BB projects over 7pc growth but remittance poses risk
Bangladesh Bank has projected that the growth of the country’s gross domestic product would be more than 7 per cent in the current fiscal year, but a negative growth in inward remittance and a moderate export growth might create downside risks. The central bank made the projection in its quarterly (October-December of FY 2016-17) publication ‘Bangladesh Bank Quarterly’. The government has set the GDP growth target at 7.2 per cent for FY17. In FY16, the country’s GDP growth was 7.1 per cent. The BBQ publication for the first quarter (July-September) of FY17, however, had projected that the GDP growth would be in 7.1-7.3 per cent range in the current fiscal year. In the second quarter of the FY17, economic activities witnessed a strong growth impulse, stemming mainly from the industry and the service sectors which would help to achieve more than 7 per cent GDP growth, the BBQ said.
Banks’ classified loans to the country’s industrial sector swelled by over 24 per cent or Tk 48.17 billion to Tk 245.63 billion in the first half (H1) of the current fiscal, compared to that of the corresponding period of the previous fiscal. Officials said such climb in the amount of dud loans was taking place despite close monitoring by the central bank to stem the tide. The non-performing loans (NPLs) in the sector during the July-December period of the financial year (FY) 2016-17 rose sharply from Tk 197.47 billion in the same period of last fiscal, according to the central bank’s latest statistics. However, the total amount of classified loans with the private commercial banks (PCBs) increased by nearly 34 per cent to Tk 89.12 billion during the period from Tk 66.61 billion in the H1 of the FY16. The volume of NPLs with the foreign commercial banks (FCBs) dropped by 10.21 per cent to Tk 6.37 billion in the first six months of this year from Tk 7.09 billion in the H1 of the last fiscal.
Banks are increasingly focusing on retail customers as more and more people are coming under the formal banking channel, a banker said. The retail banking is providing exciting business opportunities to banks which have largely concentrated on the corporate clients, said Nazeem A Choudhury, head of consumer banking at Eastern Bank. The nature of retail banking is changing every day, he said. “I believe in the next 10 years the change will be even more exciting.” In the past, banks were not much enthusiastic about consumer banking. But the retail banking segment has been changing rapidly over the decade. Banks are now more focused on retail and small business spaces, churning out new products, innovative services and customer engagements, he said.
BB, SB, Agrani Bank asked to submit last five years’ reports
A meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on estimates in Dhaka Monday asked the Bangladesh Bank (BB), Sonali Bank (SB) and Agrani Bank to submit their last five years detailed statement incorporating capital deficit, write-off and write-back before the committee by May 15. The decision was taken at the ninth meeting of the committee held at parliamentary building with its Chairman Noor-e-Alam Chowdhury in the chair, reports BSS citing a press release.
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has instructed trustees of all mutual funds to streamline their investment of the funds’ money in non-listed securities in line with the mutual fund rules. The trustees oversee mutual funds while the asset management companies operate the funds. The capital market regulator gave the instruction after the trustees of the mutual funds submitted data on the MFs’ investment in non-listed securities. A BSEC official told New Age on Monday that the commission recently issued separate letters to the trustees in this regard. BSEC’s initial findings suggest a number of mutual funds did not comply with the securities rules in making investment in non-listed securities, he said. Despite the violation, the commission has so far refrained from taking any harsh measure against trustees or asset management companies of the mutual funds so that they can bring down their investment in non-listed securities within the stipulated limit, the BSEC official said. The commission asked the entities to follow the rule number 55 of Securities and Exchange Commission (Mutual Fund) Rules, 2001 in bringing down the investment. The BSEC official said the commission would take its next course of action in this regard based on the next report on the MFs’ investment.
Booming economy to help insurance bloom into $1.5b sector by 2020
Bangladesh’s life insurance market is likely to expand US$1.5 billion in the next three to four years, driven mostly by a growing economy, a senior MetLife executive has said. “Currently, Bangladesh’s life insurance market is around $1.0 billion a year and we expect it will expand at least 50 per cent in around 2020,” Chris Townsend, the US-based insurer’s Asia president, said. Bangladesh’s economy has grown over 6.0 per cent in past decade and the life insurance has also advanced steadily, he said, drawing a close relationship between the GDP growth and the insurance sector. He, however, noted Bangladesh’s insurance penetration remained lowest in South Asia as the rate in other countries was around 3.5 per cent. “Bangladesh’s penetration rate is around 0.5 per cent, which indicates the level of development of insurance sector in a country,” he said. Penetration is measured as the ratio of premium underwritten in a particular year to the GDP.
The government has doubled its house loan ceiling to BDT 10.0 million from BDT 5.0 million now as construction costs surged in recent years. Finance minister AMA Muhith gave its consent to a proposal of Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation about the doubling of the loan ceiling. The interest rates of the loan for Dhaka and Chittagong areas have also been reduced to 9.5%-8.5% from existing 10%-12%. The BHBFC proposed to lower the interest rates to make it competitive in the market. BHBFC will issue a circular in this regard. Five new house loan products have also been approved. They include home loans for expatriate Bangladeshis, home loans for rural people and farmers, house development and construction of houses. Apartment loans for Dhaka and Chittagong areas will be increased to BDT 9.0 million from the existing BDT 4.0 million with interest rate reduced to 10.0% from existing 12.0%. Home loan ceiling of Tongi and Savar areas and in other divisions and district will be increased to BDT 4.0 million from BDT 3.0 million, according to the approved summary.
Government may finalize BDT 3.9 trillion as FY18 budget outlay
Finance Division is preparing next fiscal year’s budget outlay keeping the figure at BDT 3.9 trillion which is 14.73% higher than the current budget, official sources said. The size of the current fiscal year’s budget is BDT 3.4 trillion. Development projects could be above BDT 1.3 trillion, he said. He said next fiscal year’s budget outlay and the revenue target may be finalized at the meeting of fiscal coordination council and budget management committee on Thursday. Finance Minister AMA Muhith will preside over the meeting. The meeting will also discuss revenue budget outlay that was earlier fixed at BDT 2.4 trillion. This is 16.13% more than the current fiscal’s outlay. The revenue collection target by the NBR for the FY2016-17 is BDT 2.0 trillion. The government has revised down this fiscal year’s budget by 7.23%, with the non-development sector taking the hit mostly. The revised budget outlay will be of BDT 3.2 trillion, according to the finance ministry’s documents. The non-development budget will be decreased by about 11.0% to BDT 2.0 trillion, despite an increase in government expenditure caused by salary hike of public servants.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the Indian businesspeople and investors to bring their businesses and investments to Bangladesh in sectors like power, infrastructure and energy to take the full advantage of Dhaka’s steady economic growth and other incentives. “Bangladesh is a stable country and is marching forward on a right path. Bangladesh also enjoys an excellent relationship with India with a vision to develop together,” she said while addressing a business event organised by India Bangladesh Business Forum at a local hotel yesterday. “I urge you to take this opportunity to bring your businesses and investments in Bangladesh,” she added. “Our aim is to create an innovative and pragmatic economy which would ensure an inclusive society and job opportunities. I am sure together we can bring in a difference in the life and livelihood of the people of our region,” said the Prime Minister, who left Delhi yesterday wrapping up her four-day visit. “We are on track to become middle income Digital Bangladesh by 2021 and developed country by 2041. Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) in its report titled ‘The World in 2050’ has predicted that India will be world’s 3rd largest economy, while Bangladesh will be the 29th economy by 2030,” she said
With Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrapping up her India visit yesterday, government agencies and private companies of the two countries signed 13 more agreements and memoranda of understanding to further deepen bilateral economic partnership. The deals involving around $10 billion cover the power, energy, logistics, education and medical sectors. The documents of the deals were exchanged at a meeting of India-Bangladesh BusinessForum at New Delhi’s Taj Palace Hotel in presence of Hasina and Dharmendra Pradhan, Indian minister of state for petroleum and natural gas. The deals include $1.6 billion debt financing by Exim Bank of India for implementation of the 1,320MW Maitree Power Project in Bangladesh’s Rampal. Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (BIFPCL) and Exim Bank signed the agreement. Meanwhile, there has been a growing outcry over the location of the thermal project as Rampal is near the ecologically-sensitive Sundarbans, a world heritage site. During Hasina’s visit, Dhaka and New Delhi on April 8 signed 22 agreements and MoUs in the areas of defence, energy and nuclear power, among others.
Indian energy firms including NTPC, Adani Power, Reliance Power and Petronet LNG, on Monday signed pacts for multi-billion dollar projects in Bangladesh as the two neighbours seek to strengthen economic ties and boost trade. According to an Indian government presentation, NTPC has signed a $3.15 billion pact to supply power to Bangladesh from Nepal, while Adani Power has signed a $2 billion agreement to supply power to Bangladesh, reports Hindustan Times. Petronet LNG has signed a $1 billion agreement for LNG terminal in Bangladesh, and Reliance Power has tied up with Petrobangla to set up of $300 million LNG terminal. Also, the Numaligarh Refinery will buy gas and oil from Bangladesh Petroleum Corp. To facilitate the project finances, India’s Exim Bank will extend $1.6 billion for the power project in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh issues tender to sell 170,000 barrels naphtha
Bangladesh Petroleum Corp (BPC) has floated an international tender to sell 170,000 barrels of naphtha for May 11-13 loading from Chittagong, reports Reuters. The tender will close on April 24 with validity up to May 2, said the tender document. In February, state-owned BPC sold a cargo of the same size to oil trading giant Vitol at a discount of 17 cents to Singapore quotes. Bangladesh’s sole Eastern Refinery, which has a capacity of 33,000 barrels per day, produces 1.26 million barrels of naphtha a year.
Govt frames provident fund rules for informal workers
The Labour and Employment Ministry will tie up with post office and financial institutions, mostly banks, shortly in this regard, they added. According to the rules, formulated under a provision of Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation Act 2006, workers remaining out of the purview of existing labour law will be entitled to provident fund facility. There are more than 40 industrial sectors including garment, leather, pharmaceuticals, jute, ship-breaking, cold storage, plastic, chemical, fertiliser. These come under formal sector where rights of workers are protected by the labour law. But farm labourers, domestic helpers, construction workers, street vendors, cottage industry workers, sweepers, cleaners and security personnel are not covered by the labour law. This means they are involved in informal work.
BD to seek duty, quota-free market access in TICFA meet in May
Bangladesh will press the US for allowing duty-and quota- free (D&QF) market access during the upcoming TICFA meeting in the capital on May 17, officials said. Besides, the country will also focus on getting back the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility. The facility was suspended by the Barack Obama administration. This will be the third meeting of the Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA). “We will discuss duty-free access to the US market and other issues,” director general (DG) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) cell of the ministry of commerce (MoC) Md Munir Chowdhury told the FE.
China’s belt, road scheme to expand BD’s manufacturing economy
Bangladesh is counting on China’s belt and road initiative to help it deal with shortage of electricity and expand its manufacturing economy, a Dhaka-based senior banker from HSBC said. The “One Belt, One Road” initiative is often seen as a plan by Beijing to extend its geopolitical reach, but the infrastructure investments and trade opportunities involved can also benefit the poorest countries in the region, including Bangladesh, said a report by www.scmp.com . China still has a hefty trade surplus with Bangladesh and remains the world’s largest apparel exporter. But as Bangladesh’s infrastructure improves and more Chinese companies head to the country to take advantage of low labour costs and favourable tax policies from governments, it is looking to export more finished products to China.
The government will assess and disclose the data of tax expenditure in the form of tax exemption that it offers to support the country’s industrial growth, the revenue board chief said Monday. The tax authorities were collecting data to show the tax-benefit in quantitative term along with the revenue collection statistics, said Md Nojibur Rahman, chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and senior secretary to the Internal Resources Division (IRD). “The volume of tax expenditure, if disclosed after compilation, may surpass the annual revenue target of the government,” he told a pre-budget meeting with the representatives of beverage and ceramic industries at the NBR premises.
Malaysian entrepreneurs Sunday expressed interest to invest in agriculture and food processing, pharmaceutical, energy and infrastructure sectors in Bangladesh. “The visiting delegation of Malaysian investors expressed satisfaction over the investment friendly environment in the country,” reports BSS citing a statement issued by Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA). A 35-memebr Malaysian investors’ delegation led by YB Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, assistant minister for agriculture and rural economy modernisation affairs of Sarawak Province, met with high officials of BIDA at the authority’s board room in Dhaka.
The mobile operators have refunded 9.98 crore minutes for 50.33 crore call drops from January to March this year. The refunds have been given as the telecom division made it mandatory to compensate the subscribers in minutes from January. Market leader Grameenphone reported 23.34 crore call drops, which is 46.38 percent of total call drops of all the operators from January to March, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission said in a report shared with the telecom division recently. Mobile users are supposed to get a free minute for every second or third call drop. For Grameenphone, 6.42 crore calls were second or third drops on the same day, and it returned 2.63 crore minutes as compensation in three months, according to the report. Newly merged Robi saw 15.49 crore calls drops, which is 30.78 percent of the total, the report said.
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