Important Business News Extracts – December 22 2016
Banks’ risk assets soar 11.0%
Banks’ risk assets have increased by BDT 680.0 billion or 11.0% over the last one year period as some of their clients took loans on fraudulent documents, officials said recently. According to the Bangladesh Bank Offside Supervision latest report, the risky wealth of banking sector stood at BDT 6.6 trillion in June this year, which was BDT 5.96 trillion in the same period a year ago. Sources at the central bank said the commercial banks gave loan to their little known clients and later, failed to recover maximum amount of those loans. Another source said banks are to set aside huge funds against rising risk assets which have led to swell their capital shortfalls. According to the Bank Company Act, the biggest asset of a bank is credit, which usually accounts for 95.0% of the banks’ total assets. Other assets are fixed assets, including building, land and portfolio investment. As per the Bangladesh Bank report in 2013, banks kept 9.0% provision against their risk assets. In June, 2016, the figure was 8.3%. So far a total of nine banks have failed to maintain provision against their risky wealth.
Finance minister AMA Muhith on Wednesday hinted at merger of local commercial banks saying the number of banks was a bit higher. The number of banks is 48, he told reporters while accepting BDT 100.0 million as dividend from the state-owned Bangladesh Development Bank Limited at the secretariat. Despite criticism, the present government had awarded licenses to nine new banks in 2013 with most of them now struggling because of irregularities. Muhith said he expected merger of the banks as a normal course action. He said they should take preparation for the mergers in advance. He referred to formulation of necessary laws to prepare for mergers of the banks. Muhith ruled out bankruptcy of any of the banks while talking about the country’s ailing banking sector. He said performance of the state-owned commercial banks was not up to the mark although they were trying to improve their position.
Brokers, merchant banks get one more year to keep provision against unrealized losses
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday extended the relaxed facility for stockbrokers and merchant banks in keeping provisioning against unrealized losses they incurred till December 31, 2016 by another year. The rule relaxation came following prayers from the DSE Brokers Association of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Merchant Bankers Association. Under the facility stockbrokers and merchant banks will have to keep 100-per cent provision against the unrealized losses the entities incurred till December 31 this year in five separate instalments at the rate of 20% in each instalment starting from December this year and the process has to be completed within December 31, 2017. Apart from unrealized losses in dealers’ and merchant banks’ own accounts, the entities will get the same facility in keeping provisioning against the unrealized losses against the margin loans that the entities provided to general investors. The market regulator made the decision in a commission meeting presided over by its chairman M Khairul Hossain. In December last year, the capital market regulator allowed all the TREC-holders and merchant banks to keep 100-per cent provision against unrealized losses in dealer accounts of the stockbrokers’ in five instalments that started in December 2015 and was supposed to complete within December 31, 2016.
Bangladesh has 32 thrust sectors that have the potential to fetch billions of dollars in investment and export earnings, an analyst said yesterday. But the main challenge will be how the country will exploit the potential, said Joseph DiVanna, managing director of Maris Strategies, UK. He presented a keynote at a session on “the next billion dollar opportunities in Bangladesh” on the sidelines of a daylong conference — new economic thinking: Bangladesh 2030 and beyond — organised by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Radisson hotel in the capital.
Bangladesh has failed to showcase its successes to the western world, said Remy Prud’homme, professor emeritus of the University of Paris. Every country’s infrastructure spending should be equivalent to 5 percent of its gross domestic product and accordingly, Bangladesh’s investment requirement would be around $200 billion in the next 10 years, according to Prud’homme. But spending too much on infrastructure is not the only way to solve problems. Infrastructure is very important for development and it is one way to solve some problems, but not necessarily the only way. A better use of existing facilities such as basements and traffic rules can reduce congestion in Dhaka, he said. Better use of the roads, which are often blocked by cars, street vendors and rickshaws, can change the congestion situation.
The active engagement of the private sector and increased domestic resource mobilisation are essential in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, a noted economist said yesterday. “The year 2030 is a great opportunity to integrate the private sector in the development process,” said Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue. Bhattacharya’s comments came at a session styled ‘Delivering Sustainable Development Goals in Bangladesh: Concepts, Processes and Challenges’, organised by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Radisson hotel in the capital.
The country’s industrial sector would start getting uninterrupted natural gas supplies in the next two years, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said Wednesday. The government has been working to mitigate the energy shortage by importing liquefied natural gas (LNG), he said. Mr Hamid was speaking as a panelist of a seminar titled ‘Bangladesh’s Energy Economy’ at a day-long international conference on ‘New Economic Thinking: Bangladesh 2030 and Beyond’ organized by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in a city hotel. Mr Hamid said the country’s natural gas demand would reach to around 5,000 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) by 2024 as against the country’s present production of around 2,700 mmcfd. He also added that the country’s total discovered natural gas reserve would be depleted by 2030. To meet the growing demand, he added, the country would have to be import-oriented within the next several years. Regarding coal, he said, the country has around USD 300 billion worth of high-calorific-valued coal underground in five different mines. Mr Hamid vowed to provide electricity to all by December 2018, three years prior to the target of 2021. He also stressed on regional connectivity for mitigating the energy shortage through a number of ways, including import of piped gas, investing in hydropower plants in Nepal and Bhutan and bringing the produced electricity back into the country.
Grameenphone wants revision of BDT 300.0 million fine
Leading mobile phone operator Grameenphone has requested the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to revise a decision of imposing fine amounting to BDT 300.0 million on the company on charge of violating rule while providing broadband service. Telecom regulator officials said that GP was given additional 15 days to pay the money after it missed the first deadline of payment on November 16. At the end of 15 days of additional time GP requested for a revision of the decision under telecom act, they said. On November 6, the BTRC asked GP to pay in 10 days BDT 300.0 million on charge of ‘illegal broadband service’ provided under the brand name of GO Broadband in partnership with two internet service providers ADN Telecom Ltd and AGNI Systems Ltd. GP built optical/wired backbone transmission network while providing services to Sonali Bank and violated the infrastructure sharing guidelines, said the letter. GP in a response to the BTRC on November 16 denied to have committed any wrongdoing and said that the BDT 300.0 million fine imposed on GP should be recalled and vacated. It also said that the company did not violate the NTTN guidelines.
United Airways gets approval to raise BDT 3.1 billion
The securities regulator Wednesday approved the proposal of raising capital worth above BDT 3.1 billion by United Airways for the purpose of purchasing seven aircraft. The approval came at a commission meeting held at the office of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC). United Airways will issue above 312.8 million shares of BDT 10.0 each to six institutions which will provide seven aircrafts and three engines. The shares worth above BDT 3.1 billion will be issued through private placements. The companies which will provide aircraft by receiving shares and cash as well are: Swift Air Cargo, Sterling Aerospace, A-Sonic Aviation Solutions, Singapore, Arctic Tern Aviation Private Limited, Singapore, Phoenix Aircraft Investment (LUBNAN) Bhd, Malaysia and Black Turnstone Aviation Private Limited, Singapore. Among these companies,
The government has held back new unsolicited proposals for supplying natural gas after re-gasification of imported liquefied natural gas at their proposed facilities to be built along the country’s coastline. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who also holds the portfolio of the power, energy and mineral resources ministry, recently rejected an energy division proposal for negotiations with four companies to sign contracts to build the infrastructures and supply natural gas bypassing competitive tenders, said officials. She asked the ministry for floating international tenders for awarding the contracts, the officials said. Following the prime minister’s instructions, the energy division on December 12 issued a letter asking the chairman of Petrobangla, the state-run oil, gas and mineral resources corporation, to take necessary measures in this regards.
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