No cut in yield rates on savings tools: NBR chief
National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the government has no plan to reduce the yield rates on state-owned savings certificates. “We will try to keep unchanged the existing rates of yield on government’s savings instruments to consider the interests of small savers,” he said on Saturday while speaking at the inaugural ceremony of ‘Savings Week-2018’. His assurance came after small savers urged the government not to reduce the rates of interest on national savings tools. Investors also sought to ensure proper services during investment or encashment of their savings tools at respective outlets. Under the theme ‘Cholo Sobai Sanchoy Kori, Digital Bangladesh Gorai Shohayota Kori’, ‘Savings Week-2018’ was launched at the National Sports Council (NSC) in the city on the day. Director General of Department of National Savings Shamsunnahar Begum was present, among others, at the programme.
Remittance inflow rises by 17.04pc in 9 months
Expatriate Bangladeshis sent US $10,761.29 million remittance in the first nine months of the current fiscal 2017-18, which is 17.04 per cent higher than the amount received in the corresponding period of the preceding fiscal, reports BSS. According to Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country received $9,194.59 million remittance during July-March period of 2016-17 financial year. “The flow of remittances into the country rebounded in the current fiscal 2017-18 as BB took some measures to streamline the legal channel for encouraging the Non-Resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) to send money,” BB Deputy Governor Abu Hena Mohammad Razee Hassan told BSS here today. Earlier, he said, some NRBs used informal channels, including mobile banking, for sending their money home. In the recent time, the use of informal channel has been reduced due to increasing the monitoring activities of the central bank and law enforces agencies over the illegal channel, he added. He said mobile financial service providers, including bKash, are also playing a vital role to stop the illegal channel. The BB deputy governor hoped that the inflow of remittance will be increased in the upcoming months as the Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest festival of Muslim, is coming.
BDT depreciates slightly against US dollar
The exchange rate of local currency depreciated slightly against the US dollar again on Thursday after more than a month despite the central bank’s support with foreign currency for the commercial banks. The Bangladesh Taka (BDT) depreciated by two paisa on the day mainly due to higher demand for the greenback, according to the market operators. The US dollar was quoted at Tk 82.98 each in the inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market on Thursday against Tk 82.96 on the previous working day. Earlier on February 26, the US currency was quoted at Tk 82.96 each in the forex market against Tk 82.94 on the previous working day. Meanwhile, Bangladesh Bank (BB) is extending its foreign currency support to the banks continuously for settling import payment obligations. As part of the move, the central bank sold US$ 17 million directly to seven banks on the day to meet the growing demand for the greenback in the market.
Govt mulls security tool for Islamic banks
The government is considering introducing a separate security instrument for the Islamic banks, aiming to meet its budget deficit. Such banks have no fixed-income instrument for liquidity management like conventional banks. The name of the instrument is likely to be ‘Islamic financial instrument’. To this effect, a project on the instrument will be taken up in the next fiscal budget. The finance ministry has started preparatory work. It will hold a high-level meeting sometime next week to scrutinise and discuss the issue. A senior assistant secretary of the finance division who deals with the matter said there is no effective statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) management system in the Islamic Shariah-based banks and no opportunity to participate in the government securities like treasury bills (T-Bills) and bonds, short- and long-term debt instruments issued by Bangladesh Bank (BB) on the behalf of the government. For this, they have no fixed-income instrument for their liquidity management.
Farmers’ bank accounts rise to 92.38 lakh
The number of farmers’ accounts opened with scheduled banks increased by 1.94 lakh to 92.38 lakh till December 31, 2017 from 90.44 lakh a year ago, according to Bangladesh Bank latest report. Their total deposits in bank accounts, opened with Tk 10, increased by 25 per cent or Tk 57 crore in 2017 against that in the previous year. According to BB report, farmers’ deposits with the banks were Tk 281 crore till December 31, 2017 while the amount was Tk 223 crore on December 31, 2016. Although the growth is significant, the amount of money in the accounts is not that much as yet considering the number of accounts.
Experts chart course of BD’s economy in next decade
Bangladesh Bank’s Chief Economist Faisal Ahmed said on Saturday the diversification of business in Bangladesh beyond the RMG (readymade garments) sector is the key to the country’s better future in the next decade, reports UNB. Speaking at the 5th Leadership Summit, organised by Bangladesh Brand Forum, he said leveraging finance, fiscal policies and technology will be the key to further economic development. Faisal Ahmed also said the need for innovation and higher productivity in agriculture, service and manufacturing to further establish Bangladesh’s global footprint. With the tagline ‘Bangladesh Dialogue for the Next 10 Years’, the summit included the presence of leaders of various industries who shared their ideas about future leaders.
Prime Bank arranges syndicated loan of Tk 1.44b for rice mill
Prime Bank has arranged its 30th syndication deal as a lead arranger through raising Tk 1.44 billion to finance an auto rice mill project of Hashem Rice Mills Limited, one of the concerns of Sajeeb Group. The bank along with five other banks and financial institutions — Bank Asia Limited, BASIC Bank Limited, Pubali Bank Limited, Trust Bank Limited and SABINCO — participated in the syndication.
City Bank plans big as it celebrates 35yrs
When some local banks are struggling to survive amid rising loan irregularities and deteriorating governance, City Bank stands tall with a difference, be it adoption of technology, consumer and retail banking and ensuring global standards. Compliance and quality services have served the bank well. The International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, has bought equity shares in the bank and sits in its board, an achievement many local banks dream of. City Bank, established 35 years ago as one of the country’s first private commercial banks, now aims even higher. “We are now dreaming to have a global presence within the next 10 years as we have already achieved a tremendous result in the local market,” said its Managing Director Sohail RK Hussain, in an interview with The Daily Star last week.
Five top Islami Bank officials resign
Five top officials of Islami Bank Bangladesh have resigned from their jobs following restructuring at the management level. The officials had submitted their resignation letters earlier this week and the board accepted their plea on Tuesday, said the chairman of Islami Bank Bangladesh. When asked whether the board of the bank had forced them to resign, the chairman said, “They resigned willingly.” In June last year, major changes were brought about in the board of directors and the management team of the private commercial bank. The latest change in the management is a continuation of the previous restructuring process of the bank, said an official of the bank upon conditions of anonymity.
Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) moves to modernize OTC market
The Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) has moved to make its over-the-counter (OTC) market time befitting. In this regard, the port city bourse needed amending the existing rules or formulating new rules. As part of its move, the CSE has submitted a proposal to Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), seeking its decision about amending the existing rules or formulation of new rules. Apart from transaction of the shares of de-listed companies, the non-listed companies will also be able to transfer their shares trough the OTC market. Presently, some 65 companies are listed with the OTC market and some 32 companies trying to comply with the securities rules. Meanwhile, the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) advanced much to modernize the function of its OTC market. The securities regulator has already formed a five-member committee to make recommendation on the development of OTC (over-the-counter) market of the bourse. The regulatory move came following the premier bourse’s proposal to change existing rules of the OTC market.
Trustee seeks regulator’s view to decide Mutual Fund’s fate
The trustee of Grameen One: Scheme Two, a closed-end mutual fund (MF), has sought regulatory opinion to decide their position regarding continuation, or liquidation, or conversion of the fund. The move came as the tenure of the MF will end this year as per 10-year tenure set for all the closed-end MFs. Following the regulatory approval, Grameen One: Scheme Two was floated in 2008 with a tenure of 15 years. As per the regulatory approval, the fund’s tenure is supposed to end in 2023. But after flotation of Grameen One: Scheme Two, Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) had issued a directive, setting 10-year tenure for all the closed-end MFs. In last year, the trustee of Grameen One: Scheme Two wanted to know the regulatory decision regarding continuation or liquidation or conversion of the fund. Then the BSEC said all closed-end MFs will be liquidated or converted into open-ended ones on completion of 10-year tenure subject to approval of the unit holders.
Services account deficit soars to record high level
Bangladesh’s services account deficit hit a record high in the seven months to January as the payment for freights jumped by nearly 24% on back of rise in the external trade, the central bank said. Services account is part of the balance of payment (BoP), which includes transportation, travel, computer, and telecommunication and information. Even the deficit could not be counterbalanced, despite the arrival of increased number of inbound tourists, boosted by the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh. Services account deficit amounted to USD2.58 billion in July-January 2018, up from USD 1.99 billion in the same period a year earlier, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank (BB). Such type of deficit in the service accounts is impacting the overall BoP, which is in the negative territory, more than USD 1.0 billion. Economists who follow the situation said that Bangladesh’s payment for freights has been climbing on the back of rise in external trade, widening the gap between receipts and payment. The transport account balance logged a deficit of USD 3.22 billion against USD 2.61 billion a year ago. This is the biggest deficit in terms of dollar-based calculation. The widening deficit comes against the backdrop slump in business of the global shipping industry. In contrast, local people’s payment for overseas travelling account widened by over 32% to USD 412 million in the period through January. The payment for health and education-related services accounts also marginally rose by 0.2%age point to USD 0.8 million dollars and nearly 13% to USD 113 million respectively.
Shortfall forces NBR to consider trimming tax collection target
The government is considering chopping its tax revenue collection target by nearly Tk 280 billion after the receipt dropped in the seven months to February. The National Board of Revenue’s tax collection shortfall reached Tk 175.12 billion in July-February period of the current financial year. To achieve the cumulative tax collection target of Tk 2.48 trillion, the board requires achieving 45 per cent growth in receipt compared to that of the actual collection of the last fiscal’s Tk 1.71 trillion. Talking to the FE Saturday, board chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said the target of the revenue collection would be revised downward to Tk 2.20 trillion or Tk 2.25 trillion, terming the existing goal ‘ambitious’. “We would be happy if the tax revenue collection target grew by 25 per cent this year,” he said.
Project aid allocation worth Tk 600b likely
The government is likely to earmark more than Tk 600 billion as project aid in the development budget for the next financial year (FY) 2018-19, up 16 per cent from the outlay for the current FY, officials said Friday. In the current national budget, the authorities allocated Tk 520.50 billion in project aid to be provided from overseas assistance in the revised Annual Development Programme (ADP) of the current fiscal year. Additional secretary of the Economic Relations Division Farida Nasreen said the agency had drafted documents explaining the project aid coming from various external sources for development projects during the upcoming financial year.
ADB launches new procurement policy
The government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have reviewed the implementation status and readiness of the lender’s assisted projects in Bangladesh to further improve development results. The ADB Wing Chief of the Economic Relations Division (ERD) Muhammad Alkama Siddiqui and the ADB’s Country Director Manmohan Parkash co-chaired the Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting in Dhaka on Thursday. The meeting discussed the status of ongoing projects, and readiness of the projects in 2018-2019 pipeline, and prioritised actions to implement projects in a timely manner, the ADB said in a statement.
Stunning success in using Japanese aid
Bangladesh achieved considerable progress in utilising Japan’s aid loan in the Japanese financial year ending in March, data shows. The disbursement of overseas development assistance loan from JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) reached 142,514 million JPY (US$ 1.32 billion) until March 13. This shows the utilisation rate of 96.5 per cent against the annual target, according to a recent portfolio review. Japanese financial year ends in March. The target for disbursing Japanese loan was 147,727 million Japanese Yen (US$ 1.37 billion) against 32 Bangladeshi projects.
BD, Azerbaijan discuss ways to bolster trade ties
The state minister for foreign affairs has met with Azerbaijan foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov in Baku and discussed the opportunities of strengthening bilateral relations, reports bdnews24.com. Md Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh and Azerbaijan have the “opportunity to explore further economic and trade cooperation building on the sound momentum in our bilateral political ties”. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the 18th NAM Mid-term Ministerial Meeting ended in Baku on Friday. The two ministers agreed to further expedite the conclusion of the bilateral agreements on protection of investment and avoidance of double taxation. They also agreed to work on creating an institutional mechanism to conduct high-level Foreign Office consultations on a regular basis.
Dhaka, Delhi set to sign deal next week
The governments of Bangladesh and India are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) early next week in Dhaka to implement a cross-border pipeline. India would finance Rs 3.03 billion (Tk 3.90 billion) in grant for building the proposed 130-kilometre pipeline to be used for exporting diesel to Bangladesh. This will follow the signing of further contracts to execute the laying of the pipeline, director for operations and planning with Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation Sayed Mohammad Mozammel Haque told the FE Thursday. The Indian government will assign an engineering, procurement and construction contractor, while the project director will be assigned from Bangladesh to implement the project. Bangladesh’s Economic Relations Division will facilitate the project execution.
BIAC, IICA to help boost ADR activities in BD, India
Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre (BIAC) and the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) will continue to maintain mutual liaison and help progress the ADR activities in both Bangladesh and India. The optimism was shown at a recent dialogue on ‘International, Cross Culture, Civil and Commercial Mediation & Negotiation’ at IICA campus in New Delhi. BIAC and IICA jointly organised the dialogue in the Indian capital, according to a statement issued by BIAC. Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh, Director General and Chief Executive Officer (DG & CEO) of Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA), delivered the welcome note, while Mahbubur Rahman, Chairman of BIAC, presented the keynote paper on ‘Role of BIAC in promotion of mediation in commercial disputes’. Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, Chief Executive Officer of BIAC, also presented another keynote paper on ‘Scope of mediation in commercial disputes in Bangladesh’.
Cut customs duty on scrap import
Bangladesh Auto Re-rolling and Steel Mills Association (BARSMA) has called on the government to lower customs duty on the import of scrap, a core raw material for steel, and the Advance Income Tax (AIT) to contain the skyrocketing prices of rods in the local market. The association leaders demanded that the customs duty be reduced to Tk 500 from Tk 1,500 for one tonne of scrap and the Advance Income Tax to Tk 400 from Tk 800. “The production cost of steel rod has increased abnormally in the last three months,” Manwar Hossain, chairman of the BARSMA, said at a press briefing at the National Press Club in the city on Thursday, said a statement.
Bangladesh rice import hits 32-yr high: USDA
Rice imports in Bangladesh hit a 32-year high in 2017-18, according a report of the US Department of Agriculture released on Friday. The Grain and Feed annual report of USDA Foreign Agricultural Service said that the country imported 36 lakh tonnes of rice in the year which was the highest import amount since 1985-86. Before this year, the record import of rice was in 1998-99 with 30.6 lakh tonnes, said the report, referring to national statistics of Bangladesh. The USDA estimated that production of rice in the current crop year of 2017-2018 ending in April fell by 19 lakh tonnes to 3.26 crore tonnes against the production of 3.45 crore tonnes in the previous year 2016-2017. The department’s estimate is also lower than that of its forecast of 3.42 crore tonnes made in July 2017. Because of fall in rice production amid floods in some parts of the country and increase in imports, the rice price increased by 14.29 per cent this year from the previous year, it said. The report predicted a fall in the import of rice as it projected that the rice production would increase in the next 2018-19 year as Bangladesh recovers from last year’s boro and aman crop losses caused mainly by floods.
US imposes highest tariffs on B’desh goods: study
Bangladesh pays the highest tariffs in the world, in terms of value of export, to the US market, according to an analysis of Pew Research Center, a US-based research organisation. ‘Nearly all Bangladeshi imports were subject to US duty and the tariffs on them were equivalent to 15.2 per cent of the total value of the country’s shipment to the US,’ said organisation analysing the data from the US International Trade Commission. This is the highest average rate among the 232 countries, territories and other jurisdictions in the ITC database, said the report released on Thursday. For all imports worldwide, the US imposed tariffs equal to about 1.4 per cent of total value. Bangladesh exported goods worth about $5.7 billion to the US in 2017, 95 per cent of which were apparel, footwear, headgear and related items, it said. Policy Research Institute executive director Ahsan H Mansur on Saturday told New Age that the average duty incidence was the highest for Bangladesh because of its concentration on a single item — readymade garment — in export to the US market.
Experts for policy support, access to finance for SMEs
Speakers at a seminar in the capital on Friday called for ensuring policy support and access to finance for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) before they enter the e-commerce market. Net-neutrality, high-speed net, electronic transaction methods, lack of online payment facilities, parcel delivery logistics, and assuring quality of products are the key challenges for the e-commerce market in Bangladesh, they opined. Entry of large foreign service providers poses risk to the local start-ups, and risk capital finance is needed for them to ensure optimum profit, the discussants also said at a seminar styled ‘E-Commerce Market: Facilitating Small Start-ups to Grow’. Ministry of Industries (MoI) Secretary Muhammad Abdullah was the chief guest of the function, jointly organised by SME Foundation and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
Experts, businesses moot policy on tech, innovation
Bangladesh needs to formulate a specific policy on technology and innovation as well as to revise the current tax structure to reap available blessings of the ‘4th industrial revolution’, businesses and academicians opined on Thursday. They suggested complete transformation of the country’s decade-old education system and linking it with the demands of industries as well as using technology to turn data into asset to successfully cope with the challenges in the time of digital revolution. At the same time, the speakers also emphasised enhancing investment on research and innovation to find out new knowledge-based and technological solutions that will give the much-needed sustainable impetus to national economy in the post-LDC (least developing country) regime. The demands and suggestions came at a discussion – ‘Technology, Innovation and Policy: How to Proceed?’ – organised by Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI) at its conference room. Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar was present in the programme as the chief guest.
Industrial employment growth slows
Employment growth in the industrial sector has fallen since 2013 due to “automation” of some factories and the closure of many clothing units, according to government survey findings and economists. Between fiscal years 2013 and 2017, the share of industrial jobs out of the total employment dropped from 23 per cent to 20.4 per cent, according to the latest labour force survey of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). And the employment growth in the manufacturing sector started declining after 2013. The number of people engaged in industries ranged from 12.1 million to 12.3 million for eight years when the total employment increased to 60.7 million in 2017 from 54.1 million in 2010, the survey shows. Labour experts said that the major sectors — clothing, textile and food products — have seen low growth and in some cases, recorded negative growth since 2013. They said the employment growth in the country’s clothing sector fell due to “automation” and closure of many factories owing to the compliance issues by Accord and Alliance after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013.
Greater enforcement of law needed to fight graft, fraud
As many as 98 percent of the corporate professionals and businesspeople in Bangladesh believe there is a need for greater enforcement of laws around fraud, bribery and corruption, a recent survey found. “Such a move would increase investor confidence, strengthen profitability and enhance reputation, which may ultimately help secure new business and sustainable growth,” said the global accountancy firm Ernst & Young in the report ‘Bangladesh’s risk landscape: analysing the undercurrents’. The report reflects the views of more than 100 senior corporate and business professionals in the region, interviewed by Ernst & Young’s Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services practice. Bangladesh is one of the 10 emerging markets of the future and the second-fastest growing economy in the world. Its strategic geographic location and natural resources provide the potential to develop strong commercial ties with the rest of Asia. It is also one of the world’s most densely populated countries, offering ready access to a large consumer base, said the report.
8.5cr people have access to mobile services: GSMA
Fifty-one per cent or 8.5 crore of Bangladesh’s population subscribe to mobile phone services that reflects digital divide within the country, according to a report of Global System for Mobile Communications. The figure contradicts a Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission claim that the number of mobile phone subscribers was 14.51 crore at the end of December, 2017. A BTRC official said that the commission published the number of mobile phone subscribers taking into consideration the active number of SIM cards not the number of people having access to mobile phone services. The GSMA report, however, stated that the total SIM connections would be 19 crore by 2025 from 14.5 crore in 2017. The GSMA report reflects that the number of unique mobile phone users in the country is six crore or 41 per cent lower than the BTRC-disclosed figure. The GSMA, a European trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, came up with the figure in a country-specific report on Bangladesh that was released on April 4.
Combine analytical ability with experience to solve problems: experts
Analytical ability alone or years of experience in a certain domain is not sufficient to solve the “wicked problems” that organisations and nations are now facing, speakers said yesterday. Rather, a combination of the two will suffice, they said at the launch of the pi STRATEGY’s fourth volume of ‘Insight Series’ thought leadership publication, held at The Westin hotel in Dhaka. Gowher Rizvi, international affairs advisor to the prime minister, highlighted the importance of having a balance between data-driven strategy and intuition-based decisions. “Only when you can bring the analytical and the intuitive together that you can unlock the winning combination.” But the combination remains hard to come by at once, he said, adding that having one without the other can be dangerous. Kamal Quadir, chief executive officer of bKash, warned against the use of intuition alone and advised on backing it up with data.
‘Online ads sucking money out of Bangladesh’
Untaxed advertising on the big Internet companies is siphoning money away from the economy and putting the national media at risk, business leaders have said. Companies like Facebook and Google and its subsidiary YouTube receive billions in ad revenue from Bangladesh every year but since the companies are not registered in the country, they are not paying any taxes. People in the tech industry say there are no estimates of how much money is being siphoned abroad since there is no legal channel for payment, but it amounts to billions of taka. Telecom companies and other big corporate organizations are leaning towards digital ads as well. Telco ads on print have almost disappeared. Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Director and ajkerdeal CEO Fahim Masroor said the members of the trade body are allowed to send $25,000 abroad legally for business purposes. “Most of the money that is sent out is spent on advertising with Google, Facebook and YouTube. I think this is too low. We should be allowed to send around $40-50,000 annually,” he said. Fahim remarked that if the businesses were allowed to send more money legally, illegal money transfers would decline.
Apex Footwear gets two CEOs
Apex Footwear has recently appointed two chief executive officers (CEOs). Appointed deputy managing director and CEO for unit 1, Abdul Momen Bhuiyan joined the company in 1995 and has been leading the export wing, Apex said in a statement yesterday. He is also currently serving on the board of directors of Blue Ocean Footwear, Landmark Footwear and Apex Investments and is the senior vice president of Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Rajendran Chandran Pillai, appointed CEO of retail unit 2, had been serving as the chief operating officer.
Local and Global Stock Indices *
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
World Commodities *
|Commodity||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)||$ 62.06||↓1.48||↓2.33%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||$ 67.11||↓1.22||↓1.79%|
|Gold Spot||$ 1,333.03||↑6.46||↑0.49%|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days *
|USD 1||BDT 83.75|
|GBP 1||BDT 118.02|
|EUR 1||BDT 102.85|
|INR 1||BDT 1.29|
*CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES ARE TAKEN FROM BLOOMBERG.