Al-Arafah Bank to issue bond of Tk 5.0b
The board of directors of Al-Arafah Islami Bank has decided to issue Mudaraba Subordinated Bond worth BDT 5.0 billion to strengthen its capital base, said an official disclosure. The “AIBL 2nd Mudaraba Subordinated Bond” will be issued to strengthen Tier II capital of the bank as per requirement under Basel II. The bond will be non-convertible and redeemable, and will be sold through private placement. The bank will issue the bond subject to approval of the regulatory authorities – Bangladesh Securities & Exchange Commission (BSEC) and Bangladesh Bank. The bank’s board also recommended 15% cash and 5.0% stock dividend for the year ended on December 31, 2017. The bank also reported consolidated earnings per share (EPS) of BDT 3.15, consolidated net asset value (NAV) per share of BDT 20.87 and consolidated net operating cash flow per share (NOCFPS) of BDT 10.40 for the year ended on December 31, 2017 as against BDT 3.07, BDT 19.72 and BDT 11.18 in the year ended on December 31, 2106. The bank’s paid-up capital is BDT 9.94 billion and authorised capital is BDT 15 billion while the total number of securities is 994.30 million.
Farmers Bank will be saved
Depositors of troubled Farmers Bank can now breathe a sigh of relief after Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said the precarious bank will be saved at any cost. “A bank will not fold in our term. However mischievous it may be, we want to fix it,” he said at the dividend giving ceremony of the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh held at his secretariat office. The ICB and four state-owned banks will invest about Tk 715 crore in Farmers Bank as their capital upon the insistence of the government and the Bangladesh Bank.
Rice, fuel, capital machinery import up in February
Higher import payment pushed up credit growth, particularly in the private sector in February, bankers said. The country’s overall imports jumped by nearly 30 per cent or US$ 926.37 million in February last, driven mostly by increased purchase of rice, capital machinery and oil. The settlement of letters of credit (LCs), generally known as actual import, in terms of value, rose to $ 4.02 billion in February 2018 from $ 3.09 billion in the year-earlier period, according to the central bank’s latest statistics. However, actual import in February was less than that of the previous month. The actual import was $ 4.98 billion in January 2018. On the other hand, the opening of fresh LCs, generally known as import orders, climbed by over 25 per cent or $ 851.30 million to $ 4.24 billion in February as against $3.39 billion in the year-earlier period. Fresh LCs were worth $ 5.33 billion in January 2018. “The overall imports increased significantly in February due to higher import of fuel oil, rice and capital machinery to meet the growing demands for the essentials on the local market,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE. He also said that the upward trend in imports may continue ahead of the holy Ramadan.
Banks score low on IT Governance
Only 32 per cent of the country’s banks have IT Governance (ITG) frameworks in place, indicating severe weakness in active involvement of bank high-ups in the IT system management of their own entities, a recent industry -wide survey has revealed. At the same time, the survey has also found that 8.0 per cent of the banks have still not initiated ITG implementation while 60 per cent have no definite target to complete such ITG despite introducing them. Such findings were part of a study conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) on the IT operation of 32 banks of the country. “From the research findings, it appears that there is lack of understanding on IT Governance responsibility in banks”, said Md. Shihab Uddin Khan, Associate Professor of BIBM while presenting the findings of the study at a workshop in the capital on Tuesday. Mr. Khan along with a number of researchers from BIBM including Md. Mahbubur Rahman Alam, Kaniz Rabbi and Md. Foysal Hasan as well as FVP of Dutch-Bangla Bank Mohammad Emdadul Haque Khan conducted the study.
WB to provide $515m loan to improve electricity of Bangladesh
The government of Bangladesh on Tuesday signed two financing agreements totaling $515 million with the World Bank (WB) to help expand electricity transmission network. The $450 million Enhancement and Strengthening of Power Transmission Network in Eastern Region Project will improve reliable electricity supply and reduce load shedding in the eastern region, covering greater Cumilla and Noakhali and part of greater Chittagong, according to a statement, issued by the WB in Dhaka.
Power sector’s demand for Annual Development Programme (ADP) fund soars
The power division has sought an allocation of BDT 316.27 billion for development projects under the government’s Annual Development Programme in 2018-19 financial year. The demand is 25.84% higher than the revised development allocation for the current financial year to be closed on June 30, 2018. The power division sent the proposal to the planning ministry via finance ministry in March seeking development allocation of BDT 316.27 billion for implementing 98 projects of power generation, transmission and distribution.
Stock taxes to be consistent: NBR
The National Board of Revenue will focus on bringing consistency among the tax measures related to the stockmarket, NBR Chairman Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said yesterday. The tax administrator will also consider making the corporate tax rate attractive for listed companies, he said at a pre-budget discussion. The NBR organised the event at its headquarters to get views from economists and accounting experts as part of its regular exercise for the framing of fiscal measures for 2018-19. “There should be consistency in the policies related to the stockmarket. This will help curb sudden ups and downs in the market,” said Bhuiyan. The comments came in response to recommendations for avoiding frequent changes in tax measures for the stockmarket and to cut the corporate tax for listed companies. The gap in corporate taxes for listed and non-listed companies should be wider to lure more firms into going public, said Abu Ahmed, honorary professor of the Department of Economics at Dhaka University.
At-source taxpayers to come under tax net
Chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) said on Tuesday that people who are paying tax at source will be brought under the net in the next financial year. The majority of such taxpayers go traceless and they have not come under formal tax net, said Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan. Under the existing income tax ordinance, the submission of tax returns is not mandatory for the people paying tax at source to different entities including banks. The board chairman made the announcement after a proposal came at a pre-budget meeting with the private think-tanks and economists at the NBR office in Dhaka. Mr Bhuiyan said the NBR could encourage such taxpayers to come under tax net by reducing the minimum tax rate for individual taxpayers rather than increasing the tax-free threshold.
Economists recommend cut in corporate tax to promote FDI
Economists and professionals on Tuesday suggested that National Board of Revenue should reduce the rate of corporate income tax to facilitate foreign direct investment in the country. They also urged the NBR to widen the difference in corporate income tax rate between publicly traded and non-publicly traded companies to encourage both local and multinational companies for uploading their shares in stock market. At a pre-budget discussion with the revenue board at its headquarters in Dhaka, they also demanded increased taxes on tobacco products to discourage tobacco consumption. Policy Research Institute executive director Ahsan H Mansur recommended reduction of corporate tax rate, carrying out reforms and automation initiatives taken for income tax and VAT, introduction of market-based assessment of assets for imposing wealth surcharge and inception of effective monitoring mechanism for payroll tax collection. ‘Corporate tax rate needs to be gradually lowered to make it consistent with globally competitive countries,’ he said. NBR might cut the rate by 2 percentage points in the next budget to ultimately bring down the rate to 25 per cent in next five years for non-listed company from existing 35 per cent, he said.
UK to help Bangladesh deliver reforms crucial to attracting investment
British High Commissioner in Dhaka Alison Blake on Tuesday said the United Kingdom (UK) will continue to work jointly with relevant agencies here to help deliver the reforms crucial for Bangladesh to attract the investment it needs. “We agree that infrastructure is important,” she said, mentioning the impact of infrastructure weaknesses they hear from investors. The British High Commissioner also talked about the role of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and others in the government, for attracting more investors to Bangladesh and vowed to work together with them. High Commissioner Blake was addressing a program at the National Press Club in Dhaka organized by the Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB), under its flagship event, ‘DCABtalk.’ DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus, and General Secretary Mahfuz Mishu, also spoke at the occasion. Congratulating Bangladesh on meeting the criteria for graduation from the status of LDC, the High Commissioner said a central and challenging transformation is educating and improving the skills of the Bangladeshi labour force. “Our aim is to bring the British trade and private sector development, and investment, the engine for sustained economic growth, here in Bangladesh as well as the UK,” said the diplomat.
RMG export up by 9pc in first 9 months
RMG export earnings in the first nine months of the 2017-18 financial year (FY) amounted to $ 22.83 billion, registering a growth of 9.11 per cent over the same period of FY 2016-17 which was $ 22.83 billion, marking a strong return of big apparel shipments. Explaining the reason behind the 9.11 per cent growth in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association president Siddiqur Rahman told The Independent, “The five months from October to January in FY (2017–18) was the peak season for the shipment of apparel; so, it helped to retain a positive growth trend.” He cited another reason for the surge, saying, “We have completed almost 90 per cent of the requirements set by Accord and Alliance. Bangladesh is building green factories, and that is known to the world now. “These are the two reasons which have helped us regain buyers’ confidence after the tragedy of Rana Plaza,” he said. The top three environment-friendly garment and textile factories in the world were located in Bangladesh, said Siddiqur.
Yarn production to rise 2.67pc: USDA
Yarn production is set to expand 2.67 percent to 7.70 lakh tonnes this fiscal year on the back of rising garment exports, according to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture. But the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association says the amount of yarn produced in the country is much higher at 13.50 lakh tonnes a year. “In our estimate, yarn production in Bangladesh is much higher as cotton import has been on the rise over the last several years thanks to higher demand from garment manufacturers,” its Secretary Monsoor Ahmed said. The total demand for yarn is more than 21 lakh tonnes. Of the amount, nearly 30 percent is imported, mainly from India, China, Vietnam and Pakistan. Cotton import in Bangladesh has been increasing between 20 and 25 percent over the last few years, he said. Last fiscal year, Bangladesh imported nearly 70 lakh bales [480 pounds make a bale], Ahmed said, adding that the quantity will increase 25 percent this year.
A new horizon opens for pharma ingredient makers
The government plans to offer a host of incentives to encourage local manufacturing of raw materials for the pharmaceutical sector with a view to boosting exports and lowering the cost for domestic consumers. Bangladesh largely relies on imports for raw materials in the absence of local active pharmaceuticals ingredients (API): about 95 percent of the Tk 5,000 crore worth of raw materials needed by the pharmaceutical sector are brought in from abroad. Besides, the raw materials, which are mostly imported from China, South Korea and India, are not always of the requisite quality. A dedicated backward linkage will not only enable the medicine manufacturers to produce world-class products at reduced prices but will also allow local consumers to buy high-quality medicines at lower prices.
Subsequently, the commerce ministry has drafted a proposed policy, which may be presented at today’s meeting of the cabinet committee on economic affairs for initial approval.
Brighter days await ceramics
The spiralling growth of the ceramics industry is encouraging entrepreneurs to invest more in the sector, experts said. Twenty new entrepreneurs are getting ready to enter the sector, said Shirajul Islam Mollah, president of the Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BCMEA). Local ceramics makers are also planning to expand their business in the field, he said. China-Bangla Ceramic Industries Ltd, which started production in 2009, plans to invest Tk 200 crore to increase production capacity, said Mollah, who is also the managing director of the company.
Bangladesh’s rice import volume to drop by one-fourth
After a bad crop year Bangladesh appears to bounce back with prospect of a good rice output this year. Country’s dependency on rice import is expected to drastically reduce by a fourth from a record import of the staple – 36 lakh tonnes in 2017-18 marketing year to just eight lakh MT in 2018-19 MY. According to a just released grain report by the United States Department of Agriculture, Bangladesh’s total rice production is forecast to increase to 3.47 crore tonnes in 2018-19 MY (May-April) from 3.26 crore tonnes in 2017-18 MY. USDA largely attributed a higher Boro production for this year-on-year output surge. Last year rice production fell due to a devastating haor flashflood and rice blast attacks.
Over 500 garment factories yet to address safety hazards
Majority of the 745 garment factories inspected under a national initiative have made little or no progress in addressing safety hazards, thus putting the life of workers at risk, industry insiders said. Under an ILO-government joint move, fire, electrical and structural integrity inspections were carried out in 1549 factories in 2015. Of them, 531 units have been closed and 69 relocated while 193 other have been listed under the western retailers’ platforms — Accord and Alliance, according to Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE). DIFE is currently monitoring the remediation progress in only 745 units, officials said. DIFE inspectors recently found out that 230 units are yet to start any remediation process although the deadline for completing the fixing of post-inspection flaws would expire on April 30, said an official.
Lack of infrastructure hampers operational growth in Chittagong port
The Chittagong port, located on the estuary of the Karnaphuli River, faces challenges in operational growth due to lack of infrastructural development in a decade, port users, experts and authorities concerned say. About 90% of the country’s export and import passes through the country’s prime seaport. The port handled 25,66,597 containers in 2017, with a year-on-year operational growth of 9.36% whereas in 2015 it handled 23,46,909 containers, with a year-on-year growth of 15.9%. The drop raises the question of how long the port could maintain the operational growth without investment in infrastructure.
Informal sectors employ 87pc of workforce
About 87 per cent of the country’s total workforce are engaged in informal sectors including agriculture and small trade who are not properly evaluated. On the other hand, many of these workers cannot play their due role due to lack of training and skill hindering the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs).
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)||$ 65.40||↓0.11||↓0.17%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||$ 70.83||↓0.21||↓0.30%|
|Gold Spot||$ 1,340.78||↓1.14||↓0.09%|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days *
|USD 1||BDT 83.29|
|GBP 1||BDT 118.08|
|EUR 1||BDT 102.94|
|INR 1||BDT 1.28|
*CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES ARE TAKEN FROM BLOOMBERG.