Govt sees reserves to increase to $38.7b by FY ’17 end
The government has revised upward its projection of foreign-exchange reserves to US$38.7 billion, with an increase of $8.4 billion, for the current fiscal year. However, analysts have expressed their scepticism about the projection. This, they say, is unlikely to happen amid a negative growth in remittance inflow alongside a modest growth in export receipts. The government made the projection about the reserves at a recent meeting held at the Ministry of Finance. In setting its sights high on the reserves position the government expects country’s export to grow at a rate of 10 per cent this fiscal year and import at 11 per cent. It has also projected a rise in the remittance-inflow at 10 per cent, although the same recorded a 15 per cent negative growth in the past quarter ending September last.
Time petitions galore as tax return filing deadline ends
Several lakh individual taxpayers submitted time petition seeking additional time for paying income tax with filing tax returns as the fixed deadline for the same ended on Wednesday amid huge response from taxpayers. A large number of individuals thronged the temporary booths of the field level offices of the NBR to file their tax returns and time petitions on the day as NBR fixed November 30 as the last date of returns submission which the NBR observed as the Tax Day for the first time in the country. According to NBR estimate till 7pm on Thursday, a total of 9.73 lakh taxpayers filed tax returns for the year 2016-2017. Earlier, a total of 8.15 lakh had submitted tax returns for 2015-16 till the deadline. NBR officials said as a large number of taxpayers submitted time petition, the total number of taxpayers may surpass 16 lakh this year.
Bangladesh to see export price growth falling in 2017: UNESCAP
The price growth of export goods of Bangladesh will decline in 2017 compared to the current year but the volume will increase significantly in the same period, according to a report of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The report, Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2016, was released on Tuesday with recent trends and updates of the region. The UN-ESCAP said the price growth of merchandise export in 2017 would come down to 3.80 per cent from 4.2 per cent in the current year. The volume of export, however, will increase to 1.64 per cent in 2017 from 0.77 per cent in 2016, it said. The report also showed that because of the growth in volume the value of export would increase to 5.5 per cent in 2017 compared to 5 per cent of the current year. Bangladesh export earnings in fiscal year 2015-2016 stood at $34.24 billion with readymade garments exports recording $28.09 billion. The price growth of export goods of other neighbouring countries, however, will be positive as per the ESCAP report.
Bangladesh slips three steps back in facilitating trade
Bangladesh slipped three steps back to stand 123rd in this year’s Enabling Trade Index (ETI) of the World Economic Forum (WEF) mainly for underperformance on three counts, including border administration. According to the WEF report, the country couldn’t perform up to the mark in quality transport infrastructure, and efficiency and transparency in border administration. In the previous ETI, the country stood in 120th position among the 136 countries measured on account creating conditions that support better trade operations. The index is carried in the Global Enabling Trade Report 2016, released by the WEF and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation Wednesday across the globe. The 2016 edition of the ETI covers 136 economies, which together account for 98 per cent of world GDP and 98.3 per cent of world merchandise trade.
China finally agrees to ‘limited bidding’ for projects
The government is set to introduce ‘limited bidding’ for projects that would be implemented with Chinese soft loans after Beijing officially gave the nod to Dhaka’s proposal. The Chinese government will decide when the limited bidding process will be applied, Finance Minister AMA Muhith told reporters yesterday after a meeting of the cabinet committee on economic affairs, where the decision to introduce the new method was taken. “It is likely to take effect from January next year,” he said.
In line with the recommendation of the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), the government is set to award seven furnace oil-fired power plants, having the generation capacity of 100 megawatts each, to different sponsors soon, officials said. The state-run BPDB has finally selected the sponsors to build the power plants in different places to increase the country’s overall electricity generation. He said of the sponsors, Confidence Group has been selected for two power plants to be built in Rangpur and Bogra while Energis Power Corporation, Energy Prima, Doreen Power, Energy Pac and Sri Lankan Lakhdhanavi have been selected for one power plant each in Bagerhat, Choumohoni, Chandpur, Takurgaon and Feni respectively. Among the selected sponsors for the seven power plants, Energis Power Corporation might bag another 100-MW plant as it has been technically qualified for one plant in Shantahar, officials said.
Lafarge Surma Cement’s mining company in Meghalaya has received environment clearance from the Indian government to more than double its yearly limestone production capacity to 5 million tonnes. Meghalaya-based Lafarge Umiam Mining Pvt Ltd, a fully owned subsidiary of Lafarge Surma Cement, got the clearance to produce and transport a maximum of 2 million tonnes of limestone a year to the manufacturing plant in Bangladesh. The approval will allow Lafarge Surma, manufacturer of Supercrete-branded cement in Bangladesh, to expand its production capacity. At present, Lafarge Surma has the capacity of producing 1.5 million tonnes cement and 1.2 million tonnes clinker a year.
BPC to save USD 2.9 million on fuel imports over six months
The government is set to import about 1.18 million tonnes of petroleum products from two Singaporean companies under competitive bidding — a move that will save the public exchequer about USD 2.91 million. The premium, which is the cost of shipping petroleum products and includes freight charges and insurance, will be USD 2.16 to USD 2.08 per barrel for gas oil and USD 2.76 for jet fuel for imports between January to June next year. In contrast, under the open tender that took place in April for the first time since 2005, the premium stood at USD 2.37-2.57 per barrel for gas oil and USD 3.06-3.54 for jet fuel. The development comes after the cabinet committee on economic affairs yesterday approved Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation’s proposal to purchase 965,000 tonnes of gas oil from Unipec Singapore Pte.
The mobile phone companies will have to provide mandatory compensation for call drops from January as the scope of voluntary service in such case ends in December. Although the operators earlier promised to run the compensation programme voluntarily, only one company is doing it, said officials of the posts and telecommunications ministry and the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. State minister for telecom Tarana Halim on her official Facebook page on Tuesday said that action would be taken against the operators which did not comply with the regulator’s call drop directive. She also said that from January 2017 call drop compensation would be made mandatory.
Ministry favors 20% cash incentive for jute exporters
The Ministry of Textiles and Jute has requested the finance ministry to give 20% incentive to jute goods exporters. It also requested the finance ministry to withdraw the facility from raw jute exporters. The ministry made its request on November 29 through a letter. It said if jute goods are given 20% cash incentive, both export and investment will increase in the sector.
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