BB tightens rules to restore discipline in import financing
The central bank yesterday drew up a detailed guideline on post-import financing (PIF) to end the misuse of loans extended to pay for imported goods and bring discipline in the foreign exchange regime in the banking industry. Previously, some delinquent borrowers frequently used the PIF window to siphon off money from lenders, compelling the Bangladesh Bank to prepare the guideline. Under the PIF, banks extend loans to importers to help them pay the cost of the imported items within the stipulated time. This gives importers the opportunity to repay it after selling products. Conventional banks earlier used to treat such financing as loans against trust receipts, while Shariah-based banks called it Murabaha trust receipts. The central bank has asked banks to cite the lending product as PIF going forward, according to a BB notice yesterday.Banks have so far disbursed nearly Tk 52,000 crore in the form of PIF. A large portion of the fund is in the defaulted zone. Mir Nasir Hossain, a former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that everything should be done based on the bank-customer relationship.Clients will not get any fresh PIF facility if their previous loan remains outstanding. But if clients face any unexpected adversity, banks can offer the facility with approval from the board. Lenders have been barred from stating the PIF as term loans even if they reschedule the credit. Banks will have to set up a PIF monitoring unit to recover the loans. A skilled team who has strong knowledge of foreign exchange rules must be appointed for the cell.
Stocks fall amid profit booking
The stock market took a dip yesterday thanks to the profit booking tendency among investors with the insurance sector leading the plunge. The DSEX, the benchmark index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), dropped 30.58 points, or 0.50 per cent, to 6,036.The DSE’s turnover, an important indicator of the market, fell 22 per cent to Tk 2,062 crore. Some stocks fell as investors continue to take their profits but this tendency is quite positive for the market, according to a stock broker.Most insurance stocks fell today as they rose to a higher extent in the last couple of weeks. The sector was traded the most with around Tk 303 crore. At the DSE, 159 companies’ stocks rose, 192 fell and 21 remained the same.Beximco traded the most with Tk 218 crore followed by Orion Pharmaceuticals, Fortune Shoes, Green Delta Insurance, and LankaBangla Finance. Dhaka Insurance shed the most, dropping 11.49 per cent followed by GBB Power, Global Insurance, Bangladesh General Insurance, and National Feed Mills. The Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) also fell yesterday. The CASPI, the general index of the port city bourse, dropped 56 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 17,528. Among 322 traded stocks, 144 advanced, 156 dropped and 22 remained the same.
Banks face IT audits
The ICT Division will likely commence an IT audit on banks next month to measure their capability to thwart cyberattacks as growing digitalisation and remote working arrangements have augmented the financial sector’s exposure to online crimes. The Digital Security Agency, a wing of the ICT Division responsible for tackling cyber threats, will carry out the audit as most banks are vulnerable to cyber-criminals in the absence of an effective security system.Banks in Bangladesh are increasingly embracing digital banking means by rolling out various retail banking products. For instance, many banks have already introduced app-based banking, enabling clients to carry out banking activities online. In addition, some banks are setting up cash recycling machines to replace the existing automated teller machines at a fast pace.The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has given a boost to these digital initiatives as they help people settle transactions without having to visit their local branches.S&P Global ratings firm has said banks are key targets as direct sources of finance, because of their key infrastructure role and also their possession of a wide range of sensitive personal data. There are just 70 people in the two agencies, while the number of banks and non-bank financial institutions stands at 95.The BB has asked banks to introduce a Security Operations Centre (SOC) to keep them safe from digital threats.
Facebook gets VAT registration
Social media giant Facebook yesterday received the value-added tax registration from the National Board of Revenue after two years of stalemate. Three entities of Facebook – Facebook Technologies Ireland Ltd, Facebook Ireland Ltd, and Facebook Payments International Ltd – got the Business Identification Number (BIN) from the Dhaka South VAT Commissionerate, said PramilaSarker, additional commissioner of the field office.Facebook’s move comes nearly two weeks after Google and e-commerce company Amazon’s secured the BINs. In July 2019, the NBR made it mandatory for tech giants to either set up offices in Bangladesh or appoint agents so that the government can collect VAT on the advertisements and other services provided by them to local firms.Facebook’s local sales agent Httpool Bangladesh Ltd has been paying VAT against ad sales since July last year, said Sarker. As of April this year, the NBR has received Tk 9.40 crore from Httpool Bangladesh, according to the field office of the VAT.With 4.1 crore users, Bangladesh has the 10th largest Facebook population in the world, according to German database company Statista. More than 3 lakh stores run operations based on Facebook, with over 1,000 running their business through only the social media platform, which accounts for around 80 per cent of all social media users in Bangladesh, industry people said in December. Although there is no specific figure of the F-commerce market size, it may range from Tk 300 crore to Tk 350 crore per year.