The private sector credit growth increased significantly in February from that of the previous month as import payments jumped in recent months due to a rise in payments for capital machinery, industrial raw materials and some other commodities, said Bangladesh Bank officials. According to the latest BB data, the year-on-year credit growth rate in the private sector rose to 15.9% in February compared with that of 15.6% in January of the financial year of 2016-17. The year-on-year private sector credit growth had rose also in January as the growth was 15.55 per cent in December.Credit flow to the private sector stood at BDT 7,27,7.0 billion in February, 2017 against BDT 6,27,9.61 billion in the same month of 2016. The figure was BDT 7,19,3.53 billion in January, 2017 against BDT 6,71,0.09 billion in the same month of 2016.
The government has resumed treasury bills (T-bills) auctions following a suspension imposed for the month of March for ensuring proper cash management. The auction of Bangladesh Government Treasury Bonds (BGTBs), however, remained suspended, officials said. The government had suspended the auctions of both the T-bills and BGTBs for the month of March to use its excess liquidity.
Four state-owned commercial banks saw higher credit growth at the end of December last year thanks to a surge in lending to small businesses. Even two of them surpassed the credit ceiling set by the central bank. Bangladesh Bank held a meeting with the top executives of Sonali, Janata, Agrani and Rupali banks on Wednesday to discuss their performance in line with the targets set in the memoranda of understanding the regulator has signed with the lenders. BB Governor FazleKabir chaired the meeting. According to the MoU review report, the adjusted loan growth of Sonali Bank was 9.92 percent or Tk 19,500 crore last year compared to Tk 17,800 crore in 2015. The credit ceiling for the biggest bank in the country was 10 percent. The adjusted loan growth excludes credits going to the government and the agriculture sector. BB set the loan disbursement target on the basis of adjusted loans. The total loan growth of Sonali Bank was 10.85 percent or Tk 32,600 crore last year compared to Tk 29,400 crore the previous year. The bank experienced negative credit growth of 5.26 percent in 2015 after it fell short of reaching the BB ceiling of 6 percent.
After a periodic lull, the Bangladesh taka snapped its losing streak as the US dollar remained steady against the local currency steady last week. The US dollar posted its largest five-day advance in nearly two months but slipped against its chief rivals-with losses against the Japanese yen and the euro. In interbank trade, the US dollar traded at Tk 79.6700 on Thursday in line with its previous week’s closing. The euro traded at Tk 85.7887 compared to the previous week’s closing at Tk 85.9924, UK pound sterling at Tk 99.0776 compared to Tk 99.3817, Australian dollar at Tk 61.1308 and the Japanese yen traded at Tk 0.7176 last week compared to Tk 0.7165, the previous week, dealers said. After maintain a stable rate at Tk 78.40 for a long time since 2015, the Bangladesh taka started to losing grounds against the US dollar and other major currencies as the central bank stopped its intervention and allowed the local currency’s depreciation to attract remittance and boost export earnings. “Last week, we had an inflow of a handsome amount of foreign currencies which could meet the growing demand from importers”, said a dealer at private commercial bank. ” As the local currency has lost significantly and the US dollar and other major currencies have appreciated significantly, so remittance earners are sending money through official channels”, he said.
Government at final stage to issue bonds through foreign bourses
The government is at the final stage of issuing international bonds through foreign capital market, officials at the Power Division said, reports UNB. According to the sources, the London based-HSBC is likely to be appointed as issue manager for the proposed bond to raise funds for large power projects. HSBC has been pursuing the government for long to get the job of issue manager for such bond and had a number of meetings with the Power Division and state-owned Power Development Board officials.
Bangladesh proves least attractive for foreign bonds in South Asia
Bangladesh proves to be the worst destination for foreign bond-fund flows in South Asia as all other countries attracted much higher such investment in 2016. This underlines that the country failed to meet the foreign investors’ satisfaction despite having high yields on the tools. There are some funds which are specifically meant for smaller economies like Bangladesh-and that also are not coming in here, deluding promotional government moves. Bangladesh received US$9.29 million in a year to December last, whereas India attracted $1.3 billion, Pakistan $80.84 million and Sri Lanka $253.75 million. The US-based EPFR Global, which solely tracks the movement of bond and equity funds globally, has found such gloomy picture of this economic field upon request.
300 clients received banking services in open place
More than 300 clients in general received banking services like opening accounts and loan payment and receiving in open place here Wednesday. Greater Road Kazihata Branch of RajshahiKrishiUnnayan Bank (RAKUB) organized the programme in its premises with the main thrust of promoting inclusive banking. On the occasion, the bank collected deposit worth Taka 40 lakh, disbursed loan of Taka two lakh at five percent interest rate for cattle rearing and launched saving scheme through selling saving paper worth Taka five lakh. RAKUB Managing Director KaziSanaulHaque and Deputy Managing Director Nazrul Islam attended and addressed the ceremony as chief and special guest respectively with Deputy General Manager Rafiqul Islam in the chair.
Interests on fixed deposits generated more than half of the total revenue for Dhaka Stock Exchange than the bourse’s core business that includes share transactions and listing fees. The premier bourse received Tk 107.08 crore in interest on fixed deposits in fiscal 2015-16, which accounted for about 57 percent of the total revenue, according to the DSE’s annual report that was approved by the shareholders at its 55th annual general meeting on March 23. The bourse’s total fixed deposits with 15 banks stood at Tk 922.50 crore at the end of June last year, according to the annual report. The DSE’s total revenue last fiscal year — the third year after its demutualisation — stood at Tk 187.36 crore. From the total revenue, the bourse’s net income stood at Tk 119.83 crore, down 11 percent year-on-year. Although the share transaction and listing fees are the core business areas for a stock exchange, the DSE received only Tk 52.67 crore in transaction fees and Tk 16.36 crore from listing fees and annual charges from listed companies. The average daily turnover dropped to Tk 434.19 crore from Tk 472.06 crore in fiscal 2014-15, taking a toll on transaction fees.
Bangladesh ‘terms of trade’ trail global pricing trends
Bangladesh’s ‘terms of trade’ has remained unchanged despite drastic fall in commodity prices on the international market. Economists blame the declining export prices of local manufactures on the international market in relation to the import prices for the current terms of trade situation. Terms of trade stand for a macroeconomic variable which measures relative pricing of exports and imports. A declining or stagnant situation in the terms of trade means the prices of exports fall relative to imports.
Govt moves to boost exports of diversified jute products
The textile and jute ministry has listed 232 diversified jute products to boost exports of goods made from the natural fibre, said a senior official. The list has already been sent to the finance ministry for circulation, said Nasima Begum, joint secretary of the ministry. The ministry in June 2016 formed a committee to define diversified jute goods and prepare a list of items to be eligible for the 20 percent cash subsidy against exports. The panel finalised the list that includes shopping bags, curtains, cushion cover, pillow cover, sofa cover, table mats, flower vases, storage items, indoor and outdoor gardening materials, and lifestyle products like shoes. “We hope these products will get the incentive,” said Nasima, also the executive director of Jute Diversification Promotion Centre (JDPC).
Bangladesh moves to avoid blend loans from World Bank
As a remedy for teething troubles in status graduation, Bangladesh will seek World Bank’s continued soft-loan support instead of some possible hard-term credits under its IDA-18 package from next financial year (FY), officials said. Since Bangladesh became a lower-middle-income country (LMIC) on July 01, 2015, its largest development partner, the World Bank, has hinted at some hard-term lending along with the concessional one from the International Development Association (IDA) funds, they said. Bangladesh as an LDC is currently receiving the concessional loans from the IDA with only 0.75 per cent service charge. Such a loan matures in 38 years with a six-year grace period.
Trade in yuan to reduce costs of doing business: analysts
Bangladesh’s exporters and importers should embrace the Chinese currency renminbi (RMB) for trade settlement with China, as it will be cost effective for the local businesses, experts said. “The renminbi is the third most used currency in international trade settlement,” said Stuart G Tait, head of commercial banking of HSBC Asia-Pacific. “The use of the renminbi is only going to increase, and 50 percent of all Chinese trade would be settled in the currency within three to five years,” he said at a meeting at Westin Dhaka on Wednesday. Ma Ming Qiang, Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh, said the local garment importers buy machinery from China and export the finished products. “If these export and import payments are made in the RMB, you will save a lot – up to 6 percent.” “So I would request HSBC and other banks to do it. And I am trying very hard to get one Chinese bank in Dhaka.”
The Planning Commission has started framing the annual development programme (ADP) for the next fiscal year, attaching the highest priority to the regions lagging behind others in terms of development. The commission had already asked all the ministries and relevant agencies of the government to send lists of their ongoing and fresh projects those align with the “Vision 2021”, officials said. The ADP is one of the key components of the national budget of Bangladesh as nearly 33 per cent of the total expenditure is earmarked for it. The ADP of Tk 1.11 trillion for the current fiscal year also represents one-third of the total budgetary expenditure of Tk 3.41 trillion. The ADP is mainly formed for development works across the country and mitigating hunger of the poor people. “We have started working to prepare the ADP for the financial year (FY) 2017-18. The ministries have been asked to send their ongoing and priority projects. After getting the lists, we will conduct necessary scrutiny of projects for inclusion in the next ADP,” said a senior official at the PC.
Businesses feel getting into a quandary as the government is poised to abolish the Duty Exemption and Drawback Office (DEDO) under a new law sans a better option. Officials said when the new VAT and supplementary duty act takes effect on July 01, 2017, the DEDO will stand abolished as the law scraps the provision concerning its establishment. The DEDO came into being in 1987. The new law, which is expected to be enforced from the next fiscal year by replacing the existing VAT law 1991, has omitted the post of Director General of DEDO in its relevant section and empowered respective VAT commissionerates to refund VAT.
NBR requested not to give BTRC collection responsibility
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has requested the National Board of Revenue to collect directly the outstanding value-added tax worth Tk 269 crore from three mobile phone operators as the telecom regulator has failed to collect the VAT from them for various reasons including lack of authority. The telecom regulator in a letter on March 16 requested the NBR either not to make the BTRC responsible for collecting the dues and wait until the issue is finally settled by higher court or find an alternative way. Earlier on March 1, the BTRC issued show-cause notices to the operators — Grameenphone, Banglalink and Robi — asking them to pay the dues within 30 days or to provide explanations for why legal actions would not be taken in case of failure to make payment. The VAT amount in the third instalment of spectrum charge for 2G licences has remained stuck since August 2013 due to legal and procedural disputes between four telecom operators including Citycell and the BTRC over the payment mechanism. The BTRC was supposed to collect the VAT from the operators as per the VAT Act 1991.
A new campaign to raise awareness on basic Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) issues in the apparel sector was launched yesterday. The radio-based campaign titled ‘Safe Workplaces, Go Ahead Bangladesh’ was initiated by the labour and employment ministry and Department of Inspections for Factories and Establishments (DIFE), in collaboration with the International LabourOrganisation (ILO). The campaign has received funding from Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In order to create better recognition amongst garment workers, supervisors and managers, well-known TV celebrity Mosharraf Karim will support a number of campaign activities, said a statement from the ILO. “Efforts to improve workplace safety remain the highest priority for the Bangladesh government. This campaign will reach out to garment workers to help them better understand safety areas,” said MikailShipar, secretary to the labour and employment ministry, at the launch. “I also firmly encourage owners and managers to listen as they too have an equal responsibility regarding safety and health.” Srinivas Reddy, ILO country director for Bangladesh, said, “This safety campaign is certain to benefit a large number of RMG workers. It is vital however that the efforts to build a culture of safety in Bangladesh begin to go beyond the all-important RMG sector.”
Envoy embraces robotic tech to raise standards, output
Bangladesh’s apparel manufacturers are increasing the use of modern technologies to boost productivity, deliver products on time and meet demand for finer products from global retailers and brands. Some local fabrics manufacturers have even gone one step further, as they are using robotic technology and machinery. Envoy Textiles Ltd (ETL) is one such denim fabrics manufacturer which is using robotic machinery to raise output and improve the quality of products. “The use of robotic technology ensures higher productivity and good quality of yarn. Although the initial investment in sophisticated technologies is high, at the end of the day it is feasible for us, thanks to increased productivity and improved quality,” said Kutubuddin Ahmed, chairman of Envoy Group.
The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a consortium of North American fashion retailers and buyers, has cut business relations with seven more Bangladeshi readymade garment units in March due to their failure in making required progress in factory remediation. With the seven, the total number of RMG factories with which the Alliance has severed business ties reached 141. The platform, however, published the names of four factories and the addresses where the rest three units are located. The three unnamed factories faced suspension due to irreparable faults at the buildings where those are housed. The four suspended factories are: Starlight Knitwear Ltd at Mirpur in the Dhaka city, Rupa Fabrics Ltd and Rupa Knitwear (Pvt) Ltd in Gazipur and Clear Tex Industries Ltd in Chittagong. The three faulty buildings are situated in Dhaka, Gazipur and Chittagong. The authorities of the three factories housed in the buildings have already closed their units to relocate those to new places.
Time to promote Bangladesh as halal tourist destination
Bangladesh needs to take steps to grab a slice of the fast-growing halal tourism pie, travel experts said. Halal tourism is a subcategory of tourism that is geared towards Muslim families who abide by rules of Islam. Some examples of halal tourism include the availability of places of worships in shopping centres and major tourism facilities, hotels that serve halal food and have separate swimming pools and spa facilities for men and women. In recent times, this sub-sector of tourism is on the rise on the back of the growing worldwide Muslim population, the increasing purchasing power of population of Muslim countries and rising tendency to consume foods and use services that adhere to Islamic principles. Spending by Muslim tourists exceeded $138 billion in 2015 and in 2020 it is expected to be upwards of $180 billion, according to KaziWahidulAlam, editor of Bangladesh Monitor, an aviation and tourism magazine. At present, Bangladesh does not even register as a tourist destination in Muslim travellers’ minds when they make holiday plans, said ShamnoonMuheb Chowdhury, director of goBDgo, a travel agency.
Cleaner and more efficient modern brick kilns are rising in numbers in a development that bodes well for the country’s efforts to cut down on air pollution. The traditional fixed chimney kilns (FCKs) emit large quantities of carbon dioxide and other environmental pollutants into the atmosphere each year, causing a harmful impact on health, agricultural yields and climate. Until February this year, 121 modern brick kilns, including Hybrid Hoffman Kiln (HHK) and tunnel kiln, have been established and more such kilns are set to come into operation in the coming months, said the Department of Environment (DoE). “Investors have realised that the days of making bricks through the traditional method are over,” said DoE Director MdZiaulHaque. The pace of shift to modern and environment-friendly brick making technologies has picked up after the DoE, instead of issuing environmental clearance certificates for conventional kilns, started encouraging entrepreneurs for using improved technologies.
Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL) is incurring a loss of around Tk 30 crore every month although the government has injected enough money into the state-owned organisation to turn it into a profit-making one. However, its top official blamed the losses on the repeated severing of its copper and optical fibre cables during development works on roads and drainages by different agencies. Talking to UNB, BTCL Managing Director Engineer Mahfuz Uddin Ahmad said they earn around Tk 40 crore each month. But they have to spend around Tk 70 crore mainly for repairing the cables which get cut off during various development works. “Even, a cable gets severed 5-7 times. We have to spend huge money on repairing those, raising expenditure by 15-20 times,” he said.
Western Marine hands over largest ‘Made-in-Bangladesh’ ship
Western Marine Shipyard (WMS) Limited has successfully built and handed over the country’s largest ship – MV JSW Pratapgad, the first of its ten 8,000 dead weight ton (DWT) capacity mini bulk carriers, to its Indian buyer. According to the company officials, this is the largest vessel built so far in Bangladesh – thereby recording a milestone in the country’s emerging shipbuilding industry. Officials said the vessel has an overall length of 122.25 meters (401 feet) and will be in operation in the Indian Sea routes and has been manufactured in compliance with the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS), a classification society.
Broadband wireless operator Ollo plans to invest more than US$20 million in 4G LTE (long term evaluation) network expansion in Bangladesh. “We would make immediate investment of USD 5.0 million in LTE network expansion in Dhaka and some other big cities,” Ollo Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sergey Topalov told BSS in an interview. He said Ollo was waiting for the clearance of the telecom regulator for importing equipment to install nearly 30 new base transceiver stations (BTSs) in the capital and some big cities within this year.
Bangladesh embassy in Bahrain stops sending demand for workers
Bangladesh embassy in Bahrain has stopped sending requisition for workers to the expatriates’ welfare ministry due to absence of available job opportunities there, officials said. Labour counselor at the embassy also sent a report recently, saying that many of the Bangladeshi workers remained jobless while many others were not getting desired wages and working environment. He requested the ministry not to send any worker without investigating job demand as the workers who went there in the recent times were facing troubles.
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