BB asked to inform about dubious banking transactions: Minister
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan yesterday said Bangladesh Bank has been asked to inform intelligence agencies about dubious banking transactions to detect terror financing sources, reports UNB. The government also decided to monitor whether the corporate social responsibility (CSR) fund of the country’s banks is being used in terror financing, he said. The minister came up with the revelation while talking to reporters after a meeting of the committee on resisting militancy held at the Secretariat. He said educational institutions where involvement of militancy was earlier detected are now under watch, but the monitoring system for the institutions will be strengthened further. Director General of the Islamic Foundation Shamim Mohammad Afjal informed the meeting that so far the model Kutba (sermon), prepared by Islamic Foundation to raise public awareness against the militancy, was delivered in some 28.49 lakh mosques across the country, the minister told reporters.
Foreign companies operating in Bangladesh have been allowed to issue Taka bonds for mobilising funds from the local sources as the central bank relaxed further the foreign-exchange transactions regulations. This is, however, subject to prior permission of Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC). Bangladesh Bank (BB) relaxed the guidelines to encourage inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country, according to a notification BB issued Wednesday. The foreign companies have been permitted to take long-term loans from the local banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) to meet their business requirements. On the other hand, individuals and local companies were eligible to invest in the foreign companies through purchasing their Bangladesh Taka (BDT) bonds. “General approval is hereby accorded for purchase by individuals and institutions resident in Bangladesh of Taka bonds issued with permission of the BSEC by foreign owned/controlled companies in Bangladesh,” reads the notification.
SWIFT will launch a new tool to spot fraudulent messages, according to reports by Reuters, www.neweurope.eu and www.ibtimes.co.uk<http://www.ibtimes.co.uk>. Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the Belgian-based interbank messaging system, is used to transfer trillions of dollars between banks every day, Hackers exploited the SWIFT connection of Bangladesh Bank and stole $81 million in February 2016. SWIFT is now developing a payment-screening service. The service will allow small member banks to automate the flagging of suspicious payments. SWIFT announced Wednesday that it will offer clients a service that will be able to learn a user bank’s messaging patterns so that it can spot if a payment is being made to an unusual counter-party or for an unusual amount. Swift plans to begin the service by early 2018. The service could cost small users as little as 10,000 euros a year, though prices have yet to be finalised. Its price will depend partly on how many banks adopt it, the report said.
Unregistered surveyors making overvaluation up to 95 per cent
The surveyors, who estimate the value of borrowers’ properties mortgaged with banks, have been operating without registration and without following rules and regulations of the Bangladesh Bank (BB). Moreover, there is not a single instance of taking action against these professional firms for their overvaluation. The parliamentary standing committee on estimates recently recommended enactment of a law to bring the surveyors under some rules and regulations to get better services, especially in providing loans. The issue came up at the 8th meeting of the estimates committee early this year while discussing various loan scams and bad loans of the two state-owned commercial banks Sonali and Agrani. They also discussed loan procedures.
The rising non-performing loans (NPLs) and excess liquidity have reportedly become major areas of concern for the country’s banking sector. Besides, the number of large loans is also on the rise while the amount of credit received by small and medium enterprises has declined. The NPLs in the banking system, according to reports, stood at 10.10 per cent of the aggregate amount of loans until June 2016 compared to 8.8 per cent as of June 2015. Both NPLs and excess liquidity are causing growing concern for the banking sector in spite of the fact that the central bank had already took some steps to minimise the risks of banks. Meantime, the banks’ classified loans to the country’s industrial sector swelled by over 24 per cent. It stands at Tk 245.63 billion in the first half (H1) of the current fiscal, compared to that of the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, according to an FE report this week.
No bar to punish NRB Commercial Bank chairman, MD: SC
The Supreme Court yesterday cleared the way for Bangladesh Bank to take legal action against NRB Commercial Bank’s chairman and managing director for failing to protect the interest of its depositors and shareholders. The apex court scrapped a High Court order that asked the authorities concerned of the central bank not to create any obstruction in discharging duties by NRB Commercial Bank’s Chairman Farasath Ali and its Managing Director Dewan Mujibur Rahman. It, however, asked the Bangladesh Bank to give the copy of its inspection report to Farasath and Mujibur in three days. A four-member bench of the Appellate Division of the SC headed by Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha passed the order after hearing a petition filed by AM Tushar Iqbal Rahman, a sponsor shareholder and a former director of NRB Commercial Bank, challenging the HC order. There is no legal bar for the Bangladesh Bank to carry out appropriate action against Farasath and Mujibur for their irregularities following the SC order, Barrister Mehedi Hasan Chowdhury, a lawyer for Tushar, told The Daily Star.
IDB to sell off majority of its stakes in Islami Bank
The Islamic Development Bank has taken a decision to sell off majority of its stake in Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd at market price through stock exchange. The Saudi Arabia-based IDB has recently submitted a proposal before the board of directors to sell off its majority stakes as the government has recently conducted massive restructuring in the IBBL’s board and management, said officials of the bank. Areef Suleman, IDB representative of IBBL, formally placed the proposal at the bank’s board meeting held on March 30 when other directors of the bank requested him not to sell the share. According to the IBBL data, IDB is now holding 12.78 crore share worth around Tk 400 crore considering the existing market price. The foreign shareholders are now controlling 52.16 per cent stake in the bank of which IDB is holding 7.5 per cent share of the IBBL. IDB in its proposal informed the board of IBBL that it would want to hold 2.1 per cent share after selling the remaining stake, meaning that the lender agency would sell its around 72 per cent share of the bank.
The authorities would monitor the use of the fund from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to see if it is being used for financing militancy, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said on Wednesday. “We will monitor the CSR fund of banks and financial institutions to check if the fund is being used in a right way or being sourced for financing militancy,” the minister told reporters after the 6th meeting of a committee on combating militancy, held his secretariat office. Khan said Bangladesh Bank (BB) had been advised to inform the committee about any suspicious transaction so the intelligence agencies could check those for taking necessary actions.
Realtors seek Tk 20b refinancing fund at single-digit interest rate
The country’s realtors have sought a refinancing fund of Tk 20 billion at single digit interest rate in the next budget for the fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 to help revive the sluggish housing sector. They also proposed reduction of registration-related tax and fees from the existing 14 per cent to 7.0 per cent and lowering of Value Added Tax (VAT). The Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) recently sent its proposals to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) for incorporation in the upcoming budget. The realtors also sought necessary amendment to the Section 19 (B) of the Income Tax Ordinance-1984 to allow investment of undisclosed money in the real estate sector.
BASIC Bank will get a fund of BDT 10.0 billion from the government to improve clients’ trust damaged by massive corruptions. The fund was proposed at a meeting recently with Senior Finance Secretary Hedayatullah Al Mamun in the chair, said officials concerned. BASIC Bank’s senior officials were also present at the meeting held at the finance ministry’s auditorium. A finance division official said the money will be given from the recapitalization funds in the revised budget outlay. BASIC received BDT 23.9 billion from the budget allocation under the government recapitalization program during last five years. According to the Finance Division working papers, the capital shortfall of the BASIC Bank is BDT 19.3 billion while the capital reserve ratio was only 7.6% in 2015.
The government plans to set economic growth at 7.4% in the upcoming fiscal year as calm political situation helped the economic activities run smoothly. A meeting of Fiscal Coordination Council and Budget Management Committee is due today which will set the target. The GDP growth of this fiscal year has been fixed at 7.2% as Finance Division revealed revised budget last week. “We are preparing fiscal year 2017-18 national budget with a growth rate of 7.4% but it may be increased after discussion at fiscal coordination council meeting,” a Finance Division official told the Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday. In the next budget management committee meeting, the issue of large amount of loans taken from national saving instruments and borrowing from banking sector in the current fiscal year, the official said.
Less than half of the development budget could be spent in the first nine months of fiscal 2016-17 but the planning ministry is still hopeful that full implementation would be possible in the remaining three months. Between July of last year and March of this year, the ministries and divisions managed to spend Tk 53,864 crore, which is 45.15 percent of the total allocation for fiscal 2016-17, according to Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Department. A year earlier, they spent Tk 41,975 crore, which was 44.70 percent of the total budget for fiscal 2015-16. Although the ministries and divisions managed to exhaust a greater sum, there has not been much of an improvement this year. “So far this year, the implementation has been good,” Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council. He went on to express hope that the whole allocation could be spent this year.
Slower implementation of all mega-projects in bridge-building sector, including Padma Bridge, has squeezed fund demand by 22 per cent in the upcoming fiscal. Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) has placed such an abridged demand for allocations in the budget for the next fiscal year (FY), 2017-18, according to sources. Owing to slow progress of its three mega infrastructure projects, BBA also had to surrender over 29 per cent of its budget allocated in the current fiscal year (2016-17). BBA officials said the authority has sought Tk 79.03 billion against its year-on-year demand plan of Tk 101.52 billion for the upcoming fiscal year in view of the ground reality.
HC asks govt not to release due funds of Chevron BD employers
The High Court directed the government not to release the due funds of employers of Chevron Bangladesh to the company, reports Xinhua. The order came as it was apprehended that the US oil and gas giant might leave the country without paying their funds. The High Court bench of Justice Zinat Ara and Justice Kazi Md Ejarul Haque Akondo came up with the order following a writ petition filed by 538 Chevron employees on Dec. 15 last year. To counter a prolonged slump in energy prices, Chevron last year announced to sell about 10 billion US dollars worth of assets in Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines by this year.
Leather exporters fear a loss of around Tk 12 billion in export earnings for shipment failure following a sudden lockdown on their Hazaribagh production hub. They lamented that disruption to production of leather and leather goods occurred for sudden shutdown of factories in Hazaribagh sans readying Savar Tannery Estate. “We have made a rough estimation that there are around Tk 12 billion worth of export orders for leather and leather goods and we don’t have any finished products to deliver,” Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association Chairman Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin told The Financial Express Tuesday.
Rooppur power plant to hold conference for local suppliers
АSE Group of Companies, a subsidiary of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation, and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission will hold a conference on procurements for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, Rosatom said in a statement yesterday. “The purpose of the event is to ensure transparency in work with Bangladeshi suppliers,” the company said. The conference for potential suppliers of equipment and materials for Rooppur NPP, which is currently under construction, will take place at Le Meridien hotel in Dhaka on April 17. The agenda will include design requirements imposed during construction of the facility, tendering procedures and supply terms, logistics and equipment manufacture quality assurance, according to the statement.
Thai Dusit teams up with Lakeshore for Tk 150cr hotel
Lakeshore, a local boutique hotel, will set up a mid-range business hotel in Uttara for Tk 150 crore under a franchise agreement with Thai hospitality group Dusit International. The hotel, which will be located only five minutes away by car from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, will be called Dusit Princess Dhaka and is expected to go into commercial operation in 2018. The 13-storey property will have 80 deluxe rooms and 10 deluxe suites as well as all-day dining and meeting facilities, and recreational amenities such as spa and rooftop swimming pool. “We have been in the hospitality industry for over 15 years now, so we know this market well,” said Kazi Tareq Shams, managing director of Lakeshore Hotels, at the agreement signing ceremony between the two hospitality companies yesterday. Shams and Lim Boon Kwee, chief operating officer of Dusit International, signed the deal on behalf of their respective sides.
Both old and new business identification numbers (BIN) will remain valid up to June 30 so that newly registered businesses can conduct their business activities smoothly. The VAT Online Project of the National Board of Revenue on Monday issued a circular requesting the related agencies including banks and customs houses to accept both BINs, known as VAT identification number, in opening letter of credit and for customs purposes respectively. The VOP has also requested the Bangladesh Bank, all commercial banks, Central Procurement Technical Unit of the planning ministry and customs houses for issuing instructions in this connection. The revenue board also said that the agencies could check the authenticity of both old and new BINs using the ‘Check Status’ option in the NBR website www.nbr.gov.bd and scanning the QR Code of nine-digit e-BIN certificate.
Summit Group yesterday signed an electricity purchase agreement with Bangladesh Power Development Board and an implementation deal with the power and energy ministry for a 149MW plant in Kodda, Gazipur. Md Mozammel Hossain, managing director of Summit Ace Alliance Power Ltd, Mina Masud Uzzaman, secretary of BPDB, and Sheikh Faezul Amin, joint secretary for development of the power division, signed the deal at Bidyut Bhaban in the capital. Speaking at the event, Muhammed Aziz Khan, chairman of Summit Group, said thanks to the power plant, Gazipur town and the Kaliakoir Hi Tech Park will get uninterrupted supply of electricity. Gazipur is home to a large number of garment and other industries and they regularly face shortage of electricity, which force industrialists to set up captive power plants operating on diesel to keep their factories running.
Bangladesh Telecommu-nications Company Limited logged its highest ever loss of Tk 336.44 crore last fiscal year, as the state-owned firm’s struggle against the private mobile operators deepens. The telecom company had reported net profits of more than thousands of crores of taka during 2002-04, after which its profit has been on the decline for every year save for fiscal 2012-13. It became a public limited company in 2008 and since then it could log in profits in only two years. Of the net loss, which is an increase of 18.02 percent from the previous year, international call transmission accounted for Tk 116.86 crore. The company’s revenue from local services declined 11 percent to Tk 281.28 crore as customers turn their backs on landline in droves. Currently, BTCL’s total landline connections stand at about seven lakh, down from 10 lakh in June 2011.
BTRC lowers MNP service license fee to BDT 100.0 million
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has reset mobile number portability service license acquisition fee at BDT 100.0 million as the license would be awarded through ‘beauty contest’ process instead of auction. The telecom regulator has set the fees at its latest meeting held last week with retrospective effect by amending the decision of its earlier meeting when MNP license acquisition fees was set at BDT 200.0 million. The meeting was presided over by BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood. Rest of the clauses of the draft guidelines would remain unchanged, BTRC officials told New Age. Other clauses of the draft guidelines on MNP service license would remain same. According to the draft guidelines, annual license renewal fees would be BDT 2.5 million, while revenue sharing would be 15.0% from the second year, bank guarantee BDT 100.0 million and security money BDT 10.0 million. Once license is awarded, MNP licensee companies will have to rollout their service within six months.
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