Loss-making exchange houses of banks are being turned into agent banks
Banks are working to turn their exchange houses into agent banks as their overseas operations have largely flopped. The central bank has so far allowed banks to open 67 exchange houses overseas to facilitate remittance sent to Bangladesh. Of them, 35 are now in operation while 10 closed and 22 did not start the operation at all, according to data from Bangladesh Bank. As the most exchange houses have flopped, banks are now concentrating their focus on a business model similar to agent banking, bankers said. BB is allowing banks to go for agency agreement for opening exchange houses to serve non-resident Bangladeshis, moving away from its earlier stance which barred banks to appoint agents for running such branches. Under the agency agreement model, a bank starts an exchange house in partnership with a local agency in the host country. The model is similar to the agent banking now flourishing in Bangladesh. A local resident who runs businesses and has infrastructure in place will be appointed as agent to collect remittance.
The BSEC allowed Dutch-Bangla Bank to raise BDT 5.0 billion by issuing non-convertible subordinated bonds. The fund will be used to fulfil the requirements of Tier-II regulatory capital. The bonds will have a maturity period of seven years.
NRBs can deposit foreign currency at airport banks
Non-Resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) are now allowed to deposit foreign currency in their accounts at bank booths in airports across the country. The central bank issued a circular in this connection on Thursday, and asked the country’s all authorised dealers (AD) in foreign exchange banks to follow the latest instructions immediately.
The government of Bangladesh has set a target to bring the whole country under electricity coverage by 2021. To achieve this target, the country requires multibillion dollar investments in the power sector. As a result, the government is increasingly diversifying the sources of investment. “We are attracting innovative funds. One of the big innovative ways is Export Credit Agency (ECA) financing,” Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources, told reporters at the Dhaka Reporters Unity on January 21.
Government’s net domestic borrowing remains sluggish
The government’s net domestic borrowing in the first seven months of the fiscal year was only 17.9% of the target, mainly due to huge sale of savings instruments and slow development spending. Between the months of July last year and January this year, the government’s net domestic borrowing was BDT 112.2 billion against the budgetary target of BDT 615.5 billion for the whole year, according to data from the central bank. The interest rate on bank deposits slid, which prompted a surge in savings instrument sales, said a finance ministry official. Subsequently, the government did not borrow a single BDT from the banking system so far this fiscal year; rather, it repaid BDT 189.6 billion, according to central bank statistics. In fiscal 2016-17, the government’s target for borrowing from the banking system is BDT 389.4 billion. On the other hand, the net non-bank government borrowing, which includes savings instruments, stood at BDT 299.8 billion during the seven-month period — against the entire year’s target of BDT 226.1 billion. The rate of interest on savings instrument is significantly higher than any other interest rate prevailing in the domestic market, said a central bank report. The rate of interest on savings instruments is now more than double that on bank deposits, said a Bangladesh Bank official. As a result, savers are flocking to buy savings instruments. At present, the rate of interest on savings instruments is around 12.0%, whereas the rate of interest on bank deposit is almost below 6.0% — lower than the average inflation rate.
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday tightened utilization proceeds of funds raised by the companies from the capital market by floating shares through initial public offering or offering rights shares. Under the tightened rules, companies will have to take approval from the commission in this regard after getting approval from majority of the entities’ general shareholders. The BSEC decision to tighten fund utilization proceeds came from a meeting held on the day at the capital market regulator’s office at Agargaon in Dhaka. As per the decision, BSEC will impose a fresh condition under section 2CC of Securities and Exchange Ordinance, 1969 that would bar companies to use IPO or rights offer fund in alternative way without taking approval from majority shareholders. From changing IPO or rights offer fund utilization proceeds, companies will have to get approval from at least 51.0% of its public shareholders at a general meeting rather than approval only from its sponsor-directors. At the same time, companies will have to publish board of directors’ decision of changing use of proceeds as price sensitive information with detailed description and reasons for such decision, a BSEC press release issued on Thursday said.
BSEC initiates fresh move to finalize Mutual Fund rule change
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has initiated a fresh move to publish the draft rules on mutual fund that were stuck up for almost one-and-a-half-year after finalising the draft. A BSEC official told New Age that the commission recently took the initiative as part of its move to clear a number issues which were remaining pending for long. After disclosing the draft rules in national dailies, those would be finalised for publishing in government gazette notification based on public opinion, the official said. Once the gazette notification is published, asset management companies will have to follow the rules to operate mutual funds, he said. The stock market regulator at a meeting on December 7, 2015 finalised the draft Securities and Exchange Commission (Mutual Fund) Rules, 2001. The BSEC in an amendment to the mutual fund rules in 2013 allowed mutual funds to issue re-investment units besides cash dividend. In 2015, the commission initiated a move to amend the rules mainly to close the scope for issuing re-investment units or stock dividend as issuance of such dividend caused heavy losses for investors.
Budget deficit may exceed 5.0% of GDP in fiscal 2017-18, breaking out from years-long practice with the view to wooing the electorate ahead of the next national election. It will most definitely be about 6.0% of GDP, said a finance ministry official. The finance division is due to present the preliminary budget projection for the next year at a meeting today of the fiscal coordination council and resource committee. There is no clause in the budget management act specifying an upper bound on the deficit. But in the last several years the budget was diligently prepared such that the deficit stayed within 5.0%; but, in the course of the fiscal year the deficit would come to below 4.0%. One of the reasons for the budget deficit to settle on the 5.0% of GDP mark was that the International Monetary Fund put it as a condition for the Extended Credit Facility programme. The tenure of the IMF’s ECF programme tenure ended at the beginning of last year, meaning there is no condition that the deficit be kept within 5.0%.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has realised an arrear of Tk 5.66 billion through the ‘Halkhata Utsob’ it observed for the first time across the country Thursday. Income tax contributed highest with Tk 3.06 billion, followed by customs Tk 2.07 billion and Value Added Tax (VAT) Tk 530 million. The tax offices celebrated the day across the country marking the occasion of the Bengali New Year for the first time in the history.
PMO forms committee to assess need for guidelines on investment abroad by Bangladeshi companies
The Prime Minister’s Office has formed a committee to examine the necessity for guidelines on investment by Bangladeshi companies in foreign countries as local investors have been facing difficulty in making investment abroad in absence of such guidelines. The committee headed by Bangladesh Investment Development Authority executive member Ajit Kumar Paul will assess the need for the guidelines after analysing data and documents related to investment in foreign countries by local investors. The PMO at a recent meeting on the issue formed the committee consisting of representatives from Finance Division, foreign ministry, National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh Bank and BIDA and asked it to submit its report within one month, according to the meeting minutes issued by the PMO on March 23.
Draft law for ensuring one-stop service to investors is ready
A maiden law on one-stop service to investors is ready for government approval with provisions for the state-owned entities to deliver investment-related support in a time-bound way. The draft law is expected to be placed before the cabinet tomorrow (Monday) for its seal of approval, officials said. Under the law, four relevant service providers — Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and Bangladesh High-tech Park Authority — have been authorised to cater necessary services to investors.
Entire rural Bangladesh will come under on-grid electricity cover under a mega-plan that will cost BDT 143.6 billion. Officials said Wednesday the Rural Electrification Board (REB) has drawn up the massive power-supply plan. The rural electrification authority would connect 2.70 million fresh households with the power-supply network by 2021, they said. Power Division officials said the REB has undertaken two separate projects, which will be the largest and second-largest ones in its history.
Only one Bangladeshi garment manufacturer could hit $500 million in exports in a year — a puzzling statistic for a country that is the second largest apparel supplier in the world. There are a bunch of companies whose export receipts amount to more than $400 million but less than $500 million, said Mohammed Nasir, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association. Ha-Meem Group, which counts retail giants like Gap, H&M, Mango and Zara as its major buyers, is the only company to have managed to break out from that bracket, according to data from the BGMEA. Established in 1984 on a small scale, the company’s annual export receipt stood at $535 million in 2015-16.
The executive committee of the government’s Digital Bangladesh Taskforce has asked the telecom regulator to run a separate cost model analysis to formulate the data pricing guideline within a month. The committee took the decision in a recent meeting presided over by Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, principal secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office. The Digital Bangladesh Taskforce, which consists of senior ministers and different top experts from the sector, is the highest policymaking body on digitisation headed by the prime minister. Its executive committee assists the taskforce and supervises implementation of the taskforce’s decisions. “We have been working on it for the last few months and we hope to complete it soon,” said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, who attended the meeting. The regulator plans to fix the upper and lower price limit for mobile operators’ data packages, added Mahmood, who is also a member of the committee.
Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical market marked a phenomenal growth with its annual turnover reaching USD 2.3 billion at the end of December last. Some analysts attributed the advances partly to hike in prices of most medicines. Drug-manufacturers, however, equate the pharmaceutical sector’s growth with the country’s economic performance. US-based health-intelligence IMS Health has diagnosed the health of Bangladesh’s medicine industry on the basis of its retail sales figures. The size of the market, in terms of value, has nearly doubled over the past five years since 2011 from approximately USD 1.3 billion. The increase in the prices of drugs is seen by many as a prime reason for such rapid expansion. The US pharma intelligence audit found Square Pharma having maintained its lead position on the domestic market with its share at 18.2%, followed by Incepta at 10.4%. Beximco stands third with a share of 8.4%, as of 2016. Opsonin’s share stands at 5.6% and Renata Limited booked 5.0%.
BM Energy (BD) Ltd, a private joint-venture (JV) firm of the Netherlands and Bangladesh, has secured licence to install around 400 LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) filling stations across the country, said officials. The company has got the first licence from the government under the newly -adopted policy ‘LP Gas Operational Licensing Policy, 2017, said Md Akramuzzaman, a deputy secretary of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR). The firm would also have the authority to import, produce, store, transport and supply of LPG to households, commercial and industrial clients by appointing dealers or franchises. The JV firm would also be able to set up LPG terminals, auto-gas conversion plants and LPG bottling plants. It would also be able to export bottled LPG or LPG in bulk quantity after attaining no objection certificate (NOC) from the energy ministry and necessary approval from the commerce ministry.
2 Bangladeshis in Forbes’ young social entrepreneurs
The annual list by Forbes features the 30 youngsters from Asia who are leveraging business tools to solve the world’s problems. Mizanur Rahman Kiron, 29, is the founder of Physically-challenged Development Foundation (PDF), engaged in helping disabled youth in Bangladesh. In 2015, The Daily Star recognised him as a Young Achiever of Bangladesh. Talking to The Daily Star, Kiron said that within next the 10 years, he want to see his organisation become the best platform for Asian youth to learn best practices for policy advocacy and disability rights movement.
India anti-dumping duty to hurt B’desh efforts to trim trade gap
Economists and businesses have said the imposition of anti-dumping duty on Bangladeshi export products by India would jeopardise Bangladesh’s recent initiatives to increase trade and business with its next-door neighbour and to narrow the trade gap between the two countries. The trade gap, which is heavily in India’s favour, was $4.76 billion in the financial year 2015-16 while the deficit was $5.28 billion in FY15, according to the Bangladesh Bank data. Economists and businesses said after jute goods, the imposition by India anti-dumping duty on export of hydrogen peroxide, a textile chemical, from Bangladesh was unexpected and a matter of concern as the duty would hit Bangladesh’s trade with India.
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