Important Business News Extracts – February 26 2017
Non-performing loans jump over 21pc to stand at Tk 621.72b in last calendar year
The non-performing loans (NPLs) jumped by more than 21 per cent or Tk 108.01 billion in the last calendar year despite close monitoring by the central bank. The amount rose to Tk 621.72 billion as on December 31 last year from Tk 513.71 billion on the same day of the previous year, according to the latest statistics of Bangladesh Bank (BB). Officials, however, said stronger recovery drives by the commercial banks and the rescheduling of loans pushed down the NPLs in the final quarter of the last calendar year. During the October-December period of 2016, the NPLs dropped by more than 5.0 per cent or Tk 35.59 billion to Tk 621.72 billion from Tk 657.31 billion in the Q3. It was Tk 633.65 billion in the Q2. The share of NPLs also came down to 9. 23 per cent during the period under review from 10.34 per cent three months back. It was 8.79 per cent as on December 31, 2015. “The volume of classified loans normally falls during the final quarter of each calendar year,” a senior official of the BB told the FE Thursday. He also expressed concern that the amount of NPLs might rise in the first quarter of this year due to slow pace of recovery by the commercial banks. The classified loans covered substandard, doubtful and bad/loss of total outstanding credits, which stood at Tk 6,739.20 billion as on December 31 last. It was Tk 5,846.15 billion a year ago.
Banking Division keen on limiting time frame for pvt bank directors
Bank and Financial Institutions Division is going to amend three provisions of Bank Company Act for limiting time and space for the private bank’s board of directors, official sources said. A source in the Banking Division said the amendment to the Bank Company Act will be finalised at an inter-ministerial meeting at the division. The meeting will focus on a major change to provisions that will allow for four directors instead of existing two from a family. The division will not amend 15(2) provision, according to the demand of the Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB) under the Act as the shareholders of banks hold their posts for a lifetime as directors of bank, an official has said. As per the proposed amendment, no director can continue for more than six years in two terms. One can become director again after taking a pause for one term. According to the source, the division will discuss with the authorities concerned during the Monday’s meeting for relaxation of some provisions of the Banking Companies Act, especially the requirement to obtain approval from Bangladesh Bank for appointing directors.
BB’s initiative to develop saving habits may go in vain
The country’s scheduled banks are still reluctant to extend their services to street children and child workers as they (banks) opened only 3,582 accounts for them (children) as on December 30, 2016, sources said. On March 10, 2014, Bangladesh Bank in a circular asked all banks to allow street children and child workers to open bank accounts with a Tk 10 minimum initial deposit. The central bank took the initiative to help street children develop saving habits and eventually help them step forward towards a better future. According to the latest BB data, the total deposits in the street children’s accounts stood at around Tk 25 lakh at the end of December 2016. Seventeen of the 57 scheduled banks have so far opened these accounts. The banks are Sonali Bank, Janata Bank, Rupali Bank, Agrani Bank, Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Bangladesh Development Bank, Bank Asia, Mercantile Bank, Mutual Trust Bank, National Bank, NCC Bank, One Bank, Pubali Bank, The City Bank, Trust Bank, Al-Arafah Islami Bank and Uttara Bank.
Planning Commission sees higher demand for easy local funds than foreign aid
The Planning Commission faces difficulties in finalising the draft revised development budget for the current fiscal amid a rush for easy local funds rather than available foreign aid, officials said. They said the Commission is likely to place a proposed revised annual development programme (RADP) before the National Economic Council (NEC) next Tuesday, with cutbacks on the project aid (external resources) by Tk70 billion from the total Tk 1.107 trillion original ADP allocations. With Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair, PC high officials sat for an extended meeting of the Commission at its office in Dhaka Thursday for finalising the draft RADP for the current financial year (FY), 2016-17. Commission officials said they had proposed to cut the project-aid component of the development budget by Tk70 billion from the total Tk 400 billion in the original Tk 1.107 trillion ADP while keeping aside almost same the allocation of Tk 707 billion from the internal resources.
StanChart arranges loan package for Bangladesh power sector
Standard Chartered has arranged a financing package of US$197mn for a power plant in Bangladesh, according to gtreview.com. Siemens Bank will co-finance the total, which will account for 80 per cent of the required capital for North-West Power Generation Company Ltd (NWPGCL)’s combined-cycle dual fuel power plant near Sirajganj. The remaining 20 per cent will come in the form of equity from NWPGCL. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (Miga – the World Bank’s insurance arm), will provide a guarantee for US$69.5mn of the finance, as part of its efforts to stimulate private investment in low-income countries. The guarantee provides coverage for up to 15 years against the risk of non-honouring of sovereign financial obligations, and is the fifth in a series of power projects being guaranteed in Bangladesh.
The micro-credit programmes being implemented by different government departments under social safety-net have changed fortune of thousands of rural poor freeing them from money lenders, reports BSS. The Upazila Cooperatives Offices, Department of Youth Development, Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB) and other departments are implementing the micro-credit loan programmes at only eight per cent service charge. Deputy director of BRDB Abdus Sabur said, “More than 93,400 poor people have improved their livelihoods utilising our revolving micro-credit loans and helped them coming out of the clutches of illegal money lenders in the district.” “Of them, 40,481 poor families have improved livelihoods properly utilising the micro-credit loans under the ‘Ekti Bari, Ekti Khamar – One House, One Farm’ project, “ he said.
Economists and exporters on Saturday expressed their worries that the latest price hike of gas would raise the cost of doing business and affect industrial growth and exports. The local industry will also lose competitiveness at the global market due to the resulting production cost increase, they said. The government on Thursday increased the prices of natural gas by 22.7 per cent on an average across the board in two phases with effect from next month. In a press statement, the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the latest gas price hike would increase cost of doing business and affect inflation in the country. Gas supply to the industries and households is still not sufficient, the chamber said adding that this hike would result in a price spiral of commodities on the retail market. ‘It will also impede export competitiveness, manufacturing sector, increase transportation cost and overall cost of doing business,’ the DCCI said. The decision will emerge as a challenge for garments and local industries as they have to survive facing hard competition in the world market, the chamber said. Besides, gas-based power generation, captive power generation and fertiliser production will also be costlier due to the gas price hike, it observed. Source: http://www.newagebd.net/article/9949/gas-price-hike-to-erode-export-competitiveness http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2017/02/26/62769/Gas-price-hike-to-raise-cost-of-doing-business
Bangladesh eyes $5.0b Canadian investment
Experts from the two sides sat in Dhaka Saturday to explore avenues of redoubling the bilateral trade and investment between Bangladesh and Canada by the golden-jubilee year of their diplomatic relations. They noted a little dynamism in this field, as the two-way trade and investment reached US$ 2.0 billion with Canadian development assistance to Bangladesh having reached $4.0 billion during the last 45 years of diplomatic ties. Such move on identifying areas of improvement is aimed at celebrating 50 years of relationship between the two countries in a new milieu. They expect the Canadian investment in Bangladesh to reach US$ 5.0 billion by 2022, and focused their half-day conclave on trade and investment, development, governance and security issues. The Canadian High Commission in Bangladesh and the Institute for Policy Advocacy and Governance (IPAG) jointly organised the meet titled ‘Canada-Bangladesh Diplomatic Relations: 45 Years of Progress’ in the city.
Laugfs Gas to invest $120m in Bangladesh in four years
Laugfs Gas Bangladesh Ltd, a leading liquefied petroleum gas supplier, will invest $120 million in Bangladesh in the next four years to expand its footprint and meet the growing energy demand, said the chairman of its parent company. Since starting its journey in the country in 2015, the Colombo-based company has invested $40 million. “We have almost $120 million in the pipeline for investing in Bangladesh within next four to five years,” said WKH Wegapitiya, chairman of Laugfs Holdings Ltd, in an interview with The Daily Star in Colombo recently.
Putting emphasis on adopting short, medium and long-term plans to boost the demand for Bangladeshi garments in the world market, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called upon brands and buyers to help the apparel industry owners overhaul their factories. “Huge funds are required to overhaul the factories. So, various brands and buyers can come forward to assist the Bangladeshi factory owners. The government would continue to provide its support in this regard,” she said, while inaugurating Dhaka Apparel Summit 2017 at Hotel Sonargaon. “We have to work on increasing our share in the world market … we have to formulate short, medium and long-term plans in this regard.” As a sequel to the success of the first Dhaka Apparel Summit that took place in 2014, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association organised the daylong second edition under the theme ‘Together for a better tomorrow’.
Dhaka made a strong plea that the United States should consider providing duty-and quota-free market access to Bangladesh’s key export items, including readymade garments, now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal is ditched. “We congratulate the US government on its withdrawing from Transpacific Partnership Deal,” Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed told the Dhaka Apparel Summit in the capital Saturday. “Over the years, many developing countries have enjoyed preferential market access to US through multilateral arrangements similar to TPP whereas Bangladesh being a Least Developed Country has been deprived of the same,” he added.
The board of directors of Chittagong Stock Exchange on Saturday elected AK Abdul Momen, a former Bangladesh ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations, as chairman of the bourse for next three years. Momen replaced Abdul Mazid, a former National Board of Revenue chairman, as the latter’s term as the port city bourse’s chairman ended recently. Momen, brother of finance minister AMA Muhith, took over as CSE chairman on Saturday, said CSE officials. He was one of the seven independent directors the CSE appointed recently. Other independent directors are Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed, Mohammad Ayub Islam, Moinul Islam Mahmud, Major General Mohammad Shamim Chowdhury, SM Salamat Ullah Bhuiyan and Pradip Pual. Momen served the Bangladesh government in different capacities over the years. From 2009 to 2015, he worked as the permanent representative for Bangladesh at the UN. He was the chairman of National Tea Board of Bangladesh.
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