Bangladesh Bank on Monday asked banks to suspend their farm loan recovery programmes in the flash floods-hit haor regions in Sunamganj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Netrokona, Kishoreganj and Brahmanbaria and the other parts of the country affected by the calamity. Recent flash floods damaged standing boro crop worth over Tk 1,600 crore in the country’s haor belt, known as the grain bowl, according to estimates of the Department of Agricultural Extension. The flash floods caused by onrush of waters from India also brought havoc to fish resources and livestock. The BB on Monday issued a circular to managing directors and chief executive officers of all banks asking them not to take any instalment of farm loans to assuage the sufferings of farmers until the flood situation improves.
Banks’ exposure to capital market: Regulator, merchant bankers suggest change in calculation
The securities’ regulator and the merchant bankers have separately proposed revising areas and calculation of banks’ exposure to facilitate higher institutional investment in stock market. The Bangladesh Merchant Bankers Association (BMBA) Monday sent to the state minister of the Ministry of Finance (MoF) a set of proposals, including one that suggested calculation of banks’ exposure to the capital market on the basis of investment in listed securities only. The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) has also suggested non-inclusion of banks’ investment in open-end mutual funds (MFs) while calculating their exposure to capital market. The securities’ regulator will send the proposal to the central bank soon, according to a BSEC official. The BSEC said as per the revised Bank Companies Act, banks’ exposure to capital market is calculated basing on market price of securities. According to the securities’ regulator, the banks have investment worth around BDT 30.0 billion in MFs including open-end ones.
Bangladeshi insurers should partner with banks in an effort to penetrate deep into the country’s booming villages and rural towns, a senior Metlife official said recently. The South Asian nation remains one of the least explored insurance markets in the world, despite its booming economy and 77 non-life and life insurers, including the global heavyweight — Metlife. Annual premium income of the sector stand depressingly at 0.5 percent of Bangladesh’s Gross Domestic Product, compared to 3.5 percent in India and the same percentage in much impoverished Nepal.
The government may not go ahead with its plans to set up a $10 billion sovereign wealth fund in the end — in what can be termed a sharp change of mind after years of talking up the idea. In February this year, the cabinet gave the go-ahead for the setting up of the fund with money from the record foreign currency reserves, which would be used for government investment in long-term projects in the power, energy and infrastructure projects.
ICB to sit today with top merchant bankers, stock brokers to discuss capital market situation
The country’s premier bourse Monday ended flat in red after a strong effort of minimizing the initial loss observed during mid-session. On the day, the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) closed with marginal loss in indices, but the turnover closed below BDT 5.0 billion mark due to poor participation. Meanwhile, the state-run Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) will sit today (Tuesday) with top merchant bankers and stock brokers to discuss the market situation. The meeting will be held after trading session at the ICB office.
Country’s budget deficit may cross its record-highest 5.0% in a decade as revenue receipts could fall below the expected level, finance sources predict. People familiar with the developments in the finance division told the FE Sunday this high level shortfall does indicate that borrowings from banks and non-bank sources will rise in the year to June 30. Economists, however, argue that one of the reasons for such widening of yearly budget deficit is the creation of a ‘sovereign wealth fund’ which initially will be worth USD 2.0 billion. The fund is likely to start off in July. The deficit always remains within the bracket of 5.0% of the GDP, excepting in the year 2007 when a natural calamity called super-cyclone Sidr struck the country. In the last fiscal, the deficit was 4.7%. There is a rule of thumb that the budget deficit should remain within 5.0% of the gross domestic product (GDP). The budget deficit up to February of this fiscal stood over BDT 70.37 billion. It was BDT 22.31 billion during the same period in the past fiscal year. Now the government needs BDT 1.07 trillion extra to feed its budget this year against BDT 923.37- billion target.
The government has planned to set an ‘ambitious’ revenue generation target in the new fiscal year basing on collection from the new Valued Added Tax law that would put additional pressure on mid and low income groups. Finance division officials said the revenue collection target of the National Board of Revenue has been proposed at Tk 2,36,020 crore in the financial year 2017-18.
Chinese firm buys Chervon’s gas fields in Bangladesh
Chevron Corp is selling its three Bangladesh gas fields, worth an estimated USD2.0 billion, to a Chinese consortium, report agencies. The US oil and gas group looks to shed non-core assets this year. The deal, if completed, would mark China’s first major energy investment in the South Asian country, where Beijing is pumping in billions of dollars in a race with New Delhi and Tokyo for influence. The gas fields, which account for more than half of the total gas output in Bangladesh, are being sold to Himalaya Energy, Chevron said. Chevron Bangladesh operates Block 12 (Bibiyana Field) and Blocks 13 and 14 (Jalalabad and Moulavi Bazar fields), according to a statement issued from Chevron’s headquarters in San Ramon, Calif of the USA, and forwarded by its Bangladesh office.
US oil company Chevron has entered into an agreement with Chinese Himalaya Energy Co Ltd to sell its three onshore gas fields and associated assets in Bangladesh keeping the government in dark. A release issued by Chevron Bangladesh on Monday also said, ‘Closing of the transaction is subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions. Chevron now operates the gas fields, Bibiyana in block 12, Jalalabad in block 13 and Moulvibazar in block 14, under three production sharing contracts with Petrobangla, the state-run Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation. Petrobangla officials alleged that Chevron was trying to sell its stakes in Bangladesh bypassing Petrobangla.
PayPal, a global online payment system, is likely to start its operations in Bangladesh soon, reports BSS. The launching of the system is expected to pave the way for hassle-free electronic money transfer and increase access to foreign consumers as well as ease the collection of money for the country’s growing number of freelancers. The information came from a weekly cabinet meeting held Monday in the cabinet room of the Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
BDT 9.5 billion tiles factory starts production in Bagerhat
Lockpur Group, a top frozen and sea food exporter, has set up a tiles factory under a joint venture with Chinese investors in Bagerhat at BDT 9.5 billion. This is the biggest ever investment in the tiles industry in Bangladesh and will aim to capture a major stake in the growing local market, according to industry-people. The factory is named Southeast Union Ceramic Industries (SEUCIL) where Chinese investors hold 60% shares while Lockpur Group the remainder. The factory will be run on coal instead of gas used by most of the ceramics factories in the country. The factory will have an initial capacity of 25,000 square meter tiles, equivalent to 0.3 million square feet, per day. The capacity will rise to 40,000 square meter per day within five months, said Bashar. Raw materials, including coal, will be imported from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. The factory has created jobs for 1,050 people including 50 technical staff from China. About one-third of the workers are women, said the company. Set up in 1986, Lockpur Group has footprint in sea food, fish processing, printing, packaging, plastics, jute, ceramics, fashion, agriculture, bricks, and hospitality industries.
Bay economic zone eyes USD 3.0 billion in foreign investment
Bay Group, which received the final license for an economic zone, expects to attract about USD 3 billion in foreign investment in the next couple of years. Contracts worth USD 1.4 billion have already been signed with foreign companies, especially from China and Hong Kong, said Ziaur Rahman, managing director of Bay Group. One such interested party is Multi-tech from Hong Kong. The company has signed a contract for about USD 30 million to establish a toy manufacturing factory in the Bay Economic Zone, situated on 35 acres of land at Konabari in Gazipur. Multi-tech will start production from June 1, and will export its products mainly to Japan and the US, Rahman said after receiving the final license from the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority yesterday. Bay Group is the fourth from the private sector to receive the final license from Beza after Meghna Group, Abdul Monem Ltd and Aman Group.
International Finance Corporation eager to invest in Bangladesh agriculture
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has expressed interest in investing in Bangladesh’s agriculture for the first time. The IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is looking to invest $1bn in Bangladesh, a portion of which it wishes to invest in agriculture, said Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith. Muhith told of IFC’s decision following a meeting with IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Philippe Le Houérou on the last day of the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings on Sunday.
BD’s shift to industrial economy needs more efficient governance
The transition of Bangladesh to a deeper and inclusive industrial economy demands a much more effective machinery of governance, eminent economist Professor Rehman Sobhan has said.” “The political leadership in today’s world needs to be driving on a modern jet plane, not a DC3 of World War Two era,” he said while speaking at the closing session of a two-day seminar, organised by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
A national financial inclusion strategy needs to be developed by stakeholders for inclusive growth of the country, said analysts yesterday. Faisal Ahmed, chief economist of Bangladesh Bank, said many products for financial inclusion were developed on an experimental basis by the central bank. But now there is a need for strategy to expand the inclusion programmes, he added. The development partners, the central bank, ministries and other organisations of the financial system need to help formulate a strategy for financial inclusion, he said. Such strategies already exist in many countries, said Ahmed, speaking at a discussion titled “financial inclusion and the banking sector: some critical issues” at Lakeshore Hotel, Dhaka.
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