The balance of payments surplus swelled by more than 15 percent last fiscal year to $5.04 billion thanks to lower import growth than export and an increase in foreign aid. However, Bangladesh Bank projects the surplus will be eroded by half this fiscal year, as the investment scenario is expected to pick up. In fiscal 2015-16, exports grew 8.94 percent and imports 5.45 percent, which caused the expansion of the overall surplus, according to data from the central bank. During the period, the trade deficit stood at $6.27 billion in contrast to $6.96 billion in fiscal 2014-15. The reason for the slow import growth is the lack of investment appetite.
Eastern Bank Ltd has paved the path forward once again, becoming the first company in the country to be ranked by Moody’s Investors Service this year. EBL has shown its willingness to be transparent by exposing its accounts to the globally reputed auditors at a time when many Bangladeshi financial institutions are plagued by bad loans, scams and poor governance. The rating, which is an evaluation of the credit risk of a bank, predicts its ability to pay back debt, according to Ali Reza Iftekhar, the bank’s managing director and chief executive.
Bangladesh receives USD 503.8 million remittance in first 12 days of August
Bangladeshis abroad have sent USD 503.8 million remittances during the first 12 days of the current August, reports BSS. In first five days, the country received USD 192. 5 million, but the inflow of remittance increased between 6 and 12 August, reaching USD 311.3, according to the latest data of Bangladesh Bank. The data also shows that the expatriate Bangladeshis have used more private banking channels for sending remittances worth USD 334.1 million during the period. Four state-owned commercial banks-Agrani Bank, Janata Bank, Rupali Bank and Sonali Bank- received USD 159.99 million while four state-owned specialised banks USD 4.29 million, the data added. But, the expatriate Bangladeshis have sent only USD 5.5 million through foreign commercial banks. Among the private commercial banks, Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL) received the highest amount of remittance of USD 125.81 million while Dutch-Bangla Bank USD 21.7 million. The other top five private banks in the remittance business are National Bank Limited (USD 20.24m), Pubali Bank Ltd (USD 18.06 million), Uttara Bank Ltd (USD 17.9 million), Bank Asia Ltd (USD 13.6 million) and Mercantile Bank Ltd (USD 12.18 million). Of the state-owned banks, Agrani Bank received USD 61.4 million, Janata Bank USD 42.5 million, Rupali Bank USD 8.16 million and Sonali Bank USD 48.1 million.
BSEC yet to finalise revised rules for mutual funds
The securities regulator is yet to finalise the proposed amendment to rules for mutual funds (MFs), despite the regulator took decision in principle regarding new provisions for the amendment brought eight months back. On December 7 last, the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) approved some new provisions to be incorporated into the amendment to the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (Mutual Fund) Rules, 2001 for bringing disciplines in mutual fund sectors. Normally, the securities regulator takes public opinion before giving final approval to any amendment in the rules. But no move was observed for taking public opinion for the amendment in rules for MFs. After some recommendations of re-investment unit (RIU) as dividend of MFs in last year, the securities regulator included the provision of taking regulatory consent for recommending RIU. As the amendment has not yet come into effect, the AMCs have no legal bar in recommending RIU and two AMCs have recommended RIU for eleven MFs closed-end MFs as dividend amid flat movement of the capital market for the year ended on June 30, 2016.
Government to borrow USD 800 million fresh loan from Islamic Development Bank (IDB)
The government is set to borrow nearly USD 800 million worth of fresh loan from Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to bankroll its oil import bill for the current fiscal year, officials said Thursday. Officials said the state-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) would borrow the assured credit from International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) of IDB for importing oil in the current fiscal year (FY) 2016-17. A delegation, headed by BPC chairman Md Mahmud Reza Khan, would meet with ITFC on August 21-22 at Jeddah of Saudi Arabia to finalize the terms and conditions of the expected loan, the Energy Division official said. One each additional secretary from Energy Division and Economic Relations Division (ERD), a director from BPC and an official from Finance Division would accompany the delegation. “We have cut our borrowing target from ITFC for the current year. We may borrow USD 600.0 million to USD 800.0 million worth of loan from ITFC for the current year to purchase oil from different petroleum supplying nations,” said a BPC official. In the last FY 2015-16, BPC signed an agreement to get USD 1.0 billion worth of credit to import crude and refined petroleum. The government signed the billion-dollar loan deal at a 4.2% interest rate with a maturity of six months. “The government will request IDB to reduce its present 4.2% rate to below 4.0% rate. Besides, it will request the lender to slash the LC charges to 0.2% from existing 0.25%,” he told the FE.
The government will form a pension authority within next two years to oversee the pension scheme for the private sector. It may also bar the retired government staff from selling more than 50 percent of their pension benefit from next fiscal year. The decision was taken at a high level meeting yesterday at the secretariat with Finance Minister AMA Muhith in the chair. After the meeting, Muhith told reporters that many government officials sell their pension benefit at a time, due to which they face many problems later on. None will be allowed to draw more than 50 percent of his/her pension money at a time, the minister said. The rest of the amount can be drawn every month in the course of his/her life. In his budget speech earlier in June, Muhith said the existing pension system would be reformed and an initiative would be taken to introduce a pension system in the private sector. At yesterday’s meeting, the finance division presented a concept paper about the initiative, and it was decided that a proposal in this regard will be placed in the cabinet meeting, said a finance ministry official.
EPB to add service sector export receipt to monthly data
The Export Promotion Bureau has taken a move to include the country’s export earnings from the service sector in the export data the government agency releases on monthly basis, with a view to showing the real picture of the sector. Currently, only export earnings from computer services under the sector are added to the data, but there are 10 more subsectors which remain out of the EPB export statistics. With the inclusion of earnings from all subsectors, the amount of total export earnings of the country would be increased by more than USD3 billion, EPB officials said. The country’s export earnings were around USD33 billion in last financial year of 2015-2016. On August 9, the EPB sent a letter to the Bangladesh Bank governor, seeking from the central bank export earnings data of the service sector on monthly basis. EPB vice-chairman Mafruha Sultana requested BB governor Fazle Kabir to take necessary initiatives so that the EPB can get the export earnings data of the service sector from the statistics department of the central bank on regular basis. Earlier on August 4, EPB officials also held a meeting with BB officials over the issue. EPB officials said that the BB had agreed to provide the export earnings data of the service sector and it might be possible for the EPB to include the data in its July-August export data.
Govt invites local businesses to oil, gas exploration
Local private sector businesses should invest in oil and gas exploration, especially in deep sea, Prime Minister’s Energy Affairs Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said yesterday. With the international oil prices going down, deep sea exploration is no more viable for foreign firms who have cancelled their exploration programmes, he said. “We are trying to find some ways for deep sea exploration. If someone wants to drill a well by investing some $150 million to $200 million, maybe we can take some stake in that bid to lower their risks,” Chowdhury said. “We are ready to offer contracts. We want to bring down risks for investors.” Chowdhury was addressing a seminar on “new investment horizon: blue economy”, organised by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry at its auditorium.
The cost of shipments to Germany, Bangladesh’s second largest export destination, has increased at least 5 cents per kilogram for suspension of direct cargo flights from Dhaka to Berlin for security reasons. Germany’s federal civil aviation authority imposed a ban on direct flights from Dhaka to Berlin on June 27 citing Bangladesh to be a ‘high risk’ country due to poor security at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. As a result, businesses now have to carry the goods after re-screening at another airport, said Mahbubul Anam, president of Bangladesh Freight Forwarders Association. The cargos are sent from Dhaka by Emirates, Etihad, Saudia and Oman airlines to different airports in Middle East. From there, the goods are re-screened before loading them onto a Berlin-bound flight. Before the suspension of the direct flight, the German national flag carrier, Lufthansa, used to carry 80 tonnes of goods from Bangladesh in its lone weekly fight from Dhaka to Berlin. Germany is the third country, after Australia and the UK, to impose a ban on direct cargo flights from Bangladesh on security grounds. Of the total German-bound cargos, almost all goods are garment items, as Germany is the second largest apparel export destination for Bangladesh after the US, he said. Germany is also the largest air cargo destination for Bangladesh, according to Anam. Source:http://www.thedailystar.net/business/cost-exports-germany-soars-after-cargo-ban-1273177
Panel for fixing LPG price at rational levels
A government-assigned body has suggested setting liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) tariff at retail level not more than 1.5 times of landed cost or cost and freight (C&F) price of raw materials, officials said. The recommendation equally applies to the fuel produced by both government and private sectors, now that the government is bent on expanding LPG usage for all sections of consumers, including households. By calculating international market prices during May 2015 to April 2016 of Propane and Butane, from which LPG is produced, the panel suggested setting the price of government-produced 12.5-kilogram (kg) LPG cylinder at BDT 732.0 and private sector’s 12kg cylinder at BDT 703 at retail level. According to officials the gazette price of 12.5kg LPG cylinder since July 2012 is BDT 700. However, there was no LPG cylinder available in the market at this price. The prices of 12.5kg LPG cylinder stand between BDT 1,100 and BDT 1,300 based on different companies, it was found. But consumers allege that cylinder of state-owned LP Gas Limited which is supposed to sell 12.5kg LP gas at BDT 700.0 is hardly found on the market.
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