Tk 6.0tn budget on June 3
The government is expected to place a Tk. 6.0 trillion national budget for the fiscal year (FY2021-22) in parliament on June 03 next, people familiar with the development said on Wednesday. They said the new budget would set an economic growth target at 7.0 per cent against the original target of 8.2 per cent in the last fiscal year. The budget session of the parliament is scheduled to begin on June 02, according to a Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament) source. The original budget size in the last fiscal year was Tk 5.68 trillion. The finance division is now preparing the budget against the backdrop of an unusual socio-economic condition, marked by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government had faced identical situation while framing the budget last year.The budget would set a higher borrowing target from the external sources to meet the deficit, which will go beyond 5.0 per cent of the GDP. In the meantime, economists said that targeting the external sources was in the right direction. They, however, warned that it would be tough to get the external fund released if the government plans to utilise resources from the existing pipeline.
Square Pharma set to launch factory in Kenya
Square Pharmaceuticals will launch its production facility in Kenya within the next four months in a move that will considerably enhance the company’s earnings from East African nations. The local drug maker broke ground on its manufacturing plant in Nairobi back in 2018 and although the unit was initially set to begin production in 2020, the project was delayed by unavoidable circumstances.With the state-of-the-art machinery, Square Pharmaceuticals Kenya EPZ Ltd aims to fulfil the unmet demand for medicine in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and South Sudan.The total project cost is estimated to be $17 million and working capital is $3 million, as per the company’s annual report. Of this amount, $12 million will be financed by Square Pharmaceuticals as equity investment while the rest will be financed through loans.In the Kenyan company, Square Pharmaceuticals holds 100 per cent nominal share capital of 80 crore Kenyan shillings (KSH) having 8 lakh shares of KSH 100 each (1 Kenyan shilling equals US$ 0.0093). The principal activity of the company is to manufacture and sell generic pharmaceutical products in Kenya and a majority of the East African community.The company’s net loss for the financial year that ended on June 30, 2020, is KSH 61.55 lakh and total accumulated loss is KSH 2 crore as it is yet to generate revenue while incurring administrative expenses and foreign exchange loss. The leading drug maker’s export market covers over 43 countries. During 2019-20, the company’s exports amounted to Tk 165 crore, which is around 11 per cent higher than that of the previous year.
Banking hours extended ahead of Eid
Bangladesh Bank yesterday instructed the country’s lenders to extend their operating hours to 2:00pm from today in order to help clients complete their banking activities smoothly ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. People will now be able to enjoy banking services from 10am to 2pm instead of 1pm, according to a central bank notice.However, branches will remain open until 3:30 pm to complete their regular procedures. Banks will have to continue operating on these limited hours until May 16. The central bank notice, however, has not given any indication on the alternate-day duty rosters for employees. Banks have followed the rostering system for their employees since 14 April as per the central bank and government instructions. A Bangladesh Bank official said that banks would take a decision on their own to fix the number of employees operating their branches.The country will enjoy a public holiday on May 10 on occasion of Shab-e-Qadr. If Eid is celebrated on April 14 depending on the sighting of the moon, banks will have to keep their branches open on May 13. After the rate of Covid-19 infections and deaths began rising alarmingly, the government enforced lockdown-like controls from April 5. As the situation worsened, it went for a strict countrywide lockdown from April 14.
Crude oil nears $70 a barrel
Crude oil prices rose for a third day on Wednesday as easing of lockdowns in the United States and parts of Europe heralded a boost in fuel demand in summer season and offset concerns about the rise of Covid-19 infections in India and Japan. India and Japan are the world’s third and fourth largest oil importers and consumers. Brent crude increased by 93 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $69.81 per barrel at 1008 GMT on Wednesday. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude increased by 85 cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $66.54 a barrel. Both contracts hit the highest level since mid-March in intra-day trade.Brennock said the jump in oil prices came amid expectations of strong demand as western economies reopened. “Indeed, anticipation of a pick-up in fuel and energy usage in the United States and Europe over the summer months is running high,” he said. Crude prices were also supported by a large fall in US inventories. The American Petroleum Institute (API) industry group reported crude stockpiles fell by 7.7 million barrels in the week ended April 30, according to two market sources. That was more than triple the drawdown expected by analysts polled by Reuters. Gasoline stockpiles fell by 5.3 million barrels.