Most banks post higher operating profits in 2018
Most of the banks made higher operating profits in the just concluded year amid swelling of bad loans in the country’s banking sector. Although the majority of the banks managed to attain higher operating profits in 2018, it would now depend on the banks whether they would be able to make higher net profits or not, said Bangladesh Bank officials. Operating profits of 19 banks out of 24 increased in the period and that of the rest five decreased. Bank officials said rampant credit disbursement by the banks in 2017, when banks disbursed loans without complying with rules properly, might be the main reason for achieving higher amount of operating profits by the banks in 2018. But the banks were subsequently forced to streamline advance deposit ratio that reduced their financial capacity to disburse loans in the year of 2018. Besides, the defaulted loans of the banks hit Tk 99,370 crore as of September 30, 2018, which is 11.48 per cent of Tk 8,65,930 crore total outstanding loans in the country’s banking system. Of the banks, Islami Bank Bangladesh posted the highest operating profit — Tk 2,770 crore — among the scheduled banks in 2018. The bank’s operating profit was Tk 2,420 crore in 2017. Along with Islami Bank, Sonali Bank, NBL, Southeast Bank and Pubali Bank made more than Tk 1,000 crore in operating profits in the just concluded year. IBBL’s profit increased by 14.46 per cent or Tk 350 crore in 2018 compared with that in the previous year. Sonali Bank made second highest — Tk 1,900 crore —operating profit in 2018 against Tk 1,206 crore in the previous year.
Operating profit of the bank grew by 57.54 per cent or Tk 694 crore in 2018.
NBR moves to check returns to prevent tax dodging using tax benefit facility
National Board of Revenue has taken a move to scrutinise income tax files of taxpayers having tax exempted income or enjoying reduced tax rates to prevent misuse of the benefits. Officials said that the move was taken to check the authenticity of income shown in the income tax returns by the taxpayers — individual and business entities. NBR on December 20 formed a seven-member committee headed by its member (taxes appeal and exemption) Rawshon Ara Akter to examine the income shown in tax returns by the taxpayers who are enjoying tax exemption and reduced rates tax. NBR also provides tax benefits at reduced rate for many sectors including information communication technology and IT-enabled services and IT park to help the sector flourish. Some agricultural sectors like fisheries, poultry and dairy farming also enjoy reduced-rate tax benefits. Officials said that it was found that many taxpayers were misusing the benefits through diversion of income or creating artificial income to and from the sectors for lessen tax burden and accumulating fake assets.
Stocks pin hopes on US-China trade talks
World share and commodity prices rose on Monday as hints of progress on the Sino-US trade standoff provided a rare glimmer of optimism in what has been a punishing end of year for markets globally. Europe’s STOXX 600 followed Asia’s overnight lead to push 0.3 per cent higher as traders made a lacklustre effort to gloss over the worst year for equities since the 2008 financial crisis. London’s FTSE and Paris’ CAC 40 climbed 0.2 and 0.7 per cent respectively on the day but both are down more than 11 per cent in 2018. Germany’s export-heavy DAX has seen more than 18 per cent wiped off its value. E-Mini futures for Wall Street’s S&P 500 firmed 0.8 per cent ahead of US trading. That index is off almost 10 per cent for December, its worst month since February 2009. That left it down 15 per cent for the quarter and 7 per cent for the year. The Treasury market clearly thinks the Fed is done on hikes, with yields on two-year paper having fallen to just 2.52 per cent from a peak of 2.977 per cent in November. The $15.5 trillion market is heading for its biggest monthly rally in 2-1/2 years, according to an index compiled by Bloomberg and Barclays. The crude benchmark was last up 98 cents at $54.20 a barrel but down 20 per cent for the year. US crude futures nudged up 62 cents to $45.95. Gold was ending the year on a high note after rallying almost 5 per cent in the past month to stand at $1,278.57 an ounce.
Hybrid paddy attracts growers
The winter time hybrid paddy cultivation has become popular in Chitalmari, Kachua, Fakirhat, Mollahat and Sadar upazilas as it gives more production than normal varieties. According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), farmers are cultivating the paddy on 1390 hectares of land in Chitalmari, 150 hectares in Kachua, 200 hectares in Fakirhat, 40 hectares in Bagerhat Sadar, 20 hectares in Mollahat and one hectare in Rampal. They are getting 40 to 45 maunds of paddy from each bigha of land. The farmers are cultivating more and more hybrid verities like Chamok, Lalteer, Hira, Tej, ACI-1 Sathi, Aloran, Hira, Superagro, Mukti-1, Rupali etc on their lands because it gives more production.
Robi wants to run agent banking through its outlets
Robi Axiata Limited, the second largest mobile phone operator in the country, has initiated a move to become agent of Bank Asia for providing agent banking services. As per the Robi’s proposal in this regard, the mobile phone operator would provide the agent banking services by using its distribution channel. Under Bangladesh Bank’s guidelines on agent baking operation, Robi would set up agent of Bank Asia at its outlets and provide agent baking services in the name of ‘Robi Agent Banking’. Setting up such agent banking services through Robi’s distribution channel or outlets would require approval from BTRC as mentioned in the Prudential Guidelines for Agent Banking Operation in Bangladesh. Total number of agent banking accounts in 18 banks, which have got the Bangladesh Bank approval to run the services, stood at 20,28,864 as on September of 2018. Through the agent banking services of the banks operated from 3,902 agents across the country customers deposited Tk 2,577 crore in the July-September period. The central bank issued the agent banking guidelines in 2013 but the licensees did not start full-fledged operations before 2016.
Cocoa tops 2018 gainers, as growth worries roil metals, crude
Cocoa prices ended 2018 with strong gains, leading generally firmer agricultural markets, but the year marked falls for most major commodities as increasing global economic uncertainty hit metals and oil. Worries about slackening growth in China, the world’s second-largest economy, and trade talks between Washington and Beijing will be the main focus in the new year, analysts said, while oil markets fear a growing oversupply. London cocoa prices climbed almost 30 per cent in 2018, recovering from six-year lows, as dry weather in top producer Ivory Coast boosted speculative fund inflows, although supply is now picking up. Wheat is also set for a positive finish, up around 20 per cent, on expectations of strong demand for US cargoes as the rival Black Sea region runs of out of supplies. Soybeans, though, have been hit by the US-China trade war. Benchmark Brent crude oil futures, tipped by some analysts in September to top $100 a barrel, instead plunged by almost 40 per cent from their 2018 peak a month later of $86.74 to end the year around $53.75. London Metal Exchange zinc suffered the biggest decline in 2018 among base metals with a loss of more than 26 per cent, copper gave up about 16 per cent and aluminium 18 per cent. Chinese steel prices are on track for a positive finish in 2018 as the country’s crackdown on pollution forces mills to reduce production, curbing supplies in the world’s top consumer. However, prices for steel making raw material iron ore fell.
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