January export earnings highest in 5 months
Exports brought home $3.41 billion in January — the highest in five months — thanks to a spike in shipments of garments, jute and jute goods and furniture. Although 3.54 percent higher than a year earlier, January’s receipts fell short of the $3.50 billion target for the month, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. The amount takes the export earnings in the first seven months of fiscal 2017-18 to $21.32 billion, up 6.55 percent year-on-year. It, however, missed the seven-month target by $48.1 million. Garment shipments, which typically account for more than 80 percent of Bangladesh’s total export receipts, raked in $2.88 billion last month, up 6.67 percent. Exports of leather and leather goods, the second largest export earning sector, fell 4.61 percent year-on-year to $709.51 million in the first seven months of the fiscal year. Jute and jute goods, another top earner, fetched $661.86 million in the July-January period, up 17.36 percent from a year earlier. Export of frozen fish, live fish and shrimp increased 7.55 percent to $353.99 million in the seven-month period. Pharmaceuticals raked in $60.24 million in July-January, up 14.44 percent. Furniture shipment grew 34.33 percent to $31.77 million. Agricultural products fetched $359.94 million, up 16.81 percent year-on-year. The country shipped goods worth $34.66 billion in the last fiscal year and is aiming to earn $37.50 billion this fiscal year.
Defaulter textile millers to be blacklisted
The textile millers who took bank loans through illegal means and defaulted on repayment will be blacklisted, the trade body that represents the millers said yesterday. “We will discuss the names of the blacklisted members at the next board meeting and propose cancellation of their membership,” said Mohammad Ali Khokon, acting president of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
SME policy draft gathers dust on Ministry of Industries (MOI) backburner
A high priority to small and medium enterprise (SME) for Bangladesh’s economic development virtually loses much of its importance as the final draft SME policy initiated by the government remained shelved, sources said. The project was taken to reduce poverty by supporting the development of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in the country. Sources pointed out that the final draft of the SME policy was completed in mid-2016 and supposed to be placed before the cabinet for approval since then. But it has been put on the backburner for nearly one and a half years. Ministry of Industries (MoI) completed all necessary review of the policy shortly after the draft finalization. Ministry officials engaged in the SME policy refrained from commenting as to why approval was not done but said there wasn’t any problem in the policy. Though the minister and the secretary had announced several times their resolve to implement the policy, but to no avail so far, the sources pointed out. Sources said the project under which the SME policy was drafted also lost its life in November 2016, without seeing its fruition.
10 more banks, institutions sign deal with BB
A participatory agreement was signed between the central bank and 10 more banks and non-banking financial institutions under the re-finance scheme of the ‘Second Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Development Project (SMEDP-2)’ on Tuesday. Formed jointly by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government, the refinancing scheme fund of US$240 million is aimed at widening the financial services to cottage and micro, small and medium-sized industries in the areas outside of Dhaka and Chittagong metropolitan cities. Modhumoti Bank, Midland Bank, NRB Bank, Prime Bank, Southeast Bank, Premier Bank, Meridian Finance and Investment Ltd., Midas Financing Ltd., National Finance Ltd. and Uttara Finance and Investment Ltd signed the agreement with Bangladesh Bank (BB). Bangladesh Bank Executive Director Md Abdur Rahim was present as the chief guest at the function.
Least Developed Countries: Bangladesh among top five growth achievers: Unctad
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) has said that of the 45 LDCs, only five countries including Bangladesh achieved economic growth at seven percent or higher in 2017. The four other countries are Djibouti (+7pc), Ethiopia (+8.5pc), Myanmar (+7.2pc), and Nepal (+7.5pc) while Bangladesh achieved +7.1pc growth that year. The analysis contends that too many LDCs remain dependent on primary commodity exports. Resources sent by individuals to LDCs as a group (remittances) totalled $36.9 billion in 2017, down by 2.6 percent compared to the peak of $37.9 billion in 2016. In absolute terms, the largest recipients of remittances among LDCs included Bangladesh ($13.6 billion in 2016), Nepal ($6.6 billion), Yemen ($3.4 billion), Haiti ($2.4 billion), Senegal ($2 billion) and Uganda ($1 billion), according to Unctad.
Foreign-aid budget to see cuts for slow project execution
The government cuts foreign-aid component of Bangladesh development budget by 9.0 per cent or Tk 49.50 billion for project-implementation backlog, officials said. They said Tuesday the upcoming revised development budget for the current fiscal would see such cut following bleak project-execution performance by some public agencies. Economic Relations Division (ERD) officials said they had already subtracted Tk 49.50 billion from the allocation of external resources to lower the amount to Tk 520.50 billion in the upcoming Revised Annual Development Programme (RADP) for the financial year (FY) 2017-18. The lower development-budget-execution rate is causing the unspent external resources in the pipeline to be piled up, sources said. The idle foreign funds now ballooned over US$28 billion, ERD officials said. According to ERD, it has recently cut the project-aid allocations by 8.68 per cent to Tk 520.50 billion from the original outlay of Tk 570 billion in the RADP of the current FY. “Many ministries have sought lower funds than their allocations. So we have been forced to slash the project assistance by nearly 9.0 per cent for the proposed RADP,” Farida Nasreen, an Additional Secretary at the ERD, told the FE. Complex procurement system in the country and approval procedure from the development partners are cited as cardinal reasons for the delays in spending from foreign aid by some ministries and agencies. Ms Nasreen said: “We had already consulted the ministries and agencies of government more than a month ago. They had sought lower funds than the original estimation. Now it has stood at Tk 520.50 billion.” They have sent the revised project-aid proposal to the Planning Commission (PC) before finalization of the RADP.
Draft policy proposes 20-year tenure
Energy division has finalised a draft policy for the Energy Security Fund limiting its to 20 years and empowering the government to decide its fate after the expiry of the tenure. Following a public hearing, the commission in September 2015 established the fund by increasing gas prices by Tk 1.01 per cubic metre to support the government programmes in securing supplies of natural gas and petroleum gas. The fund is now growing at the rate of more than 2,550 crore per year.
Primary textile sector facing gas, power shortages: BTMA
Shortage of gas, electricity and land has slowed down the growth of investments in the country’s primary textile sector during a couple of years, BTMA leaders claimed Tuesday. The leaders of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) said they will also take action against its members who are engaged in fraudulence in getting loans from the banks as real businesses face scarcity of funds due to these dishonest traders. “…to our knowledge, only two to three new textile mills came into being and those having gas and electricity connection went for expansion in last four years,” BTMA acting president Md Ali Khokon said while speaking at a press conference held in the city. Despite a stable political situation, there has not been investment at the desired level in the country’s primary textile sector, he said, adding that the main reasons that have hindered the growth of investment are gas and electricity crises and shortage of land. The industries operating in areas running between Gazipur and Rajendrapur have been facing an acute shortage of gas. The pressure of gas at daytime remains very low, he said, adding that no new gas connection is also being extended to factories for captive power generation. The conference was organised to feature the 15th edition of a four-day Dhaka International Textile and Garment Machinery Exhibition 2018 that starts tomorrow (Thursday) at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).
Bashundhara reduces LPG gas price
Bashundhara LPG gas price has been reduced by Tk 20 per 12 kg, 30 kg of LP gas at Tk 50 and 45 kg of LP gas at Tk 75 per tonne. Bashundhara announced the reduced price of Bashundhara LP gas by considering the advantages of consumers from the promise of popular LPG gas as an alternative fuel, the company said in a press statement. At present, the company’s market share is more than 30 per cent.
Appollo to be the market leader in steel manufacturing
Appollo Ispat Complex Limited, one of the largest CI sheet manufacturers of the country, is going to introduce advanced and environment-friendly technology to enhance production portfolio and reduce cost. Appollo established RTF NOF-based galvanising technology at its existing plant site, located at Shimrail of Demra and it will reduce around 10 per cent cost. The steel maker already invested Tk 1.5 billion for the technology and the total project size is around Tk 10 billion. The company got listed on both the bourses of the country in late-2013. “Appollo wants to be the market leader in steel manufacturing in the country, so it came up with the latest and advanced technology to help flourish the local market,” said its chairman Deen Mohammad. At present, Appollo Ispat snares 15 per cent of the total domestic market.
One-stop service still a faraway dream
Although the government has passed a new law to introduce one-stop services for business launching, the actual implementation still appears to be far off. Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) says it will be at least another six months till investors can enjoy all the benefits from the One-stop Service Act 2018.
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