Coming out of LDC, a welcome move from all sides
Bangladesh’s graduation from the list of least-developed countries (LDCs) is long overdue. The good news is that the country will graduate having met all three criteria. The countries that had previously graduated did so by satisfying two out of the three criteria. After graduation, Bangladesh will get a grace period to continue availing the trade benefits and other facilities given to the LDCs under the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The improved image of an economy, which is no longer an LDC, will help but only if we can put in place policies for exploiting that advantage, particularly for attracting foreign direct investment. While rejoicing in our graduation from the LDC group, we need to be clear about the classification of countries used by various international agencies. According to the World Bank’s classification, we have already been elevated from a low-income country to a low-middle income country. The next step would be to graduate to the high-middle income category. Bangladesh has always been a misfit among LDCs in terms of its population size. That was one of the reasons why Bangladesh always met one of the three graduation criteria, namely that of vulnerability, which depends mainly on the size of the country. Unlike other LDCs that mainly export agricultural or other primary products, Bangladesh’s main export is a manufacturing product, namely garments.
Walton plans fresh $640m investment
Walton Hi-Tech Industries Ltd is going to make a fresh investment of $640 million, equivalent to Tk 5,440 crore, to expand facilities to produce and increase export of electrical and electronic goods. The company has already submitted its plan to the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza), seeking 300 acres of land at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar in Chattogram. The investment will be made over a period of eight years and would be comprised, in equal parts, of retained earnings and long-term bank loans. The group plans to borrow from domestic and foreign banks. Murshed hopes to offer 15,000 jobs directly from the second unit. Now Walton has an over 20,000-strong workforce in 22 production bases on 680 acres of factory area at Chandra, Gazipur. Its yearly production capacity is 10 million units. When it comes to professional manufacturing of electrical and electronic goods, Walton has truly turned into a giant, gaining a reputation on providing competitive prices and ensuring a presence in more than 20 countries. The proposal said all manufacturing machinery would be imported from countries, including Japan, China, Italy, Korea, Belgium, Turkey, Austria, Germany and the US. Its forecast domestic and export sales revenue in the seventh year following investment is around Tk 5,690 crore. With a paid-up capital of Tk 300 crore, Walton is already in the process of raising Tk 100 crore from the stock market this year through an initial public offering. According to its annual report, its annual turnover in FY 2019-20 was Tk 4,100 crore. It was Tk 5,180 crore in the previous fiscal year. Its earnings per share were Tk 21.34 in the July-December period in 2020, up from Tk 20.34 in the same period of 2019.
SIBL opens three new sub-branches
Social Islami Bank Limited (SIBL) inaugurated its 66th, 67th and 68th Sub-branches namely Nayarhat, Samitirhat and Bakhtiar Para Sub-branch at Bayazid Bostami, Fatikchari and Anowara, Chattogram respectively through a virtual platform recently. Managing Director & CEO Quazi Osman Ali inaugurated the Sub-branches as the chief guest.
BO accounts on the rise
The number of new beneficiary owners’ (BO) accounts, used to invest and trade in the stock market, continued to rise following regulatory measures taken to ease the account opening process. The regulatory approval for a good number of IPO (initial public offering) proposals this year has also inspired investors to open BO accounts, according to market insiders. The number of active BO accounts stood at over 2.66 million as of Thursday, up from 2.63 million on February 1. Of the total accounts, over 2.50 million accounts are owned by resident Bangladeshis while the remaining 0.16 million belong to non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs). The data of the Central Depository Bangladesh Limited (CDBL) revealed that the BO accounts saw a rising trend in its number over the last several months. The number of accounts was 2.51 million on December 1, 2020 and the figure surpassed 2.55 million on January 4 this year. The securities regulator approved IPOs of 15 companies, including the biggest-ever IPO of Robi Axiata, as of December 2020. In November, more than 0.13 million accounts were opened following the regulatory approval to the Robi’s IPO proposal. An investor has to pay an annual fee of Tk 450 for maintaining the BO account. Of the amount, Tk 200 goes to the public exchequer, Tk 10 to depository participants, Tk 100 to the CDBL and the remaining Tk 50 to the securities regulator.