Remittance inflow through agent banking rose significantly in the first quarter of 2017 as the service is increasingly gaining ground thanks to its cost-effectiveness. Banks received BDT 2.6 billion from January to March through agent banking channel whereas the network brought home BDT 309 crore throughout 2016 when the service was introduced. While the popularity of agent banking is on the rise, mobile banking, another popular platform for sending money, is losing pace due to higher cost. Remittance channeled through mobile banking declined 6.66% to BDT 220 million in the first quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago, according to Bangladesh Bank data. Monthly remittance receipt through mobile banking was BDT 81.2 million in December last year, which came down to BDT 77.1 million in March. Currently 11 banks are providing agent banking service while 17 banks run mobile banking operations. Remitters prefer agent banking to send money home because it does not require any additional fee to withdraw money from accounts, said a senior executive of a private bank. But mobile banking charges BDT 2 for cashing out every BDT 100, a fee which is deemed costlier by many beneficiaries, he said.
Government securities’ interest rates rise ahead of Eid
The government opted for costlier borrowing with increased interest rates on its securities as banks were least interested to buy the instruments ahead of Eid. Such borrowing through auction of different tools is meant for financing government budget deficit, and a slowdown in their sale prompted the government to put higher baits. Yield, generally known as interest, on both Bangladesh Government Treasury Bonds (BGTB) and treasury bills (T-bills) showed upward trend this week following resumption of auctions after a month’s suspension. The government borrowed BDT 35 billion through issuing 91-Day T-bills, 182- Day T-bills and 02-Year BGTB in the current week as per action calendar, according to officials. A total of BDT 170 billion will be borrowed from the market in June while net borrowing will stand at BDT 135.0 billion after making payments against maturity of the T-bills and bonds, they said. On the other hand, the interest rate on 91-day T-bills rose to 3.38% on June 04 from 2.87% of the previous auction held on April 30 last while the yield on 182 -day T-bills reached 4.25% from 3.14% of the previous auction.
Private sector credit growth edging towards target
Private sector credit growth rose for five months in a row to stand at 16.2% at the end of April, which is close to the target set by the Bangladesh Bank for the second half of the fiscal year. At the end of April, total loans outstanding to the private sector stood at BDT 7492.0 billion at the end of April, according to Bangladesh Bank data. The declining lending rate fuelled the credit demand in the market, said a senior executive of central bank. The average lending rate came down to 9.62% in April from 10.64% a year ago, according to central bank data. Consumer financing also contributed to the rise. As per latest data, total consumer loan rose 14.16% from a year ago. Public sector credit growth, on the other hand, has remained in the negative since the beginning of the fiscal year. At the end of April, public sector credit growth was 11.8% in the negative — way off from the targeted ceiling of 16.1% set in the monetary policy.
Slow growth in the country’s export earnings continued with the receipt falling short of target by 4.7% during the first eleven months of the current fiscal year (FY), 2016-17, official data revealed. The country fetched USD 31.79 billion during the July-May period of this FY against the set target of USD 33.35 billion. The earnings, however, registered a 3.67% growth during the period, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data released on Tuesday. The single month earnings in May 2017 stood at USD 3.06 billion, which was USD 3.02 billion in May 2016. But the earnings in May 2017 also fell short of monthly target by 8.5%, the EPB data showed. Exporters and officials focused on the sluggish performance of the readymade garment (RMG) sector in the major markets, followed by decline in both global price and demand as well as currency fluctuation for the scenario. The EPB data showed that earnings from RMG exports during the July-May period of the current fiscal grew by 2.16% to USD 25.62 billion, from USD 25.08 billion in the same period of last fiscal.
The government moves to replace the existing outmoded Financial Institutions Act 1993 with a new one for expansion of the sector, but checking wanton lending operations. Officials said the Ministry of Finance (MoF) is going to hold a meeting sometime this week for a review of a draft of ‘The Finance Company Act 2017’. The relevant agency of the government sat with the stakeholders to finalise the draft Finance Company Act (FCA) aiming to make the act time-befitting, he also said. The draft has already been sent to the agencies concerned, including commerce ministry, the central bank and the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking opinions on the new act, a source said.
Parliament on Tuesday passed the supplementary budget of BDT 183.70 billion (18370.22 crore) for the outgoing fiscal (2016-17) to meet the additional expenditures under different ministries and divisions, reports UNB. Finance Minister AMA Muhith placed the supplementary budget in the House on June 1 along with the national budget. Talking about the savings certificate interest rate, he said that this rate should be fixed at least two percent higher than the existing bank interest rate. Different ministries, divisions and institutions sought the additional amount under 26 demands for grant. As many as 149 cut-motions were moved by seven members. Discussions were held on four cut-motions including Defence, Housing and Public Works Ministry, Local Government Division and Vocational and Madrasha Education Division.
The government agencies concerned have spent 65% of total annual development programme (ADP) outlay for the current financial year (FY), 2016-17, until May, three percentage points higher than the corresponding period of the last FY. Planning Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal on Tuesday said the ministries and agencies spent BDT 772.04 billion out of the total ADP outlay of BDT 1.19 trillion during July-May period of the current FY. In the same period in FY 2015-16, they spent BDT 580.8 billion, 62.0% of the BDT 939.1 billion outlay in the development budget, according to data of Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) of Planning Commission. Emerging from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting, the planning minister told journalists that the ADP implementation rate has gone up by three percentage points to 65.0% until May of FY 17.
The country’s energy regulator and the revenue board are at loggerheads over the ways of collecting 15.0% value added tax (VAT) from electricity subscribers from July 01 with the enforcement of new VAT law, said officials. Consumers fear that the retail electricity prices may increase by at least 10.0% from next month as they would have to count extra money to pay the additional VAT on electricity bills. Currently, they pay 5.0% VAT on monthly electricity bills. Officials said, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) wants the Power Division under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR) to include 15.0% VAT in the retail electricity tariff of the consumers instead of showing it separately in the electricity bills. The NBR currently collects 5.0% VAT on electricity tariff from retail level consumers under a separate head in the electricity bills, said a senior Power Division official.
Foreign portfolio investment in DSE jumps 120.0% in May
Net foreign investment in stocks marked a 120.0% rise on month-on-month basis in May, after hitting eight months low in April, as overseas investors invested more funds in stocks, anticipating positive market scenario. Market insiders said the favourable macroeconomic indicators, including declining interest rate coupled with political calm boosted foreign investors’ confidence to inject fresh funds in the securities. Foreign investors bought shares worth BDT 5.25 billion and sold stocks of BDT 3.72 billion to take their net investment to BDT 1.53 billion in May this year, according to statistics from the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE). In April, net investment by overseas investors was only BDT 700 million, as they bought shares worth BDT 4.69 billion and sold stocks worth BDT 3.98 billion. The April’s net portfolio investment in DSE was also the lowest in the eight months since August 2016.
Factory owners on Tuesday urged the government to withdraw 110% tax hike in bidi proposed in the budget for the fiscal year (FY) 2017-18. They also said the government’s decision would put the lives of two million bidi workers at risk and pave the way for the foreign tobacco companies. Bangladesh Bidi Shilpa Malik Samity (BBSMS), an association of bidi factory owners, came up with the demand at a post-budget press conference held at the National Press Club. BBSMS president Bijoy Krishna Dey, its general secretary Sheikh Mohammad Mohiuddin, BBSMS Rangpur unit president Mojibur Rahman and general secretary Sadakat Hussain Jhantu, among others, attended the press conference. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mohiuddin said the proposed tax hike would imperil the lives of two million bidi workers while 90% of them are women.
Government to set up ‘model pharmacy’ to check substandard drugs
Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim on Tuesday said the government has taken an initiative to set up ‘model pharmacies’, at the district and upazila level, including the divisional cities, to check selling of contaminated, duplicate and substandard drugs, reports BSS. Nasim told the house that the model pharmacy will not only help supply quality drugs among the people but also make people aware of accurate use of drugs. He also said around 98% of the total demand for drugs in the country are being manufactured locally. At present, various drugs are manufactured in the country and its raw materials are being exported to some 127 foreign countries, said the minister. Regarding the government initiative to check the manufacture and selling of contaminated drugs, Nasim said the Department of Drug Administration and the law enforcing agencies are quite aware to check the manufacture of contaminated drugs.
Government to launch Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status for businesses
The government has incorporated a new provision in Customs Act 1969 to award Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) status to honest and genuine exporters and importers to facilitate them with privilege in release of goods from customs stations. The Finance Bill 2017 introduced the provision for the first time in a bid to simplify the customs procedures for both local and international compliant businesses. Importers, exporters, manufacturers and other relevant agencies, like – freight forwarders, clearing and forwarding agents, shipping agents, terminal operators and warehouses, can avail the status of AEO. Officials concerned said cost of doing business will reduce significantly, if Jatiyo Sangsad passes the proposed provision of AEO. A senior customs official said National Board of Revenue (NBR) board will frame rules for awarding the status on the basis of the new provision in Customs Act.
The European Union (EU) has enlisted Bangladesh as a ‘high-risk’ country for operating cargo services by air and sea to its member countries, reports UNB. This was disclosed by Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon on Tuesday. The minister further said they did not impose any embargo on the cargo operation services or issued any letter to the government of Bangladesh in this regard. Menon came up with the disclosure while talking to journalists at his office in the capital. He said EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon held a meeting with chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) Air Vice-Marshal Ehsanul Gani Chowdhury and discussed measures to ensure three security measures that Bangladesh needs to resume the direct cargo services.
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