Newly confident Bangladesh to flag off Development Forum
There was a time when Bangladeshi finance ministers would land in Paris with a briefcase in hand to seek financial assistance from donors. It was a custom then that a poor country like Bangladesh will only beg for money and wealthy foreign nations would make commitments in Paris Consortium Meetings. But things have changed. They are no more a donor. They are now development partners who come here to take part in the Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) only to discuss strategies to materialise future development plans. The last Paris Consortium Meeting, organised by the World Bank, was held in 2005. The meetings used to be presided over by the WB’s vice-president and Bangladesh’s finance minister. The donors used to make commitments on how much they will give as financial help in the meetings, Ahmed said. The process to extend assistance in this way was changed in 2005 as per recommendation of the Paris Declaration. Bangladesh received commitments worth $1.27 billion in fiscal 2004-05. The amount has increased to $6 billion to $7 billion in the last few years, and in last fiscal year the committed amount hit $9.8 billion. The amount of unused foreign aid in the pipeline stood at $48.11 billion as of July 1, 2019. While Bangladesh has already met all the criteria for graduation back in March 2018, the UN triennial review of 2021 will very likely lead the country to graduate officially from the least-developed country bracket in 2024. BDF 2020 is also important for Bangladesh because of its future economic graduation, he said, adding that graduation will not make foreign aids costlier as the donors set the loan interest based on per capita income. This year’s meeting is dedicated in honour of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, as the nation is now taking preparation to celebrate the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation in 2020.
‘Made in Bangladesh’ smartphones to rule the roost soon
Bangladesh is on its way to becoming self-reliant in smartphone production by the year end, with locally manufactured handsets now ruling the roost. And by 2022, the country will add another product to its export basket: smartphone, according to estimates. Most of the top brands have raised their game to meet the entire domestic demand from their plants in the country, while all the basic phones the country needs will be made locally within another one year. Currently, nine foreign brands have their plants in the country while five of them have stopped importing devices as they are meeting their demand from local production. Local manufacturers made about 54 lakh smart devices in their plants last year, while another 24 lakh were imported via the legal and grey channels, industry insiders said. Along with 2.51 crore basic phones, total sales of handsets ran into 3.28 crore in 2019, according to local manufacturers and importers. Of the manufacturers, Samsung is on the fore, controlling about one-fourth the market. And the South Korean tech giant make about 97 per cent of their devices in the local plant that opened in 2018. Home-grown brands Walton and Symphony and China’s Transsion Holdings, Vivo and Oppo meet their full demand from their plants in Bangladesh. Transsion is now making about 90,000 smartphones per month of two separate brands, while its total monthly production is 4.5 lakh units, according to Rezwanul Haque, chief executive officer of Transsion. The company is assembling about 1.5 lakh smartphones every month in its plant in Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka. In the plant they are also making 1.25 lakh units of basic phones a month and no imports would be required by the year-end. Vivo and Oppo opened their plants in the second half of 2019 soon after the government increased import duties for smartphones to 57 per cent from 32 per cent. Before that, tax benefits offered in the budgets of fiscal 2016-17 and 2017-18 encouraged brands to go for local manufacturing. At the end of last year, Bangladesh’s active mobile connections stood at 16.64 crore.
Construction poised to start this year
Construction of a satellite town in Mirpur under public-private partnership (PPP) is likely to take off this year after the maiden initiative of National Housing Authority (NHA) was held up for years, most recently for objections, primarily from people illegally occupying the government-owned land in Section 9. The cabinet committee of economic affairs had first given the approval in November 2012 to the project. Land developer Tropical Homes and the NHA had signed an agreement on October 30, 2018 to construct the town to provide affordable housing for middle-income families. The NHA now expects to hand over the flats to buyers within five years. At least 400 units will be built of three sizes: 1,000, 1,500 and 2,200 square feet. Prices per square feet will be kept between Tk 4,500 to Tk 5,000 to make it affordable. A total of 11 multi-storey buildings will be constructed across five acres of land, according to a senior NHA official. There will also be a 12-storey commercial building, to serve as a shopping mall. Owners will have to pay 50 per cent of the apartment’s total value within four years of purchase in order to register flat ownership. The remaining amount can be paid through equated instalments with a maximum tenure of 16 years. There will be no need to make a down payment but there will be an application charge. The project has an estimated cost of Tk 650 core, which includes land value. Of that amount, Tropical Homes will invest Tk 350 crore.
Renata to set foot in the US this year
Renata is set to become the third local drug maker to export products to the tightly regulated US market, in a testament of the advances Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry have made over the years. Renata, which raked in Tk 46.68 crore in its last financial year by exporting to 27 countries, is hopeful that shipments to the US will kick off from this year, according to Zaki Chowdhury, the drug makers’ general manager for international regulatory affairs. In the human pharmaceutical products, Renata’s net sales soared 19 per cent last year, outperforming a buoyant market that registered a 16.3 per cent growth. Renata remains market leader in the animal health sector: its sales grew 10.8 per cent against the industry growth of 9.4 per cent. As a result, it is constructing an animal nutrition factory in Bhaluka upazila of Mymensingh. Despite the all-round solid performance, the company’s stock began nosediving from November 13 last year, when it traded at Tk 1,345. On January 12, it sank to a 54-month low of Tk 1,019. The stock recovered a little from there, closing at Tk 1,153. Bangladesh’s per capita income hit $1,909 in last fiscal year from $1,751 a year earlier. Hong Kong-based investment firm Asia Frontier Capital (AFC) is equally bullish about the potential of Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical market. In its annual publication — AFC Asia Frontier Fund: 2019 Review and Outlook For 2020 — it said the sector has a bright future: the market is under penetrated.
Japanese economic zone’s land development deal signed
Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) yesterday inked a deal to develop 650 acres of land in Narayanganj’s Araihazar to set up a dedicated industrial park for Japanese investors. Japanese entity TOA Corporation would be developing the economic zone. The Tk 2,582.17-crore project got the approval from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council in March last year. Of the cost, the government will provide Tk 454.35 crore as investment and Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) the remaining sum as loan. It will create employment for 2 lakh people, as per a Sumitomo presentation delivered in the signing event held at the capital’s Sonargaon hotel yesterday. Though the “Development of Infrastructure for Japanese Economic Zone at Araihazar in Narayanganj Project” is scheduled for completion by June 2023, Chowdhury hopes for the factories to be set up by early 2022. According to a latest study of the Japan External Trade Organisation, investment by Japanese companies in Bangladesh has been steadily increasing at a rate of 16-17 per cent for the last couple of years, with a majority showing growing interest in expansion. The study shows that the number of Japanese companies grew from 183 in 2014 to 269 in 2018, with 70 per cent expressing interest in expansion within a year and about 60 per cent in the next two to three years.
Global illicit trade eats up $2.0tn annually
The global economy loses over US$ 2.0 trillion annually due to smuggling, counterfeiting, trafficking of humans and wildlife as well as other forms of illicit trade that hold back progress on the global development agenda. To address this alarming problem, UNCTAD and the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) are convening first-ever Illicit Trade Forum on February 3 and 4 in Geneva, said a UNCTAD release on Monday. The forum is designed to encourage an open dialogue among representatives from Member States, experts and non-governmental observers, with the aim to share expertise, promote international enforcement cooperation, coordinate resources and ensure countries are adequately equipped to mitigate illicit trade. “Every country is feeling the malignant effects of illicit trade, underscoring the need for expanded partnerships and cooperation among governments to push back against this deterrent to global sustainable development,” said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, UNCTAD’s Director of International Trade. Illicit trade drains nearly 3.0 per cent of the world’s economy. It endangers public health, as sub-standard and fake anti-malarial medicines alone cause more than 100,000 deaths per year in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Al-Arafah to launch MFS business
The board of directors of Al-Arafah Islami Bank Ltd has decided to form a subsidiary company for its Mobile Financial Services (MFS) business jointly with Green More Ltd. The board also decided to issue Mudaraba Subordinated Bond (7 years redeemable) for Tk 5.0 billion to strengthen bank’s capital in the name and style “AIBL 3rd Mudaraba Subordinated Bond”. Each share of the bank, which was listed on the Dhaka Stock Exchange in 1998, closed at Tk 16.40 on Monday, losing 2.95 per cent over the previous day. Price of the bank ranged between Tk 15.80 and Tk 23.10 in the last one year. The bank disbursed 15 per cent cash and 2.0 per cent stock dividend for the year ended on December 31, 2018. The bank’s paid-up capital is Tk 10.64 billion and authorised capital is Tk 15 billion while total number of securities is 1.06 billion. The sponsor-directors own 39.54 per cent stake in the bank, while institutional investors own 22.93 per cent, foreign investors 2.97 per cent and the general public 34.56 per cent as of December 31, 2019
New DMD of Bank Asia
Shafiuzzaman has recently been promoted to the post of Deputy Managing Director of Bank Asia Limited, said a statement. Prior to the promotion, he was Senior Executive Vice President of the bank. He joined Bank Asia Limited in 2015 and was looking after the Corporate and Large Loan portfolio of the bank.
MBL workshop on KYC, TP
Mercantile Bank Limited organised a day long workshop on ‘Profiling Customers KYC, TP & Risk Grading to prevent bank from fraudulent activities’ at its training institute in Dhaka on Sunday. A total of 47 officers from different branches of the bank participated at the workshop.
Local and Global Stock Indices *
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|DSEX||4,493.02||↓ 35.19||↓ 0.78 %|
|↓ 453.93||↓ 1.57 %|
|FTSE100||7,412.05||↓ 173.93||↓ 2.29 %|
|Nikkei 225||23,127.19||↓ 216.32||↓ 0.93 %|
World Commodities *
|Commodity||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)||$ 52.87||↓ 0.27||↓ 0.51 %|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||$ 58.98||↓ 0.34||↓ 0.57 %|
|Gold Spot||$ 1,580.31||↓ 1.75||↓ 0.112 %|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days *
|USD 1||BDT 83.2602|
|GBP 1||BDT 108.760|
|EUR 1||BDT 91.7782|
|INR 1||BDT 1.16522|
*CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES ARE TAKEN FROM BLOOMBERG.<