 October. The total amount of defaulted loans rose to Rs 1,56,039 crore indicating a significant increase, from Rs 31,620 crore recorded in March 2023 and Rs 1,20,656 crore at the end of December 2022. This significant increase in a short time indicates the severity of the problem, which has posed significant challenges to the country’s financial stability and banking sector. The rising trend reflects the complex interplay of economic factors, financial management issues, and unforeseen circumstances, which contribute to increasing the burden of defaulted loans in the country. Addressing this crisis has become imperative to preserve the integrity of the financial system and sustain economic growth in Bangladesh.

Last condition of defaulted loan in Bangladesh:

According to the latest available data, the NPL situation has become a serious concern in Bangladesh, where the NPL rate has reached 10.11% of total loans. This puts Bangladesh as the second highest in South Asia in terms of loan default rate, indicating the severity of the problem. The continued upward trend in loan defaults is a significant threat to the stability of both the financial sector and the broader economy. Double-digit default rates indicate that a significant portion of the loan portfolio is at risk, requiring urgent and comprehensive action to address the root causes of defaults, improve risk management practices, and restore confidence in the financial system. The consequences of this high default rate extend beyond individual borrowers and lenders, affecting the overall economic health of Bangladesh and warranting concerted efforts by regulatory authorities, financial institutions, and policymakers to formulate effective strategies for resolution and prevention.

Default Loan Rates in South Asia:

In South Asia’s debt default landscape, Bangladesh holds the undisputed position of having the second-highest rate of debt default. According to the latest data, the rate of defaulted loans in Bangladesh is 10.11% of total loans, indicating a significant proportion of borrowers facing challenges in meeting their repayment obligations. Sri Lanka faces an even higher default rate of 13.33%, which underscores the regional gravity of the problem. In comparison, Pakistan reports a default rate of 7.4%, reflecting a relatively low but still significant level of loan defaults. Notably, India registers a relatively low default rate, emphasizing a more resilient credit environment. This regional overview highlights the pressing need for concerted efforts across South Asian countries to address the underlying factors contributing to debt defaults, strengthen risk management frameworks, and enhance financial stability across the region.

Forgiveness and Reparation:

Forgiveness programs generally do not apply to defaulted loans; Once a borrower defaults on a loan, it is not forgivable. However, borrowers have ways to regain eligibility for the forgiveness program by taking proactive steps to focus primarily on paying off the debt. By meeting outstanding obligations and adhering to agreed repayment terms, borrowers can work their way out of default. Once they successfully restore their financial standing, they may be eligible to apply for a forgiveness program, if they meet certain criteria. This underscores the importance of commitment to debt repayment and responsible financial management as key factors in the journey toward potential eligibility for debt rehabilitation and forgiveness initiatives.

Credit Effect and Duration:

The impact of loan default extends to borrowers’ credit profile, which has a negative impact that lasts for a significant period of six years. During this period, default information remains on the individual’s credit report, affecting their creditworthiness and potentially preventing future borrowing opportunities. It is important to note that, unless there is an error, this default information cannot be removed before the six-year period expires. However, borrowers can mitigate the impact by actively engaging in timely repayment and demonstrating financial responsibility. Consistent efforts to meet financial obligations and manage credit contribute to the gradual improvement of credit profile over time. This underscores the importance of sustainable financial prudence as individuals work toward rebuilding their creditworthiness after default.

Bank’s Financial Loss:

Banks face substantial financial losses in case of loan defaults, which affects various aspects of their operations and overall health. The financial implications extend beyond the immediate loss of the principal amount of the defaulted loan. Banks also face reduced profits as interest income associated with defaulted loans is compromised. Additionally, the bank’s liquidity may be strained, as funds that were expected to be repaid are not recovered, affecting the availability of resources for lending and other operational needs. The cumulative impact of defaulted loans poses a significant threat to the overall health of banks, jeopardizing their stability and ability to function optimally within the financial system. Mitigating this risk involves implementing robust risk management practices, thorough credit assessment, and effective credit recovery measures to protect the financial well-being of banks and maintain the resilience of the broader financial sector.

Blacklisted Banks in Bangladesh: Crisis and Weak Banks:

Bangladesh’s banking sector is grappling with a crisis, with several institutions facing significant challenges and being classified as vulnerable. Notable among them are Agrani Bank Limited, Janata Bank Limited, Prime Bank Limited, Islami Bank PLC, Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited, and First Security Islami Bank Limited. The precarious situation of these banks has far-reaching implications, which have a substantial impact on the stability of the overall banking sector. Weak banks face high risks related to non-performing loans, inadequate capital, and operational inefficiencies, which may compromise their ability to support economic activity and maintain financial stability. Addressing the issues faced by these banks becomes imperative to strengthen the resilience of the banking sector, ensuring that it remains a pillar of strength in facilitating Bangladesh’s economic growth and development. Regulatory intervention, strategic restructuring, and prudent risk management practices are essential to navigate and mitigate the crisis facing these financial institutions.

Debt Ownership and National Status:

Bangladesh takes ownership of its national debt, emphasizing its commitment to responsibly manage this financial obligation. Prudent management of the national debt is paramount to maintaining economic stability and fiscal responsibility. A government’s ability to effectively manage its debt portfolio directly affects the overall health of the economy. By strategically managing debt, a nation can strike a balance between financing projects needed for development and ensuring that debt remains at sustainable levels. Responsible debt management contributes to maintaining investor confidence, favorable credit ratings, and a stable economic environment. It allows governments to efficiently allocate resources, boost economic growth, and meet the needs of citizens without compromising long-term fiscal health. As Bangladesh navigates its debt landscape, careful planning and implementation of debt management practices will play an important role in maintaining economic stability and securing the country’s financial future.

Reasons for loan default in Bangladesh:

Debt defaults in Bangladesh are influenced by a myriad of factors, reflecting the complex dynamics of the economic landscape. Economic challenges, such as fluctuating market conditions, inflation, and unemployment rates, can significantly affect the financial stability of borrowers and their ability to meet loan repayment obligations. Mismanagement, on the part of both the borrower and the lending institution, also plays a role, including poor financial planning, inadequate risk assessment, and inadequate monitoring of the borrower’s financial health. In addition, external factors such as global economic trends, geopolitical events, and natural disasters can pose unexpected challenges for borrowers, increasing the risk of loan default. The multifaceted nature of these factors underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to address the underlying issues contributing to debt default in Bangladesh. Implementing effective risk management strategies, providing financial education, and promoting economic resilience are important steps to mitigate the impact of these various factors on the debt repayment landscape.

Credit Clearing and Default Period:

Negative credit entries, such as defaults, typically remain on credit reports for seven years. After this period these entries can be automatically cleared, giving individuals a fresh start on their credit history. It is important to note that this clearance occurs when there are no errors or inconsistencies in the credit report. Although the seven-year time frame is a general guideline, individuals can take proactive steps to improve their credit status before this period expires. Engaging in responsible financial behavior, making on-time repayments, and demonstrating improved credit management can positively impact one’s creditworthiness over time. This implies the importance of taking constructive steps to mitigate the impact of defaults and proactively working towards restoring a favourable credit profile.

International default comparison:

Bangladesh’s experience with debt default is not unique, as other countries including Sri Lanka face similar challenges, especially in the context of economic crisis. The problem of high default rates transcends national boundaries and is often exacerbated during periods of economic uncertainty and financial instability. Like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka also faces the complexities of economic recession and other external factors that contribute to rising default rates. Understanding that default challenges are not exclusive to any single nation underscores the broader global context of financial risk management and the interconnectedness of economies. By recognizing and addressing common problems across countries, international cooperation and sharing best practices can play an important role in developing effective strategies to reduce the impact of debt defaults and enhance global financial stability.

Debt Free Status:

Achieving a debt-free status is not applicable for Bangladesh as the country faces challenges related to debt default. In the context of a dynamic and evolving economic landscape, total freedom from debt may not be a realistic or realistic goal for the nation. Instead, emphasis is placed on effective and responsible debt management. Bangladesh, like many countries, recognizes that strategically managing its national debt is critical to maintaining economic health and promoting fiscal responsibility. By balancing the need to finance essential projects with maintaining a manageable level of debt, the country can navigate the complexities of its fiscal obligations. Effective debt management allows Bangladesh to leverage financial resources for development and ensures that the debt burden remains at sustainable levels, contributing to long-term economic stability and growth.

Disadvantages of loan default:

Loan default comes with various disadvantages that significantly affect the borrowers in different areas. First, loan defaults negatively impact a borrower’s credit score, which is an important measure of their creditworthiness. A damaged credit score can limit access to future financial products and services, making it more challenging to secure loans, credit cards, or favorable interest rates. Additionally, borrowers may face potential legal consequences, as lenders may take legal action to recover outstanding debts. These legal actions can result in the seizure of assets or wages, further increasing the financial burden on the borrower. Overall, the disadvantages of loan default extend beyond the immediate financial shock, affecting the individual’s ability to navigate the financial landscape and potentially hampering their long-term financial well-being.

Student Loans and Defaults:

Student loans, like other types of loans, can enter default status if the borrower fails to meet agreed repayment terms. Defaulting on student loans can have significant consequences, including credit score damage and possible legal action by the lender. However, there are programs to help borrowers exit default and regain control of their financial situation. One such program is “Fresh Start,” which offers borrowers the opportunity to rehabilitate their delinquent student loans by making consistent, on-time payments. Exiting default is important not only for improving the borrower’s financial condition, but also for accessing forgiveness options. Programs that offer loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment plans become available to borrowers after they successfully rehabilitate their student loans. The goal of these initiatives is to provide individuals experiencing financial challenges with a pathway to rebuild their financial health and continue their educational and career endeavors.

Deadline for defaulted loans:

Defaulted loans usually have a lasting effect on the credit profile, visible for six years. During this period, negative entries related to defaulted loans affect the borrower’s creditworthiness, affecting their ability to secure new loans or credit. The appearance of a delinquent loan on a credit report can result in higher interest rates, reduced credit limits, or even credit application denials. It is important to note that default information cannot be removed before the expiry of six years except in case of error or mistake. Managing financial responsibilities, paying on time, and engaging in responsible credit behavior during and after the default period become important strategies for individuals to rebuild their financial reputation and improve their borrowing capacity.

 Remove defaults:

In general, removing a defaulted loan from the credit profile before the standard six-year period is usually not possible, unless some error or inaccuracy warrants correction. However, individuals can proactively work to minimize the long-term impact of a default by demonstrating positive financial behavior and making consistent efforts to repay the loan. Engaging in responsible financial habits, such as paying other obligations on time, managing credit wisely, and meeting a negotiated repayment plan, can contribute to an overall improvement in creditworthiness over time. While default entries may remain on credit reports, financial responsibility signals to lenders that borrowers are proactively working to address past challenges, potentially increasing their chances of securing credit and better terms in the future.

Impact of defaulted loans on the country’s economy:

The rise in bad loans has had a severe impact on the economy of Bangladesh, creating a domino effect that spans various economic sectors. The increase in defaulted loans significantly reduces the country’s overall creditworthiness, leading to a decline in investor confidence. This decline in confidence, in turn, has a detrimental effect on foreign direct investment and capital inflows, hampering economic growth and development. Adverse effects are not limited to the macroeconomic level; They extend the very basis of the financial system. The growing burden of non-performing assets puts considerable pressure on banks, compromising their financial health and liquidity. This, in turn, hampers the ability of these financial institutions to extend credit, disrupting the flow of funds to businesses and individuals. This led to a halt in economic activity, as the financial sector, an important engine of economic growth, grappled with the consequences of the default debt crisis. Addressing these multifaceted challenges is essential to restore confidence, revitalize the banking sector, and create an enabling environment for sustainable economic progress in Bangladesh.

What happens to defaulted loans?

Defaulted loans impose a difficult situation on both borrowers and lenders, triggering a cascade of financial consequences. When borrowers fail to meet their repayment obligations, banks adopt various measures to recover the outstanding amount. Legal action, such as pursuing court judgments and initiating foreclosure proceedings on collateral, are common tactics employed by lending institutions. In cases where collateral is involved, banks may seize and, subsequently, auction the assets to generate funds for loan recovery. Despite these efforts, the recovery process is often inadequate, increasing financial pressure on banks. Unrecovered funds put pressure on the institution’s profitability, liquidity and overall stability, affecting its ability to lend and support economic activity. Legal actions and asset seizures reflect the complex dynamics of defaulted loans, emphasizing the need for comprehensive strategies to address these challenges and maintain the resilience of the banking sector in the face of financial crises.

Bad Loans in Bangladesh:

With a significant rate of 10.11%, Bangladesh faces a significant challenge as it secures the second-highest debt default rate across South Asia. This alarming statistic highlights a growing concern within the country’s financial landscape, where financial institutions are grappling with rising volumes of defaulted loans. The high loan default rate is not only a significant threat to the stability of the country’s financial sector but also has far-reaching implications for the overall economic health of Bangladesh. A complex interplay of economic factors, financial management issues and unforeseen circumstances have contributed to this alarming trend. Addressing the root causes and implementing effective strategies for debt recovery and risk management become imperative to minimize the impact on both individual borrowers and the wider financial ecosystem. As Bangladesh navigates through the challenges of debt default, there is an urgent need for concerted efforts by regulatory agencies, financial institutions and policymakers to restore financial stability and foster sustainable economic growth.

Are defaulted loans forgiven?

In Bangladesh, the possibility of loan forgiveness for defaulted loans is not a direct option, yet there are measures to address and rehabilitate such situations. Notably, programs like “Fresh Start” offer borrowers a route out of default by meeting certain conditions. Although it does not immediately forgive the loan, successful completion of rehabilitation programs reinstates the borrower’s eligibility for the forgiveness initiative. Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a program that becomes accessible to individuals who have successfully rehabilitated their defaulted loans. It is imperative for borrowers facing default to explore these rehabilitation options, engage with their lending institutions and understand the reinstatement criteria for eligibility for forgiveness programs, thereby reducing the burden of defaulted loans and providing a possible avenue for financial recovery.

Can a default be removed?

Once a default is recorded on a credit profile, it is usually visible for a standard period of six years. This timeframe is a general guideline and may vary based on local regulations. However, during this period, individuals can take proactive steps to mitigate the negative impact of default. Engaging in responsible financial behavior, such as paying other obligations on time, managing credit wisely, and meeting negotiated repayment plans, can contribute to overall improvement in creditworthiness over time. Although the default entry itself cannot be removed before the due date expires, financial responsibility signals to lenders that the borrower is proactively addressing past challenges. It can increase their chances of securing credit and favorable terms once the default is no longer part of their credit history, highlighting the importance of sustained positive financial action in the credit recovery process.

Do banks lose money on loan defaults?

Banks undoubtedly face substantial financial losses when loans default, creating a ripple effect that hampers their profitability and performance. The main losses are from failure to collect the principal amount of defaulted loans and accrued interest, which directly affects the bank’s expected income and revenue flow. Collateral, if involved, serves as a potential avenue for recovery of damages. However, the effectiveness of this strategy depends on the value of the collateral and market conditions at the time of seizure and sale. The financial impact extends beyond the amount of outstanding debt, to include costs associated with legal proceedings, collection efforts and administrative processes aimed at recovering defaulted loans. These additional costs further contribute to the overall financial stress of banks. Where recovery efforts fail, banks are left with a significant financial gap, damaging their profitability and, consequently, their ability to extend credit and support economic activity. Addressing non-performing loans thus becomes critical not only for the financial health of individual banks but also for maintaining the stability of the broader financial sector.

How long does loan default last?

A loan default usually remains on a borrower’s credit profile for a standard period of six years. These deadlines serve as a general guideline, and specific rules may vary depending on local regulations and credit reporting practices. Throughout this period, default entry adversely affects the borrower’s creditworthiness, affecting the ability to secure new loans, credit cards or favorable interest rates. It is important to note that, under normal circumstances, default information cannot be removed before the expiration of the prescribed six-year period, unless there are errors or inaccuracies on the credit report. During this time, borrowers are encouraged to engage in responsible financial behavior, pay other obligations on time, and demonstrate positive credit management practices to gradually rebuild their creditworthiness if not part of the credit history.

Banks in Bangladesh are in danger and crisis:

The uncertainty of several banks in Bangladesh, trapped in the net of defaulted loans, has pushed the sector towards danger and crisis. The heavy involvement of these financial institutions in defaulted loans has raised serious concerns about the overall health and stability of the country’s banking sector. Crises not only pose threats to individual banks but also carry systemic risks that can reverberate across the entire financial landscape. Increased scrutiny on these banks stems from the potential impact of their compromised financial position, which affects factors such as liquidity, profitability and ability to support economic activity. Regulators and stakeholders now face the challenging task of implementing strategic interventions and risk mitigation measures to address the crisis, restore confidence in the banking sector and ensure its resilience against the adverse effects of defaulted loans. The outcome of this effort will play an important role in shaping the trajectory of Bangladesh’s financial landscape and ability to navigate through the challenges posed by the default debt crisis.

Reasons for loan defaults in Bangladesh:

Debt defaults in Bangladesh can be attributed to a combination of factors, reflecting the complex dynamics of the economic landscape. Economic instability plays a key role with factors such as fluctuating market conditions, inflation, and unemployment rates affecting the financial stability of borrowers. Inadequate risk assessment by lending institutions is another important factor, as it may result in extending loans to individuals or businesses without a broad understanding of their ability to meet repayment obligations. Poor financial management practices on the part of borrowers along with inadequate budgeting and financial planning also contribute to defaults. Additionally, external shocks such as a global economic downturn or unforeseen events exacerbate the challenges faced by borrowers.

To mitigate the NPL crisis, it is essential to address these root causes. Implementing effective risk assessment procedures, enhancing financial literacy to promote responsible financial management among borrowers and incorporating resilience measures to navigate external shocks are key strategies. This comprehensive approach is critical to building a stronger and more resilient financial ecosystem in Bangladesh.

Debt Ownership of Bangladesh:

Debt ownership in Bangladesh is a complex web involving different types of lenders. International organizations, foreign governments and financial institutions play a key role in holding various parts of the country’s debt. International organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are likely contributors to Bangladesh’s debt portfolio, providing financial assistance for development projects and economic stabilization. Foreign governments may extend bilateral loans, grants or credit lines to Bangladesh, affecting its debt mix. Both domestic and international financial institutions also contribute to the country’s debt structure through loans and bonds.

Understanding the impact of Bangladesh’s debt requires a detailed analysis of its structure, interest rates and maturity periods. Such analysis is essential for policymakers to formulate effective debt management strategies ensuring the sustainability of the country’s fiscal obligations. It also plays an important role in maintaining transparency, risk management and developing a balanced view of credit utilization for the economic development of the country.

Defaulting Loans and Individuals:

The bad debt crisis in Bangladesh has profound implications for individuals, creating a challenging environment for those who find it difficult to meet their financial obligations. Faced with economic challenges, a significant number of people default on loans, contributing to the overall crisis and exacerbating the economic difficulties facing the country. For individuals, the consequences of defaulted loans are multifaceted, from damaged credit profiles and limited access to financial products to potential legal consequences. Defaulting borrowers may face increased financial stress, making it difficult to meet day-to-day expenses and plan for the future. The crisis underscores the need for comprehensive strategies to address the root causes of loan defaults, provide assistance and financial education to the challenged, and ultimately promote economic resilience at the grassroots level in Bangladesh.


Bangladesh’s bad debt crisis is a significant threat to the country’s economic stability and financial sector. Bangladesh’s bad debt crisis has emerged as a formidable challenge, casting a shadow over the country’s economic stability and the integrity of its financial sector. The multifaceted nature of this crisis requires a concerted effort to comprehensively address its root causes. Implementing effective recovery measures including rehabilitation programs and strategic risk management is essential to reduce the burden on both borrowers and lending institutions. Equally important is strengthening regulatory oversight to prevent recurrence and ensure financial sector resilience. Collaborative efforts by policymakers, financial institutions, and regulatory agencies are essential to successfully navigate this crisis, safeguard Bangladesh’s economic health, and create a stronger and more sustainable financial landscape for the future.

Billal Hossain
Billal Hossain
Billal Hossain, a seasoned professional with a Master's degree in Mathematics, has built a rich and varied career as a banker, economist, and anti-money laundering expert. His journey in the financial sector has seen him in leading roles, notably in AL-Rajhi Banking Inc. in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and as Foreign Relations and Correspondent Maintenance Officer of Bank-AL-Bilad. Beyond the confines of traditional finance, Billal has emerged as a prominent writer and commentator, contributing thought-provoking columns and theses to various newspapers and online portals. His expertise spans a wide range of important global issues, including the complexities of economics, political dynamics, the plight of migrant workers, remittances, reserves, and other interrelated aspects. Billal brings a unique analytical perspective to his writing, combining academic rigor with practical insights gained from his banking career. His articles not only demonstrate a deep understanding of complex issues but also provide readers with informed perspectives, bridging the gap between theory and real-world application. Billal Hossain's contributions stand as a testament to his commitment to unraveling the complexities of our interconnected world, providing valuable insights that contribute to a broader and more nuanced understanding of the global economic landscape.


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