Scheduled banks cut their rates of interest on lending further in February, the 26th month in a row, as the businesspeople were reluctant to borrow from banks amid a dull business situation in the country, said Bangladesh Bank officials. The rates of interest on lending declined to 9.8% in February from 9.9% in January this year. BB data showed that the average rate of interest on lending dropped below 10.0% in November last year for the first time in the country’s banking history. The central bank began logging the weighted average interest rates on lending and deposit in 1975 and the interest rate was never seen declining below 10.0% before November, 2016. A BB official told New Age on Monday that banks were forced to lower the lending rates due to a sluggish credit demand from the businesspeople.
Remittance continued its downward course in March, declining 16.25 percent year-on-year to $1.08 billion — a development that is likely to prod the central bank into providing incentive to remitters to send money home through official channels. There is a rising tendency among expatriate Bangladeshis to remit money through digital hundi, depriving the government of foreign currency. Remittance is Bangladesh’s second-biggest source of foreign currency income after garment exports, and this fiscal year the inflow has been lower in every month from a year earlier. The decline has hit the current account balance negatively and widened the balance of payments.
Biman borrows $ 66.5m to pay dues against two new aircraft
Biman Bangladesh Airlines has taken US$ 66.50 million loan from Sonali Bank Limited to adjust pre-delivery payment (PDP) dues for two more Boeing aircraft. The country’s largest state-owned commercial bank (SoCB) had arranged the loan for the national flag carrier by taking deposit from the central bank’s foreign exchange reserve, officials said. Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central bank, has already deposited the fund with Sonali Bank UK Limited as short-term investment. The government holds 51 per cent stake of the bank in London and Sonali Bank Ltd the rest 49 per cent
BB caps interest rates at 9.0% for women borrowers
Banks now can charge maximum 9.0% interest for lending funds to women entrepreneurs and small enterprises, according to a Bangladesh Bank directive yesterday. Commercial banks will be able to charge the bank rate plus a maximum 4.0% interest rate at client level, according to the directive. At present, the bank rate is 5.0%. The move aims to bring more women entrepreneurs into businesses and productive sectors, according to the circular. Currently, BB offers several refinance schemes for women entrepreneurs in cottage, micro and small enterprises and agro-business. Under the refinancing schemes, banks first disburse funds among borrowers and then seek reimbursement from BB. For the service, commercial banks get funds from the central bank at lower-than-market rates.
Net foreign investment in stocks marked nearly 39.0% rise month-on-month in March this year as overseas investors parked more funds in stocks, anticipating positive market scenario. Market insiders said the favourable macroeconomic indicators, including declining interest rate coupled with political calm boosted foreign investors’ confidence to inject fresh funds in the securities. Foreign investors bought shares worth BDT 7.1 billion and sold stocks of BDT 3.8 billion to take their net investment to BDT 3.3 billion in March, according to statistics from the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE).
Realtors seek free investment of undisclosed money
Realtors proposed that the government allow investing legally-earned undisclosed money in the housing sector sans question over source of the money, as a budgetary stimulus. Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) vice-president Liakat Ali Bhuiyan said the government could consider offering the opportunity in the budget for next fiscal year as the real-estate sector is passing through critical time. The REHAB leaders also sought cuts in the flat-and plot-registration fees and taxes halved to 7.0% from the existing 14.0%.
BSEC asks ICB to hand over management of Unit Fund
The securities’ regulator has asked the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) to hand over the management of the country’s largest ever mutual fund–ICB Unit Fund– to its subsidiary company within six months. The regulatory order came in line with the securities rules regarding management of the mutual funds. The ICB is not ‘registered’ as a fund manager and subsequently, the fund will have to be managed by ICB Asset Management Company, a subsidiary of the state-run ICB.
The cabinet on Monday approved the Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Bill 2017 proposing empowerment of the government to acquire land of any religious institutions like mosques, temples, pagodas, graveyards and cremation grounds if inevitable for public interest. ‘The land of religious institutions like mosques, temples, pagodas, graveyards and cremations may be acquired if inevitable for public interest such as construction of roads provided that those establishments should be relocated at the costs of the people or institutions for which the land is acquired,’ cabinet secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said at briefing after the cabinet meeting. The bill, however, retained existing provision that generally restricted acquisition of the land of religious institutions.
Summit Group to get nod for LNG terminal this week
Summit Group will receive a final nod from the government to set up a floating liquefied natural gas terminal on Moheshkhali Island in Cox’s Bazar at a cost of $500 million. The approval from the cabinet’s purchase committee may come this week. After the approval of the energy ministry’s proposal, the local conglomerate will have to sign a final agreement with Petrobangla. The energy ministry has sought approval for two agreements: one for terminal use and the other for implementation. For Bangladesh, this will be the second LNG terminal agreement. In July, state-run Petrobangla and US-based Excelerate Energy signed the final deals to set up Bangladesh’s first LNG terminal. Petrobangla will pay $158,511 per day to Summit as fixed component fees and $30,500 for port service component fees.
Bangladesh is the third-largest video gaming market in South Asia and 61st globally in a ranking of 100 countries thanks to robust growth of internet users and smartphone penetration. The country’s video gaming market is worth about $62.22 million or nearly Tk 500 crore a year, according to Newzoo, a leading provider of market intelligence of global games, e-sports, and mobile markets. In South Asia, Bangladesh lags behind India and Pakistan but is ahead of Sri Lanka. Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan could not grab a place in the top 100. The report, published for the first time recently, was based on data available up to December last year. Newzoo officials told The Daily Star that they collected information from various sources in respective country as well as global market. India was ranked 19th with a market size of $521.11 million while Pakistan was placed on 53rd position with its gaming market valuing at $109.05 million. Sri Lanka’s market is valued at $34.52 million.
Bangladesh and Indian railways are set to sign an agreement on improvement of container service and launch train services between the two countries during the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s visit to India next week. Officials said Container Corporation of India and Container Company of Bangladesh will sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on improvement of container service between the two countries.
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