Remittance hits $21.7b, an all-time high
Remittance hit an all-time high of $21.74 billion last year as migrant workers continued to use formal channels sidestepping the hundi system to send home massive amounts of money. Last year, the inflow posted a magnificent growth of 18.59 per cent compared to that in the previous year, showed data from the central bank. Migrant workers remitted $2.05 billion in December, meaning that the inflow crossed the $2-billion mark for the fourth straight month. The country’s foreign exchange reserve has already surpassed the $43 billion mark riding on the upward trend of remittance, a development that will help the government use the foreign exchange reserve on a rainy day. The reserve stood at $32.38 billion in March last year when the coronavirus hit the country. Between January and March last year, 181,218 Bangladeshi citizens went abroad, according to data from the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET). No data is available on the BMET website for April onwards. On an average, the country sends 7 to 8 lakh people abroad as workforce per year. As much as 700,159 workers went to different countries on job appointments in 2019. Imports decreased 8.84 per cent year-on-year to $20.24 billion in the first four months of fiscal 2020-21. The 2 per cent cash incentive introduced by the government in 2019 has also encouraged the expatriate Bangladeshis to send more money through the formal channel.
BB extends deadline until March 31
The central bank has further extended the deadline for execution of the stimulus package for the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) by three months more. Under the revised deadline, scheduled banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) are now allowed to implement the package for the sector by March 31, 2021 instead of December 31, 2020, according to a notification, issued by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) on Sunday. He also said the banks and NBFIs, which have failed to achieve their targets, will have to submit month-wise action plans to the BB’s department concerned by January 17 for implementation of the package properly. The central bank’s latest moves came against the backdrop of slower progress in loan disbursement under the package for the CMSMEs until December 26. The banks and NBFIs disbursed Tk 96 billion of the stimulus package by then. The disbursed amount is 48 per cent of the total Tk 200 billion financial support for the sector. Loans amounting to Tk 115.20 billion were approved for 73,600 Covid-19 affected CMSMEs across the country during the period, the BB’s data showed. On November 26, the central bank extended the deadline for implementation of the stimulus package for the CMSMEs by one more month, from November 30 to December 31, on the same ground.
EZs get $4.08b investment proposals in 2020
The country’s Economic Zones or EZs received investment proposals worth $4.08 billion in the last calendar year, official figures have revealed. Of the total investment proposals, $3.15 billion, including $545.21 million foreign investments, were reported amid the pandemic period, as per data available with the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA). Foreign companies investing in Bangladesh’s EZs include Berger Paints, Jiangsu Yabang Dyestuff, Jiehong Medical Products, CCECC Bangladesh, Fortis Group, Lizard Sports BV, and Inter-Asia group. On the other hand, local investors include Metro Spinning Ltd, Maksons Spinning & Textiles, Samuda Food Products Ltd, Uttara Motors Ltd, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGMEA), Sayeman Beach Resort Limited, Maf Shoes Ltd, N. Mohammad Plastic Industries Ltd, Ifad Autos Limited, Runner Motors Ltd, Saif Powertec, Delta Pharma Ltd, and Asia Composite Mills Ltd, among others. BEZA Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury said the investment made by the local and foreign entrepreneurs amid such tough times prove the worthiness of the EZs in Bangladesh. Some 172 investors are in the process of availing 7,315 acres of land being allocated in five EZs including the BSMSN, Maheshkhali, Shrihatta and Jamalpur EZs and Sabrang Tourism Park, whose investment proposal is worth $23.97 billion. Industrial units have completed investment of $3.1 billion in the EZs. It is expected that the proposed investments will generate employments for around 1.0 million people.
Sonali Bank posts highest operating profit in 2020
Sonali Bank Limited, the country’s largest state-owned bank, logged the highest operating profit of Tk 21.75 billion last year, up from Tk 17.10 billion in 2019, says a statement. The bank has achieved a satisfactory operating profit despite slower growth both in foreign trade and in private sector credit amid the coronavirus pandemic. Celebrating the milestone achievement of 2020, the bank’s CEO and Managing Director Md Ataur Rahman Prodhan cut a cake in the conference room of the bank’s head office on Sunday and expressed his satisfaction over the success.