State banks’ default loans cross Tk 55,000cr
The amount of default loans of state-owned banks has reached Tk 55,095 crore as of January 2018, Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday told parliament. The government has taken various steps to identify the defaulting persons and organisations, he said while replying to a tabled starred question from MA Awal, a lawmaker from Tariakat Federation. He said cases are being filed against the defaulters to collect loans under the Money Loan Court Act, 2003. Bangladesh Bank has already given several instructions to banks, including ones on strengthening the loan recovering unit and realising classified loans through alternative dispute resolution, he said. In reply to another question, the finance minister said the government has no plan to waive interest on farm loan. According to data from the central bank, total non-performing loans in the banking sector stood at Tk 74,303 crore as of December last year. The eight state-run banks—Sonali, Janata, Agrani, Rupali, Bangladesh Krishi, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan, Basic and Bangladesh Development—have Tk 42,752 crore of classified loans at the end of last year.
PM asks banks to bring down interest to single digit
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently asked the bank authorities to bring down interest rate to a single digit to expedite the country’s investment. “I would like to tell you to cut interest rate, otherwise investment is not possible in the country … it must be brought down to a single digit,” she said while receiving donation for her Relief and Welfare Fund from the Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB) at Gono Bhaban in Dhaka this afternoon. The premier added: “You’ll be benefitted if the interest rate is reduced to a single digit … the people will be more interested in working with the banks.” The prime minister urged the bank authorities to keep up their promise by cutting the interest rate. “We’ve solved all problems that you raised … now you’ll have to keep your commitment,” she said. BAB Chairman Nazrul Islam Mazumder also spoke on the occasion. The banks under the BAB donated Tk 163 crore to the Prime Minister’s Relief and Welfare Fund.
Forex reserves stand at $32.97bn
Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves stood at US$32.97 billion on April 12, according to the Bangladesh Bank (BB) latest data. The reserves are sufficient to cover imports of about nine months. On March 29, 2018, reserves were $32.40 billion. The latest figure was $0.57 billion more than the figure of 29 March, 2018 and $0.68 billion above the 11 April, 2017 figure. According to the central bank, the country received $9,194.59 million remittance during July-March period of 2016-17 financial year.
Current account deficit crosses USD 6.0 billion in July-Feb
Country’s current account deficit crosses USD 6.0 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal year (FY18). Latest statistics, released by Bangladesh Bank, showed that current account deficit stood at USD 6.31 billion in July-February period of FY18. Current account registered a negative balance worth USD 0.96 million in the same period of the past fiscal year.
Imports soar to $35.8b in Jul-Feb
Bangladesh’s import payments grew 26.22 per cent or $7.44 billion in the first eight months of the fiscal year 2017-2018 against that of the same period in the previous fiscal year. Total import (freight on board) during the July-February of fiscal year 2018 increased to $35.82 billion while the figure was $28.379 billion in July-February in the previous fiscal, a Bangladesh Bank data released on Thursday showed. It also showed that the country’s total import FOB was $3.097 billion during the first eight months of FY17 that increased by 33.46 per cent or $1.16 billion to $4.644 billion during the same period of the current fiscal year. Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh executive director Ahsan H Mansur said, ‘Government has been running a number of mega projects that might have resulted in higher import growth.’ ‘On the other hand, there might be some money laundering among them,’ he said. On the other hand, BB officials said that the country’s total import increased during the ongoing fiscal mainly due to heavy import of food items, mainly rice.
SoEs’ divestment looks uncertain: Selected ones mired in financial malaise
The move to divest five state firms’ stakes on the stock market is unlikely to see daylight anytime soon as those are mired in deep financial trouble, a senior official said. The ministry of industries tapped Chittagong Dry Dock Ltd, Pragoti Industries Ltd, Bangladesh Insulator and Sanitary Ware Factory Ltd, Karnaphuli Paper Mills Ltd, and Chhatak Cement Company Ltd to make them profitable and eventually offload their shares. A recent meeting intended to prepare an action plan for making the companies under the ministry of industries profitable concluded that the enterprises are passing through multiple problems and there is little chance that those can turn to a profit shortly. A committee, headed by additional secretary of the ministry of industries Enamul Hoque, was formed to make recommendations for making the state-owned ventures profitable.
City Bank and Karnaphuli Wheels Limited signed agreement
Mashrur Arefin (4th from left), Additional Managing Director, City Bank and Arun Kumar Sarkar, Resident Director, Karnaphuli Wheels Limited exchanging documents after signing the agreement under which City Bank customers will avail auto loan at a special rate and reduced processing fee.
Deal signed for Bangladesh’s first ‘Digital Islami Wallet’
Financial technology service provider Dmoney signed an agreement with Al-Arafah Islami Bank Limited at the latter’s head office in Dhaka yesterday to launch the country’s first “Digital Islami Wallet”. “This is the first time an Islami Wallet is being introduced by a bank adding new dimensions to the existing banking services and expanding scopes for broader financial inclusion of the unbanked people,” said a statement from Dmoney and the bank. “The Islami wallet will enable the bank to extend its service perimeter and reach out to more subscribers,” it said. The partnership will help the bank provide payment services on utility bills, merchant, tuition fee, near field communication (NFC), quick response (QR) and insurance premium.
Southeast Bank inks deal with jadroo.com
An agreement was signed between Southeast Bank Limited and jadroo.com recently. Under the agreement, Southeast Bank credit card holders can avail zero per cent Equal Monthly Installment (EMI) facility up to 12 months on their purchase of home appliance. In presence of SM Mainuddin Chowdhury, Additional Managing Director, Southeast Bank; Md Abdus Sabur Khan, Head of Cards, Southeast Bank, and Mohd. Ghulam Sarwar, Deputy Managing Director & CFO of JadRoo Group, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.
SIBL arranges session with Dun & Bradstreet
Social Islami Bank Limited (SIBL) organized a Knowledge Sharing Session (KSS) with Dun & Bradstreet at SIBL Training Institute of the bank recently, said a statement. Deputy Managing Director of the Bank Mr. Abu Naser Chowdhury delivered speech to encourage the officers of the Bank.
NRBC Bank arrangesworkshop on trade-based AML
A workshop titled ‘Trade -Based Money Laundering and Importance of D & B Ratings’ was held at the Head Office of NRB Commercial Bank Ltd (NRBC) recently. Deputy Managing Director of the new generation PCB, Md. Mukhter Hossain formally inaugurated the workshop, arranged by the International Division of the bank. Professor Arup Chowdhury and Mr. Siddhartha Biswas conducted the workshop. Managing Director & CEO of the Bank, Khondoker Rashed Maqsood shared his observation on anti-money laundering in the concluding session. The workshop was participated by a number of executives and officers of the Bank.
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) working to introduce ‘Sukuk’ in capital market
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) is working to introduce ‘Sukuk’, an Islamic financial certificate similar to bond, in the capital market for financing the large projects, reports BSS. The rules will be prepared soon with the support of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). In the quarterly report, the central bank said though the capital market plays a significant role in economic development by channelling long-term funds from savers to investors, the capital market in Bangladesh is still lagging behind as compared to those of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
Govt borrows Tk 150b from domestic sources in July-Jan
The government’s overall domestic borrowing stood at Tk 150 billion during the July-January period of this fiscal year (FY), 2017-18, mainly due to lower demand for funds to meet its budget spending. The government borrowed only about 25 per cent of the total target, set for the FY. This borrowing mainly took place from the non-banking sources, especially through sales of the national saving certificates (NSCs). The government had set a target of borrowing Tk 603.52 billion from two key domestic sources — banking and non-banking — to meet its budget financing, according to the budget documents. The government’s net borrowing from the banking system stood negative at Tk 150.30 billion, as its repayment exceeded borrowing during the first seven months of the current FY, according to the central bank’s statistics.
Businesses decry high rates of interest, accessories tax
Businesses at a pre-budget discussion on Thursday raised various issues including the liquidity situation in banks, arbitrary fixing of interest rate, harassment by revenue board officials and difficulties in getting export incentives. Their observations came at the 39th Consultative Committee Meeting of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) at Sonargaon Hotel in the city. NBR and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) jointly organised the meeting. During the discussion, former president of FBCCI AK Azad said the bank interest rate was 10 or 9.0 or 8.0 per cent even few days back. But after taking the loan, suddenly the bank authority has sent letters to the borrowers to pay additional 4.0 per cent interest which is absurd. “The exorbitant income tax rate of 35 per cent on garment accessories is illogical. The government has been patronising the textile and garment sector by imposing 10-12 per cent income tax rate but not the accessories,” he said. The business leader suggested keeping the income tax rate for accessories same as textile and garment items. Another FBCCI director said they do not get any loan when they approach a bank preparing any project due to the liquidity problem in banks.
BPC set to receive $600m ITFC loan
Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) is set to receive US$ 600 million loan soon from International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) to import fuel oils for the calendar year 2018, officials said. Earlier, a high-powered delegation of the state-run agency signed a US$ 700 million loan deal with ITFC at a meeting held on October 11-12 last year at Jeddah in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Besides, the standing committee on non-concessional loan approved the US$ 700 million loan in December 2017. BPC will take the loan by three instalments — US$ 200 million, US$ 400 million and US$ 100 million — to import fuel oil, according to the BPC.
Record $5b Chinese investment coming up
The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority will sign a deal with a Chinese company in a month enabling it to invest $5 billion in the country. If materialises, it will be the single largest foreign investment by a company in Bangladesh’s history. The investor, Zhejiang Jindun Pressure Vessel Co Ltd, will not only generate electricity by setting up a coal-fired power plant but also utilise the plant’s ashes to make bricks by establishing a specialised factory. “As we are satisfied with the details of the investment plan we are going to provide them 500 acres of land,” Paban Chowdhury, chairman of the Beza, told The Daily Star yesterday. On signing the deal on the allocation of land at the Mirsarai Economic Zone in Chittagong, Zhejiang will pay Tk 315 crore to the Beza as the land rent for 50 years, he said.
Tokyo summit sees investment scopes in Bangladesh
Haison International Ltd, a private investment management and advisory firm of Bangladesh, in partnership with United Nations Industrial Development Organization-Tokyo organised a summit on Tuesday to facilitate greater private investment between Japanese and Bangladeshi companies. Over 50 leading Japanese companies participated at the summit titled “Japanese Investors B2B Partnerships 2018” in Tokyo where business-to-business meetings were conducted with Bangladeshi companies to explore investment opportunities in high-growth sectors. There were also discussions on private investments, joint venture and other potential partnerships in special economic zone and ports, textiles, logistics, automobile sectors, quality control inspection and management consulting. Among the Japanese companies were Marubeni, Sumitomo, Nippon Steel, Deloitte, NEC, ITO Corporation, Sojitz Corporation, Suzue Corporation, Mamiya-OP Co, Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Seibu Shinkin Bank. The Bangladeshi conglomerates include AK Khan and Company, Conveyor Logistics, HNS Automobiles, Trade Services International, SIMCO Spinning and Textiles, Synergies Sourcing, Amex Knitting & Dyeing and Pacific Quality Control Center.
PM welcomes more S Korean investment
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday welcomed more South Korean investment, saying it would help achieve the government’s main aim of building a developed Bangladesh. The comment came while South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Ahn Seong-doo was paying a farewell call on her at Gono Bhaban. Later, the prime minister’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters. Hasina said Bangladesh now has access to Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, through Chittagong and the government was working to expand trade and commerce with countries in the region. Lauding Bangladesh’s socio-economic uplift, the ambassador hoped that the country would turn into one of the world’s major electronic goods manufacturers as it was marching ahead establishing export processing and special economic zones. Ahn Seong-doo said Bangladesh and South Korea already started manufacturing electronic goods in joint venture initiatives. South Korea is a major investor in Bangladesh’s garment sector, said the ambassador.
Coca-Cola plans to invest US$ 50m more in BD
In an attempt to strengthen its presence in Bangladesh, global beverage giant Coca-Cola plans to invest US$ 50 million more in the country over the next three years. It will also roll out a string of new products during this period, aiming to expand its operation to tap Tk 30 billion beverage market, said T Krishnakumar, president of Coca-Cola’s Southwest Asia and India business unit, in an interview with the FE recently. He talked about a series of future steps of his company which, according to him, would benefit both ‘the company and the local community’. “We will invest $50 million more over the next three years. As a market, we see here a great opportunity to connect. We are looking at really consistent and steady investment in Bangladesh market,” the senior executive of the multinational company said while unveiling its future investment plan.
4G: telcos grin, users frown
Data consumption by the 4G users has doubled since the fourth-generation service was launched seven weeks ago, but customers’ overall experience has not been satisfying so far. Customers who used to consume 500mbps to 600mbps a month before the inauguration of the service on February 19 have had their consumption level crossed 1GB across all operators. Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink—the top three mobile phone operators who have launched 4G—said they are getting a huge response from the customers. State-run Bangladesh Submarine Cable Company said it has received orders to supply an additional 40 Gbps bandwidth since the launch of 4G. The state agency sells bandwidth to international internet gateways who again sell it to operators. But a majority of the customers are yet to come under the fastest data service network and those who are availing it are not happy with the overall service. Some customers are even reluctant to move to 4G as they are dissatisfied with the existing services.
Mobile operators suffer for utility work, outages
Mobile operators’ network quality is suffering for the fibre optic cable cut and power shortage across the country in recent times. In some cases, the operators are facing power shortages that last longer than the capacity of their backups. Operators can arrange backup support for six to eight hours a day. The site then goes offline, leaving subscribers in the area with no network, said top officials of Banglalink yesterday in a workshop with the Telecom Reporters Network, Bangladesh (TRNB) at their office. Between September last year and March this year, Banglalink suffered 212 instances of cable cuts that left huge areas of the country without network, said Taimur Rahman, chief corporate and regulatory officer of Banglalink. In most of the cases, it is because of the different government agencies, especially roads and highways department, he said, citing the Dhaka-Tangail highway extension work as an example.
Chittagong gets Uber
Uber, the world’s largest on-demand ridesharing company, yesterday announced launching services in Chittagong ahead of Pahela Baishakh, the first day of the Bangla calendar. This is the second city after Dhaka where its three products – UberX, UberHIRE and UberMOTO, will now be available, the company said in a statement. UberX offers app-based everyday rides, UberHIRE daylong services while UberMOTO a bike-sharing option. “Since the start of our operations in Dhaka, we have continuously received a lot of love from our riders and driver partners in Dhaka,” said Prabhjeet Singh, regional general manager of Uber.
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