Credit card issuance grows at faster pace
Credit card issuance by banks grew at a faster pace in 2022 compared to the year prior as there is a growing interest among people to avail the benefits offered by plastic money, such as interest free loans for up to one-and-a-half months. As such, credit card issuance reached a four-year high of 2.82 lakh last year, up 15 per cent from 1.93 lakh in 2021, according to data released by Bangladesh Bank earlier this week. With this growth, the total number of credit cards issued in the country stood at 21.15 lakh as of December 2022. However, bankers and other players in the financial sector said credit card issuance would have grown much faster had the National Board of Revenue (NBR) not slapped a new rule requiring proof of income tax return for availing plastic money. “It is a good sign that the total number of credit cards has increased, but the growth would have been accelerated if there was no requirement to submit proof of income tax return,” said Md Mahiul Islam, head of retail banking at Brac Bank, a leading bank in the credit card segment. The NBR imposed the rule for the current fiscal year despite facing opposition. As a result, the demand for loans through credit cards has slowed, as per Bangladesh Bank data. At the end of December 2022, loans taken through credit cards grew 12 per cent year-on-year to Tk 2,498 crore from Tk 2,229 crore. Credit card transactions grew 42 per cent in 2021 from the previous year, central bank data showed.
Slight rise in interest rate spread in Dec ’22
After months of continuous fall, the spread between the banks’ lending and deposit rates went up slightly in December last apparently due to unofficially relaxing the rate cap on consumer loans four months ago. With such a turnaround, the bankers seemed feeling a sigh of relief and were expecting even more space in the days ahead as the Bangladesh Bank (BB) last month increased the rate on consumer credit by three percentage points with lifting the minimum deposit floor rate. According to the latest BB data, the spread between the weighted average interest rate on advances and deposits of all banks inched up to 2.99 per cent in December 2022 from 2.96 per cent in November, 2022. The weighted average interest rate (WAIR) on deposits of all banks increased by 1 basis point to 4.23 per cent while on loans and advances rose by 4 basis points to 7.22 per cent. The spread started squeezing from June last year when the economy came under stress due to disruptions in the global supply chain following the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by the war in Ukraine. The spread was 3.12 per cent in June 2022. Since then, it continued to fall and stood at 3.05 per cent, 3.04 per cent, 3.03 per cent, 3.02 per cent and 2.96 per cent in July, August, September, October and November respectively.
Following IMF advice BBS to calculate inflation on a new base year from March
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) is making radical changes in the inflation calculation considering the present financial situation and the IMF suggestions. The inflation will be calculated for the base year 2021–22 instead of the existing base year of 2005-06, which will be more accurate as lifestyle and consumer behaviors made a big change in the present time, the BBS sources said. According to the BBS, in the new base year, the changes in consumption patterns of people during the last one and a half decade have been prioritized. For example, in the base year 2005-06, inflation was calculated using only 426 goods and services. About 300 more products and services are increasing in the new base year. There will be a total of 722 products and services as new, which will be calculated by taking 100 points and the contribution of these products to inflation.