Credit card, personal loan limits for consumer financing double
Limits to credit-card and personal loans under consumer financing almost doubled to match rises in people’s purchasing power, officials said Tuesday. Bangladesh Bank (BB), country’s central bank, revised the limits after 13 years considering per-capita income, they explained. Under the revised regulations, maximum unsecured limit under credit card to a borrower (supplementary cards shall be considered part of the principal borrower) shall not exceed Tk 1.0 million. It was Tk 0.50 million. The banks may allow financing under the credit-card scheme in excess of the limit to Tk 1.0 million provided the excess amount is secured against liquid securities, according to a notification issued by the central bank Tuesday. However, in no case the limit be allowed to exceed Tk 2.50 million. The cap was previously Tk 2.0 million. “In case of foreign-currency cards, cards can be issued subject to repayment is made against respective foreign-currency account or against lien of foreign-currency quota allocated to Bangladeshi nationals by Bangladesh Bank from time to time,” the central bank explained in its notification.
Bangladesh Bank Heist: Digital proof for North Korea link
Cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab on Monday said it had obtained digital evidence that bolsters suspicions by some researchers that North Korea was involved in last year’s $81 million cyber heist of the Bangladesh central bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Russian-based Kaspersky released a 58-page report on Lazarus, a group linked to the heist in Bangladesh and the 2014 attack on Sony’s Hollywood studio, which the US government blamed on North Korea. Among its findings, the report said Lazarus hackers made a direct connection from an IP address in North Korea to a server in Europe that was used to control systems infected by the group. Kaspersky researcher Vitaly Kamluk told Reuters by telephone that the finding marked “the first time we have seen a direct connection” between North Korea and Lazarus, a hacking group whose activities dating back to 2009 have been documented by the world’s biggest cyber security firms. The North Korean government has denied allegations of hacking made by officials in Washington and South Korea as well as security firms.
The deposit rates at banks have by almost halved in the last five years as the banks had to adjust their capital by rescheduling bad loans and giving lower returns to the depositors. The commercial banks have been reducing the deposit rates to keep balance in the inflow of the cash, which has also caused a fall in the real interest rates. The interest rate on deposit was around 12-14 percent five years ago. But the rate has come down to almost 5 percent, which is even lower than the current average inflation rate at 6.53 percent. The commercial banks have rescheduled their default loans by the end of the last year, giving more funds to the influential defaulters through the rescheduling policy. “Many borrowers, especially the influential ones and willful defaulters, place unethical requests and create pressure on banks to regularise their bad loans through restructuring without having proper justification to do so,” a Bangladesh Bank official told daily sun.
Govt won’t take WB funds for modernisation of state banks
The government will not take the World Bank funds to modernise state-run banks and financial institutions Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council meeting on Tuesday that the government has its own fund to implement the project. “We will do the project with our own funds. We want no foreign agency get involved with the project,” she said as quoted by officials who attended the meeting. After the Ecnec meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said prime minister does recommended not involving foreign agencies with the state banks modernisation project. The World Bank’s proposed fund was Tk1,580 crore and the government would bear Tk395 crore. The project is supposed to start this fiscal year. The project is aimed at improving performance of the state-run banks, that together account for 30% of total banking sector assets, by automating the business and transaction process.
BSEC may issue cyber security guidelines for listed companies
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission is likely to consider issuing separate guidelines on ensuring cyber security of the listed companies amid growing tension following Bangladesh Bank’s reserve heist in 2016. The capital market regulator’s indication came from a discussion with senior officials of banks and non-bank financial institutions on ‘Cyber Security : A Business Imperative’ at its office in Agargaon in the city. ISSA Bangladesh organized the dialogue in association with BSEC. BSEC chairman M Khairul Hossain, commissioners Md Helal Uddin Nizami, Md Amzad Hossain and Swapan Kumar Bala, executive director Md Saifur Rahman and ISSA Bangladesh chapter president Maruf Ahmed, among others, participated in the dialogue. Bankers said that the IT professionals of the banks were in most painful situation since the USD101 million reserve heist of Bangladesh Bank. M Khairul Hossain observed that if anybody is connected with internet, he/she is at stake of cyber attack and the risk was increasing geometrically.
The government on Tuesday gave nod to seven development projects involving Tk 7,890 crore, including a scheme to extend accommodation facility to government employees in Chittagong. The approval came at the meeting of The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) held at NEC auditorium in the capital on Tuesday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Out of the project cost, Tk 3,876 crore will come from the national exchequer while Tk 4,013 crore will come as project assistance, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters at a press conference later. Under a nearly Tk 476 crore project, the government seeks to construct government residential flats and a dormitory in deserted government houses to ease acute accommodation problem in Chittagong city.
Two economists yesterday suggested keeping the value-added tax rates low for electricity and energy instead of collecting 15 percent from commoners. “It will be better if the VAT on electricity and fuel is withdrawn. But if not possible, it will be good to keep the rate as low as possible,” said Wahiduddin Mahmud, a noted economist, at the pre-budget meeting organised by the National Board of Revenue. Mahmud, also a former adviser to a caretaker government, said universal inputs like electricity and energy should not attract any VAT from a rational point of view. “But VAT is collected from these areas for revenue collection.”
Govt moves to examine policy needs for investment abroad
The government has initiated the process of exploring the need for policy guidelines to facilitate Bangladeshi investment abroad, suiting the country’s present economic status, officials said. For ascertaining such need, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) recently formed an inter-ministerial committee. Presently, making equity investment abroad for resident Bangladeshis is not open under the foreign-exchange regulation act. But under sub-section 6 of section-4 of the act, the central bank in consultation with the government can identify areas of equity investments abroad. In the recent months the Bangladesh Bank has received a good number of applications seeking permission to make equity investment abroad. However, the central bank has cautioned the government to weigh a number of factors, including the ratio of private-sector investment in the country and foreign-exchange-reserve situation, before allowing Bangladeshi investors to make offshore investment.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina leaves for New Delhi on Friday morning on a four-day official visit, reports UNB. Briefing journalists on the Prime Minister’s visit in Dhaka on Tuesday, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali said there are possibilities to sign 33 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) or agreements with India on various issues. He said the MoUs and deals may include border haat establishment, information and broadcasting, civil nuclear cooperation, science and technology, ICT, satellite and space research, geological science, defence cooperation, third Line of Credit (LoC), community clinic installation and cooperation on power sector.
India hopes to fund 17 projects in Bangladesh through a proposed $5-billion line of credit, which is likely to be finalised during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to the neighbouring country later this week. The bulk of the funds are expected to be used for connectivity projects – railway projects, road construction and maintenance – as India eyes transit to the northeast and Southeast Asia via Bangladesh. Bangladesh finance minister AMM Muhith is currently visiting Delhi to fine-tune modalities of the line of credit, reports Economic Times. The loan has a 20-year repayment term, including a grace period of five years and a 1 per cent annual interest rate along with a 0.5 per cent commitment fee. Officials said that besides railway connectivity links, ferry services connecting Assam, Bangladesh and West Bengal, and running cruise liners between the two countries, along with several road projects, could be part of 40 pacts and memorandums of understanding that are likely to be signed during Hasina’s visit.
India moves for 3rd anti-dumping duty, now on fishing net
India has initiated an investigation to assess whether it imposes anti-dumping duty on import of fishing nets from Bangladesh, which is the third anti-dumping duty-related move against Bangladeshi products by its next-door neighbour in quick succession. The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) of India’s commerce and industry ministry on March 31 issued an investigation initiation notification and asked the Bangladesh government and exporters to submit information related to the product and appeal for hearing within 40 days of the issuance of the notice. The DGAD has also started an investigation into alleged dumping of fishing nets by China in India. Earlier on January 5, India imposed anti-dumping duty ranging from $19 to $351.72 a tonne on import of jute and jute goods from Bangladesh for five years that hit hard the country’s export earnings from its neighbouring country. India is also set to impose the same duty on export of hydrogen peroxide from Bangladesh as the DGAD is scheduled to complete an investigation regarding the issue by April 13.
The sixth edition of Bangladesh Denim Expo has been scheduled to take place on the 17th and 18th of May at the International Convention City, Bashundhara. The expo leads the way to the future and dedicates its main focus to “Denim Networks” while constantly growing in numbers since its first edition, said a press release on Tuesday. Over 10,000 pre-registered visitors are expected this time, the organisers said.
The telecom regulator has finalised its proposed licensing guideline for 4G services, which will be sent to the government shortly for final approval. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has proposed 15 percent revenue sharing with the operators from fourth generation (4G) services. Mobile operators are currently sharing 5.5 percent of their gross revenue from 2G and 3G services with BTRC, in addition to 1 percent as contribution to the social obligation fund. “We have proposed Tk 15 crore as licence fees for 15 years and another Tk 7.5 crore as annual fees,” BTRC Chairman Shahjahan Mahmood told The Daily Star yesterday.
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