Banks lack remedial strategy while NPL rises worryingly
Some of Bangladesh’s banks don’t have ‘in-depth’ look into the problem of spiraling non-performing loans (NPL) while many others try to frame remedial strategies perfunctorily. Such observations came out from studies on banking as well as financial sector at large as the NPL surge worries many quarters. One finding shows that around 11% of the country’s banks did not have an ‘in-depth’ look into the issue of NPLs in the past year, despite a growing concern over the problem in the financial arena The recent industry-wide survey also revealed that around 3.0% of the country’s banks had not assessed their past NPL-reduction strategies at all while 36% did so only on an ad-hoc basis. The findings came out from the survey of the Chief Risk Officers at the banks on issues concerning NPL strategy in their institutions. Leading banking research and training institution Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) conducted the study. As per the central bank data, the volume of NPLs had increased by more than 21% to BDT 621.72 billion by the end of 2016, swelling from BDT 513.71 billion a year before.
Dollar suddenly becomes dearer
A frequent traveler who often buys foreign currency from an international bank in Dhaka was charged about BDT 86 for a US dollar on Wednesday. Just a month ago, he bought a dollar for BDT 83. This sudden rise in dollar price might not make much of a difference to individuals who purchase foreign currency in small amounts and infrequently, but for importers who have to settle huge bills, it is a major blow. For instance, if the price of a dollar goes up by even BDT 1, the importer has to bear an additional cost of BDT 10 lakh for USD 1 million. Presently, the bills for collection sell rate (at which import payments are made) of a dollar hovers around the BDT 83-mark and the rate goes up further for foreign banks that dominate the currency market. The central bank has already sold USD 126 million to banks this month to halt the depreciating trend of the taka, according to a Bangladesh Bank official.
Exports spring back
Exports bounced back in the month of October, fetching USD 2.84 billion on the back of higher shipments of apparel products. Garment shipments, which typically fetch 82% of the export earnings, brought home USD 2.29 billion last month, up 41.36% from the previous month and 6.02% from a year earlier. October’s receipts are higher than the previous month’s by 39.9% and the previous year’s by 6.37%, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. Bangladesh’s export earnings from European countries except Germany registered a significant growth in the July-October period of this financial year 2017-18, riding on an excellent performance of readymade garment products. The amount, which beat the target of USD 2.68 billion set by the commerce ministry for the month, takes the tally so far in the fiscal year to USD 11.51 billion. In the first four months of fiscal 2017-18, leather and leather goods shipment, the second largest export earning sector after garment, declined slightly. It raked in USD 428.44 million, down 0.02% from a year earlier.
Exports to EU states but Germany post encouraging growth
Bangladesh’s export earnings from European countries except Germany registered a significant growth in the July-October period of this financial year 2017-18, riding on an excellent performance of readymade garment products. According to the Export Promotion Bureau data, exports to major European countries registered double digit growth in the four months of FY18 while the RMG export to Germany fell in the period compared with that in the same period of last fiscal year. The EPB data showed that Bangladesh suffered a negative export growth in two promising markets — Japan and China — in the July-October period of FY18. Exporters said that earnings growth in the EU markets increased in recent months as the euro appreciated against the dollar. They also said that buyers and brands cut import orders from Bangladesh for their Chinese stores that caused the negative growth. Export earnings from the UK, the second largest export destination for Bangladesh in the EU, grew by 20.84 per cent to $1.34 billion in the four months of FY18 from $1.11 billion in the same period of FY17. Earnings from apparel products fetched $1.25 billion with 22.27 per cent growth in the period. Export earnings from Spain in July-October in FY18 grew by 25.81 per cent to $801.02 million from $636.70 million in the same period of FY17. Export earnings from the Netherlands rose by 34.16 per cent to $401.08 million in the four months of FY18.
Government moves to boost remittance inflow
An inter-ministerial committee has come up with 18 proposals to boost the remittance inflow through the formal channel and ward off the rising menace of digital hundi. The development comes after the government formed a committee to investigate the shrinking inflow of remittance, a major source of foreign currency for Bangladesh, since fiscal 2015-16. Remittance inflow in fiscal 2016-17 was the lowest in six years, which plunged the country’s current account balance in the deficit zone for the first time in five years, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank. The proposals include taking legal action against the vested quarters involved in digital hundi, an illegal transfer of funds from abroad. Under the system, the remitter deposits the amount to a vendor in his/her host country, who then instructs his network in Bangladesh to deposit the sum to the mobile financial service accounts of the remitter’s relative. The large network of post office and non-governmental organizations should be used to disburse remittance to the beneficiaries, the committee suggested. Another proposal is the introduction of a remittance card that would carry privileges such as priority services from high commissions and embassies, hospitals and schools.
Government seeks USD 1.83 billion under 39th Japanese ODA package
The government has sought around USD 1.83 billion worth of assistance from Japan for bankrolling six development projects, officials said Saturday. Officials at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) said they have already discussed the issue with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). After signing the loan deal, the largest bilateral donor will start disbursement of funds from the proposed USD 1.83 billion aid package for the six development projects, the MoF official added A senior official of Economic Relations Division said the proposed 39th ODA package will be very useful for Bangladesh as it will be utilised to develop the Matarbari port, ongoing Matarbari power plant project, conduct feasibility study and detailed design of the MRT line-5 in Dhaka and to construct railway bridge over the River Jamuna.
Single person may form company
A single person may form a commercial firm under a provision of the companies’ law being updated along with some other major business-stimulating measures. Official sources said the government is considering incorporating some new provisions, including one allowing individuals to form any company, into the updated Companies Act. The other provisions are formation of an appellate tribunal to resolve legal matters without wasting much time, widespread automation of companies’ work and submission of annual company reports online. Earlier, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) had received some recommendations from the stakeholders on how to update the law, they added. “We got most of the recommendations from the stakeholders. We hope we will be able to prepare the draft Companies Act within a month,” Md Obaidul Azam, director, trade organisations (DTO), told the FE. He said the recommendations the ministry had received so far were being scrutinised before preparing a draft for updating the companies’ act. Earlier, different trade bodies had sent their respective recommendations to the MoC for incorporation into the law. The MoC will hold a meeting with the country’s apex trade body after assessing the recommendations and suggestions, the ministry official said.
NBR plans to lower flat registration cost
The tax administrator plans to reduce the flat registration cost and ease the complexities related to value added tax to give a boost to the real estate sector. The National Board of Revenue is also finding ways to lessen the pressure on the realtors at the time of enforcing the new VAT law in July 2019, said Md Nojibur Rahman, chairman of NBR. Rahman spoke in a meeting with the leaders of the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) at Hotel Purbani in Dhaka yesterday. At the meeting, the realtors proposed NBR reduce the flat registration cost to 6.5 percent from the existing 15.5 percent. The government should introduce a secondary market to change the ownership of flats like the market for used cards, said Alamgir Shamsul Alamin, president of REHAB. There should be no registration fee for secondhand or used flats, he said. The ownership of such flats should be changed hands with only 3 percent tax like the used cars, Alamin said. He said the registration cost is the highest in Bangladesh among the Saarc countries. The NBR is now giving emphasis on the housing sector to remove the barriers the realtors have long been facing at the time of selling flats, he said. Currently, buyers have to spend 15.5 percent of a flat’s cost for registration, which includes 4 percent gain tax, 3 percent stamp fee, 2 percent registration fee, 2 percent local government fee and 4.5 percent VAT.
Summit Group entities to issue preference shares worth USD 12.5 million
A subscription closing ceremony to raise capital through issuance of preference shares worth BDT 1,000 million (USD 12.50 million) for Summit Barisal Power Limited & Summit Narayanganj Power Unit II Limited was held recently at Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka. LankaBangla Finance Limited acted as the Mandated Arranger, LankaBangla Investments Limited acted as the Issue Manager and The City Bank Limited acted as the Agent, Account Bank & Custodian Bank to raise the fund.
Gas crisis hurting output in industrial belt
Factories in the country’s Tongi-Gazipur industrial belt have been facing acute gas crisis over the past few months following diversion of gas to ‘upstream’ power plants. The crisis has deteriorated further this week albeit some improvements for a few days last week, said local industrialists and businessmen. According to them, if the ongoing gas crisis persists they may be forced to shut down their factories. Officials of the Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL), however, blamed the Petrobangla for the gas crunch. Sources concerned say the industrial belt of Tongi-Gazipur is suffering badly for about four to five months from low pressure of gas coupled with poor electricity voltage — often resulting in huge volume of industrial wastages and reduction of production efficiency. The downstream Titas franchise area covers greater Dhaka region, which includes Gazipur alongside some other adjoining districts, and greater Mymensingh, he said. A Petrobangla source, however, cited gas supply on priority basis to a number of upstream projects including power plants as reason behind supply shortage. A Petrobangla source, however, cited gas supply on priority basis to a number of upstream projects including power plants as reason behind supply shortage Akijj Biri Managing Director said that he is very much worried about the industrial output this year as production disruption following the twin crises involving gas supply and power supply. According to him both will eventually disrupt retail business in every phase.
BTRC likely to lose rights over unused balance in blocked SIMs
Mobile phone operators are likely to get relief from paying the government the unused balance in the SIM cards that would be blocked by the telecom regulator for various reasons, especially for illegal voice-over internet protocol calls. Mobile operators, however, will have to return the unused balance to its owner if claimed, said officials of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. They said that a proposed amendment to the 4G licensing guidelines that would be passed by the telecom regulator in the upcoming commission meeting following instruction from prime minister’s ICT advisor, and posts and telecommunication ministry. It was also mentioned in the guidelines drafted earlier that there would not be any rights of the mobile network operators over the forfeited account balance of the illegal VoIP callers. Whereas, it was also mandatory for the operators to pay the remaining balance of such SIM cards within ten days of the following month. Such specification about the unused balance would help the operators, while the government would lose its rights over the forfeited fund, BTRC officials said. Country’s leading mobile phone operator Grameenphone, in February this year, deposited BDT 73.3 million` to the telecom regulator against the unused balance in the connections that were blocked between 2008 and 2014
Banglalink’s revenue falls 4.57pc in Q3
Banglalink’s revenue in the third quarter of the year declined 4.57 percent to Tk 1,170 crore — the lowest in nine quarters – due to stiff competition and the growing tendency among subscribers to use multiple connections. But it was not disclosed if the operator made any profit during the quarter in the financial report released by its parent company Veon on Thursday. Banglalink’s data revenue rose 28 percent to Tk 170 crore in the third quarter of the year on the back of acceleration of active data customer growth of 17.1 percent year-on-year. Customer per data usage more than doubled to 523 megabytes a month. Fuelled by aggressive customer acquisition campaigns, Bangla-link’s subscriber base widened 8.4 percent year-on-year in the quarter, taking the total tally to 3.14 crore and reversing the negative trend of the previous quarter. Banglalink’s gross income decreased and customer base shrank, meaning its average revenue per user declined 8.6 percent year-on-year to Tk 121.
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