Processed food export falls 11pc in first seven months
The export earnings fell 11 per cent to US$ 386 million in the first seven months (July-January) of the current fiscal year (2019-20) as compared to that of the same period previous FY. The earnings were also 15 per cent lower than the period’s official target. The export of processed and dry food items earned an all-time high of $700 million in FY 2018-19. Bangladesh exports vegetables, processed and dry foods, fruits, tobacco, flower and foliage, spices etc. to 130 countries, according to Bangladesh Fruit, Vegetable and Allied Products Exporters’ Association (BFVAPEA) and Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA). Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, UK, Italy and France are the leading importers. The country’s agro-processing sector is a $ 3.2 billion industry in terms of annual turnover, including $700 million in export earnings. More than 250 agro-processors fetched 81 per cent of the total export earnings ($ 908 million) from agriculture produce in FY 2018-19, according to BAPA. The demand for locally manufactured spices, biscuits, juices, puffed rice and drinks is growing fast abroad thanks to a large population of the non-resident Bangladeshis. If they produce puffed rice, they have to buy rice at Tk 40 a kg as against only Tk 30 for the Indian producers. The operating cost is also higher by Tk 5.0-10 a kg in our country which is also a reason for the decline in exports.
RMG accessories makers urge govt to take necessary steps in advance
Expressing deep concern over the outbreak of ‘Novel Coronavirus’, the country’s readymade garments (RMG) accessories manufacturers on Saturday expressed the fear that they would lose around Tk 15 billion if the current situation continues for several more months. They requested the government to consider, in advance, providing them with a loan facility at a nominal or zero-interest rate to cope with the setback. President of the trade body Md. Abdul Kader Khan said the sector imports raw materials worth around US$ 4.0 billion every year from different countries, 40 per cent of which is brought from China. Due to the virus outbreak in China, disruption in the supply chain could continue for several more months. The sector would have to count a financial loss worth Tk 14 billion to Tk 15 billion. Some 1,744 members are affiliated with the BGAPMEA, who manufacture 35 categories of accessories and packaging materials. They sell their merchandise as deemed exports as well as direct export.
Push towards Digital Bangladesh props up Banglalink
Banglalink, once the country’s most spirited operator, is finally turning around its fortunes by putting in higher emphasis on digital services and investment on 4G network. The carrier’s revenue last year edged up 3.7 percent year-on-year to Tk 4,528.37 crore in 2019. But their turnover is still low compared with the numbers reported for 2016 and 2017. Of the revenue growth last year, the data segment played a vital role: it raked in Tk 919.39 crore from its 2.15 crore active internet subscribers. The operator’s total active user number stood at 3.36 crore at the end of last year, indicating that it is experiencing tremendous success with its internet offerings. Some 12 per cent of Banglalink’s customers are using 4G-supported smart devices at the end of 2019. In 2018, Banglalink data users were consuming on average 1,024 MB data. Last year, it soared to 1,370 MB, reads the VEON report. The report also pointed out that 72 per cent of Bangladesh’s total population was under Banglalink’s 3G coverage, while 29 per cent have 4G coverage. Once the second largest operator in the market, Banglalink got a setback in 2016 after the merger of Robi and Airtel that year. Subsequently, Robi leapfrogged Banglalink to the number 2 spot. Banglalink was also struggling with the spectrum crunch, due to which customers were getting poor performance. This prompted the operator to acquire 10.6 Megahertz of spectrum in 2018 and invest heavily on improving its network. The VEON’s report also pointed out some challenges: in the second quarter of 2019 the Bangladeshi tax regulator has increased the supplementary duty on subscription revenue to 10 per cent from 5 per cent. The SIM tax was also increased to Tk 200 from Tk 100 and the minimum tax rate on revenue was increased from 0.75 per cent to 2 per cent. The custom duties on smartphones increased from 10 per cent to 25 per cent, which also massively impacted the overall industry.
ICMAB elects top brass for 2020
The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB) has elected its top management for 2020. Md Jasim Uddin Akond, comptroller of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, was made president. Md Munirul Islam, head of human resources of Aristopharma, was elected secretary while Md Ali Haider Chowdhury, managing director of Aloha Bangladesh and director & CEO of Unicom Group, treasurer. Abu Bakar Siddique, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Kohinoor Chemical Co (BD) and Group Reedisha, and Md Mamunur Rashid, deputy managing director of X-Index Companies and an independent director of West Zone Power Distribution Company and Nitol Insurance, were elected vice-presidents.
Int’l incoming call rate slashed 66pc
The government has slashed the international incoming voice call rate by 65.71 per cent to $0.006 per minute in the face of shrinking earnings from the sector in recent years. The decision, which was taken last Thursday, comes following requests from the International Gateway (IGW) operators to help them cope with the growing threat of internet-based communication services. A significant portion of international calls are now made through internet-based communication platforms such as WhatsApp, Viber, Messenger, Skype, IMO and WeChat, which cost nothing other than the price of data. International call termination was one of the government’s main sources of revenue just five years ago. However, earnings from the sector has shrunk substantially in recent years. In fiscal 2014-15, the government’s earnings from international calls was Tk 2,075.62 crore, which declined to Tk 1,387.37 crore, Tk 967.63 crore, Tk 900.35 crore and just a few hundred crore in successive years, according to BTRC officials. Voice calls made through free applications is a result of the rise of smartphones and mobile broadband coverage. Currently, Bangladesh has 24 IGW operators, of which, six lost their licenses for failing to pay unpaid dues. The latest decision also means that IGW operators will share their revenues based on the declared floor price regardless of how much they actually charge for calls.
G4S Bangladesh gets new MD
Security solutions provider G4S Bangladesh has appointed a new managing director with effect from last Wednesday. KM Iqbal will be reporting directly to the regional CEO for Asia Pacific, says a press release, adding that he brings 11 years’ experience in sales and marketing.