Important Business News Extracts – January 30 2017
No change in Bangladesh Bank’s key policy rates
Country’s latest half-yearly monetary policy kept the key rates and programmes on the financial front unchanged as the central bank believes the existing hallmarks match the expected economic growth and combat against inflation risks. However, the monetary policy statement (MPS) rolled out by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) Sunday carries a note of caution for the regulators and direction for the bankers to the small-cap stock investors to act by the book, implicitly as the market took in some heat in recent times. BB Governor Fazle Kabir announced the MPS (monetary policy statement) for the January-June period of the current financial year (FY) at its conference room. Deputy governors, economic advisers and high officials of the central bank were present. At the back of their mind the central bankers have some concern about possible upturn in inflation. Mr Kabir mentioned some risks like lately rising prices of commodities on the international market and the rise in core inflation. But they hold the hope that the rates and programmes in force will help keep the inflation in check within the targeted territory. He also said the gross domestic product (GDP) growth will be achieved –and even it might leap over the target, set at 7.2% for the FY 2016-17. The chief of the central bank said the BB has tightened monitoring to make sure that banks abide by statutory limits on their capital-market exposures as a measure to forestall any bubble on the bourses.
Bangladesh Bank Governor says to install new SWIFT system in March
Bangladesh Bank (BB) is going to install a SWIFT messaging system with new software from March 2017 to avert any unwanted incident in facilitating overseas payments. Governor Fazle Kabir disclosed the development in response to a question while announcing the monetary policy for the January-June period of the current fiscal year at the central bank headquarters in Dhaka Sunday. “We’ll go with new SWIFT messaging system after completing all technical formalities,” he said. The new security system of facilitating overseas payments is going to be deployed after more than one year since a cyber-heist in February last year, when unknown hackers stole US$ 101 million from BB’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Following the incident, the central bank was following three tiers of authentication systems – e-mail, SWIFT message and phone – while making any overseas payment through the US Fed, said the governor, who joined the BB after the incident.
NBFIs’ borrowing from call money market undergoes change
The central bank has set call money borrowing limit for the country’s non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) based on their equity instead of net asset, officials said. The new provision will come into effect from February 1, according to a notification, issued by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) on Sunday. The equity of a NBFI will be fixed on the basis of its balance-sheet on December 31, 2016, it added.
Bangladesh Bank’s concern over stocks frightens investors
Stocks suffered a big jolt yesterday after the central bank expressed concern over the bullish momentum in its latest monetary policy statement. DSEX, the benchmark index of Dhaka Stock Exchange, plunged 117.79 points or 2.09% to finish the day at 5,500.85 points. Effective surveillance is necessary so that the process of recovery from the bearish trend since 2010 remains under the regulator’s control, the central bank said. Capital markets are showing increasing buoyancy. After moving sideways in recent years, the DSEX has increased by 23.0% and trading volume three times since November 2016, according to the central bank. Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has already taken some welcoming steps with cautionary messages, financial literacy promotion, and so forth. The central bank has also tightened monitoring to ensure that banks abide by statutory limits on their capital market exposures. “Bangladesh Bank may also direct banks to prevent diversion of business and consumer loans into stock market and remains ready on taking prompt policy action,” said Kabir. Although stock market capitalization in Bangladesh remains modest at around 15% of GDP, it can play an important role in financing long-term investments, as long as valuations reflect fundamentals and do not pose financial stability risks, according to the statement. The BB also forecasted that inflation will remain in the range of 5.3% to 5.6%, whereas the budgetary target is 5.8%. Commodity prices are expected to rise in 2017 and the oil prices more than 20%. Non-energy prices are also projected to go up.
The government has spent BDT428.9 billion from the current national budget in the fiscal year’s first quarter, which is only 12.59% of total allocation. The total budget allocation is BDT 3.4 trillion in the ongoing FY2016-17. Finance Minister AMA Muhith disclosed the figures in the Parliament yesterday. Of the figure spent, the expenditure in non-development sector was BDT 353.3 billion and the rest of the money was spent on development sector, according to the quarterly report. However, finance minister said: “Bangladesh’s macroeconomic situation has been stable since the beginning of the current fiscal year. Political situation has remained stable for last two years.” He hoped for a “prosperous Bangladesh” under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. National Board of Revenue has seen 17.98% in revenue collection during the July-September period while it was 15.49% one year ago. According to the finance ministry’s report, the planning ministry has spent BDT 75.7 billion during the period this fiscal year while the expenditure was BDT 75.4 billion in the same period last fiscal year.
New VAT law ‘definitely to take effect on July 01’
There is no possibility to defer implementation of the new VAT law from July 1 next, state minister for finance MA Mannan said Sunday. Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the VAT online project of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) jointly organized the day-long workshop at a city hotel to build awareness about the new VAT and Supplementary Duty (SD) Act – 2012. FICCI president Rupali Chowdhury said the existing VAT law, 1991 has turned into a complicated one due to the incorporation of so many special orders, statutory regulatory orders (SROs) and other government orders as well as expansion of the VAT net. She appreciated the courageous steps taken by the government to revise the VAT laws in commensurate with the business development. The FICCI president placed tax-related proposals for consideration by the government, including settlement of long-pending issue of investing gratuity fund in the government saving certificates. Few other proposals included the withdrawal of tax at source on income of provident fund, gratuity and workers’ profit fund, re-introduction of earlier provision of minimum tax, reduction of tax deduction from royalty and technical knowhow fees, tax-exemption for workers’ participation fund and considering the transaction value for customs assessment purpose to avoid over valuation of imported products.
BTRC directs Grameenphone to deposit BDT 300.0 million fine in next 10 days
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission through sending letter has directed the country’s leading mobile phone operator Grameenphone to deposit the amount of fine of Taka 300.0 millino within 10 days. Talking to BSS, BTRC secretary and spokesperson Sarwar Alam today said they have sent the letter to the operator on Thursday. The directive has been issued as the 201th meeting of the commission has upheld the earlier decision scrapping the plea filed by the operator of revising the fine of Taka 300.0 million that was imposed for providing unauthorised services. ‘If the operator is failed to comply with the directive, legal action would be taken,’ according to the decision of the meeting. However, GP official said they were yet to receive any letter from BTRC. BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood earlier told BSS that the commission has rejected the appeal. ‘So Grameenphone has no option, they have to pay the money.’ In October last year, the telecom regulator has slapped a Taka 300.0 million fine on Grameenphone for providing internet broadband service to clients breaching the Telecommunications Act 2001. The penalty is related to Grameenphone’s ‘GO Broadband’ initiative, a high-speed internet service offered by Agni Systems and ADN Telecom in partnership with the operator. After receiving the complaint, in July 13 last year BTRC issued show-cause notice and sought clarification from the mobile phone carrier within 30 days. Grameenphone replied to the notice on August 11 last year, but it failed to satisfy the regulator.
Ifad Motors to launch largest assembling plant of vehicles February 2, 2017 The long-awaited Ashok Leyland automobile assembling plant of Ifad Motors at Dhamrai will go into operation by this week, a move that is likely to boost the market share of the Chennai-based vehicle brand in the country through lower price. Once operational, the plant will churn out 25 vehicles per day and 10000 vehicles per year, making it the largest assembling plant of commercial vehicles in the country– high officials of Ifad Motors, which is the sole distributor of Ashok Layland in Bangladesh, said on Sunday. The automobile assembling plant will formally go into operation on February 2. The state-of-the-art assembling facility located in the vicinity of the Dhaka-Aricha Road, has been built within an area of 30 acre at a cost of BDT 750.0 million. “The plant will assemble around 7000 trucks of various ranges as well as around 3000 buses each year, making it the largest commercial vehicle assembling plant in Bangladesh”, Managing Director of Ifad Autos Taskeen Ahmed told FE. Ifad Autos, a listed company, received its Initial Public Offering (IPO) approval back in the year 2014 and made their share market debut in 2015. According to industry insiders, around 30000 commercial vehicles are sold in the country each year; out of which, around 12000 vehicles belong to the medium and heavy vehicle category. Ashok Layland- which is the second largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in India, claims to have around 40.0% share of that market.
Indonesia has expressed its interest to export LNG to Bangladesh and set up a floating storage and re-gasification (FSRU) terminal in the country. Indonesian ambassador in Dhaka Iwan Wiranata Atmadja expressed the interest of his country when he called on State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid at his Secretariat office on Sunday, reports UNB. Iwan Wiranata Atmadja said the interest to invest in Bangladesh’s energy sector is growing among the public and private sectors in Indonesia. During the meeting, both the state minister and the envoy discussed different issues of power and energy sector and the Indonesian stand in this regard. Welcoming the Indonesian interest, Nasrul Hamid said Bangladesh is interested to use Indonesian coal for meeting its energy needs. Mentioning that Bangladesh will need 3,500 mmcfd gas to meet its growing energy demand, he proposed holding a seminar on the Indonesian coal sector.
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