Bangladesh Bank puts stolen USD 81.0 million as ‘other receivable’
Bangladesh Bank set aside the USD 81.0 million stolen from its Fed reserves as ‘other receivable’ in its balance sheet. Officials said the board of directors of the central bank approved the BB balance sheet for the fiscal year (FY) 2015-16 leaving out the lost amount from the main account. The approval was given in a meeting of the bank’s board held at its headquarters Monday with BB Governor Fazle Kabir in the chair. On the other hand, the USD 81.0 million stolen through a trans-national cyber heist has already been deducted from BB’s reserves in line with the International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS), according to a BB senior official. Nearly USD 20.0 million of the total USD 101.0 million siphoned-off money was recovered from Sri Lanka. The lion’s share of the money landed in the Philippines. The BB board also approved four incentive bonuses for the financial year (FY) 16 for its employees instead of five in the previous fiscal year.
Bangladesh Bank moves to fix land tussle of People’s Leasing
The central bank yesterday hosted a tripartite meeting to resolve the land tussle of scam-hit People’s Leasing and Financial Services or PLFS, a non-bank financial institution. The present and former chairmen of PLFS said the meeting was an “unofficial” event. The BB first detected gross financial irregularities in PLFS in September 2014. It found insider lending by some directors of PLFS and suggested the NBFI remove the directors and file cases against them to recover the money. Some directors of PLFS embezzled about BDT 4.0 billion using family members and people and representatives of companies in which they have interests, according to the BB report. Though five directors were removed from the board, no case was filed to recover the funds they misappropriated between 2002 and 2014. Of the irregularities, some directors took about BDT 1.2 billion in the name of buying a piece of land in the capital’s Green Road. But PLFS is yet to get the land.
Strong surveillance can stem NPL surge
Strong supervision alongside competitive environment is an imperative for stemming the rise in non-performing loans (NPLs) in the country’s banking system, experts said Monday. There have been worries over the ballooning of such bad loans in the banks as statistics show the amount of NPLs in the country’s banking sector has risen by over 23% or BDT 120 billion in the first half (H1) of the current calendar year. The volume of classified loans at the same time rose to BDT 633.7 billion as on June 30, 2016 from BDT 513.7 billion as on December 2015. The figure was BDT 525.19 billion a year before. “Currently, the central bank is trying to reduce the rising volume of NPLs in banks through improved supervision,” Bangladesh Bank Chief Economist Biru Paksha Paul told a workshop on ‘Monetary Policy Statement’ at the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management in the capital on the day. In addition, he also stressed strong commitments and political will from all levels to improve the scenario with the non-performing loans. “It remains cautious on inflation and accommodates two prime targets–one is the growth target of 7.2% and the other one is 5.8% inflation,” Mr. Paul said. Hence broad money growth is targeted to be 15.5% in June 2017.
Government cuts interest rate on garment remediation loan
The government has fixed new rate of interest and services charges under the donor-assisted refinancing fund to help garment factory owners secure the loan, sources said. All charges have now been capped at 7.0%, which were 9-10% for getting loan from the apparel sector’s remediation fund, according to a ministry of finance (MoF) guideline issued on Sunday last. The new rate comes as the BB is yet to start disbursing money from the remediation fund on a full scale because of high interest rate and service charges levied by the government agencies, a source said. Over BDT 3.18 billion (Japanese yen 4,129 million, UUSD 38-40 million) fund for remediation of RMG factories has been idle after poor demand from the owners due to ‘unfavorable’ interest rate, industry insiders said. So far, the country’s apparel entrepreneurs avoided accessing to funds from 9-10% interest rates from the facility that has a cheap foreign-aided component. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) repeatedly demanded bringing down the interest rate and service charges to 3.0-5.0%. Service charge and interest rate will not be more than 6.0% for JICA fund. Besides, service charge and interest rate for AFD (French Development Agency) fund will not cross more than 7.0%. The Bangladesh Bank (BB), Bank and Financial Institutions Division (BFID) and the commercial banks should charge 1.0%, 0.90% and 4.0% respectively, according to the guideline. The BB, the BFID and the commercial banks concerned should charge 0.75%, 0.75% and 3.50% respectively for AFD fund, said the guideline.
Foreign aid disbursement drops about 13.0% in July
Bangladesh’s development partners disbursed nearly 13.0% less foreign aid, amounting to USD 125.90 million, in the first month of the current fiscal compared to the corresponding figure, officials said Monday. Economic Relations Division (ERD) data showed the development partners provided USD 144.0 million worth of concessional assistance in July of last financial year (FY), 2015-16. Official data showed the commitment of external resources, including concessional loans and grants, was the all-time high of USD 11.7 billion in July last. In the last fiscal, country got aid commitment worth about USD 7.0 billion. That was the highest ever annual commitment until then. In the month of July of last FY, the development partners had committed concessional assistance worth USD 41.5 million. An ERD official said the commitment jumped significantly in July this fiscal as Russia alone confirmed USD 11.4 billion worth of credits for constructing Bangladesh’s first 2400-megawatt nuclear power plant at Rooppur. On the other hand, the government did not get any loan commitment in July of the previous FY2016 as it received only USD 41.5 million worth of grant confirmation during that time.
Trade gap with India drops again to USD 4.8 billion in FY16
The country’s trade gap with India in the recently concluded fiscal year declined to USD 4.8 billion from USD 5.3 billion in FY15 due to rise in export earnings against the fall in import payments. The country’s trade gap with India maintained the declining trend for the second fiscal year in a row as the trade deficit between Bangladesh and India stood at USD 5.6 billion in FY14. Experts and Bangladesh Bank officials, however, said that the country’s trade gap with India was still high as different non-tariff barriers continued to limit Bangladesh’s exports to the neighboring country.
Bangladesh’s imports from India stood at USD 5.5 billion in the FY16 whereas exports stood at USD 689.6 million during the financial year. The trade gap in FY15 was USD 5.3 billion with an export figure of USD 527.2 million and import of USD 5.8 billion. Export Promotion Bureau and the BB data showed that Bangladesh’s trade gap with India recorded an all-time high in FY14. A BB official told New Age on Monday that the trade gap with India decreased in the last two fiscal years as the country’s export earnings from the neighboring country slightly increased while import decreased.
“The High Court has taken all the aspects related to the merger of Robi Axiata Limited and Airtel Bangladesh Limited into account and fixed August 31, 2016 for passing its judgment,” Barrister Sayed Mahsib Hossian, counsel for Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday. Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office approved the merger proposal of mobile phone operators – Robi and Airtel, paving the way for first such initiative in Bangladesh. If the court decision goes in favor of the merger, Robi will have to pay Tk507 crore as spectrum fee and BDT 1.0 billion as merger fee to the government exchequer. As of June this year, Robi had around 27.5 million subscribers while Airtel nearly 10 million, according to BTRC. After the merger, the company will be named as Robi and will have the second largest subscriber base in the country.