Bangladesh Bank responsible for $81 million heist: RCBC
The Philippines bank through which $81 million stolen from Bangladesh’s central bank was channeled in February today said that the central bank was responsible for the heist, and so any liability should not be passed on. Manila-based Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) was responding to comments by a Bangladeshi investigator that some Bangladesh Bank officials deliberately exposed its computer systems and enabled hackers to steal the money from its account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Bangladesh Bank had been demanding that RCBC compensate it for the loss, blaming it for ignoring red flags. RCBC said it did nothing wrong.
Bangladesh Bank asks 30 banks to reduce defaulted loans by December 31
Bangladesh Bank has asked 30 scheduled banks to take initiative to reduce their defaulted loans by December 31 as their non-performing loans increased significantly in the third quarter (July-September) compared with that of the previous quarter. The BB has asked eight banks of the 30 banks to take measure to keep required provision within this year as they faced provision shortfall at the end of third quarter. The central bank issued a letter to managing directors and chief executive officers of the 30 banks on December 6 asking them to inform the central bank by December 31 about their measures on how to decrease their classified loans and meet up the provision shortfall. According to the latest BB data, the eight banks, which failed to keep the provision shortfall as of September 30 are: BASIC Bank, Rupali Bank, Sonali Bank, Bangladesh Commerce Bank, National Bank, Premier Bank, Standard Bank and Bangladesh Krishi Bank. Defaulted loans rose by BDT 143.6 billion in the first nine months of the current calendar year as the banks disbursed huge amount of money on political considerations, breaching banking rules, a BB official told New Age on Monday. The BB data showed that the overall default on debts stood at BDT 657.3 billion as of September 2016 from BDT 513.7 billion as of December 31, 2015. Besides, defaulted loans at another 21 banks also increased significantly in third quarter of this year, the BB data showed. The overall defaulted loans constituted 10.34% of the total outstanding credit amounting to BDT 6.4 trillion in the banking sector as of September 30 this year.
Total amount of cash withdrawal from the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country dropped significantly in the first quarter of the current fiscal year (FY17). Statistics available with Bangladesh Bank revealed that total cash withdrawal from the ATMs stood at Tk 256.1 billion during July-September period of FY16. The amount was 15.2 per cent lower than Tk 302.3 billion in the fourth quarter (April-June) of the last fiscal year (FY16). Almost 99 per cent of the total ATM transactions are carried out by the debit card.
The country’s overall import increased by more than 12.0% or USD 416.9 million in November over the previous month, mainly due to higher import of fuel oils and fertilizers, officials said. The actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) rose to USD 3.77 billion in November 2016 from USD 3.36 billion in October 2016. It was USD 3.2 billion in November 2015, according to the central bank’s provisional data, released on Monday. On the other hand, the opening of LCs, generally known as import orders, grew by 14% to USD 4.4 billion last month from USD 3.83 billion in October. It was USD 4.10 million in November 2015. The import of fuel oils rose by 53.84% to USD 306.52 million in November 2016 from USD 199.3 million in October, while import of fertilisers reached USD 90.97 million from USD 67.94 million. The rising trend in capital machinery import continued until November for implementation of different ongoing infrastructure development projects across the country. The import of capital machinery or industrial equipment used for production rose by 14.02% to USD 319.10 million in November from USD 279.9 million a month before.
Tax receipts rose 18 percent year-on-year to Tk 49,874.68 crore in July-October, spurred by taxmen’s efforts, political stability and increased imports. Tax collection soared 20 percent to Tk 13,439 crore in October from the same month last year, according to data compiled by Bangladesh Bank that cited preliminary statistics from the National Board of Revenue. The NBR is yet to release its latest collection data. “We had a healthy beginning. Various indicators of the economy advanced positively. A reflection of that will be seen in all areas,” said NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman, citing economic growth at over 7 percent last fiscal year. Rahman expects growth will be faster at the end of the fiscal year.
The National Board of Revenue is going to make the electronic export mechanism, also known as e-EXP, mandatory for all exporters from December 26. Under the system, customs officials will check the authenticity of the export permit form (EXP) issued by banks in favor of exporters with information provided in the bill of export through its automated Asycuda World System. Customs officials will not process the bill of export if the exporters do not provide EXP information in the bill of export, said an order issued by the NBR on December 7. Officials said that the NBR took the initiative to make the export system fully automated and check the incidences of fake export by using fake EXP. Under the e-EXP mechanism, Bangladesh Bank will directly upload the EXP issued by commercial banks in favor of exporters for every export consignment on the online system of the revenue board, Asycuda World System. According to the order, the NBR has introduced Asycuda World System at the customs houses as part of making customs procedures automated. Under the system, export- and import-related data are checked online for customs purpose. The BB has already started real-time upload of EXP on the NBR system, it said. Officials said that the customs offices would complete pilot programme of e-EXP activities by December 26 for mandatory use of e-EXP system. They said that under the system exporters would have to include 6-digit EXP number and date of EXP issuance in the electronic bill of export for synchronisation in the Asycuda World System. Asycuda World System will detect the mismatch, if there is any, in the EXP or bill of export, they said. They said that there were many cases of use of fake EXP by dishonest businesses, which they (businesses) did for laundering money, whitening black money and receiving cash incentives from the government.
Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) ought to deposit its profit to government exchequer as ‘repayment of loan’ until a debt burden of Tk 263 billion is defrayed, according to an official order. The ministry of finance (MoF) issued a letter to the BPC through the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR) last week to this effect.A senior MoF official told the FE that the step was taken as the state-run petroleum corporation had ‘ignored’ its previous instructions for providing Tk 30 billion as a prerequisite for according state guarantee for ITFC credits.
Petrobangla to get Tk 10b govt loan to settle NBR debt
The government is packaging a Tk 10 billion conditional loan for Petrobangla to pay part of its huge VAT and SD debts to the national exchequer, officials said. By official count, the state corporation owes some Tk 223.58 billion to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on account of unpaid VAT (value-added tax) and SD (supplementary duty) for a period between the fiscal year 2009-10 and January 2015. But the loan will be given for paying SD-VAT arrears to the central tax authority for February-October period of this calendar year, they said.
The government has backtracked on its decision to cut prices of fuel oils now while it has given consent to raise prices of natural gas with effect from January 1, said officials. State minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid told New Age on Monday that the government would not reduce the prices of fuel oils in near future as the prices in the international market had increased. Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Md Maksudul Haque said that the commission would announce the increased prices of natural gas in December with effect from January 1. ‘We have received the government’s nod in this regard,’ he said. ‘The decision of hiking gas prices could be avoided had the government exempted Petrobangla from paying the taxes of international oil companies in Bangladesh,’ Maksud said. The salaries and allowances of the government officials had been increased raising the cost of gas sup plies, he added. The energy commission last time raised the prices of natural gas by 26.29 per cent on an average at consumer level with effect from September 1, 2015.
BTRC likely to launch QoS drive on telecom operators early next year
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission is planning to launch a drive against mobile phone operators’ quality of service early next year after the poor service quality issue came up in a recent public hearing. The commission is currently working on the outcome of the public hearing held by the BTRC in the capital Dhaka on November 22 to know the subscribers’ opinion on the matter, telecom regulator officials said. The telecom regulator started a QoS drive in September last year to cover 100 spots under 45 upazilas of 15 districts following a trend of increasing call drop, poor network coverage and unsatisfactory customer care support. The BTRC also conducted an in-depth customer experience survey along with the drive but the results of the drive were never made public. The commission, however, supposed to publish a ranking of the mobile phone companies as per commission’s QoS directive. A recent BTRC data showed that in May-October period the commission received 2,187 complaints from the subscribers only about the service quality of the six mobile operators — Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi, Airtel, Citycell and state-run Teletalk. The total number of complaints during the time was 7,561 in 10 other categories where quality of service was the topper. The quality of service or QoS is related to call drops, network coverage and network congestions and response time to subscribers, BTRC officials said. The mobile phone subscribers in the public hearing blasted the country’s mobile phone companies for poor service quality, deficient network coverage and annoying telemarketing.
Grameenphone broke with its internal guidelines in 11 of 250 sponsorship agreements, including one with the police, the mobile operator’s parent company Telenor said in a statement Tuesday after an internal audit. The first time Telenor’s internal audit uncovered unacceptable sponsorships at Grameenphone was in 2013. The most serious breach was the sponsorship of a sports tournament. Meanwhile, a Grameenphone spokesperson later in the day told The Daily Star “some deviation in the sponsorship approval process were uncovered during regular internal audits and have been fully addressed by the relevant internal functions within both Grameenphone and Telenor.” “We are confident that the measures taken as a result of these findings will strengthen our internal processes while ensuring event stricter adherence to Grameenphone’s policies,” he said. The case was reported to Sigve Brekke, who at that time was head of Asia and chair of Grameenphone’s Board of Directors. The company initiated several measures, including a review of the sponsorship guidelines and the establishment of a sponsorship committee to approve all agreements. In 2016, Telenor Group Internal Audit conducted a compliance review of the new guidelines and uncovered a new set of unacceptable sponsorships. The agreements included sponsorships of sports tournaments, Bangladesh police’s jubilee celebrations, the refurbishment of their canteen as well as financial support to a phone book publication for the police, according to the statement.
Coca-Cola’s Kinley hits Bangladesh drinking water market
US-based Coca-Cola, a multinational soft drinks maker, on Monday launched Kinley, its packaged drinking water brand, in Bangladesh. Kinley is a water brand available in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and it is now being launched in Bangladesh, a Coca-Cola news release said on Monday. Kinley’s distribution will start in Dhaka, and gradually roll out through the country. A 500 milliliter bottle of Kinley will be retailed at BDT 15, the release said. Coca-Cola Bangladesh managing director Shadab Khan said, ‘Kinley is a brand trusted around the region, and we are excited to bring it to the consumers in Bangladesh.’ ‘Our internal research has indicated that packaged drinking water in Bangladesh is a fast growing category and today is considered the second largest in the Non-Alcoholic Ready to drink beverage category in Bangladesh after sparkling products,’ he said. Another multinational company, PepsiCo, has already been retailing its water brand Aquafina in Bangladesh. Apart from Aquafina, a number of local brands of water are also available in the country. The local brands, among others, include MUM of Partex Group, Fresh of Meghna Group, Pran of Pran RFL Group and Jibon of City Group, Acme of ACME Laboratories and Shanti of Water Supply and Sewerage Authority.
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