Government starts bank borrowing again: Budget deficit, pay hike main reasons
After a lull of seven months, the government this month has started borrowing from the banking sector, as it now has to provide more wages and salaries to its staff in accordance with the 8th national pay scale. The government is also being forced to borrow from the banking channels to manage its deficit budget in the last quarter (April-June) of the current fiscal year, a Bangladesh Bank official told New Age on Wednesday. According to the latest Bangladesh Bank data, the government would borrow BDT 95.5 billion by issuing Treasury bills and T-bonds in April, but it will have to repay BDT 76.4 billion to the banks due to the maturity of the monetary instruments (T-bills and T-bonds). Under the circumstances, the net borrowing of the government from the banking sector will stand at BDT 19.1 billion in April. The BB data shows that the government had borrowed net in August, 2015 after which it had made a significant amount of repayment to the banks against its previous loans. The government’s net borrowing from the banking channels amounted to BDT 37.0 billion in August and BDT 53.0 billion in July of the FY2015-16. The government was able to make a net repayment of BDT 40.0 billion in March, BDT 38.0 billion in February, BDT 13.0 billion in January, and BDT 15.0 billion in December against its previous loans. Similarly, the government had also made a significant amount of repayment to the banking sector between September and December of FY16. Against the backdrop, the government made no net borrowing from the banking sources between July 1 and March 16 of FY16, but made a net repayment of BDT 77.5 billion in the period.
Private investment sees first fall in three years
Private investment has declined this fiscal year, a development which does not bode well for the economy even though GDP growth is predicted to see the fastest pace in nine years. In fiscal 2015-16, the private investment to gross domestic product ratio will be 21.78%, according to provisional data from Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. This signifies a year-on-year drop of 0.29 percentage points — and a decline for the first time in three years. The business confidence is still weak, primarily because the structural impediments to investment, such as infrastructure bottlenecks and the cost of doing business have not changed, he said. The business community is also complaining about the high interest rates. From a broad cross-country perspective, Bangladesh’s average nominal lending rate over the past decade was higher than in advanced economies and slightly higher than in Asia’s emerging economies, according to Zahid Hussain, lead economist at the World Bank’s Dhaka office. The bank interest rates in Bangladesh fell much in recent times, the central bank statistics show. In the last two years, the average lending rate declined 2% points and stood at 11.05% in January.
Mobile operators to get tech neutrality in spectrum use
The government plans to offer technology neutrality to mobile operators in spectrum use in two bands, which will help them roll out fourth generation or faster data services within a short time. The telecom division is preparing a proposal, which will soon be sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for approval, said an official involved in the process. After getting technology neutrality in the 1800 and 900 bands, the operators can offer services through any technology (2G/3G/4G/LTE) using any of the frequencies they have, which will ensure better services for customers. Tech neutrality gives operators the scope to use their spectrum efficiently and offer faster data services, said the chief corporate affairs officer of Grameenphone. Officials said the government is considering the move before going for the next spectrum auction to bring the operators’ attention to it and increase the floor price at the auction. In line with spectrum auction guidelines, the floor price per MHz spectrum is USD25 million now, which is likely to increase to USD30 million if technology neutrality is provided, said an official of the telecom division, asking not to be named. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission now allows technology neutrality in only the 2100 band, but this band is not suitable for offering 4G services.
Government won’t provide subsidy to LPG users
Reviewing the draft strategy paper on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) usage, the government has disapproved of a proposal for giving subsidy to consumers when piped gas supply will stop, officials said. If the government position stands, households will have to pay double for the bottled gas than the cost of piped natural gas, price differentials show. The decision was taken at an inter-ministerial meeting last month, held at the Energy Division. Despite saying ‘no’ to the proposal for subsidy, the meeting, however, decided to encourage people for using LPG at increased level and discourage them from looking to piped gas, the sources said. Contacted, director of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) Mosleh Uddin told the FE the move to provide subsidy to consumers would not see success until an appropriate distribution system could be developed. Sources said the meeting discussed measures to be taken for reducing production cost of LPG. In that case the energy division has planned reduction or full waiver of taxes and duties at various stages.
GP yet to allow BTRC auditor after five months: Regulator warns of legal action if GP continues in this vein
The country’s leading mobile phone company Grameenphone has yet not allowed the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to audit its accounts five months into the appointment of the auditor. The telecom regulator BTRC in a letter to GP on Monday warned of taking legal action, if the company fails to cooperate with the auditor. Earlier, in February, the BTRC asked the GP not to hinder the audit process after the appointed audit firm, Toha Khan Zaman & Co, had complained that GP was not helping in the audit. The BTRC and the audit firm officials said GP is not even allowing the auditors inside its office. The BTRC appointed the auditor for GP in October last year to look into different financial matters of GP since its inception. An earlier BTRC audit of the mobile operator in 2011 was declared illegal by the High Court, as the appointment of the auditor was not done in a lawful process. But the audit generated a government claim of BDT 30.0 billion to GP. GP in a letter to the BTRC on October 20 last year questioned the new audit process, saying as the claim of the previous audit in 2011 is still pending with the court, how can the BTRC conduct a new audit?
World Bank endorses 5-year country partnership strategy for Bangladesh
The World Bank approved Wednesday a financial-support plan worth nearly USD7.5 billion to finance Bangladesh’s recipe for development during five financial years, ending on June 30, 2020. In a statement, the WB headquarters said its Board of Executive Directors Wednesday (according to Bangladesh time) endorsed the five-year ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Bangladesh. Under the strategy, the Bank’s concessional window-the International Development Association (IDA)-has proposed to provide nearly USD 5.0 billion worth of assistance while its private-sector lending arm -the International Finance Corporation (IFC)- about USD 2.5 billion during five financial years, starting from the current one (2015-16). Additional secretary at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) Kazi Shofiqul Azam told the FE since the WB is a very important development partner for Bangladesh, the approval for its five-year CPF would help the country much. The WB said the financial plan of the global lender would help Bangladesh create more and better employment opportunities for the 2.1 million youths entering the job market every year.
Overseas jobs climb 75.0% in Q1 as Middle East boosts hiring
Overseas employment rose by more than 75.0% in the three months to March helped by higher recruitment by Arab countries, the government said. A total of 190,868 Bangladeshis travelled abroad with jobs in January-March period of the year, up by 82,159 to 108,709 in the same period of 2015, the state-run Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) statistics showed. In the first three months of this year, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia enhanced their manpower hiring from Bangladesh. On the other hand, a significant number of Bangladeshis found jobs in Malaysia on professional visas at the same time. The outflow of workers to Singapore was also good. The highest number of Bangladeshi secured jobs to Oman with 50,110 followed by Qatar 35,265 and Saudi Arabia 30,720. Some 23,954 workers and professionals also were recruited by Malaysian employers, while 14,937 migrants by Singaporean employers. Overseas jobs for female workers also increased during the period. Some 35,579 women found jobs overseas in the three months rising from 22,560 in the matching period of the last year.
UNDP- BSRM Group join hands
BSRM Group has signed a partnership agreement with the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) to support the ultra-poor women in rural areas recently at BSRM Group premises located in Mirsarai, Chittagong. Through this partnership, BSRM and UNDP will work together to provide livelihoods and life skills training to ultra-poor women under one of the UNDP project titled as Strengthening Women’s ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO), said a statement.
World Stock and Commodities
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)*||$38.14||+0.39||+1.03%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)*||$40.13||+0.29||+0.73%|
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||17,716.05||+112.73||+0.64%|
|USD 1||BDT 78.25*|
|GBP 1||BDT 110.42*|
|EUR 1||BDT 89.20*|
|INR 1||BDT 1.18*|
*Currencies and Commodities are taken from Bloomberg.