The central bank has raised substantially the net open position (NOP) limit for commercial banks to hold higher amounts of foreign exchange. Officials said the measure is meant for keeping the inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market stable. The NOP has been jacked up by more than 45.0% to USD 2.2 billion from USD 1.5 billion earlier of all 56 scheduled banks. The new limit has been determined on the basis of 20.0% of the total regulatory capital of the banks as on March 31, 2016, according to the BB officials. Earlier, the NOP was re-fixed on the basis of 15.0% of the total regulatory capital of the banks on March 31 last year. The Bangladesh Bank (BB) enhanced the NOP by more than 11.0% to USD 1.5 billion on July 20 last year from USD 1.4 billion earlier for the all banks. Under the revised directives, the banks are now empowered to retain more foreign exchange that helps minimizing sale pressure of the US dollar on the inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market, the central bankers explained.
Banks asked to suspend ‘ACU Euro’ operation in Bangladesh
The central bank of Bangladesh has asked to commercial banks to suspend operations in ‘ACU Euro’ temporarily as the payment channel for processing such transactions has been suspended by some correspondents. “Accordingly, all eligible current account transactions in ‘ACU Euro’ are permitted to be settled outside the ACU mechanism until further notice,” the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central, said in a directive on Wednesday. In 2009, the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) introduced Euro alongside the US dollar for settlement of payments among its member countries. Under the existing Guidelines for Foreign Exchange Transactions (GFET), the banks are allowed making for payment settlement through ACU mechanism in either ‘ACU Dollar’ or in ‘ACU Euro’.
Formal banking sector should find a balance between their collateral schemes and low interest rate to reach out to the grassroots-level people, who are mostly resorting to high interest microcredit schemes, the government policymakers opined on Wednesday. The Banking Division secretary observed that conventional banks are missing out the opportunity to reach out to majority rural population despite their excess liquidity and low interest rate. The Banking Division secretary noted that the absence of collateral in microcredit is a key reason. For this rural people are opting for microcredit while shying away from taking loans from conventional banks.
SIBL chair, director sell 1.9 million shares without announcement
Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges have found that the Social Islami Bank chairman and another director of the bank sold 187.7 million shares of the entity worth around BDT 236.0 million without making announcement in violation of securities and tax rules. Rezaul sold 9,36,396 shares of the entity worth around BDT 11.7 million on June 29 this year while Awal sold another 9,40,910 shares of the entity at around BDT 11.8 million, showed the letters of the bourses. Neither Awal, also a former chairman of the bank, nor Rezaul, made any announcement regarding their share selling, said the findings of the bourses. As per rules 34 (1) of listing regulations of Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges, every sponsor or director of an issuer of listed securities shall simultaneously submit a written report to the exchange and to the commission about his intention to buy or sell or otherwise dispose of the securities of the issuer held by him in the prescribed format along with his declaration. The Exchange shall disseminate such declaration of sponsors or directors through the trading system of the exchange.
FY16 investment in NSCs hits record BDT 336.7 billion
The net investment in the national savings certificates and bonds hit a fresh record at BDT 336.7 billion in the recently concluded fiscal year 2015-16 as clients invested heavily in the savings tools due to lower rates of interest on deposit products of the scheduled banks. The previous highest net investment in the saving tools was BDT 287.3 billion posted in FY15. The net investment in national savings certificates and bonds surpassed its revised annual target of BDT 280.0 billion in the July-May of FY16. Clients continued to invest heavily in the NSCs due to low bank deposit rates and sluggish business situation in recent months, an official of Directorate of National Savings told New` Age on Wednesday. In its fiscal budget for FY16, the government had initially set a borrowing target of BDT 150.0 billion from the NSCs, but it revised the target in early April amid the clients’ rush for the instruments. The DNS data showed that the net investment in the national savings certificates and bonds increased by 17.24% in FY16 from BDT 287.3 billion in FY15. The savings instruments worth BDT 537.1 billion were sold through banks, national savings bureaus and post offices in FY16 whereas the sales of the NSCs in FY15 were BDT 426.6 billion.
The US-based Citibank NA remained hopeful about Bangladesh’s economic growth prospect. Pointing finger at the country’s recent economic growth, the bank said higher implementation of Annual Development Program and higher consumption driven by new pay scale for public sector employees and moderate inflation helped boost the GDP growth. GDP growth target for FY17 has been set at 7.2%, while the target is to achieve 8.0% by 2020 as per the government’s 7th Five Year Plan. To support the growth, investment-GDP ratio of 34.40% has been aimed for the same period from the existing level of 29.4%, it said. About the local currency versus greenback, it said the demand for dollars subsided briskly in March with growing exports as the pair fell to 78.4 in early March, a level which has prevailed since then. While BDT has remained robust, many of Bangladesh’s trade partner countries have seen their currencies weaken against US dollars. Under the circumstances, it warned that the primary challenge lies in promoting investor confidence and thereby increasing import of capital stocks in productive sectors to take advantage of lower costs induced by exchange rate benefits, which will eventually help in easing appreciation pressure on BDT. Average inflation slid to 12 year lows to 5.92% in FY16 on the back of low food inflation, which was well below the government’s target of 6.2% for the period. Good domestic harvest, low international commodity prices and political stability helped in keeping inflation manageable. Food inflation dived to 4.92% from 6.68% in the past fiscal. However, non-food inflation surged to 7.45% from 5.99% during the same period.
Bangladesh has lowest internet penetration in South Asia: International Telecommunication Union
Bangladesh has the lowest internet penetration in South Asia, with just 14.40% of the population having connectivity to the internet, according to a report by the International Telecommunication Union. The country stands 144th in ITU’s ICT Development Index, up from its 148 spot in 2010. Even Myanmar that introduced mobile phone services only a few years ago came ahead of Bangladesh in the rankings, at 142. Its internet penetration stands at 21.8%. As of December 2015, Bangladesh has 3.9 million fixed broadband subscriptions, which is 2.4% of the total population, according to the ITU report. Earlier, the World Bank in its ‘World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends’ said Bangladesh has the fifth largest offline population in the world, with about 148 million still not connected to the internet. However, the government denied both the reports. Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, said the government is satisfied with the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s published numbers, which show the country’s internet penetration is about 40.0%.
Tea prices in Bangladesh fell about 1% at the weekly auction on Tuesday as volumes on offer were at their highest level of the season, reports Reuters. Bangladesh tea fetched an average of 212.5 BDT (USD 2.8) per kg at the auction, the 13th of the new marketing season, compared with 214.2 BDT in the previous sale. A larger quantity of tea was on offer which was well absorbed at slightly lower rates, National Brokers said in a market report. About 2.3 million kg were offered at the sole auction center in Chittagong, of which about 8% was unsold. In the previous auction, about 8% of the 2 million kg on offer was unsold. Bangladesh has moved from being a net exporter to a net importer of tea due to rising consumption.
Bashundhara Group will receive two prequalification licences today from Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority to set up two separate economic zones at Keraniganj in Dhaka. Beza Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury will hand over the licences to Bashundhara Group at a programme in Dhaka. The group will set up the Bashundhara Special Economic Zone on 56 acres of land and the East West Special Economic Zone on 53.87 acres of land in Keraniganj — some 15 kilometres from the capital. The economic zones will create 44,000 jobs as it will be a suitable place for heavy industries such as cement, liquefied natural gas and petrochemical-based products, said a Beza official. Within a year of receiving the licences, Bashundhara will have to conduct an environmental impact assessment and feasibility study and prepare a master plan. Upon satisfactory completion of the prequalification exercises, it will get the full licence, which will make it eligible to enjoy tax exemption for 12 years. Apart from the developers, entrepreneurs can also get fiscal and financial incentives and other benefits that industrial units typically get in export processing zones. By setting up a unit in an economic zone, investors can get tax exemption facility for 10 years. They can also enjoy Bangladesh’s significant market access to developed and neighbouring countries, demographic dividend, the domestic consumer market and most importantly, the cheap labour force.
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