Remittance lowest in six years
Remittance inflow in fiscal 2016-17 has been the lowest in six years — a development that can be viewed as a dark cloud over an otherwise buoyant economy. Migrant workers sent home $12.77 billion last fiscal year, down 14.47 percent year-on-year, according to data from the central bank. Remittance is a major source of foreign currency for Bangladesh and the declining trend since fiscal 2015-16 has progressively become a matter of concern for the government. The inflows were lower every month save for May last fiscal year. In June, $1.21 billion flew in, down 17 percent from a year earlier. The International Monetary Fund last month cited the declining remittance as a risk factor to the economy. Over the last 10 years, remittances accounted for 8.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product on average, close to eight times the foreign direct investment flow into Bangladesh, according to the IMF. The slump was due to persistent weaknesses in the Gulf Cooperation Council economies, where the majority of the migrant workers reside, as a result of the low oil prices, said Zahid Hussain, lead economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office.
Govt urges banks to provide Tk 20,000cr for power projects
The government has urged banks to channel Tk 20,000 crore into the power sector over the next six months to fast-track quick rental power plant projects. The request was made at a meeting on June 21 between the power division and top executives of banks.“Banks are sitting on huge excess liquidity and the power sector is a big opportunity for them to invest in,” said Nasrul Hamid, state minister for the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources. At present, the banking sector has excess liquidity of about Tk 100,000 crore, according to data from the central bank. Besides, investment in private sector power plants is secured as all the projects have purchasing agreements with the government.“That is like government guarantee against the loans,” he said, adding that the returns from power sector investment will be higher than other sectors. Several managing directors and chief executive officers of banks have acknowledged the request from the power division. Banks will oblige to the request of the power division as the country needs to address the electricity shortage, said Ishtiaque Ahmed Chowdhury, managing director of Trust Bank.“There was no pressure from the government,” said Ataur Rahman Prodhan, managing director of Rupali Bank, adding that banks can easily arrange the funds for the fast-track projects as they have excess liquidity.
BB updates SME terms
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has updated its definition of micro, cottage, small and medium enterprises in line with the National Industrial Policy 2016 and set a limit to the amount of credit they can avail. Moreover, banks must set aside for SMEs 20 percent of the loans they give out in 2017 and raise it to 25 percent by 2021. Of that for SMEs, at least 50 percent has to be kept for cottage, micro and small enterprises, said a circular published on Thursday.“Overall, priority should be given to lending to small enterprises compared to medium enterprises,” the BB said. BB’s January 2016 circular had called for a minimum 30 percent SME lending to manufacturing sector, 15 percent for service sector and a maximum 55 percent for trading.“But it is being observed that many banks and financial institutions are not lending to SMEs up to expected level,” said the circular. Now the instruction is to increase lending to manufacturing SMEs to at least 40 percent by 2021, service SMEs to at least 25 percent and trading SMEs a maximum 35 percent. At least 10 percent of the lending will have to go to women SME entrepreneurs. This rate will have to be raised to 15 percent by 2021. Bankers have welcomed the new regulations. Selim RF Hussain, managing director of Brac Bank, said the changes are positive and aligned with the government’s broader industrial policy, reflecting the transformational changes that have taken place in the economy in the last seven-eight years. “The definitions of micro, small and medium are clearer and better than what they were,” he told The Daily Star. He pointed at some new exposure requirements of the new regulations. “It will take a few years for various banks to increase their SME lending to 20 percent of their total portfolio.” “Brac Bank is already following the regulations as we are SME-focused. But it will be difficult for other banks to achieve. Hopefully, the central bank will provide adequate time to them as they won’t be able to do it overnight,”
Banks’ operating profits improve
Banks have made hefty operating profits in the first six months of 2017, despite excess liquidity and falling lending rates.Bankers attributed the healthy profit to the diversified business policies and political stability in the country. Operating profits mean a bank’s gross profit less operating expenses before deduction of interest and taxes. From January to June this year, Rupali Bank’s profit rose over six fold to Tk 200 crore from Tk 32 crore last year. The increase in loan disbursements, mainly SME loans, contributed to the rise in profits, said Ataur Rahman Prodhan, managing director of the state-owned bank. Moreover, the bank managed to recover a big portion of its classified loans in this period, he said. Hit by scams, BASIC Bank made a profit of nearly Tk 20 crore thanks to its growing earnings from interest of loans, said Alauddin A Majid, chairman of the state-run lender. However, the bank incurred a loss of Tk 46 crore in the six months till June last year.
BMBA team flies to India today
During the tour, the delegation will visit the Securities and Exchange Board of India, National Stock Exchange, Bombay Stock Exchange, National Institute of Securities’ Markets and Association of Investment Bankers of India. Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has organised the trip, aiming to help the BMBA delegation to secure knowledge on how Indian stock market regulator and its affiliated bodies work on market development. The BMBA delegates will also learn and discuss about the steps the Indian stock market regulator and other related firms have taken. They will also focus on their products and future work plan. BMBA President Md Sayadur Rahman will lead the delegation. The other delegates are BMBA Vice-President Dr M Mosharraf Hossain, Secretary General Khairul Bashar Abu Taher Mohammad, Treasurer Khandaker Kayesh Hasan and executive members Riyad Matin, Tahid A Chowdhury and Md Ahsan Ullah.
Budget deficit likely to be 7.46% of GDP
Even as the National Board of Revenue imposes more supplementary duties on imports, the budget deficit is likely to widen further to 7.46% of gross domestic product by the end of the new fiscal year, according to Finance Division prediction.The budget deficit will increase to Tk1,66,000 crore from the current target of Tk1,12,276 crore, officials said. The total rise of the deficit will be Tk44,834 crore while the size of the total GDP outlay will be Tk22,23,600 crore. Finance Division officials said the NBR may collect Tk2,05,000 crore compared to earlier target of Tk2,48,190 crore in tax because of the non-implementation of the new value-added tax law. According to the preliminary data, the NBR exceeded the revised target of overall tax collection of Tk1,85,000 crore last fiscal year. The achieved amount is Tk1,85,071 crore.“It’s a good news that the NBR achieved the revised tax collection target last fiscal year though the actual target was Tk1,70,000 crore,” said an official.The total tax collection target set for the NBR in the last fiscal year was Tk2,03,152 crore.NBR Chairman Nojibur Rahman, on his Facebook post, said the if NBR was “not so engaged with the efforts to implement the new VAT law, there would have been more collection last fiscal year.He said an additional amount of Tk22,579 crore could be collected as VAT, especially from large business organisations this fiscal year, if the new law was implemented. Finance Division sources said the deficit could be wider than Tk1,66,000 crore this fiscal year if the planning ministry fails to implement development projects of Tk57,000 crore funded by foreign sources. According to the Planning Commission, an amount of up to Tk40,000 crore foreign aid, out of Tk57,000 crore, can be disbursed in the current fiscal year.
New top brass for bank officers’ association
AKM Shamsuddin Ahmed, deputy general manager of Rupali Bank, has recently been elected as the presi-dent of Association of Bank Officers Bangladesh (ABOB).The association also elected Zakir Hossain Khan, deputy general manager of Sonali Bank, as its general secretary. The ABOB also elected Nesar Ahmed Bhuiyan, deputy general manager of Bangladesh Bank, as senior vice president, it said in a statement yesterday.
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