The overall small and medium enterprise (SME) credit disbursement grew by 22.49 per cent in 2016 following strengthened monitoring and supervision by Bangladesh Bank (BB), officials said. All banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) disbursed Tk 1,419.35 billion loan to 634,574 SME entrepreneurs across the country in 2016, which was 125 per cent higher than the previously-fixed target of Tk 1,135.03 billion. A total of Tk 1,158.70 billion SME loan was disbursed in 2015. The loans were given to the SMEs of more than 60 sub-sectors, such as light-engineering, handicraft, flower, fish-processing, handloom, rice-mill, jamdani, Rajshahi silk, khadi, bio-gas and compost fertiliser etc. Talking to the FE, a senior BB official said not only disbursement but also recovery of such loans had also increased significantly in 2016. The recovery of SME loans increased by more than 13 per cent to Tk 1,226.43 billion in the last calendar year from Tk 1,079.84 billion in a year ago, the BB data showed. However, the amount of non-performing loans in the SME sector rose by more than 23 per cent to Tk 233.24 billion in 2016 from Tk 189.24 billion in 2015.
The High Court has sought a list of companies, organisations and individuals whose bank loans have been written off till December 31 last year. The court ordered the governor of Bangladesh Bank to submit the list within 30 days. The HC also asked whether those companies, organisations and individuals were given any new loans or not, Deputy Attorney General SM Moniruzzaman told The Daily Star. He said the HC bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir passed the order on Tuesday on a suo moto (on its own) move, following a report published in a newspaper on February 26. The HC also issued a rule asking the secretaries to the ministries of finance and law and the BB governor to explain why the Bank Companies Act 1991 provision that empowers the central bank to exempt anybody from loans should not be declared unconstitutional, DAG Moniruzzaman added. According to Bangladesh Bank data, banks’ total written-off loans increased to over Tk 42,674 crore as of September 30 from Tk 42,322 crore as of June 30, 2016.
verall remittance inflow dropped by 17 per cent or US$1.66 billion in the first eight months of the current fiscal over the corresponding period of last fiscal, partly for immigration turmoil abroad. The remittance receipts came down to $8.11 billion during the July-February period of the financial year (FY) 2016-17 from $9.77 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the central bank’s latest statistics, released Wednesday. It was estimated at $935.20 million in February 2017, down by $73.24 million from the level of the previous month. In January, the remittance stood at $1.01 billion. It was $1.34 billion in February 2016. “The flow of inward remittances dropped significantly in the recent months following lower development activities in the Middle-East countries alongside an uptrend in sending hard-earned money by expatriate Bangladeshis using informal channel,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE. Also, he mentioned a significant development on the immigration that also began to cast a negative impact on the remittance earnings. There has been a gradual impact on the flow of inward remittance of the tightening of immigration rules by different countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Malaysia, he said. “The government should take effective measures immediately for revamping the flow of inward remittance,” the central banker noted.
PM launches stipend distribution through mobile banking
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said the government is making constant efforts to build an educated nation as education is the key tool to make Bangladesh poverty free. She made the statement while inaugurating a Disbursement of Primary Education Stipend using Mobile Banking project from Gonobhaban on Wednesday. The prime minister inaugurated the project titled “Mayer Hasi” through video conferencing with concerned deputy commissioners of the districts, upazila nirbahi officers and power sector officials, reports BSS. Terming the stipend distribution through mobile banking system a step forward by the government in building a digital Bangladesh, the prime minister said her government is working to provide the people with prosperous lives. Prior to distribution of the stipend, she said many families could not send their children to school, instead deploying them in hard physical labour for a living.
Utilising public-private partnership (PPP), regional trade facilitation and human capital development programmes are crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with greater inclusion of the private sector, speakers said at a seminar on Wednesday. They also suggested providing incentives on project implementation under SDGs as well as initiatives to lessen entrepreneurs’ knowledge gap and help them establish businesses compliant with workplace and environment for ensuring the private sector’s contribution to achieve the goals. The opinions came at a seminar titled ‘Strategies for business benefits from SDG for the private sector’, organised by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) at its head-office in the capital. Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs) of Prime Minister’s Office Md Abul Kalam Azad attended the seminar as the chief guest. Member of General Economic Division of Planning Commission and Senior Secretary Dr Shamsul Alam, and former caretaker government adviser Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman were present as the special guests.
Four joint venture companies are going to invest more than $600 million in different parts of the country to generate 258 megawatts of electricity from solar energy. The cabinet committee on purchase yesterday approved a proposal to set up the four power plants. The government will purchase electricity at Tk 10.40 to Tk 11.20 per kilowatt-hour unit. Funds for the power plants will be raised from international banks and financial institutions, according to power division officials. The division has selected the companies based on their financial strength and capacity to raise credit, said an official. He said the figure on the actual investment to be made by the companies will be available after implementation of the projects, which have to be completed within 18 months of signing the agreements. A consortium of Zhejiang DunAn New Energy Co, China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation, Solar Tech Power and Amity Solar will set up a 100MW plant in the Teesta barrage area under Nilphamari and Lalmonirhat districts. The plant will be run on a built-own-operate basis. The government will purchase each unit of electricity at Tk 11.20.
The Japan funded massive Matarbari 1,200 megawatt coal power plant project near Maheshkhali was stalled following the Holey Artisan Bakery militant attack in July but it is now moving forward with just two Japanese bidders taking part. Marubeni and a consortium of Toshiba-Sumitomo have submitted technical and financial bids in late January for the $4.5 billion project. It is one of the costliest coal power plant projects in the world, industry insiders said. These two companies were selected through a prequalification process in August 2015 but the bidding process stagnated after that. The technical evaluation committee (Tec) of the project is evaluating whether the bidders qualify for the project. The Tec would open their financial bids afterwards and recommend the lowest competitive bidder for the construction of the plant that would use imported coal. Sources said offers of both the bidders have some shortcomings but the project’s financier Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) wants to go ahead with the bids anyway. Jica would provide $3.8 billion as soft loan.
Reliance wants Petrobangla to keep USD 1.4 billion in annual deposit
Reliance Power Ltd of India has attached a number of conditions for supplying liquefied natural gas to state-owned Petrobangla from its proposed LNG terminal in the Bay of Bengal. Officials said the Indian energy giant wanted to set up the terminal on the Kutubdia Island instead of previously chosen Maheshkhali Island in the Bay in its proposed gas purchase agreement. Reliance Power Ltd found Kutubdia Island more feasible than the Maheshkhali Island for setting up the floating terminal and importing 500.0 million cubic feet gas per day, said officials. Reliance Power Ltd also wanted Petrobangla to set aside USD 1.4 billion fund annually as earnest money which worried the cash strapped state-owned energy supplier. Besides, Reliance Power Ltd pointed out that the necessity of signing an Implementation Agreement with the singing of gas purchase agreement with Petrobangla. Energy division secretary Nazimuddin Chowdhury declined to talk on the proposed import of LNG through the floating terminal by Reliance. On January 23, the energy division informed the ministry of finance about the requirement of financial security of Reliance Power Ltd, said the officials. There is a supply shortage of 500.0 to 700.0 million cubic feet natural gas daily in the country in absence of sufficient gas exploration activities. In January, local Summit Group signed an initial contract with Petrobangla to set up a liquefied natural gas terminal on Moheshkhali Island at a cost of about USD 500.0 million.
Slow exports, remittance new challenges for Bangladesh: IMF
Slowdown in exports and weak remittance growth are the new challenges for Bangladesh’s economy, said Mitsuhiro Furusawa, deputy managing director of International Monetary Fund. Furusawa, who came to Dhaka on Sunday on a two-day visit, talked to The Daily Star in an exclusive interview at the IMF office in the capital. Bangladesh should implement the VAT law and boost investment to attain sustainable growth as well as to become a middle income country, said Furusawa, who started to work with the IMF as deputy managing director in 2015.
Bangladesh should adopt smart manufacturing: analysts
Local manufacturers should embrace smart technologies to increase efficiency and productivity to help Bangladesh become a middle income nation by 2021 and a developed country by 2041, analysts said yesterday. “Smart manufacturing creates new business models, services and markets,” said Charlotta Johnsson, associate professor for automatic control at Lund University in Sweden, at a seminar at Amari hotel in Dhaka. Smart manufacturing is the ultimate destination, said Kazi M Aminul Islam, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA). “If we adopt it we will be winners. If we don’t, we will be left behind and will be losers.” Their comments came at the seminar on “Making Bangladesh a next generation manufacturing hub”. The embassy of Sweden and the Business Sweden, the Swedish trade and investment council, jointly organised the programme.
The transport workers’ strike affected the supply chain of commodities, including perishables, hurting businesses and consumers in different parts of the country, traders said yesterday. Vegetable prices went up in various parts of the country, including Dhaka, as the vegetables were left stranded at the producing regions. Commodities, including perishables like onions and fruits, also remained stuck at the ports until yesterday noon when the strike was called off. Transport workers went on a sudden countrywide strike since February 28, protesting a verdict by two courts against a bus driver and a truck driver for two separate accidents and deaths. “We have kept potatoes and other vegetables at our store since Tuesday.
Second submarine cable to go into operation this month
The government is going to start work on connecting the country to a second submarine cable from the current month. State Minister for Posts and Communications Tarana Halim disclosed this while talking to reporter after she visited the second submarine cable’s Kuakata landing station at Maitbhanga in Kuakata here. On February 21 last, Bangladesh connected to second submarine cable for commercial use with Kuakata landing station. Informing that the work on a transmission link between the Kuakata landing station with Dhaka has been completed, the junior minister said the link was now undergoing tests.
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