ICB Islamic Bank has no merger plan
Troubled ICB Islamic Bank has no plan to merge or sell on the majority shares owned by Malaysian entrepreneurs despite the bank’s struggle to improve its financial indicators since current owners took over in 2008, a top official said. Though the bank has paid off 98.5% account holders’ deposits, those are individual depositors. “Most of the remaining 1.5% deposits are of corporate clients who have big chunk of money with the bank. We need two more years to pay their deposits,” said Muhammad Shafiq Bin Abdullah, managing director and chief executive officer of ICB Islamic Bank. Corporate clients will get around BDT 5.0 billion from the bank. Switzerland-based ICB Financial Group Holdings acquired the majority stakes of former Oriental Bank in February 2008 under a BB reconstruction scheme and renamed the institution as ICB Islamic Bank. Though the new owner was supposed to inject fresh capital to strengthen its financial health, it did not happen. Accordingly, the bank’s financial indicators, such as capital position, classified loans, deposit, investment and accumulated loss, deteriorated over the years.
City Bank’s IFC loan gets Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission nod
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) yesterday approved the City Bank’s proposal to raise more than BDT1.3 billion from the International Finance Corporation. The proposal was made in order to strengthen the bank’s Tier-I capital, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group. The City Bank will raise the fund in the form of equity shares. The shares will remain locked-in for three years. Upon the approval, International Finance Corporation will pay BDT 28.3 for each share, which includes a premium of BDT 18.3. The City Bank will issue over 46.0 million ordinary shares. Earlier, the City Bank and IFC made an agreement on convertible loan into common equity of the bank.
Government net bank borrowing in negative territory
Slower execution of development projects along with a surge in the sales of savings instruments has put the government’s bank borrowing at a negative territory until May last. A rising trend in government’s net bank borrowing target continues into the next fiscal year (FY) despite lower than projected borrowing made to finance the budget deficit. Until May 29, requisite repayment of the debt had outweighed fresh receipts. The government has set a bank-borrowing target of BDT 389.4 billion for the Financial Year 2016-17. The original bank borrowing target for the outgoing fiscal is BDT 385.2 billion, according to the proposed budget document. Such government borrowing from domestic and overseas sources is required to finance the deficit projected for the upcoming fiscal. The overall excess liquidity in the commercial banks’ coffers stood at around BDT 1.1 trillion as of April 7 last. But major portion of the funds has been invested in the risk-free government securities, according to the central banker. The overall excess liquidity with the commercial banks was around BDT 1.2 trillion a month ago. Under the proposed arrangement, BDT 289.1 billion will be borrowed from the country’s banking system by issuing long-term Bangladesh Government Treasury Bonds (BGTBs) while the remaining BDT 100.3 billion through auctions of short-term treasury bills (T-bills).
Government needs to borrow more from cheap external sources
Economists at a post-budget meet Monday suggested securing cheap foreign loans in greater volume instead of borrowing high-cost funds from domestic sources to finance the budget deficit in the next fiscal. The shift, they felt, would help reduce the interest payment burden and avoid crowding out the private sector. The panel of economists at the seminar pointed out the stagnant private investment as a major challenge for the government as far as the execution of the BDT 3.4 trillion national budget for the financial year (FY) 2016-17 is concerned. They recommended proper use of the country’s macroeconomic stability in the task of alluring private investment. They also wanted the government to enhance the capacities of various institutions expeditiously, establish good governance and help achieve the desired level of economic growth. Their suggestions and observations came at a ULAB (University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh)-CPD seminar on ‘State of the Bangladesh Economy FY 2015-2016 and National Budget FY 2016-17’.
Exports top USD 30.0 billion in 11 months
The country’s export earnings in the July-May period of the current fiscal year 2015-2016 stood at USD 30.7 billion with an 8.95% growth from the same period of the previous fiscal year, riding on a continued rise in readymade garment exports. According to the provisional data of the Export Proportion Bureau, export earnings in May stood at USD 3.0 billion, which is 6.5% higher than the USD 2.8 billion earned in the same month of the FY15. With one month remaining of the FY16, EPB officials expect that export earnings could surpass the annual target of USD 33.2 billion by the end of June. Garment exporters said that shipments of RMG items to major export destinations like the US and the UK rose in the current fiscal year shaking off the jittery over safety of the garment units following safety inspections and remediation process. According to the EPB data, earnings from the RMG exports in the 11 months of FY16 amounted to USD 25.1 billion, which is about 9.5% higher than the USD 22.9 billion achieved in the same period of the FY15. In July to May, the woven sector earned USD 13.2 billion with a 12% growth, while the knitwear sector fetched USD 11.9 billion with about a 6.8% growth.
Subsidy to soar 37.0% next fiscal year
Expenditure on subsidy is set to soar about 37.0% in fiscal 2016-17 from that in the current year owing to food distribution at lower prices through public channels and opening up of new sectors to financial support. Some BDT 267.3 billion has been allocated for subsidy purposes next fiscal year, according to data from the finance ministry. Food subsidy will shoot up 42.7% year-on-year to BDT 28.2 billion even though the prices of staples have dropped at both the international and local markets. The subsidy will be required as the government plans to sell rice and wheat at lower prices next fiscal year, like it has done this year. For open market sale (OMS), the price of rice is BDT 15.0 a kg and the price of wheat is BDT 17.0 per kg. The government’s latest procurement price for rice is BDT 32.0 a kg. Besides, from the forthcoming fiscal year the government also plans to introduce the Palli Rationing Program, under which rice would be sold at a price that would be lower than the OMS rate. The demand for food grains sold under the OMS program declined in recent times as the price of rice fell much in the local market.
Robi-Airtel merger: HC gives government 5 more weeks to submit report
The High Court on Monday gave the government five more weeks to submit its recommendations about the proposed merger of mobile phone operators Robi and Airtel. The company bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed passed the order after the posts and telecommunications ministry had sought more time to submit the recommendations. This is the fifth time the government has got time extension from the HC for submitting its opinions on the proposed merger. The next hearing on the matter will be held on July 14. Telecom ministry officials said that the government was preparing a set of recommendations where some fees would be imposed on the merged entity for completing the deal. They said that the merged entity would have to pay BDT 5.1 billion for adjusting the price of Airtel’s 2G spectrum.
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