UCB gets new policy-makers
Chairman of Masco and Maxim Group. M A Sabur was unanimously elected as Chairman of United Commercial Bank Limited in an emergency board meeting held Thursday at the corporate head office of UCB while Mr. Anisuzzaman Chowdhury was elected as Vice-Chairman. He is also the Director of Ronny Chemical Industries Ltd. Eminent business entrepreneur, notable industrialist, Chairman & Managing Director of Amber Group Mr. Showkat Aziz Russell has been elected as Executive Committee Chairman of UCB. Leading industrialist and Chairman & Managing Director of J. K. group of Industries Mr. Md. Jahangir Alam Khan has been elected as the Chairman of Risk Management Committee of UCB.
Asian Development Bank to provide USD 40.0 million loans, guarantees to four private commercial banks (PCBs)
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide loans and guarantees involving USD40 million to four private commercial banks (PCBs) of Bangladesh to support exporting and importing companies in the country, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). In this connection, the ADB signed agreements with the four PCBs namely City Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, Pubali Bank and Southeast Bank the ADB’s Bangladesh Resident Mission Office in Dhaka on Thursday, an ADB press release said. The City Bank, Mutual Trust Bank and Pubali Bank are all new banks joining the Trade Finance Programme, while Southeast Bank-which is already part of the programme-has signed a new agreement for a funded facility, it mentioned.
Merchant bankers for whitening black money in capital market
Merchant bankers have made a number of proposals to the government including allowing legalizing undisclosed/untaxed money through investment in the capital market in the upcoming budget, officials said. Bangladesh Merchant Bankers Association (BMBA) has recently submitted the proposals to the National Board of Revenue. Other proposals of BMBA are keeping same tax rate for all capital intermediaries (brokerage houses, merchant banks and asset management companies), providing discount on value added tax (VAT) rate for listed companies and reducing capital gains tax to 5% from 10% if shares are held for more than a year.
BSEC approves conversion proposals of three ICB-managed mutual funds
The securities regulator has approved the proposals of converting three closed-end mutual funds (MFs), managed by the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB), into open-end ones as per unit holders’ consent, officials said. The decisions were taken at a commission meeting held Thursday at the office of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC). In accordance with the regulatory decisions, the closed-end MFs which will be converted into open-end ones are 3rd ICB MF, 4th ICB MF and 5th ICB MF. At Thursday’s meeting, the securities regulator also approved the prospectus of 2nd ICB Unit Fund, which has already been converted into open-end one from closed-end MF. After conversion of the fund, ICB Asset Management Company has been given the responsibility of managing the 2nd ICB Unit Fund, instead of the ICB. Following the conversion guideline of MFs, the ICB held unit holders’ meeting on March 16 for conversion or redemption of 3rd ICB MF, on March 13 for 4th ICB MF and on March 09 for 5th ICB MF.
BSEC plans regulating appointment of CEOs, MDs at Asset Management Companies
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission plans to regulate appointment of chief executive officers and managing directors at asset management companies (AMCs), BSEC officials told the New Age on Thursday. At present the commission does not interfere in the appointment process of CEOs or MDs at AMCs. But, as per the securities rules, BSEC’s approval is required for appointing CEO or MD at any merchant bank or a stock exchange. An AMC invests its clients’ pooled funds into securities that match its declared financial objectives. Asset management companies provide investors with more diversification and investing options than they would have made on their own. A senior BSEC official said the commission has taken the move as it has found a number of AMCs inefficient in managing mutual funds since the 2010-2011stock market crash. Irregularities in managing mutual funds are among the other reasons that have prompted the capital market regulator to make its approval mandatory for appointing CEO and MD at AMCs, the official said.
Government set to ratify Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)
The government is set to ratify Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) through legislative procedures to help ensure trade benefits for WTO members, officials said. The MoC is working on it seriously, he said, adding that if Bangladesh ratifies the agreement, it will be entitled to trade benefits offered to WTO members, especially to least developed countries (LDCs). The WTO members concluded negotiations on TFA at the Bali Ministerial Conference in Indonesia in December 2013 as part of a wider Bali package. It contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective co-operation between customs and other authorities concerned on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. The TFA further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area. The WTO deals with the global rules of trade between different nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
Government sets new rules for fuel import
The energy ministry has for the first time prepared a policy for petroleum import to make the process transparent. The policy, which has kept scope for import through both government-to-government contracts and open tenders, was approved on Wednesday by the cabinet committee on economic affairs. However, in any calendar year, 50% of the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation’s import of fuel, or as determined by the government, will have to be on a government-to-government basis. In case of an open tender, the bidders will have to fulfil several criteria for participation in the process. For instance, a bidder must have: an annual turnover of USD 3.0 billion, refineries and yearly processing capacity of three million tons. It must have at least five years’ experience in exporting fuel oil and its average export over the last three years has to be two million tons.
Board formed to operate RMG welfare fund
The government has formed a board with representatives from RMG stakeholders to operate a Central Fund designed for the welfare of workers in 100% export-oriented apparel sector. The fund, apart from ensuring welfare, aims to tackle untoward incidents. According to the rules of Bangladesh Labour Act 2013, the owners of export-oriented garment industries will contribute 0.03% of export value to the workers’ welfare fund. Of the fund, 50% will be kept for welfare purposes and 50% for tackling unrest, if any. In September last year, the government published the gazette notification of amended Labour Act 2013.
Private hospitals fleecing patients
Healthcare costs at private hospitals have shot up manifold over the years, despite the fact they get bounteous government facilities to provide affordable treatment. Insiders said doctor’s ‘visit’ and costs of medical tests had surged up to 100.0 to 300.0% in last ten years in the private hospitals. While visiting four public and six private ‘referral’ hospitals, which have been availing the facility of duty-free import of medical and hospital equipment since 2005, the FE correspondents found price differentials on medical tests two to twenty times, in the first place along the line of investigation into the health of healthcare-providers. It will cost only BDT 50-100 to test cholesterol at a government hospital while private hospitals are charging three to five times more for the same test. The scenario is pretty similar for other tests, too. Mohammad Ali, a cardiac patient, has been taking treatment from Labaid Hospital for last seven years. It cost him BDT 200 for creatinine test in 2008 which doubled to BDT 400 in 2015, said Mr Ali. Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) charges BDT 20 for urine test while Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) charges BDT 100, Birdem Hospital BDT 150 while Labaid, Popular and Square Hospitals BDT 300 and Untied Hospital and Apollo BDT 350.
Dhaka, Delhi to share costs to build oil-supply pipeline
Bangladesh and India will build the proposed cross-country oil-supply pipeline in their respective sides at their own costs to facilitate petroleum trading. Both the countries have already agreed to bear the costs and responsibilities to build the pipeline, which will help state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) import diesel from Numaligarh refinery of state-run Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL). The proposed joint venture (JV) pipeline will be of 130 kilometres (km) in length of which 125 km would be in the Bangladesh territory and five km in the Indian Territory. State-run Gas Transmission Company Ltd (GTCL) is set to build the Bangladesh portion of the pipeline, he added. Officials said Bangladesh’s BPC and India’s BPCL also inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in April last year to establish a JV firm for laying the oil pipeline. Both the countries have already completed soil test for building the pipeline. Samples of soil were carried to India for testing.
Petrobangla and US’s Excelerate inks deal to build LNG terminal at Moheshkhali
State-run Petrobangla will have to spend around USD 1.60 billion (BDT 126.40 billion) annually from early 2018 to import around 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of re-gasified LNG as it inked Thursday an initial agreement on LNG terminal use with US’s Excelerate. Considering the current downward market price of liquefied natural gas (LNG), Petrobangla has estimated the cost at around USD 8.0 per mcf (1,000 cubic feet). Excelerate Energy Bangladesh Ltd, a subsidiary of US’s Excelerate Energy, inked the deal to build the country’s first LNG terminal — a floating storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) — at Moheshkhali Island in the Bay of Bengal. Excelerate will now be able to start geophysical work for the construction of the terminal with the signing of this agreement. This terminal would be used to re-gasify imported LNG before supplying to the national gas grid.
Handset imports rose 5.0% last year
Bangladesh imported USD 506.0 million of mobile handsets last year, registering 5.0% growth year-on-year, data from importers shows. The value of legally imported handsets is expected to reach USD 748.0 million by 2020, according to an estimate by Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers’ Association or BMPIA. The import value of handsets is increasing as a large number of people are switching from basic devices to advanced feature phones and smartphones, as data consumption is rising fast, said Rezwanul Hoque, general secretary of BMPIA. In 2015, Bangladesh imported 27.1 million handsets, at an average price of USD 18.67, BMPIA data shows. The association expects to import 29.27 million handsets this year. The average price of a smartphone in the year was about US 56.1, with imports of 5.63 million devices for a USD 316.0 million bill in 2015. A larger bill, to the tune of USD 379.0 million, is expected for smartphone imports this year. Currently, smart devices account for about 21% of total mobile imports, but the number will likely reach 47% by 2020, according to the association.
World Stock and Commodities
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)*||$36.79||(1.55)||(4.04%)|
|Crude Oil (Brent)*||$38.67||(1.66)||(4.12%)|
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||17,792.75||+107.66||+0.61%|
|USD 1||BDT 78.38*|
|GBP 1||BDT 111.50*|
|EUR 1||BDT 89.28*|
|INR 1||BDT 1.18*|
*Currencies and Commodities are taken from Bloomberg.