Political turmoil still blamed for rescheduling of bank loans
Many business organisations have been pressing the central bank for rescheduling their default loans saying that their business still suffers from the spillover effects of political unrest in 2013 and 2014. Though the loan defaulters had earlier enjoyed a relaxed loan rescheduling facilities till June 30 last year, Bangladesh Bank (BB) has now become very rigid in allowing such rescheduling cases. The borrowers were allowed to continue their loan rescheduling with fewer down payments than the required amount even after the expiry of the relaxed policy deadline. But the new BB Governor, Fazle Kabir, has stopped this practice soon after he took over the charge of the central bank in March this year. Many clients, who had earlier rescheduled their loans, taking the advantage of the relaxed policy, has failed to continue their installment payments as their businesses are yet to overcome the losses incurred during the political turmoil.
Bangladesh Bank has decided to direct commercial banks to take special cautionary measures while sanctioning large credits and to see collateral against loans is not overvalued by the borrowers. A recent meeting of the central bank’s supervision committee came up with the decision of “strong monitoring” over the commercial banks’ sanctioning of large loans to single borrowers, official sources said. The central bank already conveyed it to the Bank and Financial Institutions Division and requested it to take necessary steps in this regard. Bangladesh Bank will issue a circular on the matter to keep the banks’ large credit programs secure. According to the meeting decision, the authorities concerned of the commercial banks will review the credit risks of the banks’ branches in sanctioning big loans. The commercial banks will also ensure security of loan disbursement and give importance on it, the meeting decided.
Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited and Xpress Money have jointly introduced a special remittance offer on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha. Abdus Sadeq Bhuiyan, Deputy Managing Director and Head of International Banking Wing of Islami Bank, and Zakaria Mahmud, Country Relationship Manager of Xpress Money, inaugurated the offer at the Islami Bank Tower recently. Senior executives and officials of both the organisations were present.
BB keeps buying dollars, takes $700m in 50 days of new fiscal
Bangladesh Bank continues to buy US dollars from the scheduled banks as the inflow of greenbacks has surged in the form of remittances ahead of Eid-ul-Azha, one of the biggest Muslim religious festivals, against a limited demand for the foreign currency in the country’s business sector. The demand for dollars in the business and industrial sectors has been low in recent years due to a dull business situation in the country amid political uncertainties and delicate law and order situation. Against the backdrop, the BB was forced to purchase $4.13 billion from the banks in last fiscal year (FY 2015-16).
Industrial imports mark modest growth: Lower interest rates, global price slump ‘encourage entrepreneurs’ in FY16
Overall imports for the country’s industrial sector grew over 6.0% in the last fiscal year (FY), buoyed by higher import of capital machinery, officials said. The actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) increased by 6.5% to USD 30.2 billion during the July-June period of FY 2015-16 from USD 28.4 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the central bank’s latest report. On the other hand, the opening of LCs, generally known as import orders, rose by 6.7% to USD 33.5 billion in the FY 16 from corresponding USD 31.4 billion. The import of capital machinery or industrial equipment used for production was up by 14.1% to USD 3.5 billion in FY 16 as against previous USD 3.1 billion. “Higher capital machinery imports were needed for setting up power plants and implementation of different infrastructure- development projects, including Padma Bridge,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) explained. He also said machinery or equipment for building flyovers and for balancing, modernization, rehabilitation and expansion (BMRE) of industrial units, particularly apparel factories, also helped raise the pace of capital machinery import. He expects that the overall industrial imports will increase in the coming months following implementation of different infrastructure-development projects across the country.
Standard Chartered is optimistic about Bangladesh despite the recent militant attacks unnerving foreign investors, thanks to its long presence in the country and its board’s wholehearted support, said the bank’s chief executive for Bangladesh. “We believe there are strengths in the country and in the country’s growth outlook, people and clients,” said Abrar A Anwar. The board has picked Bangladesh as an investment destination, he added. “It will give us the ability to serve customers across all segments. We believe in the growth prospect of this market – be it in retail banking, corporate banking or broader banking activities,” he said. “If you get that much commitment from the decision makers, the board of the bank in this case, then you have reason to be optimistic because you will be given the resources to serve clients.” Those resources include investment in technology, premises, product capability, human resources along with expanding the workforce base and accelerating the investment in new opportunities that are emerging.
Power market to be fully opened for private sector
The government plans to open power market allowing private entrepreneurs to play in electricity generation, transmission and distribution. To make the power market open, the government included a provision in a draft law which is now set to be placed before the parliament to replace the 105-year old law, said officials. ‘In a bid to create an open market for power sector, the government will establish the power market and single buyer of electricity,’ according to the draft law approved by the cabinet on August 8. Function of the power market and single buyer of electricity will be regulated by the rules, it said. Besides, the government is trying to streamline the organizational structures of the state-run agencies to facilitate open market practice in power sector, the officials said. With a very few exceptions, until now, private companies are only allowed to generate electricity with a compulsion to sell the output to the state-run Power Development Board and the Rural Electrification Board under power sales/purchase agreement. Until now, only two private companies could sell electricity directly to retail consumers. Power supply directly to the consumers will be expanded after the proposed law is enacted, said officials.
China plans to extend duty-free benefits to 17 more products from Bangladesh, including leather goods and tobacco, in an effort to deepen trade relations between the two countries, officials said yesterday. China has long been providing duty-free benefits to 4,700 products, mostly garments from Bangladesh. The new duty-free list includes some additional garment products. “Beijing has agreed in principle to widen its trade benefits,” said Mohammad Mejbahuddin, senior secretary of the Economic Relations Division. Mejbahuddin made the comments at the end of the 14th session of the biannual Bangladesh-China Joint Economic Commission at the ERD. Gao Yan, vice-minister for commerce of China, led the Chinese delegation, while Mejbahuddin led the Bangladesh side. Representatives from China’s commerce ministry and Eximbank were also present. The delegation has requested Bangladesh to start the procedures so that the benefits can be reaped at the earliest, he added. The meeting also discussed 13 projects that are being implemented with soft loans from China. Beijing is providing about USD 10 billion low-cost loans for the projects.
License restoration: Finance ministry to make decision on scam-hit Standard Insurance’s plea
Ministry of Finance will take final decision on Standard Insurance Limited’s appeal to restore its licence, Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority officials said. ‘We have already prepared a final detailed condition report following a ministry query regarding the IDRA findings over the company’s different irregularities including non-opening of reinsurance policies against customers insurance policy in violation of insurance law,’ Zuber said. The report will be forwarded to the ministry within next couple of days, he said. Under the Insurance Act, 2010, government preserves the rights to take any decision regarding the restoration or cancellation of license of any insurance company. In November 2015, the IDRA cancelled license of Standard Insurance for reinsurance-related irregularities and settlement of related party insurance claims in violation of insurance law. The company afterward filed an appeal to IDRA for restoration of its license, but got rejected in March this year. On July 30, 2016, the Appellate Division upheld the IDRA decision following a Standard Insurance plea that challenged legality of the insurance regulator’s decision.
The contribution of garment accessories and packaging to apparel export rose to USD 6.1 billion in the last fiscal year which is 9.3% higher compared to USD 5.6 billion in the fiscal year 2014-15. The industry people hope that the figure will be more than double to USD 12.0 billion by 2018. The backward linkage industry, however, has directly exported accessories and packaging products worth USD 610.0 million in the same period. RMG industry, the highest foreign currency earner, earned USD 28.1 billion, posting a 10.2% rise. The accessories and packaging sector is considered a strong backward linkage industry for the country’s apparel industry, the lifeline to export earnings. It saves foreign currency by providing accessories alongside helping to meet lead time.
BTRC to hold public hearing on operators service quality
An official of BTRC told the Dhaka Tribune that the regulator is getting complaints frequently from customers on the poor services of all mobile operators. BTRC will arrange the public hearing soon, another official said, asking not to be named. On December last year, State Minister for Posts and Telecommunication Tarana sat with all mobile operators to resolve call-drop issues. On that day, she informed the journalists that if the mobile operators couldn’t reduce dropped calls, the government will force them to introduce compensation. In January, BTRC gave directives to all mobile operators to provide compensation for each dropped call. Later, Tarana reiterated that from July the regulator would introduce compensation for dropped calls, but the government is yet to do that. Earlier, the regulator organised public hearing on various issues including Robi-Airtel merger. Meanwhile, the regulator is planning to prepare a guideline to ensure Quality of Service (QoS).
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