Banks have to set aside more funds to absorb shocks
Banks will have to keep aside more funds in provision than they usually maintain to make them well-equipped so that they can absorb shocks from any increase in bad debts caused by the business slowdown in the coming year.Banks now set aside 0.25 per cent to 2 per cent against unclassified loans. It is 20 per cent to 100 per cent against defaulted loans.In Bangladesh, the requirement of provisions has declined since the first quarter of 2020 after the central bank allowed banks to enjoy a moratorium. On March 19, less than two weeks after the government first reported the country’s maiden coronavirus case, the central bank asked lenders not to consider businesspeople to be defaulters if they fail to repay instalments until June 30.Non-performing loans (NPLs) stood at Tk 94,440 crore in September, down 1.74 per cent from that three months earlier and 18.73 per cent year-on-year, BB data showed. The country’s banking sector has, historically, faced provisioning shortfall due to the failure of 10 to 11 banks. The ongoing moratorium facility has helped banks bring down the provision shortfall to Tk 2,644 crore in September in contrast to Tk 8,119 crore one year ago.Banks in other countries have set aside additional provisioning to protect their financial health from the potential risks emerging from the ongoing economic hardship. But, the banking sector in Bangladesh is reluctant to do so. Rather, banks are trying to increase net profit to offer a good amount of dividend to their directors. As a result, the net profit in the banking sector soared 33.60 per cent year-on-year to Tk 2,424 crore in the first half of 2020 despite a collapse in business and a feeble recovery of loans.The central bank also plans to raise the provisional requirement for unclassified loans, another central banker said. Bankers have welcomed the central bank move, saying this would help banks strengthen their financial health. EmranulHuq, managing director of Dhaka Bank, said the actual situation in the banking sector would be apparent next year.
BO account opening to be digitized
Investors willing to invest in the capital market will be able to open BO (beneficiary owner’s) accounts online in near future without going to the firms. As part of the regulatory move to digitise the country’s capital market, the Central Depository Bangladesh Limited (CDBL) has started the job of developing a module through which investors will be able to open BO accounts online. On completion of the process, investors having internet connection will be allowed to open BO accounts using android mobile phones, laptops and desktop computers.An official of a brokerage firm of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) said Tk 400 to Tk 500 is charged for opening a BO account. In some cases, Tk 1000 to Tk 2000 is charged for opening a BO account. In 2016, the securities regulator reduced the renewal fee to Tk 450 from Tk 500 for each BO account with the aim of reducing financial burden on investors. Of Tk 450, Tk 200 goes to the public exchequer, Tk 100 to depository participants (DPs), Tk 100 to the CDBL and the remaining Tk 50 to the BSEC.According to BSEC official, a brokerage firm has showed interest to open trading outlet abroad. The number of active BO accounts stood at above 2.61 million as of Thursday, according to information of the CDBL.
High-end products still a long way off
Bangladesh’s apparel industry is struggling to graduate to a producer of high-end items despite being in the business for four decades and one of the top suppliers globally, missing out on the opportunity to receive premium prices from international retailers and brands. The multi-billion-dollar industry, which contributes about 85 per cent to the national export, has embraced a lot of reforms since the 1980s. Still, investment has been less in the production of value-added garment items.High-end garment items products are meant for upscale customers and are made from expensive fibres and are specially designed by very experienced designers. It requires a more skilled workforce and sophisticated technologies to produce expensive products.Bangladesh is strong in the manufacturing of garments from cotton fibre. Nearly 80 per cent of garment items in Bangladesh are manufactured from cotton fibre.About 80 per cent of the garment exports fall within the price range of $15 per kilogram, and only 20 per cent items get a price more than $15 and a tiny fraction gets $35, according to research by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).The narrative of the industry has to change to be able to tap the high-end market, said the BGMEA.
Trust Bank gets new DMD
Ahsan Zaman Chowdhury has recently been appointed deputy managing director and chief business officer of Trust Bank with effect from December 1. Prior to the promotion, he was senior executive vice president and head of business division of the bank.
Three local firms make it to Forbes’ best under $1b list
Three Bangladeshi companies have made it to Forbes’ list of “Asia’s 200 Best Under A Billion”. Two of the entities that came up in the list of the American business magazine are drug-makers Square Pharmaceuticals and Renata. The third firm is Fortune Shoes, which mainly exports to Europe, according to the list that highlights 200 Asia-Pacific public companies with sales under $1 billion.
Bangladesh signs trade deal with Bhutan
Bangladesh will ink its maiden preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Bhutan as the country looks to retain duty benefits following its graduation to a developing country from the least developed nation category. Bangladesh is signing the deal with Bhutan as the country was the first one to recognise Bangladesh as an independent nation in 1971.Under the deal, Bangladesh will enjoy duty benefit on the exports of 100 local products such as garments, processed agricultural goods and electronics. Bhutan will enjoy duty benefit on 34 products like fruits. In the fiscal year of 2018-19, Bangladesh exported goods worth $7.56 million and imported goods worth $42.09 million, according to data from the commerce ministry.Bangladesh is set to make its status graduation to a developing country in 2024. In doing so, the country will lose preferential trade benefits as an LDC, except to the European Union, where the benefit would continue up to 2027 to help the country’s transition.