Dhaka Bank, IPDC sign deal with BB
Dhaka Bank and IPDC Finance Limited signed an agreement with Bangladesh Bank (BB) under ‘Refinance Scheme for Small and Medium Enterprise Development Project’ in the city on Wednesday. General Manager, Financial Inclusion Department of Bangladesh Bank & Project Director of (SMEDP-2) Md Abul Bashar and Acting Managing Director of Dhaka Bank Emranul Huq exchanged the documents after signing the agreement. This scheme is applicable for the entrepreneurs in all areas except Dhaka and Chittagong City Corporation zones of IPDC, according to statements. Under the Financial Inclusion Department (FID), Bangladesh Bank will offer Tk 240 Million US Dollar Refinancing Scheme which will help the small and medium enterprises to experience convenient formal financing service and eventually develop trading sectors of rural and sub-urban areas. Only 12 banks and 7 NBFI will be eligible to avail refinancing facility under this scheme.
Development fair on stock mkt begins today
The stakeholders of the capital market will observe the government’s development fair 2018 to uphold the reforms done in the capital market. The country wide development fair will be observed during January 11-13 and the securities and other stakeholders will take part in eight divisional head quarters and five districts. In this regard, the representatives of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), both the stock exchanges, DSE Brokers Association and Bangladesh Merchant Bankers Association (BMBA) held a press briefing on Wednesday at Dhaka office of Chittagong Stock Exchange (DSE). Mohammad Saifur Rahman, a BSEC executive director, told the press briefing that the stakeholders will take part in the development fair under the leadership of the securities regulator. “The country’s marginal people who will visit our stalls will be able to know about products, market operation and reforms of rules and regulations,” Rahman said. To observe the development fair, the securities regulator and stakeholders will set up stalls in eight divisional head quarters such as Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Rangpur, Khulna, Mymensingh and Barisal.
BRAC Bank launches health cards for India-bound patients
Brac Bank Limited in partnership with Mastercard and Apollo Hospitals on Wednesday launched health card services aiming to facilitate healthcare of Bangladeshi patients in India. The health card owners will also get various privileges, including 10 per cent discount on in-patient room charges, 5.0 per cent discount on outpatient investigations at the Apollo Hospitals’ branches and concession at partner hotels in India. Brac Bank Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Selim RF Hussain, Mastercard Bangladesh’s Country Manager Syed Mohammad Kamal and Group President (hospital division) of the healthcare chain Dr K Hariprasad attended the launching ceremony.
World Bank projects country’s GDP growth at 6.4pc in FY ‘18
The World Bank (WB) projected Bangladesh’s economic growth at 6.4 per cent in the current fiscal, one-per cent down the government-set target for some risks. For the current financial year (FY), 2017-18, the government has taken a target to achieve 7.4 per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth on the back of socioeconomic-development recipe its has put in place. Sounding a bit downbeat about the growth prospect in its Global Economic Prospect (GEP) report, released Wednesday, the Washington-based lender cited some risk factors for Bangladesh. Slippages relating to the upcoming elections and weak tax revenues “could derail fiscal consolidation efforts”, it says about the drawbacks. Debt burdens borne by corporate houses and growing nonperforming loans also came into reference as the downside of the economy. “Corporate debt overhangs and high levels of nonperforming loans have been longstanding concerns in some countries (e.g. Bangladesh, India),” the WB said. The WB GEP report said setbacks in efforts to resolve these domestic bottlenecks would continue to weigh on investment, and more broadly on medium-term growth prospects in the South Asia region.
Work on Feni Bridge starts in Feb
Construction work of Bangladesh-India Friendship Bridge over Feni River is all set to start in February aiming to set up the Ramgarh land port in Khagrachhari district sharing border with India. The land port, expected to be commissioned within two years, has huge potential for trade and business expansion, export and import, infrastructure development, efficient handling of cargo, storage facilities and fostering public-private partnership, and finally transport of cargo from Chittagong Port to north-eastern seven states of India, sources concerned said. The 412-metre long (main bridge is 150 metres in length) and 14.50-metre wide bridge over the Feni River is being constructed by the government of India at a cost of Rs 1.2869 billion and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. The Indian Road Division authority started land acquisition for the construction of the Bangladesh-India Friendship Bridge-1 on November 10 last. The land acquisition for the bridge will be completed in January, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla said after inspecting the bridge site last week.
Lafarge, Holcim merge Bangladesh operations
Lafarge Surma Cement Limited, a listed company at Dhaka Stock Exchange, and Holcim Cement (Bangladesh) Limited have finally completed their merger in Bangladesh as all the required procedures and filings have been completed. The operations of the entities, however, will remain separate as Holcim Cement (Bangladesh) has become a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim Bangladesh Limited, the changed name for Lafarge Surma Cement, due to acquisition of the entire Holcim shares by Lafarge.
Rice import rockets 18 times through Hili port
Import of rice through Hili land port has hit a record height in the last five years. Bangladesh imported 360,607 metric tons of rice from India through the port in 2017, whereas the import was about 18 times less – 20,675 metric tons – in 2016. The amount of rice import through the port in 2017 is only about 90,000 tonnes less than the total amount of rice import over the four preceeding years. Its import from 2013-2016 stood at 451,985 metric tons, according to sources at Hili port authorities. A lower output of the staple crop in the last Boro and Aman seasons prompted the government to lower the duty on rice import from 28% to 2%, which is widely being considered as the driving force behind such a huge leap in the import through the port.
Fruit imports up 70pc in eight yrs
With a 70 per cent rise in import of fruits in the country over the last eight years, fruit consumption has become a part of daily diet for many people. Higher fruit import is attributed to people’s rising awareness about nutrition, affordability and development of transport system as well. The financial year 2016-17 witnessed the highest amount of fruit imports — 0.61 million tonnes.
Last-minute rush to make Teletalk eligible for 4G licence
The government is scrambling to find an opening to make Teletalk eligible for the 4G spectrum auction scheduled for February, as the state-run operator as per guidelines is disqualified for running up dues of Tk 2,000 crore. According to guidelines, all dues must be cleared to sit in the auction. The operator did not forward its revenue-sharing portion from 3G services to the telecom regulator and neither did it make contributions to the social obligation fund. Teletalk did not have to pay any fee for the 3G licence. “All operators are equal to us, according to the telecom act,” said Shahjahan Mahmood, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. However, as per the BTRC top brass, the telecom regulator is banking on Teletalk’s participation in the auction to drive up the spectrum price.
Telecom sector companies to face penalty for non-compliance of QoS parameters
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has drafted integrated quality-of-service regulations for all access network service operators including mobile phone operators, allowing the telecom regulator to impose penalty for any non-compliance as The BTRC recently published the regulations titled ‘The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (Quality of Service) Regulations 2018’ on its web site, seeking comments from stakeholders. Questions, however, have surfaced regarding the BTRC’s capacity to check the key performance indicators of QoS as it has so far obtained one set of quality-of-service measurement tools to check the QoS of the mobile phone operators. Based on quality test to be done through a drive by the BTRC, the regulator would be able to publish the ranking of the ANSs including mobile phone operators in this regard. The regulations have also made mandatory publishing performance of ANS providers based on the benchmark indicators of QoS. The draft will be finalized after taking comments from stakeholders and will be sent to the telecom ministry for final approval. BTRC officials said that the escalating customer dissatisfaction over the service quality of mobile phone operators and other customer-end service providers was the key reason for formulation of the integrated QoS regulations.
Revenue collection misses mark
Finance Minister said the state of revenue collection during the past July-November period was not up to the mark. He is, however, upbeat about a change in the situation. The revenue collection during the first five months of the current fiscal year was behind the target by BDT 87.58 billion. During the period, some BDT 753.08 billion could be collected against the target of BDT 840.66 billion. The Managing Director of Dutch Bangla Bank said the alternative banking channel would see massive growth in the near future as the sector will need more deposits to cater high credit demand. Agent banking accounts totaled BDT103.8 million as of September, of which 86% are savings accounts. However, the collection was higher by 18% compared to the same period of previous fiscal year.
Government eyes 1.2 million overseas jobs this year
The government has set a target to send 1.2 million workers abroad this year, focusing on skilled migration according to the said expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment minister. The fresh goal came after Bangladesh sent a record 1.0 million workers abroad last, the highest overseas employment in the country’s history. The revenue collection during the first five months of the current fiscal year was behind the target by BDT 87.58 billion. During the period, some BDT 753.08 billion could be collected against the target of BDT 840.66 billion. The ministry has drawn up a plan to reduce the number of low-skilled workers gradually and send more skilled workers abroad. The government has taken up different projects to create skilled manpower from 42 lagging districts.
Frame clear guidelines to implement new VAT law
Policymakers and stakeholders have recommended the government to frame clear guidelines for the private sector for implementation the new VAT law, after identifying the main reasons as to why the law could not be implemented and had to defer by two years. They also suggested making the guidelines public to remove the existing confusions so that the investors could get a clear signal about a stable and consistent VAT policy and the government could avert repetition of postponement of the law.
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