Don’t pull out funds from private banks: Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor
Bangladesh Bank Governor has sought the finance minister’s intervention to stave off pressure to withdraw government funds from private banks, which has been creating an artificial liquidity crisis and bumping up interest rates for lending. Citing the case of cash-strapped Farmers Bank, the BB governor said many government organizations are now scrambling to withdraw their deposits, including those for development programs, from private banks. He went on to request to the Finance Minister to assure all that there is no problem with private banks and that there is no reason to think that it is same in all banks. He also added that due to public organization’s fund withdrawal, banks are now scuppering for deposits to adjust their loan-deposit ratio, and in so doing, are pushing up the interest rate for deposit. While it is positive news for depositors, it is also pushing up the interest rate for lending. There is adequate liquidity in the country, as the call money market rate suggests: it is less than 4%. About the BB’s move to lower the banks’ ceiling for loan-deposit ratio, the governor said the ceiling has been slashed by only 2 percentage points. Of the 57 banks, the loan-deposit ratio of 38 banks is lower than 83% already. To adjust to the new ceiling, banks will have to increase the total deposit by BDT 110.0 billion. The central bank governor also touched upon the exchange rate: the high import growth and the comparatively lower export and remittance growth have put a pressure on the foreign exchange rate. The BB injected about USD 1.5 billion in the foreign currency market to keep the exchange rate stable.
Banks’ BDT 1.70 trillion gets stuck in default cases
A hefty amount of over BDT 1.70 trillion of different banks remained stuck in 0.127 million money suits while a good number of them are facing liquidity crunch. Officials said the banks are fighting a losing legal battle in the cases long pending with different courts, including Artha Rin Adalat (Money Loan Court), as the defaulters take recourse to different byways. The substantial outstanding sum with no returns has put the banks in dire straits, posing a risk of liquidity crisis now. The government is worried about such debt crisis in the banking system. Bankers say their efforts to recover the dud money through filing cases against the loan-defaulters do not see success — the banks are getting caught in a loss- incurring cycle. A good number of banks are facing various problems, including capital shortage, failing to get the cases settled year after year. Corruption is just an add-on, they mentioned. The scheduled banks sued defaulters for recovering the loans. But it takes a long time to settle due to different complexities. On the other hand, generally, the clients concerned move writ in the High Court following verdicts issued by the loan court in loan recovery cases. All this prolongs the recovery process, a top private banker said, preferring anonymity. The banker suggested that the existing law on collateral should be amended to reduce default on debts and the backlog of cases against defaulters. According to Bangladesh Bank (BB) statistics, 39 private commercial banks (PCBs) have BDT 797 billion trapped in 58,015 cases while 10,127 cases involving over BDT 61.66 billion have been filed by the 33 private non-bank financial institutions.
State Banks: Plundering made easy
Seven months after the government announced a Tk 2 crore “recapitalisation” of state-owned banks, the financial institutions have started asking for fresh money from the government. This time their demand is much higher — a little over Tk 20,000 crore than what they were given in the budget for this year. Only in June this fiscal year, the government had announced the “recapitalisation”. Before that, Tk 14,505 crore had already been given to them since the Awami League government came to power in 2009. Sadly, as predicted, all the money has gone down the drain, or to be exact in the pockets of corrupt and politically connected people, and the banks are once again asking for another bail-out. Dr Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of independent think-tank Policy Research Initiative, has aptly put down their plea, comparing their behaviour to that of a spoiled brat who throws money in the air every time and then asks his father for more. Only, in this case the father — the government — will take the money from the tax payers’ pockets and hand it out liberally as it has done over and over again in the past. There has been no effort to chastise the banks whose money has been politically plundered in thousands of crores with no action taken.
Emerging macroeconomic imbalances and roles of BB
Bangladesh Bank issued its new six-monthly monetary policy statement at a time when the economy is at a crossroad due to the emergence of serious imbalances in both the money market and the balance of payments. The external trade account deficit widened to more than $7.5 billion in first five months of fiscal 2017-18, contributing to a current account deficit of $4.4 billion over the same period, compared with less than $0.7 billion recorded in the same period a year earlier. Exacerbating the situation, a wide gap is also emerging in credit and the deposit growth rates in the banking system, contributing to an acute liquidity crisis in the banking system.
BB to award Dr Aziz, Dr Mahbub for economic contribution
The central bank is going to honour two eminent personalities with ‘Bangladesh Bank Award-2017’ in recognition of their contribution to economy. A BB media release said Professor Emeritus of University of California Dr Azizur Rahman and former executive director of BRAC Dr Mahbub Hossain (posthumously) are recipients of the award. Finance Minister AMA Muhith will hand over the award at a programme at the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) in Mirpur on Sunday afternoon. Each of the award recipients will get a gold medal, a Bangladesh Bank crest and a cash amount of Taka 200,000. A jury board led by BB Governor Fazle Kabir selected the recipients of the award.
Why not let failing banks fail?
Experts and bankers have heavily criticized Bangladesh Bank, the central bank and apex regulatory body for the country’s monetary and financial system, and the government for bailing out the Farmers Bank Ltd. The government’s move to bail out the dying Farmers Bank Ltd by injecting more public money into it has once again raised eyebrows. Experts and bankers have heavily criticized Bangladesh Bank, the central bank and apex regulatory body for the country’s monetary and financial system, and the government for such measures, saying that instead of ensuring good governance in the country’s crisis-riddled banking sector, the authorities are desperate to save a bad bank. They stressed the need for improving management capacity, and adopting merger and bankruptcy declaration measures to address the prevailing crises.
IDLC net profit witnesses 28% growth
IDLC Finance Limited reported net profit after tax of BDT 2,277 million in the year 2017, recording a strong 28% growth from last year. In 2017, IDLC managed to increase its loan book significantly while controlling the non-performing loan ratio (NPL). Operating income for the year also increased by 22% year-on-year and stood at BDT 6,280 million. The Board of Directors approved the consolidated financial statement in its meeting held Wednesday and proposed 30% (BDT 3 per share) cash dividend for the shareholders. In the reporting year, IDLC group acquired 11,295 new customers to take the total number of customers to nearly 50,000. Total customer loans grew by 15% and stood at BDT 71,499 million at the end of the year. The Non-Performing Loans (NPL) of the company reduced to 2.77% at the end of 2017, compared to 2.98% in the previous year. Three subsidiaries of the company, IDLC Securities Limited, IDLC Investments limited and IDLC Asset Management Limited also posted thriving performance with 267%, 63% and 275% growth, respectively, in profitability over the preceding year, contributing to a very strong group performance.
Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) board backs China in brawls over market buy
Dhaka Stock Exchange is expected to propose to the securities regulator for approving Chinese consortium’s offer as it qualified in the bidding as the bourse’s ‘strategic partner’, outbidding its challenging rivals. In the wake of a reported tug-of-war, two DSE board members said the premier bourse sticks to its position as there is ‘no scope’ to go beyond the law passed by parliament. “The law approved by parliament has no provision of selecting two strategic partners. So, we have to seek the regulatory approval in favor of the bidder which qualified in the bidding arranged to select the exchange’s strategic partner,” said one of them. The premier bourse called a board meeting for February 19. At that meeting the DSE board will approve minutes of the previous board meeting that accepted the proposal from the Chinese consortium for a buy of the bourse share. After approving the minutes of previous board meeting, the DSE will send its proposal to the securities regulator for approval in favor of qualified bidder. The job of the securities regulator is to look whether the strategic partner was chosen as per rules. The regulator has also the authority of accepting or rejecting any proposal.
NBR to go tough against tax dodging foreign workers
In a bid to bring all foreign workers under tax net the National Board of Revenue has planned to go tough against foreign nationals who are working here for a long but not paying income tax. The NBR has already sent letters to its all tax zones seeking list of establishments where foreign nationals have been working. The NBR taskforce will carry out sudden operations in those establishments to catch foreigners dodging income tax, said NBR first secretary (Tax legal and enforcement) Abul Kalam Azad. He said migrant Bangladeshis have to pay income tax before joining jobs but it is just opposite here in Bangladesh as many foreigners are working here without pay income tax properly. So, steps have been taken to bring those foreign workers under tax net, he added. ‘We’ve already conducted operations in five establishments and identified 15 foreigners who are not paying income tax,’ said Azad. He said a fresh move has been taken to develop data base of foreign nationals working in Bangladesh. A committee headed by a commissioner has started working in full swing in this regard, he said, adding that a memorandum of understanding will be signed soon with the special branch of police to get information about foreigners.
Fresh bid for hike in fuel prices
The state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has placed a proposal with the relevant ministry for a substantial hike in prices of petroleum products to “avoid losses” following oil-price rises on the international market over the past several months. In a recent letter to the Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR) the corporation proposed around a 31 per cent increase to Tk 55 in the price of per-litre furnace oil, and 11 per cent or Tk 72 per litre in diesel and kerosene prices. The state petroleum corporation, however, did not seek any hike in the domestic rates of petrol and octane.
Orion opens LPG bottling plant in Mongla
Orion Group yesterday opened a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling plant in Mongla in a bid to plug the gap in cooking fuel supply. The plant built at a cost of Tk 200 crore will supply 80,000 tonnes of LPG per year. The country’s demand for LPG, used mainly for cooking, is estimated at 1 million tonnes a year, while public and private companies can supply up to 600,000 tonnes, leaving a constant supply shortfall. With the capacity to fill 1,500 cylinders per hour, the Orion plant has come up with two 1,500 tonne spherical storage tanks. The company imports the gas from the Middle East. Orion officials said the company emphasises delivering gas in proper quantities and ensuring gas cylinders’ safety. For example, the cylinders have zinc coating to resist rusting.
82pc remediation complete: Accord
Some 82 percent of overall remediation works have been carried out until January 1 this year in garment factories under the Accord, a platform of over 200 European clothing retailers and brands formed mainly to strengthen workplace safety. A total of 127 garment factories have already completed all kinds of remediation or repairing suggested by the Accord engineers during preliminary inspections between 2014 and 2015. Of the 1,600 member factories under the Accord, 699 have executed 90 percent of remediation works by January 1, according to data from the Accord.
Automation jeopardises garment workers’ jobs
Mohammadi Group Managing Director Rubana Huq says her company’s garment factories have replaced about 500 workers with machines and may replace more as part of a growing industry trend toward automation. “It doesn’t make sense for us to slow ourselves down” by not automating, said Huq, whose company provides apparels to H&M, Zara and other Western brands, reported bdnews24.com based on the Wall Street Journal. Even a few years ago hundreds of workers were standing at the Mohammadi Fashion Sweaters Ltd in Dhaka. But in 2012, the owners began phasing out labour. In 2017, the knitting process became fully automated. Now the factory has only a few dozen workers overseeing 173 knitting machines. The difficulty of working with fabric and the plentiful labour supply in countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia and China would suggest the apparel industry had less need to automate than others. But rising labour costs and advances in technology has made the shift more attractive to producers. In 2016, the International Labour Organisation predicted some Asian countries could lose more than 80 percent of jobs in the garment sector due to automation.
Teletalk not ready to roll out 4G
State-run mobile operator Teletalk is yet to start preparing to roll out 4G mobile data service because of lack of funds although it will take licence along with its competitors tomorrow. The delay in preparation means the state venture could lose business as well as customers to its competitors which are raring to go for the fourth-generation service. Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink have already readied their network to launch the fastest mobile data service in Dhaka, Chittagong and some other cities. They are also working to extend the service to other important parts of the country. The government has allocated Tk 700 crore to Teletalk to upgrade its network to 4G, but the fund has not been disbursed yet and it might take time, said a top official of the operator who is related with the process. “We are already late and waiting for the money to begin the process,” he said. Teletalk will have to prepare its 1,000 base transceiver stations in Dhaka and Chittagong for 4G on its own as getting money from the government is a lengthy process. Teletalk had placed a proposal to the board to prepare some of its sites for 4G within a couple of months on an ad-hoc basis.
Green telco towers cut energy consumption
‘edotco is able to bring innovative and green solutions to Bangladesh’s rural and remote communities, thereby enhancing the quality of the residents’ lives and providing adequate network coverage amid the country’s power shortage’. To facilitate materializing the government’s vision of achieving SDGs by 2030, mobile phone tower company edotco Bangladesh has started running its operation using renewable energy in remote areas, its officials said. The company has already installed around 672 mobile network sites using renewable energy among its 8000 towers to reduce carbon footprint up to 20% due to innovative green technology, they said.
Changes needed in economic pattern
Local and regional institutions should be restructured to benefit from global business, for which political willingness is highly important, economists said yesterday. “The core challenge for South Asian countries is to restructure their economic pattern,” said Rehman Sobhan, chairman of the Centre of Policy Dialogue, at a session on the opening day of the two-day SANEM Annual Economists’ Conference 2018. The Asian countries are holding major foreign currency reserves, he said, citing China’s reserves of $3 trillion to further his point. India and China should maintain a good relationship with each other to benefit from the global value chain and integration is required among the Asian countries. Sobhan’s comments came at the session titled “Institutions, Governance and Trade in the Context of Emerging Global and Regional Challenge – A South Asian Panel Discussion in Memory of Dr Saman Kelegama”. Speakers said Bangladesh’s position in the global value chain is at now the lower end: buyers purchase items made in the country at a low cost and sell them at prices that are six to seven times higher.
Inequality widens as efforts fizzle out
Inequality is rising and will continue to mount in the coming days in absence of dialogue and social and political pressure aimed at curbing disparity, said a noted economist yesterday. KAS Murshid, director-general of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), said, “Only a handful of economists and politicians talk about inequality.” “Apart from them, there is no discussion on inequality,” he said while presenting a keynote on inequality at the inaugural of the 3rd SANEM Annual Economists Conference 2018 at the Brac Centre Inn in the capital.
Walton starts export of fridge parts to Indonesia
Walton, a local manufacturers of electronics products, has started to export spare parts of fridges to Indonesia as the first ever Bangladeshi company. On February 15, The company sent its first shipment thorough Chittagong port to an Indonesian fridge manufacturing company. Walton is exporting compressors, refrigerators doors, refrigerator door hinges, drawers, door plastic shelf, refrigerator cabinet body, power cables and plugs, poly bags, carton packages box for refrigerator with poly foam. Walton has been exporting world-class fridges to over 20 countries in Asia, Middle-east and Africa. Walton Group’s International Marketing Head Md Roquibul Islam said he hoped that Walton’s fridge parts would be exported to most refrigerator manufacturing units around the world in future. Industry insiders said the local brand Walton is opening up a new era in the country’s electronics manufacturing industry
Seven decades of tea auction in Chittagong
The country’s first tea auction centre was set up in Chittagong in 1949 considering the export facilities through the port. It has been nearly seven decades since then. The auctions now take place on the third floor of the Progressive Tower in Agrabad. Krishna Pada Chowdhury, secretary of Tea Traders Association of Bangladesh (TTAB), said the auctions were held every Tuesday all the year round. “As many as 248 tea traders, who are members of TTAB, can purchase tea from the auctions that begin at 8:30am and end at 6:30pm,” he said. The seven Chittagong-based brokers who conduct auctions are National Brokers, KS Brokers Limited, Produce Brokers Limited, Progressive Brokers Limited, Purba Bangla Brokers, Unity Brokers and Planters Brokers Limited.
Mobile sets being imported to Bangladesh as parts to dodge tax
Mobile sets are imported to Bangladesh as parts and sold in grey markets. The parts are later accumulated and then sold as brand new in the market. To make the products convincing to consumers, original packets are further imported. According to concerned authorities, the situation is applicable only for expensive phones. iPhone is on the top of the list over Xiaomi, Huawei and Oppo. Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers’ Association (BMPIA) say price reduction will take place when expensive mobiles will be produced in the country. Then the import of sets in this way will be reduced. It will be difficult to increase prices of expensive sets. The association further says the process was halted in the past, but recently it has started again. Mobile parts are being imported by courier service from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.
Hili port’s January revenue earnings drop
The Hili port earned revenue of Tk17.37 crore, around Tk8 crore less set by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) for January of the current 2017-18 fiscal year. The NBR set revenue target at Tk25.26 crore for the seventh month of the fiscal. However, the port earned an additional Tk39 crore against the revenue target in the first seven months of the fiscal. According to Hili land port customs station, the NBR had fixed Tk190 crore as revenue earnings from the port for the current fiscal. In July, the port’s revenue earning was Tk26.27 crore against the target of Tk4.12 crore, in August the port earned Tk12.75 crore against the target of Tk6.11 crore, in September, Tk6.89 crore against Tk7.66 crore as target, in October Tk11.87 core against the target of Tk10.58 crore, in November, Tk19.46 crore against Tk8.15 crore and in December the earning was Tk16.48 crore against the target of Tk10.12 crore.
Partex to make international standard cables in Bangladesh
Partex Cables Limited, a sister concern of Partex Star Group, one of the largest conglomerates in the country, is going to make international standard cables for the first time in the country. Mr MA Hashem, founder chairman of Partex launched the operations of Partex Cables Ltd on Saturday at the plant’s premises at Bandar, Narayanganj. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed was present as the chief guest. “The government has a plan to generate 40,000MW power by 2030. Now the country imports ]\ cable that costs millions. If we can make international standard cables then we can meet this need locally,” MA Hashem said.
Could you pay that in cash, please?
The Government of Bangladesh has decided to make the country poorer by raising the compensation of civil servants. This is not good piece of public policy. This is not the usual, general grumbling about bureaucrats gaining more money at the taxpayers’ expense. Rather it’s a more technical – and true – complaint about the manner in which the pay rise is being designed. Civil servants will now get larger subsidized mortgages. This costs those who pay for it more than the benefit and value gained by those who receive it, which creates a net economic loss. It just isn’t the right way to do it. We can, however unlikely the thought might be, insist that those who work for government should be better rewarded, even if what they actually do falls far short of the things they attempt to do.
Private security sector included in minimum wage board
The government has included the private security service sector as the 43rd industrial sector in the minimum wage board and has taken a move to fix wages for security guards. Following a long negotiation, both the government and the security service sector officials agreed to bring order to the sector to protect the interests of employees and employers. ‘After a long negotiation, we have included the sector in the minimum wage board and the wages for the sector’s workers and employees will be fixed soon,’ a senior labour ministry official told New Age on Thursday. The labour ministry brings any sector under minimum wage board regulations considering the size and the volume of employment of the sector, the official said. The number of private security service companies has been increasing gradually, but the absence of a legally set wage structure has been hurting the employees of the sector, the official said. The government has already issued a gazette notification appointing representatives of owners and workers of the sector to the minimum wage board.
Rice prices go up
The prices of fine variety of rice went up while the coarse variety of the staple remind dear in the city’s kitchen markets over the week ending Friday. The prices of Miniket rice increased by Tk 1-2 a kilogram and the grain was selling at Tk 60-68 a kg in the city market on Friday. The coarse variety of Miniket rice was retailing at Tk 58-59 a kg on the day. Traders said that the prices of Miniket rice went up due to an off-seasonal supply shortage. They said that the prices of Miniket would remain high until the next harvesting season, which would start in April.
Local and Global Stock Indices *
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|DSEX||6050.2||↓ 52.11||↓ 0.85%|
|DJIA||25,219.38||↑ 19.01||↑ 0.08%|
|FTSE100||7,294.70||↑ 59.89||↑ 0.83%|
|Nikkei 225||21,720.25||↑ 255.27||↑ 1.19%|
World Commodities *
|Commodity||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)||$61.68||↑ 0.34||↑ 0.55%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||$64.84||↑ 0.51||↑ 0.79%|
|Gold Spot||$1,346.95||↓ 6.72||↓ 0.50%|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days *
|USD 1||BDT 83.05|
|GBP 1||BDT 116.48|
|EUR 1||BDT 103.03|
|INR 1||BDT 1.29|
*CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES ARE TAKEN FROM BLOOMBERG.