Focus on policy support for growth of agent banking
Appropriate policy support and necessary actions are required to give further impetus to agent banking services in the country, despite their significant growth since inception in 2014, according to a study. According to it, the services grew tremendously by 1,798.2 per cent in 2015 and 384.3 per cent in 2016 comparing to the corresponding period. Since establishment and operational costs of a bank branch in a remote area is not viable in many cases, alternative services like agent banking can be an appropriate answer to meet the need of the huge unbanked people in the country, it added. The findings of the study – ‘Agent banking: effectiveness in financial inclusion’ – was presented at a session of the day-long Research Almanac 2018, organised by Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) at its conference room in the capital. On behalf of the research team, Assistant Professor of BIBM Tanweer Mehdee presented the study findings at the session. President and Managing Director (MD) of Bank Asia Limited Md Arfan Ali, two supernumerary professors of BIBM Helal Ahmed Chowdhury and Md Yasin Ali, and former MD of Sonali Bank limited S A Chowdhury also spoke at the session.
Foreign banking software elbowing out local ones
Local banking software makers are gradually losing market to the rival foreign companies due to ‘poor functionality’ of their products although these are cheaper in cost, a BIBM research has revealed. About 45 banks used local software solutions before 2005. But the number has dropped to 19 by the end of 2017, according to the findings of the research – “An Evaluation of Core Banking Software in Banks of Bangladesh”. “Popularity of the software developed by our own experts is fading gradually,” said Associate Professor of Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) Md. Mahbubur Rahman Alam in the organisation’s Research Almanac that was held in the capital on Sunday. “Our banking industry is at present dominated by foreign core baking solution (CBS) by a large margin, as a total of 27 banks in the country are using foreign CBS. The number of banks using in-house software is also declining day by day.” “The scenario, nevertheless, is somewhat different for joint venture software. During the last twelve years, the number of banks using joint venture software has increased from 2 to 6.” The BIBM researcher also warned that the local software vendors might lose ground further in the near future, as many banks that are currently using local software are intending to switch to foreign ones in the coming years. “About 10 percent of the banks said they are planning to upgrade or replace their banking systems within a year.” “While most of the local software users have planned to replace their current system, the foreign software users are mostly planning to improve their current systems.” “When analyzed why the banks have the tendency of switching to foreign CBS, it was found that a little bit cost-effective local packages are seen as less functional and less flexible to a bank’s specific business demands and hence are deemed as less satisfactory,” he added. “If this trend prevails in the coming years, (most of) the local CBS might be replaced by the foreign CBS, harming the local software industry and national economy,” Mr Alam cautioned.
Merger, acquisition panacea for badly-performing banks
An expert opinion suggests forced merger or acquisition is the desperate remedy for the poorly-performing banks, especially where the underlying problem persists permanently. Such suggestion came up in a study that also recommended punishment of the wrongdoers by the regulatory authority as there remains tendency among directors of weak banks not to go for merger willingly. In another research paper also presented at a function Sunday it was found that the nine new banks that got approval in 2012 indulged in various irregularities and anomalies from the very beginning. In case of hiring, these banks failed to establish goodwill on the market, their commitment to serve the unbanked rural people was not fulfilled as they focused more on urban areas, had high non-performing-loan rate after 2014, declining tendency in CRAR, astounding expenditure in CSR despite losses in the previous year. In the research paper, titled ‘Exploring Merger and Acquisition in the Context of the Banking Sector of Bangladesh’, which was presented by associate professor of Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) Atul Chandra, it was stated that efficiency of the merged banks got reduced compared with the pre-merger institutions.
BB asks banks to use Bangla in lending letters
Bangladesh Bank (BB) Sunday directed the scheduled banks to use Bangla in loan-approval letters for implementing the objective of the “Bengali Language Introduction Act 1987”. “All banks will have to use Bangla in loan-approval letters for implementing the goal of the Bengali Language Introduction Act 1987 and protecting the client’s interests,” said a BB circular.
Form ‘Banking Enquiry Commission’ forthwith
The government should move to form a ‘Banking Enquiry Commission’ immediately to address the problems and irregularities that are ‘eating away’ at Bangladesh’s financial sector, says an expert. “The core problem in our banking sector today is a lack of good governance,” former Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled told a function arranged Sunday in Dhaka on a BIBM Research Almanac focused on the state of banking in the country. “This is obvious that the banking sector is not running well. The problems have already been pinpointed and it is high time to act,” said Mr Khaled, who had led one of recent probe bodies on financial-sector scam, namely stock-market manipulation and debacle. In this context, he mentioned that the Finance Minister had already said that he would not form a Banking Commission right now. “But even if that is not possible, a Banking Enquiry Commission, at the very least, should be formed,” the former Deputy Governor of the central bank said. “Having such a commission would help us to get out of the problems that are eating away at our banking sector,” he told the technical session of the daylong programme organized by Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management or BIBM.
Give the poor a stake in infrastructure projects: Rehman Sobhan
Noted economist Rehman Sobhan yesterday called for giving an ownership stake to the poor and low-income families in income-generating public infrastructure projects and equity stakes for workers in garment sector. Sobhan, also the chairman for the Centre for Policy Dialogue, recommended formation of collectives of small farm producers and auto rickshaw drivers to facilitate inclusive development of Bangladesh. The ideas were shared at a dialogue on a Sobhan-authored book ‘Challenging Injustice in South Asia: A Work Programme for Promoting Inclusive Development’ at the Brac Centre Inn in Dhaka. The Daily Star Books and the CPD jointly published the book in November last year, which is derived from a four-year study that the author had conducted on the theme ‘Challenging the Injustice of Poverty: Agendas for Inclusive Development in South Asia’. “The premise of our work argues that poverty originates in an unjust social order, which creates and reproduces it. Traditional agendas for poverty alleviation recognise the structural sources of poverty creation, but address those issues inadequately,” said Sobhan in a brief on the book.
Bangladesh targets $1b trade ties with Vietnam
Bangladesh is looking for a broader trade and investment ties with Vietnam and is preparing to make the best use of the upcoming visit of the Vietnam President to Bangladesh. Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang will arrive in Dhaka on a three-day state visit to Bangladesh on March 4. The two countries are likely to sign six to seven agreements and MoUs during the visit, officials said, reports UNB. “A big focus will be on trade and investment. Our target is to reach a US$1 billion trade,” Bangladesh Ambassador to Vietnam Samina Naz told the news agency. She said a big business delegation will accompany the Vietnamese president during his Dhaka visit. A business forum will be held at Sonargaon Hotel in the city on March 6. Over 100 business representatives from Vietnam companies will interact with their Bangladesh counterparts and explore trade and investment potentials in Bangladesh. Responding to a question, Ambassador Samina said they are looking into cooperation in the areas of agriculture, pearl cultivation, fisheries and livestock, industrial cooperation, cultural exchange and pharmaceutical. The Vietnamese President will meet President Abdul Hamid and will hold official talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the visit.
Export earnings from USA on the rise
Export earnings from one of Bangladesh’s key destinations, the USA, witnessed a slight 1.66 per cent growth during this first half (July-December) of the current fiscal (FY18) compared to the same period of the previous fiscal (FY17) due to the good performance of the RMG, reports BSS. Bangladesh exports to USA totalled $2,902.90 million in this July-December (2017-18) compared to $2,855.48 million during the corresponding period of the previous fiscal (2016-17). The amount represents 16.20 per cent of the country’s total export earnings during the period. According to the statistics compiled by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the major exports to the US market during this July-December period were woven garment ($1,882.86 million), knitwear ($717.38 million), home textiles ($69.55 million) and cap ($65.14 million). During the period, around 26.23 per cent of the country’s total woven garment exports entered the US market, followed by knitwear 9.45 per cent and home textile 14.20 per cent.
ICCB for commercial coal exploration to make power sector vibrant
Bangladesh should go for all-out commercial exploration of coal in the next five years to make the power sector, the backbone of the country’s economy, sustainable and vibrant, said International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh (ICCB). The generation of electricity in coal-fired power plants will be viable and much cheaper if locally explored quality coal is used as fuel instead of imported one, it added. The Bangladesh chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) came up with the suggestion in the editorial of its current News Bulleting (Oct-Dec 2017) released on Sunday, reports BSS.
Thrust on latest tech for RMG industry
Country representative of JETRO Daisuke Arai on Sunday said Bangladesh has not enough choice than to adopt latest production technology in the ready-made garment industry to be competitive in the global market. The global garment market has become dependent on issues like quality, price, environment and compliance which Bangladeshi companies have to adopt for sustaining in the industry, he said while addressing the opening ceremony of AOTS-JUKI training course on ‘Sewing Machine Maintenance Technology’ at a city hotel. Vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Managing Director of Evergreen Sweater Mohammad Nasir attended the ceremony as the chief guest while Chairman, JUKI Bangladesh Md Zakaria Bhuiyan as a guest of honour.
Banglalink’s revenue shrank in 2017
Banglalink, the country’s third largest operator, saw its revenues slip 4.6 percent to Tk 4,650 crore in 2017, in what can be viewed as a worrying development as the country steps into the 4G era. Veon, the parent company of Banglalink, did not disclose in the annual report for 2017 whether the operator counted profit or loss for the year. Contacted, Banglalink declined to comment on the matter. The operator blamed the results on an exigent fourth quarter, which saw it restore network availability following flooding caused by severe monsoon earlier in the year. Its competitors Grameenphone and Robi though faced the same challenges in 2017 but navigated the year comparatively better. Grameenphone’s net profit rose 21.4 percent year-on-year to Tk 2,740 crore in 2017 — the highest in its 21 years of operations in Bangladesh — while its revenue grew 11.8 percent year-on-year to Tk 12,840 crore. Robi logged in Tk 6,830 crore as revenue, up 29.7 percent from a year earlier. It counted net losses of Tk 280 crore last year, which is lower than in previous year, Banglalink also attributed the decline in revenue to the gap in 3G network coverage compared to the market leader and intense price competition in relation to data.
Demand for 4G smartphones on the rise
The demand for 4G supported smartphones have increased after the introduction of 4G in the country by mobile phone operators. Mobile phone users have started looking for 4G supported phones in local markets and online. Smartphone suppliers have remarked that a craze for 4G supported smartphones is already in course, and now people are in the process of selecting the right one that matches their requirements. Most of the smartphones in the market that fall in the price range of Tk10,000 support 4G. As suppliers had prepared for the arrival of 4G beforehand, there has been no shortage of 4G supported smartphones in the market. However, as most of them are not using 4G supported phones at present, few people are availing of 4G services. Only 10% of the total 3 crore mobile phone users can currently use 4G. President of Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association (BMPIA), Ruhul Alam Al Mahbub, said: “4G has just been activated. We have to wait for a while to understand its full impact. But we have already been able to create a demand for 4G smartphones in the market. We will understand the whole scenario regarding 4G in the second quarter [April-June] of this year.”
Taskforce formed to deal with telecom complaints
The telecom regulator has formed a complaint management taskforce to mitigate users’ grievances that have piled up in recent times amid the operators’ continuous failure to provide quality services.The taskforce will provide solutions to the complaints against the telecom services furnished by around 2,500 license-holders of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The telecom watchdog introduced the four-digit short code last year and has received 3,522 complaints so far, all of them against mobile phone operators. The taskforce will handle only those complaints for which the operators fail to give any solution, BTRC said.
Experts suggest equal, long-term policy supports for leather sector
The country’s leather sector needs rational, equal, implementable and long-term policy supports from the government to attain the US$5.0-billion export earning target from the sector by 2021, experts, industry people and participants opined at a workshop on Sunday. They identified a number of issues, including excessive cost of doing business, infrastructural bottlenecks, exchange rate appreciation, and discriminatory policy measures for the non-RMG (ready-made garment) sectors, as major problems that are affecting the local leather industry.
Legacy Footwear to expand business, seek consortium investment
The board of directors of Legacy Footwear has taken a number of decisions including raising fund from the existing directors/sponsors and other than shareholders as per the requirements of the company. The board has also discussed thoroughly the expression of interest given by consortium of “Global Shoes Limited” and its associates, according to the disclosure. “It was resolved in the board meeting that the company shall seek for a consortium investment from “Global Shoes Limited” and associates a sum of BDT 273 million for setting up Unit-2 and up-gradation of the current production unit,” it said. The directors/sponsors of the company have given their consent to invest BDT 117 million as their equity for the same. “It was also resolved that BDT 280 million shall be allocated to set-up Unit-2 and remaining BDT 110 million shall be allocated to upgrade the current unit,” the disclosure added. The company has reported earnings per share (EPS) of minus BDT 0.34 for October-December, 2017 as against BDT 0.02 for October-December, 2016. In six months for July-December, 2017, EPS was minus BDT 0.23 for as against BDT 0.08 for July-December, 2016. Each share of Legacy Footwear, which was listed on the Dhaka bourse in 2000, closed at BDT 65.20 on Sunday at DSE, gaining 0.93% over the previous session. The company disbursed 10% stock dividend for the year ended on June 30, 2017. The company’s paid-up capital is BDT 113.74 million and authorized capital is BDT 200 million, while the total number of securities is 11.37 million. The sponsor-directors own 30% stake in the company, while institutional investors own 6.25%, foreign 6.12% and general public 57.63% as on January 31, 2018, the DSE data shows.
Shasha Denims to acquire 40% stake of EOS Textiles
Shasha Denims Limited (SDL) will acquire 40% stake of EOS Textiles Mills Limited, said an official disclosure on Sunday. The shares are valued at approximately BDT 480 million. The Shasha Denims in the disclosure said out of BDT 480 million, BDT 300 million will come from IPO fund, as per approval by shareholders in the 20th annual general meeting (AGM). The company said remaining BDT 180 million will come from company’s cash flow to acquire 40% shares of EOS Textiles Mills, a 100% export-oriented textile company established on 8th June, 1998 by Italian Investors. The Shasha Denims has reported consolidated earnings per share (EPS) of BDT 1.27 for October-December, 2017 as against BDT 1.44 for October-December, 2016. In six months for July-December, 2017, consolidated EPS was BDT 2.41 as against BDT 2.48 for July-December, 2016. Each share of Shasha Denim, which was listed on the Dhaka bourse in 2015, closed at BDT 53.90 Sunday on DSE, advancing 2.08% over the previous session. In 2017, the Shasha Denims disbursed 25% cash and 6.0% stock dividend. The company’s paid-up capital is BDT 1.19 billion and authorised capital is BDT 2.25 billion, while the total number of securities is 119.55 million. The sponsor-directors own 46.52% stake in the company, while institutional investors hold 14.23%, foreign 4.28% and general public 34.97% as on January 31, 2018, the DSE data shows.
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