Bank accounts for street children – a noble initiative that fell by the wayside
Bangladesh Bank’s initiative to join hands with non-government organisations to allow street children and child workers open bank accounts with Tk10 minimum initial deposit has fallen by the wayside. Stakeholders have blamed the failure mainly on fund crunch of the NGOs. In three years since the special scheme’s introduction, only 4,365 accounts were opened until June 30 this year with a total deposit of Tk26.48 lakh. A central bank official blamed “reluctance of banks and fund shortage of NGOs who had approached Bangladesh Bank for the project.” Wahida Banu, executive director of Aparajeyo Bangladesh, explained that most NGOs involved were development project-based organisations. “After the end of projects, it is difficult for them to continue supporting the programme,” she said. “Fund crunch has forced several NGOs to withdraw support.” Accounts under the special programme were opened at 17 scheduled banks in association with 14 local NGOs. The banks are Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, Rupali Bank, Agrani Bank, Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Bangladesh Development Bank, Bank Asia, Mercantile Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, National Bank, NCC Bank, One Bank, Pubali Bank, The City Bank, Trust Bank, Al-Arafah Islami Bank, and Uttara Bank. The NGOs are Uddipan, EBCR Project, MSSUS, SUF, Brac, Aparajeyo Bangladesh, AID Bangladesh, ASD, CPD, Shakti Bidyalaya, Prodipan, Sazida Foundation, Nari Maitree and Poriborton.
Betting on indirect tax
Over the last few years, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) of Bangladesh has taken a series of initiatives with the target of increasing the share of income tax in the overall revenue collection. Revenue collection in Bangladesh is still heavily reliant on indirect taxes. There are three major sources of revenue in our economy: value-added tax (VAT), customs duty and income tax. Of them, only income tax is direct tax. In the last five years, revenue from indirect taxes has covered 64.73% of the total revenue, while income tax has only covered 35.17%, falling persistently short of VAT (36.07%). Since the inception of VAT in 1991, income tax has never exceeded it. Currently, 3.1 million people hold tax identification numbers (TIN) and of them, 1.6-1.7 million submit tax returns. However, according to the economic think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue, there are eight million taxable people in the country. One expert says 60% of income tax comes in as tax at source, and very few individuals pay self-assessed income tax. A recent Finance Ministry survey says 45-65% of the income in our economy remains untaxed. In this fiscal year, tax revenue was estimated to cover 62% of the national budget.
Matarbari to have 600MW LNG-based power plant
A joint-venture of the state-run Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited and Japan’s Mitsui and Company Limited is set to install a 500-600MW imported LNG-based power plant involving an investment of approximately $600 million at under construction Matarbari power station, Cox’s Bazar. On Wednesday, the power Generation Company and Mitsui signed a memorandum of understanding to form the joint-venture with 50-50 stakes, said officials, adding that JV partner would help obtaining 70-80 per cent of the investment from Japan for the project. The coal power generation company managing director on Wednesday told New Age that the LNG-based power plant was expected to be commissioned by 2021. Petrobangla, the state run Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation, will supply the Liquefied Natural Gas to the power plant, he said. With this, Japan’s funding will exceed $5 billion at a single power station in Bangladesh as JICA was already in a deal to finance approximately $4.6 billion in the construction of a 1,200MW coal-fired power plant and other infrastructures to facilitate coal import to and storage on Matarbari Island. Meanwhile, Bangladesh government in August this year requested Japan to provide funding for construction of another 1,200MW power plant at Matarbari power station with approximately $2 billion funding requirements.
Bangladesh to see six new denim mills in 2yrs
At least six new denim mills will come into operation in Bangladesh in the next two years with an investment of $100 million. The increasing demand for denim fabrics from garment makers has encouraged the investors to establish new factories here, ostafiz Uddin, organiser of Bangladesh Denim Expo, said yesterday. “The response we are getting from both the local millers and foreigners is huge,” he told The Daily Star on the sidelines of the show, at International Convention City Bashundhara in Dhaka. A total of 65 exhibitors from 12 countries are participating in the seventh edition of the two-day event. Currently, Bangladesh has 30 denim mills with a capacity to produce 435 million yards of fabrics a year, said Mostafiz, who is also the managing director of Denim Expert Ltd. Local suppliers can meet only 40 percent of Bangladesh’s annual demand for denim fabrics and the rest is met through imports from China, India and Pakistan
App makers get a boost
Local mobile software developers can now get a slice of the lucrative Android app market after Google allowed merchant registration from Bangladesh for its Play Store. Google Play Store is the official app store for the Android operating system, the most used mobile operating system globally. Until now, local developers could only offer their apps for free on the Google Play Store, making do with only the revenue generated from the ads baked into their apps. But thanks to Google’s move on Tuesday, they can now register paid apps on the Play store and in so doing, better monetise their efforts.
Handset vendors revving up for 4G
Handset vendors are now gearing up for the rollout of 4G service in Bangladesh such that customers can enjoy the fastest data service as soon as it becomes available in the first quarter of 2018. At present, only 10-12 percent of the handsets in use in Bangladesh are 4G-enabled, which have different configuration than 3G phones, according to industry insiders. Importers brought in a total of 1.46 crore smartphones to the country between January 2016 and September 2017. Of them, about 50 lakh handsets are 4G-enabled, according to estimates of the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA). “The whole handset industry is taking preparations for the upcoming 4G roll-out,” said Ruhul Alam Al Mahbub Manik, president of the BMPIA. The 4G-enabled handsets are likely to be pricier, said Manik, whose company Fair Electronics Limited is the sole distributor of Samsung handsets in Bangladesh.