Important Business News Extracts – January 23 2017
Bangladesh Bank opposes plan to amend banking law
Bangladesh Bank yesterday opposed the finance ministry’s move to amend the banking law, which has restricted the tenure of a director to six years. Bangladesh Association of Banks in October last year demanded the director’s tenure be extended to 10-15 years. The opposition from the central bank came at a meeting chaired by Banking Division Secretary Yunusur Rahman on planned amendments to the law. The BB said the governance of the private banks would be affected if the law is amended, as the banks do business with a huge amount of money from depositors, an official of the finance ministry said. In the backdrop of various irregularities by the bank directors, the existing Banking Companies Act was revised in line with the advice of the International Monetary Fund and international best practices, the central bank said. The government had been considering tightening some provisions in the law for over a decade to rein in irregularities and indiscipline in the sector.
Yearly transactions through mobile financial services (MFS) have increased by more than 37.0% in 2016, the latest Bangladesh Bank (BB) data shows, an upsurge which has been attributed to the proliferation of MFS in the country’s far-flung areas. A record of BDT 2.3 trillion has been transacted through mobile-based financial services in the country last calendar year, up from BDT 1.7 trillion in 2015. The number of transactions through MFS channels, at the same time, has also increased by around 18.7% during the same period. Around 1.2 billion transactions were made through MFS platform in 2015, which surged to 1.5 billion last year, the BB figures show.
The banking sector in Bangladesh has been plagued with a number of disappointing trends for some time. This has impacted the soundness of the banking system and resulted in huge losses for the sector. One of the perennial problems is the rise of non-performing loan (NPL). The behaviour of NPL in the banking sector has been following a certain trend during the last few years. It is observed that towards the last quarter of each year NPL comes down but starts to rise afterwards. One of the probable reasons behind this lower NPL towards the end of the year could be restructuring and rescheduling of loans by December of every year.
MIDAS Investment, a subsidiary of MIDAS Financing, started its journey as a full-fledged merchant bank aiming to increase its presence and activities in the capital market and contribute to the development of the stockmarket. Finance Minister AMA Muhith inaugurated the commercial operation of the merchant bank at a programme held at MIDAS Convention Centre in Dhaka yesterday. As a full-fledged merchant bank, MIDAS Investment will work to encourage non-listed companies to come to the stockmarket. It will also carry out other merchant banking activities such as issue management, underwriting, portfolio management and corporate advisory services.
CVO Petrochemical Refinery was placed in “Z” category from existing “A” category with effect from today (Monday) as the company is not in operation for more than six months. The stockbrokers and merchant bankers are requested to abstain from providing loan facilities to purchase any security of CVO Petrochemical Refinery, with effect from today (Monday) as per securities regulator’s latest directive, the disclosure said.
Life insurers’ income grows in 2016 after bumpy ride
Helped by favouarble economic environment, the premium income of the country’s life insurers grew nearly 4.0% in 2016 after recording weaker growth a year ago. The total premiums earnings by all 32 life firms reached BDT 76.8 billion last year, according to preliminary data submitted to the insurance regulator. This is total earnings of premiums of the first year business and renewal income. As many as 14 life firms registered negative growth in the year, but 18 insurers managed to gain.
Importers allowed to use ERQ fund to settle import payment for all companies
Bangladesh Bank on Sunday said that an importer would be allowed to settle import payment by taking fund from his/her other companies’ export retention quota accounts with banks. The BB issued a circular to the authorised dealer branches of all banks saying that an importer would be allowed to use the fund of ERQ account to settle import payment of all companies owned by him/her. It said that the AD branches would be allowed to settle the import payment by taking fund from the importer’s ERQ account with other AD branches. A BB official told New Age on Sunday that the exporters were allowed to keep foreign currency balance with ERQ accounts between 15 per cent and 60 per cent against their (exporters) export proceeds. The fund transfer will be executed through foreign demand draft to be settled through the BB clearing accounts of AD branches, the circular said.
Exports to Australia soar 38pc despite direct cargo ban
Exports to Australia soared 38.1 percent year-on-year to $703.22 million in fiscal 2015-16 despite a ban on direct cargo from Dhaka, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian government. Over the next five years, shipments to Australia are expected to grow 33.8 percent, DFAT said. Australia became a major export destination for Bangladesh under the government’s stimulus package for new markets.
EPZ foreign companies allowed borrowing from parent firms
Bangladesh Bank on Sunday said that the foreign companies located in the country’s export processing zones and economic zones would be allowed to borrow from their parent companies and shareholders abroad. The BB issued a circular to the authorised dealer branches of all banks saying that type ‘A’ industries (fully owned by foreign nationals) in EPZs and EZs would get permission to take short-term foreign currency loans from their parent companies and shareholders abroad. The type ‘A’ industries in the EPZs were earlier allowed only to take short-term foreign currency loans from overseas banks and financial institutions subject to compliance with the stipulated instructions, the circular said. A BB official told New Age on Sunday said that the BB took the initiative to liberalise the country’s foreign exchange regime to attract more foreign direct investment.
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