BB asks banks to reduce interest rates on lending
The commercial banks have been advised to reduce interest rates on lending along with providing long term repayment facility to ship building industry, officials said. The central bank issued a circular letter in this connection Wednesday and advised the managing directors and chief executive officers of all scheduled banks to follow the instructions properly. “We’ve communicated a decision of the ministry of finance to the banks in this connection through issuing the letter,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE without elaborating. Under the decisions, the banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) may restructure the outstanding working capital as on December 31, 2017 into 10 years term-loan repayable quarterly with three years moratorium period without taking any down payment to minimise the liquidity problem of export-oriented shipyards.
Banking sector growth likely to decline in FY ’18
A number of scams along with troubles of varying nature have hit the growth of the country’s banking sector, as its expansion rate is likely to drop by 1.32 percentage points in the current fiscal year (FY), according to official data. The provisional data of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) showed that the growth rate of the country’s financial intermediation is set to drop to 7.90 per cent in FY 2017-18 from that of 9.12 per cent in last fiscal. Economists said the recent banking sector scams and several setbacks have severely affected the growth of the country’s financial sector, a key auxiliary to investment and employment as well as to gross domestic product (GDP) growth. They have raised questions over the high economic growth rate as estimated by the BBS amid unpalatable developments in the financial sector. According to the BBS provisional data, the growth rate of ‘monetary intermediation (banks)’ sub-sector has dropped the highest of 1.44 percentage points to 8.51 per cent in the current FY from that of 9.95 per cent in FY 17. The growth rate of the ‘insurance’ sub-sector has also dropped 0.42 percentage points to 1.63 per cent in the FY under review, and 0.01 percentage points to 9.05 per cent in ‘other financial auxiliaries’ sub-sector compared to the previous FY. Meanwhile, the growth of the country’s financial sector has declined to a single-digit over the last five years compared to its impressive double-digit growth in FY 11 and FY 12 following several scams and troubles in banking sector. In FY 18, the growth of financial intermediation has dropped further to 7.90 per cent. The country’s financial sector, especially the banks, are going through hard times, as they are burdened with the largest ever amount of non-performing loans (NPL), low net profit, high provisioning requirement, theft at the central bank’s reserve, and liquidity crunch etc.
Govt takes steps to revive banking sector
The banks in Bangladesh have been facing a liquidity crisis and as a result, the rate of interest is increasing fast. The authorities have made two decisions regarding the matter in an attempt to control the situation. Economists are hoping these decisions will help revive the banking sector. The first decision is, 50% of government organizations funds will be kept in private banks. The second, the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) in private banks will be lessened by 1%. Banks will be getting a large amount of extra money when these decisions are implemented. The economists said this extra money will have to be reinvested through the entrepreneurs in order to see a bigger change in the sector. Former governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Atiur Rahman said: “The banking sector as a whole would benefit greatly from these decisions. The money the banks will get from the 1% decrease of CRR and from the government funds being kept in private banks needs to be invested well through entrepreneurs. This will be good for the country’s economy too. ”
Ineptitude in banking sector causing GDP loss of Tk 100b
Inefficiency in banking sector is causing Bangladesh an annual gross domestic product (GDP) loss of around Tk 100 billion, a leading think-tank – South Asian Network for Economic Modelling (SANEM) – has opined. “Current inefficient banking sector is generating an annual GDP loss of Tk 10 thousand crores, which is around one per cent of the country’s GDP,” SANEM said in its quarterly review on Bangladesh economy on Wednesday. “Although, banking sector has a share of 2.9 per cent in the country’s GDP, it is very much linked with the rest of the economy. There is a huge cost associated with any uncertainty in the banking sector,” said Executive Director of SANEM Selim Raihan. The SANEM researchers said due to the unavailability of any overall efficiency measure in the banking sector, they used the ratio of non-performing loans (NPL) to gross loans as a proxy of inefficiency in the sector.
Quest for a cashless society continues
Electronic or digital payments have been growing steadily in Bangladesh for the last several years, thus helping the country to boost revenue collection and reduce currency printing costs. A total of 180 crore transactions worth nearly Tk 23 lakh crore, which is six times the current year’s national budget, were made through digital platforms in 2016, according to a study conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management. “This is exponential growth,” said Mahbubur Rahman Alom, an associate professor of BIBM, adding that transactions through the electronic channel have been doubling almost every year in the last five years. Most of the transactions are being conducted through the mobile financial services platform, followed by ATM, and the least by internet banking, according to the BIBM study.
Digital payment is the key
It was eight years ago, when online ventures in Bangladesh were few and far between, that Dutch-Bangla Bank had the gumption to set-up a digital payment system. “We did it because we had the foresight that e-commerce and online transactions will flourish in the country and for that our payment system will act as the enabler,” said Abul Kashem Md. Shirin, managing director and chief executive officer of Dutch-Bangla Bank. At present, Dutch-Bangla has 1,500 merchants out of the total of 2,500 connected to its network. But the number is below Dutch-Bangla’s expectations. “The market has full of potential but somehow e-commerce vendors are not succeeding in winning the customers’ trust fully,” he said, adding that the status quo will change if global companies enter the fray. At present, the country’s e-commerce business is worth about Tk 2,000 crore a year and at best 25 percent of the amount is transacted using either a bank’s digital payment gateway or mobile financial service, said Syed Mohammad Kamal, country manager of MasterCard. For greater usage, the government needs to give some incentive. “Without financial sector’s digitisation, real digitisation will not be possible,” said Kamal.
BRAC Bank records 35pc profit growth in 2017
BRAC Bank has recorded a growth of nearly 35 per cent in year-on-year consolidated net profit in 2017 over last year. The bank reported a consolidated net profit after tax of BDT 5,498 million in 2017 which was BDT 4,076 million in 2016. The consolidated operating profit increased to BDT 9,422 million from BDT 8,611 million in 2016. The disclosures were disseminated formally Wednesday in the city, said a statement. Selim R. F. Hussain, Managing Director & CEO, BRAC Bank Limited, presented the financial results and then answered queries in a Q&A session. A. K. Joaddar, Deputy Managing Director & Chief Financial Officer; Chowdhury Akhtar Asif, Deputy Managing Director & CRO; and senior officials of the bank were present.
Foreign funds soar in Dhaka stocks
Net foreign investment in the premier bourse more than trebled in March as overseas investors were tempted by the slump in the stock market. Last month, foreign investors purchased shares worth BDT 4.6 billion and sold off shares worth BDT 3.0 billion, according to data from the Dhaka Stock Exchange. The net foreign investment in March then came to BDT 1.6 billion, in contrast to BDT 940 million in the negative the previous month.
NBR proposes tax at source on export value
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) wishes to set the tax at source based on export value, instead of on export return earnings. Currently, the tax at source is based on export earnings, at a rate of 0.7%. NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan made the proposal at a pre-budget meeting with business leaders from the export sector. In the meeting, the Exporters’ Association of Bangladesh (EAB) urged the government to set a fixed percentage tax at source for the next five years to make it easier for entrepreneurs to take policy decisions. In response to the exporters’ call, the NBR chair said they were considering not changing the rate of tax at source, but may instead set a tax at source on export proceeds instead of on realized earning from exports. However, the EAB opposed the proposal, saying it would hurt businesses. “It will not be a wise decision as it will compel the exporters to pay taxes based on the unrealized amount, which will cause losses to the business,” EAB First Vice-President Mohammed Hatem told the Dhaka Tribune.
Bangladesh to get 85.11m Euro from IDB
Bangladesh will receive 85.11 million Euro in loan from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for rural and peri-urban housing. Bangladesh signed a loan agreement on Tuesday with this Jeddah-based lending agency on Tuesday. Finance Minister AMA Muhith and President of IDB Bandar MH Hajjar signed the agreement on the sidelines of the 43rd meeting of the Islamic Development Bank Group in Tunis, according to a message received here today. With the financial assistance from IDB, state-owned Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (BHBFC) will provide low-cost home financing to low-income rural people living outside the metropolis of Dhaka and Chattogram. IDB will lend the money to Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) through the Finance Ministry. The loan would be disbursed under ‘Pallima Scheme’, a newly launched scheme of the corporation. The main objectives of the project are to ensure access of the Rural and peri-urban people in Housing Finance and to save the agriculture lands from being eroded for housing purposes.
BD likely to opt for DFQF access to Chinese market
Bangladesh is poised to ink a ‘letter of exchange’ with China to enjoy the duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) access to the latter’s market for, at least, 97 per cent tariff lines, trade officials have said. Presently, Bangladesh is enjoying the DFQF facility for some 60 per cent of the Chinese tariff lines and some major Bangladeshi export items are subjected to higher tariff. A senior commerce ministry official told the FE that China offers DFQF facility to the least developed countries (LDCs) in accordance to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. Bangladesh is likely to graduate to developing country by 2024 and it stands to lose the opportunity then. “If the letter of exchange is signed, there is scope for Bangladesh to enjoy the benefit for six more years,” he said adding the Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) in its study found the DFQF offered by China is more beneficial for Bangladesh. According to officials, China offered DFQF facility of its 60 per cent tariff lines to all the LDCs in 2010. Later, it extended the facility to 97 per cent tariff lines for the LDCs that had signed the letter of exchange with it by 2015. The LDCs that had signed the letter of exchange after the deadline were granted DFQF facility for 95 per cent tariff lines. As Bangladesh and Mauritania did not sign such a document, the two countries are entitled to DFQF facility for 60 per cent tariff lines. A senior trade official at the ministry of commerce (MoC) told the FE that Bangladesh did not sign the letter of exchange since China tagged the condition that Dhaka will have to drop the benefits it enjoys under Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) if it wanted to enjoy the DFQF facility in China.
MS rod price to decrease Tk 1,000 per ton
Owners of the Steel and Re-rolling Industries on Wednesday announced that they would cut Taka 1,000 from the existing price of the per ton MS rod. The industries owners came up with the announcement at a meeting with Industries Secretary Muhammad Abdullah at his office, an official release said. During the meeting, they discussed various issues, including the prices of the MS rod and cement, BSS reports. Muhammad Abdullah said the implementation of the government’s development plans depend on the timely execution of mega projects.
National SME Fair to boost growth of business
A five-day National SME Fair-2018 began in the city on Wednesday amid expectations that it will give a boost to the growth of small and medium enterprises in the country. The sixth edition of the fair would create an avenue for the stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, financial institutions and government agencies, to exchange ideas and share experiences, said organisers and participants. After Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the exposition at Bangabandhu International Conference Cente (BICC) as the chief guest, visitors were seen entering the venue and looking for their desired products and services. About 292 small and medium enterprises (SMEs), more than 68 per cent of them run by women, are taking part in the fair this year, jointly organised by SME Foundation and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
Tri-nation bus service starts soon
Bangladesh, India and Nepal are set to start regular bus service with signing of a passenger protocol by June this year under BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement. Sources said the date for signing the passenger protocol will be finalised during a meeting to be held in Kathmandu on April 27 after trial run of Dhaka-Shiliguri-Kathmandu bus service.
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