Bangladesh Bank (BB) issued a licence for Shimanto Bank Limited, owned by the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Welfare Trust. The central bank of Bangladesh on Thursday issued the licence to the Shimanto Bank for running their business after complying with all rules and regulations, officials said. The private commercial bank will give a special attention to operating it banking activities in the border areas aiming to bring the marginal people under the financial system, according to the people familiar with the bank. The BGB Welfare Trust has already appointed Mukhlesur Rahman as the managing director and chief executive officer to run the commercial bank. Before joining the bank, Mr. Rahman was the MD and CEO of NRB Bank Limited. With the Shimanto Bank the number of scheduled banks in Bangladesh now stands at 57.
Bangladesh Bank asks 4 SCBs to create funds for unexpected risks
Bangladesh Bank on Thursday asked four state owned banks—Sonali, Janata, Agrani and Rupali—to form separate funds to tackle unexpected risk for their vault money, cash-on counter, cash-in transit, and cash-in ATM booths. The other banks will have to take insurance cover for their four types of liquid money. A BB official told New Age on Thursday that the central bank had given the instruction in July, 2015 to form separate funds by the four SCBs and insurance cover for other banks. But the BB did not explain to the banks what types of liquid funds would be brought under the separate funds and coverage of insurance, he said. The central bank asked the four banks to form separate funds as the number of branches of the SCBs are huge than that of other banks.
State-controlled and specialised banks should strengthen their capital base even though most of the foreign and private banks in the country are maintaining a healthy capital adequacy ratio, experts said Saturday. Basel II did not prevent the banking crisis of 2007/08, rather amplified it, whether Basel III will have a similar effect will depend to a large extent on how it is implemented and what other regulations are introduced alongside it, said Sajib Azad, Senior Adviser of Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management, in his keynote presentation. The Basel Accords are a set of capital and liquidity standards prescribed globally by the Bank for International Settlements. Currently, the third version of the Basel standards or Basel III is being implemented globally. Bangladesh entered the Basel III regime effective from January 2015. Basel standard uses a “three pillars” concept-among which, pillar II refers to supervisory review.
Banks can invest BDT 45.0 billion more in stock market
All scheduled banks can now invest BDT 45.0 billion more in the capital market after availing the Bangladesh Bank’s (BB) policy support for adjustment of their stock market overexposure by July 21. A total of 13 commercial banks, out of 56, availed the policy support to bring down their capital market investment within 25.0% of their total capital by July 21 in line with the Banking Companies (Amended) Act 2013. After availing the policy support, the capital market exposures of One Bank stood at 23.99%, followed by Janata Bank 23.81%, Mutual Trust Bank and Mercantile Bank 23.69%, Shahjalal Islami Bank 23.55%, Premier Bank 22.4%, AB Bank 21.99%, National Bank 21.03%, Bangladesh Development Bank 21.7%, Pubali Bank 20.2%, IFIC Bank 19.3%, the City Bank 14.66%, and Southeast Bank 11.90%. Now these 13 banks can invest BDT 15.0 billion more in the share market after adjustment of their overexposure by availing the BB policy support, according to the deputy governor. On April 27, the central bank extended the support to the banks for adjustment of their stock market overexposure within the stipulated timeframe without selling any shares in the market.
Local currency market remained largely stable after 30 days of the Brexit that sent a wave of volatility to the global currency market last month, reports BSS. The pound sterling lost 8.0% against US dollars on the first day of trade following Brexit referendum, held on June 23 to pave the way for the United Kingdom to exit from the European Union (EU). The pound also drifted further on the global market in the past 30 days in post-Brexit trade and hit a 30-year low at USD1.29 on July 6 as “investors are selling sterling assets in expectation that the Bank of England will loosen monetary policy to cope with the looming economic slowdown,” according an analysis of the British magazine Economist. The pound in the local market also witnessed some pressure from the sellers, but the decline in the exchange rate against Taka was not as big as it was on the global market. According to BB, the sterling was traded for Taka 103.55 on Thursday which was 107.24 on June 23.
Remittance inflow from Middle Eastern countries declined last fiscal year but receipts from the US and the UK increased. In fiscal 2015-16, USD8.55 billion of remittance flew in from the Middle Eastern nations, down 5.17% year-on-year. Still, the highest amount came from Saudi Arabia followed by the UAE. Remittance from the other regions increased 1.38% year-on-year in fiscal 2015-16. Remittance slipped 2.54% year-on-year to USD14.93 billion last fiscal year, as weak oil prices continue to bleed countries hosting the majority of Bangladeshi migrant workers. This was the sixth time remittance, Bangladesh’s most reliable source of foreign funding, went negative since 1975-76, according to Bangladesh Economic Review. Last year, manpower exports increased but remittance declined. The outflow of migrant workers jumped more than 62% year-on-year to 6.84 lakh in fiscal 2015-16.
Philippines to refund Bangladesh USD 17.8 million from Bangladesh Bank’s stolen money ‘soon’
Bangladesh can expect to get back ‘within a month’ around USD 17.8 million of the USD 81.0 million stolen fund of Bangladesh Bank, reports Philippines media on Thursday. Bangladesh ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes and Philippines Anti Money Laundering Council executive director Julia Bacay-Abad on different occasions said that some of the stolen money would be returned very soon. Gomes also requested the Philippines senators to hold another Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the USD 81-million BB money laundering scheme that was stolen from the New York Federal Reserve. ‘Out of the USD 81.0 million, I think USD 17.75 million is something that is returnable very, very soon,’ he said at a media roundtable discussion in Makati City on Thursday, reports GMS News. Gomes also said that DOJ (Department of Justice) and AMLC are now working on to get this money back to Bangladesh. ‘So out of the USD 81.0 million, definitely USD 15 million is something that is within our reach.
Fifty-three out of the 66 over-the-counter market companies did not issue any dividend for their shareholders in last five years, an internal study conducted by the Dhaka Stock Exchange showed. The OTC means the facilities provided by an exchange for the purpose of buying or selling of unlisted or delisted securities from the stock exchanges. The OTC market provides an alternative to stock exchange listing for securities of issuers that either choose not to be listed on the DSE or not to meet the relevant listing requirements. The DSE carried out the study with a view to examining the activities of the OTC market companies and to find way outs for the investors who have been stuck up with the shares of the non-performing OTC companies for years, a DSE official said. The DSE study scrutinized dividend payment-related data of the OTC companies for the 2010-2015 period. Of the 66 OTC companies, 53 did not issue any dividend for more than five years, making their shares only papers to the investors. Due to the poor performance of the entities, shareholders of the companies found no buyer of the shares for years.
Foreign investment at DSE plunges by 65.0% in FY16
The net overseas investment at the Dhaka Stock Exchange, the country’s premier bourse, fell by 65.0% or BDT 8.5 billion in the financial year 2015-16 compared with that in the previous fiscal year. According to DSE data, the net foreign investment totaled at BDT 4.5 billion in FY16, down from BDT 12.9 billion reached in FY15. Merchant bankers said that sluggish economic activities in last couple of years and profit-booking share selling might be the reasons for the plunge in the net foreign investment at the bourse. In FY16, overseas investors purchased shares worth BDT 42.7 billion against their sales of shares worth BDT 38.2 billion. Share purchasing by foreign investors at the DSE, however, inched up by 2.0% or BDT 1.2 billion in FY16 from that of BDT 41.5 billion in the previous year.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) yesterday approved two big projects in the power sector in a bid to develop power transmission system between Dhaka and Chittagong. The approvals were given at the weekly Ecnec meeting at the NEC conference room with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said a total of eight projects were approved with an overall outlay of BDT 78.7 billion. Of the total project cost, BDT 30.3 billion will come from the state coffer, and BDT 43.0 billion from project assistance. Of the eight projects, six are new while two are the revised ones. The planning minister said the Dhaka-Chittagong Main Power Grid Strengthening Project will be implemented at a cost of BDT 45.7 billion by the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) by December 2020. Of the total project cost, BDT 13.4 billion will come from the national exchequer, BDT 4.6 billion from the organization’s own fund, while BDT 27.7 billion as project assistance from JICA, a development partner.
Growth in export of products excluding top five lacks luster
The latest reckoning reveals exports from most sectors save five major ones, namely apparel, frozen fish, jute, leather and agro-products, have not increased that much over the last five years. The export of products excluding the top five fetched USD 2.1 billion in the fiscal year 2015-16 against USD 1.56 billion in 2010-11, according to data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). The USD 2.1 billion export earnings included pharmaceuticals, furniture, plastic, rubber, ceramic, handicraft and light engineering products. Experts and industry-insiders attribute such performance to a stronger local currency, trouble-torn export destinations and absence of the government’s policy support. Apparel exports increased significantly in last few years mainly because of both its product and market diversifications, he noted. These exporters are also small entrepreneurs, he said, recommending that the EPB should individually sit with them to identify their export obstacles and take moves to make them familiar with the global markets.
Bangladesh’s export earnings from pharmaceuticals have witnessed a 13.04% jump to USD82.11 million in the just-concluded fiscal year. A good number of pharmaceutical manufacturers have received certification from the respective countries and global organization to export medicine, which helped rise export. According to Bangladesh Aushad Shilpa Samity, over the last two years, around 1,200 pharmaceutical products got registration for export earnings that will see a massive jump within the next three years. Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data shows that in the fiscal year 2015-16, Bangladesh earned USD 82.11 billion, a 13.04% up, compared to USD 72.64 million a year ago. The sector has exceeded export target by 2.64%. The government has set a target to earn USD 80 million from the last fiscal year. According to the EPB, in the last fiscal, Bangladesh exported pharmaceutical products to 105 countries, of which Myanmar imports the highest quantity of medicines worth USD13.60 million followed by Sri Lanka with USD 13.38 million, the Philippines with USD 6.10 million, Vietnam USD 5.32 million, Kenya USD 4.60 million, Afghanistan USD 4.18 million, and Slovenia USD 3.38 million.
The number of mobile-phone subscribers has dropped by 2.344 million by official count during the first half of 2016 as an aftereffect of the government drive for biometric re-registration of SIM cards. According to the latest data available with Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the total number of mobile-phone subscribers in Bangladesh stood at 131.376 million at the end of June 2016-down from 133.720 million in December 2015. This figure shows a reversing trend in the long and steady rise of mobile subscribers in the country. Last year alone, 13.31 million mobile subscribers added up to the growing number, including 6.854 million during the last half of the year. According to industry-insiders, the downturn can be attributed to the government move for biometric SIM registration as many subscribers became shy of reregistering all of their SIM cards. Earlier in December 2015, the government ordered re-registration of all mobile SIMS in a move to curb the use of mobile phones for criminal activities. The next three months saw a sharp decline in the number of mobile subscribers, including in January, when the phone operators all together lost 1.764 million subscribers-one of the biggest losses for the telecom industry in terms of subscription in a single month.
Mobile surcharge fetches BDT 470.0 million in three months
The government has received BDT 470.0 million as development surcharge on use of mobile phones from the country’s six cell phone operators in first three months (March, April and May) of its enforcement. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) imposed the 1.0% surcharge on March 10, 2016. The surcharge is payable on services through use of Subscribers’ Identity Module (SIM) card, Removable User Identification Module (RUIM) or similar microchip cards or Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) without card. Mobile or fixed wireless phone operators will have to pay the surcharge by collecting it from subscribers. The surcharge is non-tax revenue that the VAT wing is empowered to collect from the operators and deposit to the public exchequer. The collected surcharge will be spent on education and health in the country. In the budget for fiscal year 2014-15, the government first proposed to impose the surcharge. But the NBR could not implement it in the absence of any law regarding imposition and collection of such surcharge. Later parliament on November 15 last year passed the Development Surcharge and Levy (Imposition and Collection) Act-2015. The NBR projected an additional amount of BDT 1.40 billion a year as development surcharge from use of mobile phones. Currently, mobile phone subscribers have to pay 5.0% supplementary duty, 15.0% VAT and 1.0% surcharge on their usage. Combined tax is 21.0% on mobile phone use in the country. The telecom sector is the second revenue-earning source of the government after the banking sector. According to the latest data of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), the country currently has 131.3 million active mobile connections while 53.4 million of those are connected to the internet.
Five denim factories came into operations in the last five years amid rising demand for denim products in the global market, said industry insiders. Now the total number of denim factories in Bangladesh is 30. Of the five factories, four have already gone into production — Square, Nice, Thermax and Badsha, said Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Chittagong-based Denim Expert and organiser of Bangladesh Denim Expo that takes place in Dhaka twice a year. Another five companies plan to set up denim factories as the demand is on the rise, especially in the West, the major market of denim, said Mostafiz. Bangladeshi manufacturers used to produce mainly basic denim products such as trousers, but now they also make shirts, bed sheets, pillow covers, home textiles, aprons and tablecloths, he said. Production capacity of the denim mills in Bangladesh is more than 40 million yards a month against the demand for nearly 70 million yards. The rest of the demand is met through imports from countries like China, India, Pakistan and Turkey. The industry insiders said about BDT 8,000 crore has already been invested in denim business in Bangladesh. In a few years, exports of denim products will rise to USD5 billion, from more than USD2 billion a year now.
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