Important Business News Extracts – January 29 2017
IFC to invest up to USD 55.0 million to support Dhaka Bank
International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private investment arm of the World Bank group, has agreed to invest up to USD 55.0 million to support Dhaka Bank Limited’s working capital solution, and help the bank aid foreign currency needs of SMEs in Bangladesh, reports Under the agreement, IFC will provide the bank a short-term loan for of up to USD 20 million for working capital solutions and a USD 35.0 million guarantee under Global Trade Finance Program, IFC said in a disclosure. Founded in 1995, the Dhaka-based bank has total assets of USD 2.48 billion as of September 30, 2016. Present in almost all major cities in Bangladesh, it has 95 branches and 54 owned ATMs. Dhaka Bank is publicly listed on Dhaka and Chittagong Stock Exchanges, with 36.5% of its shares owned by the general public and 24.2% by local institutions. Around 39.1% of shares is held by the sponsors/directors and 0.2% is held by foreign investors.
Lower remittance may hit GDP growth: Bangladesh Bank
Bangladesh Bank has projected that the growth of the country’s gross domestic product would be in the range of 7.1-7.3% in the current fiscal year, but a negative growth in inward remittance and an upward adjustment of natural gas prices might create downside risks to the projection. The central bank came up with the projection in its quarterly (July-September of the FY 2016-17) publication ‘Bangladesh Bank Quarterly’. The government has set the GDP growth target at 7.2% for FY17. In FY16, the country’s GDP growth was 7.1%. Former interim government adviser Mirza Azizul Islam said the growth of remittance and export fell in the first half of this fiscal year that might hit the GDP growth. The BB data showed that the inward remittance decreased by 11.13% to USD 13.61 billion in 2016 compared with that of USD 15.31 billion in 2015. The inward remittance significantly decreased in 2016 as a good number of expatriate Bangladeshis sent their money by using illegal ‘hundi’ channel, according to a BB observation. The remittance inflow stood at USD 14.94 billion in 2014, USD 13.83 billion in 2013, USD 14.17 billion in 2012 and USD 12.16 billion in 2011. The FY17 national budget has set target of achieving 7.2% output growth and keeping inflation at 5.8% for FY17, the BB in its quarterly publication said. It said the BB formulated its monetary policy, keeping sight of the targets. For the first half of FY17, the BB set target of reserve money growth at 11%, broad money growth at 14.80% and private sector credit growth at 16.60% by December 2016. The weighted average call money rate decreased marginally from 3.70% in June 2016 to 3.64% in September 2016.
The exchange rate of local currency crossed BDT 79.00 against the US dollar on Thursday in the inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market after nearly four years, bankers said. The dollar was quoted at BDT 79.03-79.05 in the inter-bank forex market on the day against BDT 78.99-79.00 of the previous working day, according to treasury officials of commercial banks. Earlier, the greenback was quoted at BDT 79.00 as single rate on February 13, 2013. It reached the maximum level of BDT 84.40-84.48 on January 29, 2012, they added. The country’s actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) increased by more than 9.0% or USD 349.6 million to USD 4.1 billion in December from USD 3.8 billion a month ago. On the other hand, the opening of LCs, generally known as import orders, grew by more than 7.0% to USD 4.7 billion last month from USD 4.4 billion in November 2016. Currently, some banks are facing pressure on foreign exchange liquidity for lending foreign currency to their OBUs (off-shore banking units) for business expansion from their own net open position (NOP), the treasury official explained. It was estimated at USD 958.7 million in December, up by USD 7.6 million from that of the previous month. In November 2016, the remittance was USD 951.4 million. It was nearly USD 1.3 billion in December 2015. Bangladesh’s export earnings decreased by 3.03% to USD 3.1 billion in December last from USD 3.2 billion a year ago, Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data showed.
Bangladesh Bank is likely to continue with the same monetary policy in the second half of the fiscal year due to emergence of some fresh risks. The risks include the bullish trend in the stock market and the rise in default loans. Though there is a pressure on the central bank for raising the credit growth target to boost investment, there will not be any major change in the next monetary policy statement to be released today, said a BB official. Besides, the credit growth target set in the monetary policy for the first half of the year is yet to be achieved. As a result, it will remain the same at 16.5%. On June 30 last year, private-sector credit grew 16.78%, but in November of the same year, it declined to 15.01%. The government has not been borrowing from the banking system now, so the private sector may use the space fully, the BB official added. In September last year, default loans accounted for 10.34% of the total outstanding loans, up from 10.06% in June that year.
Lavish management spending by country’s 32 life-insurance firms, far beyond limits, dropped significantly in 2016 for a new lease of their own life, following a few measures taken by the regulator concerned. Management expense is the cost which is borne from the premium income for different heads, and crossing the limits here would make the companies insolvent at policy maturity. Such expense-overrun affects the industry and hurts the customers’ interest in many ways. If excess expenses are loaded, the products will not be viable. Such excesses erode profit, as also size of the bonuses for the policyholders. So, policyholders may not find the benefits or bonuses of the policies attractive. This may lead to an overall business loss, which impacts upon shareholders’ confidence. However, the 32 life firms’ excess management costs stood over BDT 1.0 billion in 2016, in a major fall for the first time, from BDT 2.36 billion in 2015. The amount was as high as BDT 4.0 billion in 2012. The allowable expenses’ limit for 32 firms was BDT 25.76 billion in 2016 against BDT 23.32 billion in 2015. The actual aggregate expenses for the life-insurance firms stood at BDT 27.57 billion in the year under review. This is for the first time seven life insurers made expenses less than the limit by BDT 613 million all together. Only three life firms had less cost than the target in 2015, worth BDT 341 million.
The Microcredit Regulatory Authority (MRA) has taken a move to inject around Tk 8 billion in cash into the country’s microcredit sector. It took the move to inject the money by cutting microfinance institutions’ (MFIs) deposit funds from 15 per cent to 10 per cent and surplus reserve funds from 10 per cent to 7 per cent. The microcredit regulator made a proposal to this effect and sent it to the finance ministry for approval. The MRA took the decision at a recent meeting with the country’s MFIs. “We think MFIs are now stronger than ever before. They can divert the funds to borrowers,” MRA director Shazzad Hossoin told the FE.
A total of 46 organisations from SAARC countries, including eight from Bangladesh, received prestigious South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) award for their best presented annual reports of 2015. In addition, 41 institutions and entities also received Certificates of Merit at a programme, organised by the Institute of Charted Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB) at a city hotel in the capital on Friday. Finance Minister AMA Muhith handed over the awards to the recipients under 13 different categories including banks, non-banking financial institutions, insurance companies, manufacturing, financial services, ICT and non-government organisations. Sri Lanka secured first position while Bangladesh and Pakistan became 1st and 2nd runners-up respectively in consideration of the number of awards, certificates of merit and positions. A total of eight Bangladeshi companies received 10 awards.
State-owned enterprises’ debt to government may bloat to Tk 2.12 trillion
The debt liabilities of state enterprises are continuously causing government’s fiscal burden to go ballooning, as the debtors mostly skip repayment. As of June 2015, the debt overhang along with interests amounted to nearly Tk 800 billion. And the future outstanding debts are poised to come to Tk 2.12 trillion, according to latest statistics prepared under the official debt-service liability accounts. Sources in the know said the authorities are getting frustrated over debt-servicing default on part of the borrowers who go through government gateways. The government agencies which took loans to meet their emergencies usually do not pay yearly instalments as per loan agreements done between the ministry of finance and the respective government agencies.
NBR rolls out Tk 100cr plan for electronic cash registers
The National Board of Revenue can collect an additional Tk 10,000 crore by ensuring the use of electronic cash registers at retail and wholesale outlets, according to a letter it sent to the finance ministry. In an effort to curb VAT dodging, the NBR is set to procure 10,000 ECRs at a cost of Tk 100 crore to be given to the large shops, restaurants and other businesses at the purchase price.
Consignments see 10 to 15 per cent false declaration at import stage
False declaration of products takes place in 10-15 per cent of the total consignments at import stage, tackling which remained a major challenge in the recent times, said a senior official of National Board of Revenue (NBR). It is difficult to ascertain which portion of the total import consignments accounts for false declaration, said Farid Uddin, Senior Member of NBR Customs Policy Wing. “Institutional capacity is yet to be developed to check these irregularities,” he mentioned in the keynote paper at a seminar on Thursday. NBR organised the programme at its under-construction building at Agargaon in the capital on the occasion of International Customs Day 2017. Finance Minister A M A Muhith was present in the programme as the chief guest.
Demand for construction materials keeps flying as rural economy thrives
The demand for construction materials has been on the rise in recent years because of booming rural economy and large-scale government development work, but prices of cement, rods and bricks remained almost static. The industry insiders said the growth of real-estate sector had slowed down in the last couple of years, but the rural people had been building brick houses in the last decade, which has bumped up the requirement for construction materials. The demand for construction materials was sluggish due the political turmoil of 2013 and 2014, which bounced back in 2015-16 period. However, the prices of the products remain static, thanks to the expanding production. Currently, the government has been implementing big infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges and flyovers, consuming nearly 70.0% of the country’s construction materials like steel, cement, brick, stone, sand and other ingredients. In the fiscal 2015-16, over 10.0 million Bangladeshi expatriates sent remittances worth of USD 14.93 billion, which has been playing a significant role in the economy by reducing poverty. Last year, the country consumed 5.5 million tons of steel, up from 3.0-3.5 million metric tons five years back, he added. At present, 60-grade MS rod is selling at BDT 45,000-BDT 52,000 per ton varying quality and brands, while non-graded rod is selling at between BDT 40,000 and 42,000, almost same as last year’s.
ICT firms to get funds from Equity Entrepreneurship Fund (EEF) again
Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the Bank Division will take initiative to resume the operation of Bangladesh Bank Equity Entrepreneurship Fund (EEF) for the country’s ICT firms. He said they will discuss with other ministries concerned about cash incentive for local ICT export firms. The remarks came as Muhith attended a views exchange meeting with the ICT sector people in Dhaka yesterday. State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak and BASIS President Mustafa Jabbar were also present. They discussed about potential barriers in the exports of ICT products. Export Promotion Bureau said Bangladesh’s exports from computer services totaled USD 152.0 million in fiscal year 2015-16. However, Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) said 382 of its members earned USD 594 million from exports in FY2014-15 though the local revenue remained relatively low.
While jasmine or gardenia flowers, among others, are said to help one sleep, the gladiolus is more renowned for its visual beauty. But in Savar’s Birulia union, 32-year-old Nur-e-Alam has found in gladioli the secret to a good night’s rest: solvency. “I couldn’t sleep due to poverty,” says Alam, “but now that I am economically self-reliant, I have no insomnia.” Nowadays a successful flower farmer, Alam has reason to feel content. His first experience with growing gladioli dates back to 2012, when he leased 1 bigha of land on which to try growing the flower. He earned 50,000 taka for his efforts in the first year. This year he hopes to earn up to six lakhs from selling the flowers cultivated on 8 bighas of leased land.
The country’s advertisement market will expand quite rapidly in the next decade given the fast growing economy and consumer market, said an expert. “Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and when an economy grows advertising grows at a faster rate,” Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director of Mumbai-based Madison World. Growth in advertising leads to growth in the economy, which in turn leads to growth in advertising. Once the 160 million people of Bangladesh have the necessary purchasing power it will become a very large advertising market.
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