Banks’ profits rise 32.0% on a slide in default loans
The banking sector’s net profit increased 32.0% year-on-year to BDT 79.2 billion in 2015 on the back of a decline in default loans. In the last quarter of 2015, banks set aside a lower amount of funds for provisioning as bad loans declined 6.22% year-on-year. However, due to sluggish business, the banks’ operating profit rose only 1.96% to BDT 216.8 billion, according to Bangladesh Bank statistics. As a result, the government’s income from tax against profit dropped about 32.81% to BDT 60.7 billion in 2015 from a year earlier. Of the 56 banks in the country, Standard Chartered Bangladesh recorded the highest profit last year: their operating profit was BDT 15.3 billion and net profit BDT 7.89 billion. However, the British bank’s profit fell significantly from a year earlier: in 2014, its operating profit was BDT 17.4 billion and net profit BDT 10.9 billion.
Banks continue to lower rates to boost lending
The country’s scheduled banks in February reduced their interest rates on lending further to address a prevailing reluctance of the businesspeople to borrow from banks due to a sluggish business atmosphere worsened by political uncertainties, said a Bangladesh Bank official explaining the interest rate cut. According to the latest BB data, the weighted average interest rate on lending in the banking sector declined to 10.91% in February from 11.05% in January 2016. The weighted average interest rate on lending had continued to decline all through last year. It dropped from 12.32% in January 2015 to 12.23% in February, to 11.93% in March, to 11.88% points in April, to 11.82% in May, to 11.67% in June, to 11.57% in July, to 11.51% in August, to 11.48% in September, to 11.35% in October, to 11.27% in November, and to 11.18% in December 2015. The banking sector was forced to maintain the downward trend in the lending rate by a sluggish credit demand from the businesspeople amid political uncertainties, a BB official told New Age on Thursday. The BB data shows that the weighted average interest rate on deposit of the banks also decreased to 6.10% in February from 6.21% in January of 2016. Against the backdrop, the interest rate spread, the gap between the interest rates on credit and deposit, decreased to 4.81% in February from 4.84% in January.
State owned banks to get USD 125.0 million for beefing up cyber security
The World Bank has come forward with USD 125.0 million in assistance for fortifying Bangladesh’s state-owned banks (SoBs) against cybercrime, officials said, as recent heists undermined banking security systems. Banking sector in the country is reeling from a chain of digital burglaries, both at home and abroad, including the stunning cyber-theft of Bangladesh Bank reserves from its account with the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The Washington-based lender last week confirmed the government about providing the assistance through forwarding an aide-memoire. In February this year, local and international hackers looted a significant amount of money from accounts of many customers through installing skimming devices in several ATM booths of private banks in the city. Just as the shocks were troubling the country’s banking sector, there came the bizarre discovery of a digital heist in which some people had stolen away USD 101.0 million reserve money from Bangladesh Bank’s Fed account. The official said the World Bank has a similar project, namely Financial Sector Support Project, under which enhancement of central bank’s cyber security is one of the many components.
Most new DSE stocks fail to sustain debut price
Most of the companies recently listed with Dhaka Stock Exchange have failed to sustain their debut share price. Of the last 10 newly listed companies, only two – Bangladesh Steel Re-Rolling Mills Limited and IT Consultants – are trading their scrips at prices higher than their debut trading session’s closing prices. However, all the 10 companies have shown lower earnings per share in their latest financial statements compared with that when they obtained regulatory approval. The companies are Aman Feed, BSRM Limited, Doreen Power Generation and Systems, Dragon Sweater and Spinning, IT Consultants, KDS Accessories, Olympic Accessories, Regent Textiles, Simtex Industries, and Tosrifa Industries. Experts attributed the pricing pattern of the scrips mainly to investors’ temptation to get quick returns and their incompetence to determine share prices based on the companies’ fundamentals. To contain any abnormal price movement of newly launched scrips, the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission in October last year scraped the margin facility in their first 30 days of debut. But the trend continues. According to the Dhaka Stock Exchange data, share prices of the 10 companies mentioned above declined after rising in the first couple of trading sessions.
Bangladesh takes USD 217.0 million World Bank loan to boost power generation
The World Bank has provided USD 217.0 million to Bangladesh for upgrading a unit in the Ghorashal power station, which will increase the unit’s existing electricity generation capacity by more than double, said the bank in a statement yesterday. Bangladesh and the Bank has signed the financing agreement with the International Development Association (IDA), an arm of the bank, which offers concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest developing countries. To this effect, Economic Relations Division Additional Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam and World Bank Acting Country Director for Bangladesh Rajashree Paralkar signed the deal on behalf of their respective organisations at the ERD office. The Ghorashal Unit 4 Repowering Project will transform a gas-fired steam unit that is currently generating 170MW into an energy efficient 409MW plant. Such conversion to combined cycle technology will increase the plant’s overall efficiency from existing 30% to 54% while requiring only 18% more natural gas. The project will also reduce the specific fuel consumption per gigawatt hour by 44% and lower greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the project will provide capacity building and institutional support to the Bangladesh Power Development Board. With this credit, the World Bank’s total support to the country’s power sector passes USD 1.7 billion.
Envoy Textiles raises BDT 700.0 million through commercial papers
Envoy Textiles has raised BDT 700 million through commercial papers, a short-term unsecured debt instrument. City Bank Capital, an investment bank, arranged the subscription of commercial papers for the textile company, with Pubali Bank, Prime Bank and Industrial Promotion and Development Company of Bangladesh as investors, according to a press statement. A commercial paper is issued by companies to meet their interim financing needs. It is issued at a discount from the prevailing market interest rates. Kutubuddin Ahmed, chairman of Envoy Group, Ershad Hossain, managing director of City Bank Capital, Tanzim Alamgir, head of structured finance at City Bank Capital, and representatives from participating banks and financial institutions were present at the subscription closing ceremony in Dhaka Wednesday. Since it is not backed by collateral, only firms with excellent credit ratings can find buyers without having to offer a substantial discount (higher cost) for the debt issue.
‘Ambitious’ ADP size to be BDT 1.2 trillion: Finance Minister
The government will table a separate budget for mega projects in parliament, along with the regular national budget for the next fiscal year with a view to speed up the country’s GDP growth, said finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith in a pre-budget discussion in the city on Thursday. The size of the budget for FY2016-2017 scheduled to be placed in parliament on June 2 might be set at BDT 3.40 trillion, in which the Annual Development Programme outlay might be set at BDT 1.2 trillion, Muhith said. He also warned the businesses, saying that the level of protection for the domestic industries would come down in the next fiscal year and there would hardly be any duty by 2024 at the import stage. ‘The economy is in such a stage now, we need to undertake a large transformational budget or mega project budget to make a quantum jump in its growth,’ he told the meeting.
ADP implementation slowest in seven years
The pace of government spending on development for improving living standards of the mass people has become a permanent problem despite efforts of the government. Poor performance in ADP seemingly knows no end as only 41.0% or BDT 418.9 billion out of total annual outlay BDT 970.0 billion has been implemented in nine months until March, according to the planning ministry data. The implementation rate is lowest in seven years and 2.0% lower than the corresponding period of the last fiscal year when it was 43.0%.Taking poor performance rate into consideration like every year, the government has revised downward this year’s ADP allocation by over BDT 60.0 billion to BDT 910.0 billion, excluding self-financed projects. In the next three months, the government will have to spend over BDT510.0 billion, which is 59.0% of the revised ADP.
Foreign aid to rise 22.0% in FY17
The government plans to receive BDT 307.0 billion as foreign assistance in the next fiscal year with a 22% growth from that in the current fiscal’s revised budget, Economic Relations Division sources said. The budget deficit in the fiscal year 2016-17 is likely to be 4.7% of the gross domestic product. The foreign assistance target for the next fiscal year will be finalized today at the budget management meeting at Finance Division auditorium. Finance Minister AMA Muhith will preside over the meeting. Senior Finance Secretary Mahbub Ahmed said next fiscal year budget deficit would be less than 5% of the GDP despite the plan of bigger annual development program (ADP) and budget outlay. This fiscal year the pledges of foreign assistance amount to BDT 301.3 billion, but it will be revised down to BDT 2.5 bilion, slashing BDT 49.6 billion. ERD says the projected foreign assistance will increase to 21.99% from the revised amount.
FDI crosses USD 2.0 billion level for first time in country
The annual inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) crossed the USD 2.0 billion level for the first time in Bangladesh last year. Updated statistics on FDI, released by the central bank, showed that the net inflow of FDI stood at USD 2.23 billion in 2015. The amount was 44.10% higher than the FDI worth USD 1.55 billion in 2014. The provisional estimation of FDI last month, however, showed that the net inflow of FDI was USD 1.89 billion in 2015. Bangladesh Bank now comes with revised statistics giving details of the annual FDI inflow. It also shows that gross inflow of FDI stood at USD 2.69 billion last year and the amount of disinvestment USD 463.66 million. Disinvestment generally means withdrawal of investment. Net inflow is, thus, calculated by deducting the disinvestment from the gross amount of inflow. The economist, however, emphasized analyzing the composition and sector-wise volume of foreign investments to understand the real effect. The composition data showed that 51% or USD 1.14 billion of the net FDI came as reinvested earnings of multi-national corporations (MNCs) operating in the country. Bangladesh Bank’s latest data also showed that some USD 697 million came as equity capital, which was around 31% of the annual inflow of FDI. The remaining amount, USD 394 million, came as intra-company loans in 2015. The maximum amount of FDI went to five broader sectors last year.
Private consumption falls as remittance slows
The private consumption to GDP ratio fell 2.23%age points in the current fiscal year, mainly due to a decline in inward remittance, which took a hit from lower fuel prices in international markets. Private consumption as a%age of gross domestic product fell to 70.21% in fiscal 2015-16 from 72.44% last year, according to provisional data from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. Over the past several years, the consumption to GDP ratio saw a gradual fall — of less than 1%age point a year, as the savings ratio increased. It fell more than 2%age points this fiscal year. In the first nine months of the current fiscal year, remittance declined 1.82% compared to the same period last year, according to data from Bangladesh Bank. Zahid Hussain, lead economist at the World Bank’s Dhaka office, attributed the fall in the consumption ratio to a decline in remittance. According to central bank data, 59% of Bangladesh’s remittance comes from Middle Eastern nations, with 22% from Saudi Arabia and 18% from the UAE. As of February, the average monthly remittance stood at USD 247.0 million from Saudi Arabia, compared to USD 279.0 million last fiscal year; it was USD 220.0 million from the UAE, down from USD 235.0 million last year. Fuel prices fell by around 65% in the last two years, while the economies of the Middle East are dependent on fuel.
Gasoline price adjustment in three phases: Jr minister
The government would adjust the prices of octane, petrol, diesel and kerosene in three phases from the next seven to ten days, state minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said on Wednesday. “The government would cut fuel price by BDT 10, BDT 6 and BDT 4 in phases on the basis of different petroleum fuels,” he told newsmen after a meeting with the owners of filling stations in his ministry. The state minister said the government already reduced the price of furnace oil, the benefit of which went to the common people. Replying to a query about whether the public transport fare would come down due to cut in fuel price, Nasrul Hamid said the fare of mass transport should be adjusted, as the fuel price would be cut. He said special drive would be launched against fuel adulteration and unauthorized petrol pumps across the country from Thursday. “If any person found involved in fuel adulteration, then his/her license would be cancelled and we have a list of 1,200 petrol pumps of which some are involved in fuel adulteration,” Nasrul Hamid said.
Trade deficit drops on higher export growth
The country’s overall trade deficit recorded a declining trend in February following higher export growth than import payments, officials concerned said. The overall trade deficit came down to USD 4.06 billion during the July-February period of the current fiscal year (FY), 2015-16, from USD 4.07 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the central bank’s latest statistics, released on Thursday. The official data also showed that the trade deficit widened by nearly 5.0% to USD 3.75 billion during the July-January period of FY 16 from USD 3.58 billion in the same period of FY 15. The central banker opined that the overall export growth will reach 10% by the end of this fiscal. The country’s overall export earnings, including those of the export processing zones (EPZs), grew by 7.81% to USD 21.58 billion during the July-January period of FY 16 from USD 20.01 billion during the same period of FY 15. The import payments rose to USD 25.63 billion from USD 24.08 billion, the BB data showed. Gap in services trade also declined to USD 1.74 billion during the period under review from USD 2.18 billion due to lower payments in services. Trade in services includes tourism, financial service and insurance.
NBR to prepare new income tax law, not direct tax code
Government’s revenue authority has decided to transform the draft ‘direct tax code’ into a new income tax law with necessary changes to make it fit in the country’s socioeconomic context. Officials said the decision came after the National Board of Revenue (NBR) had found the draft of the code, prepared by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), too complex for both taxpayers and taxmen to adapt to. The ‘direct tax code’ was scheduled to be passed by parliament in 2016-17 to replace the existing income tax Ordinance 1984. But, later on, the NBR rescheduled the enactment for next fiscal year (2017-18) to avert a logjam as the Value Added Tax and Supplementary Duty Act 2012 will be enforced from July 1, 2016. Officials said implementation of two major laws at a time may leave negative impact on revenue collection. A senior official of the NBR said the drafting of the new income tax act is expected to be completed by December 31, 2016. “The new income tax act is likely to come into force from July 1, 2017,” he said.
Edotco seeks BTRC nod to buy its 51.0% stake from Robi
Malaysia-based tower Business Company, has applied to the telecom regulator for permission to go independent by purchasing the 51% stake of the company held by mobile phone operator Robi Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission officials said edotco applied to buy the stake from Robi in a bid to comply with the draft guidelines prepared by the BTRC for tower company business. Edoctco submitted the letter to the BTRC last month although the operator’s previous attempt in last year to buy the Robi’s share in the company failed. As per the draft tower company guidelines, no entity having any relations with any mobile phone company or any WIMAX company can apply for such licence. The BTRC has prepared the draft tower business guidelines, which is currently pending before the telecommunications ministry for approval, in a bid to hold an auction to award the licence for business to two independent companies. Currently, edotco Group holds 49.0% shares of its Bangladesh operation and edocto Bangladesh is running under a no objection certificate provided by the BTRC.
Move underway to stop abuse of bonded facility
A move is underway to reduce the gap in duty structure between the products imported by export-oriented industries under the bonded warehouse facility and those by commercial importers to thwart large-scale abuse of the duty-free facility by the former. The authority is planning to gradually cut the tax difference between products imported under bonded warehouse facility and the commercially imported ones, officials said. According to the NBR, the government loses around BDT 580 billion in duties a year due to misuse of bonded facility. There must be policy measures to support the enforcement, he said. The Customs Intelligence (CI) team found some 15 export-oriented industries evading BDT 3.42 billion in duties through selling of bonded products in local market in last eight months (July-February) of the current fiscal year. Export-oriented industries are enjoying duty-free import facility of raw materials under the bonded warehouse facility while other commercial importers have to import the same paying high duty. It has been alleged that many of the export-oriented industries are disposing of the duty-free imported products in the local markets at cheaper prices creating uneven business competition for the commercial importers.
Rights groups give ultimatum to H&M
Labour rights groups in Europe, Bangladesh and North America have given an ultimatum to H&M to ensure three vital repairs for safe exit in its supplier garment factories in Bangladesh by May 03, 2016. The remedial work included removal of locks from fire exits, removal of sliding doors and collapsible gates and installation of fire-rated doors and enclosure of stairwells, according to a statement issued by Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) on Thursday. Workers’ rights advocates have called on H&M to prove its commitments through action rather than stunts, the statement said. In response to H&M’s inaction, the CCC, International Labour Rights Forum, and United Students against Sweatshops have launched a campaign demanding H&M address its broken promises, with a campaign website www.hmbrokenpromises.com. The Accord’s inspection report for the factory revealed that it had missed dozens of deadlines to eliminate fire hazards and make the structure safe. Had the fire broken out just an hour later, scores of workers may have been trapped inside, it added. The rights groups also launched Thursday a call for consumers to participate in a global day of action on May 3.
World Stock and Commodities
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)*||$39.72||+2.46||+6.60%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)*||$41.94||+2.51||+6.37%|
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||17,576.96||+35||+0.20%|
|USD 1||BDT 78.41*|
|GBP 1||BDT 110.77*|
|EUR 1||BDT 89.37*|
|INR 1||BDT 1.18*|
*Currencies and Commodities are taken from Bloomberg.