Private credit growth hits 18.36pc
Private sector credit growth continues its forward thrust despite liquidity crisis and rising interest rates as businesses jump into an expansion mode. In January, private sector credit growth stood at 18.36 percent, up from 18.13 percent the previous month — and way past the ceiling of 16.8 percent set for the latter half of fiscal 2017-18. “Demand for credit is on the rise because of huge business expansion in the private sector,” said Anis A Khan, managing director of Mutual Trust Bank. So much, that the double-digit interest rate is not deterring borrowers, he said. Khan hopes the interest rate on lending will not go up any further after the central bank extended the deadline for lowering banks’ loan-deposit ratio from June to December. With the view to curbing aggressive lending, the central bank on January 30 had instructed banks to bring down their loan-deposit ratio to 83.5 percent from 85 percent. The BB move induced a panic and liquidity crunch among banks, pushing up the interest rate in the process. This prompted the BB to extend the deadline for lowering the ratio. The state banks are also increasing their loan book, contributing to the higher private sector credit growth, said Mohammad Shams-Ul Islam, managing director of Agrani Bank. The public banks have enough room to widen their loan book but they cannot do so because of a ceiling set by the BB on their loan growth with the view to improving their financial health.
Remittance drops in February
The flow of inward remittance dropped by nearly 17 per cent in February despite maintaining an upward trend in the first eight months of the current fiscal year (FY), officials said. Bangladeshi nationals working abroad sent US$1.15 billion in February. The amount was lower by $230.79 million than the remittance sent in the previous month. In January 2018, the remittance was $1.38 billion. It was $940.75 million in February 2017, according to the central bank’s latest statistics, released Thursday. “The inflow of remittance dropped in the month of February mainly due to fewer working days,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE. He said the flow of overall inward remittance is maintaining an upward trend continuously mainly due to the depreciation of local currency against the US dollar. The inflow of overall remittance jumped by more than 16.50 per cent or $1.34 billion to $9.46 billion during the July-February period of the FY 2017-18 from $8.12 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal. “The central bank as well as the government is now working to increase the flow of inward remittance from different parts of the world,” another BB official said without elaborating. Currently, 29 exchange houses are operating across the globe along with 1,198 drawing arrangements to boost the remittance inflow, according to the BB officials. Senior bankers, however, said the flow of inward remittances increased significantly in the first eight month of this fiscal following higher exchange rate of the US dollar against the local currency along with strengthening monitoring by the BB to curb illegal fund transfers. The local currency depreciated by around Tk 2.50 against the US dollar during the period under review for purchasing the greenback from remitters, official known as TT (Telegraphic Transfer) clean, according to a senior executive of a leading private commercial bank. “Such depreciation of the Bangladesh Taka (BDT) against the US dollar has contributed to push up the inflow of inward remittances in the recent months,” the senior banker explained.
Farm loans up 4.47pc in Jul-Jan
Agriculture loan disbursement rose 4.47 percent year-on-year to Tk 12,702 crore in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, according to central bank data. Commercial banks have long been showing an increased interest in disbursing more farm credit amid a sluggish demand from the industrial sector, according to officials of the Bangladesh Bank. In July-January, eight state-owned commercial and specialised banks — Sonali, Janata, Agrani, Rupali, BASIC, Bangladesh Development, Bangladesh Krishi and Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan — disbursed Tk 5,299.41 crore in agriculture loans. The amount is 55.26 percent of their total annual farm credit lending target of Tk 9,590 crore. Private and foreign banks lent Tk 7,402.76 crore to the sector during the period, which is nearly 70 percent of their total annual farm lending goal of Tk 10,810 crore. The BB officials said the farm loan disbursement may face a slowdown in the months to come. Six to seven months ago, most banks had an excess of cash, prompting them to channel more money to the farm sector.
Govt to decide lawsuit or diplomatic efforts today
The government is scheduled for a meeting today to decide whether to launch a legal battle to recover $51.5 million of the $81 million theft reserve fund traced in Manila as 18 visits to the Philippines under ‘diplomatic efforts’ have made hardly any headway. Officials said that the series of tours to Manila began after the detection of the theft from the Bangladesh Bank’s reserve fund in February 2016 and resulted in the recovery of $15 million in November 2016.
Combat money laundering to sustain business: Top central banker suggests banks
Speakers at a conference have urged the authorities and high officials of the banks to put in their best efforts to prevent money laundering and terror financing from the banking sector for sustaining business. “Banks will have to take necessary steps for preventing the risk of money laundering and terror financing to sustain their banking business in the country,” Bangladesh Bank (BB) Deputy Governor and Head of the Bangladesh Financial Intelligent Units (BFIU) Abu Hena Mohd Razee Hassan said, reports BSS. The deputy governor was speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural session of the “Chief Money Laundering Compliance Officers’ Conference-2018” held on Friday at a hotel in Cox’s Bazar, according to a statement. BFIU organised the conference in association with the Anti Money Laundering Compliance Officers of Banks in Bangladesh (AACOBB). BB Executive Director and BFIU Deputy Head Mijanur Rahman Joddar attended the conference as the special guest while Executive Director of the BB Chittagong Office Mohd. Humayun Kabir and BFIU Adviser Deboprashed Debo Nath were present at the session.
Preparation underway to get back funds laundered abroad
The government moves to make mechanisms to bring back huge money siphoned off the country through various conduits, including false trade declarations. Officials said an inter-agency taskforce, which has been re-structured recently for gearing up the combat, will sit for its first meeting Monday to chalk out possible measures to get back the money, which, by one account, ballooned to US$61.63 billion in a decade to 2014. Committee convener Attorney-General Mahbubey Alam will preside over the meeting to be held in the conference room of Bangladesh Supreme Court. A senior central bank official told the FE that people from various quarters allegedly siphon off billions of taka every year by various means.
PCBs outperform SoCBs in tech-based banking: Study
Country’s state-owned commercial banks (SoCBs) are far behind the private commercial banks (PCBs) in technology-based banking in terms of infrastructure, clientele base and transaction amount, a study reveals. The study on ‘Alternative Delivery Channel: Opportunities and Challenges of New Banking Environment’ conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) shows that ADCs are mainly lead by PCBs. The study has identified lack of long-term vision, proper planning and initiatives; shortage of manpower, poor information technology (IT) budget, weakness in business process reengineering, delay in procurement process and lack of advanced training as main problems for SoCBs.
BB gets third deputy governor
Ahmed Jamal has recently been promoted as the third deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank. Prior to the promotion, he has been serving the central bank as the executive director since May 12 in 2012, the banking regulator said in a statement yesterday. Jamal will serve in his new role for over five years till reaching the age of 62 years on June 30 in 2023, according to the statement.
Foreign investment nosedives in DSE
Net foreign investment in the Dhaka Stock Exchange plummeted to Tk 94 crore in the negative last month as the unease among general investors over the politics and liquidity crisis appear to have caught on with their foreign counterparts as well. In February, foreign investors sold shares worth Tk 487 crore against the purchase of Tk 392 crore, according to the country’s premier bourse. A month earlier, the net foreign investment was Tk 187.24 crore.
Norway’s govt fund doubles stake at Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE)
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest fund, doubled its investment at the capital market of Bangladesh in 2017 compared with that in the previous year, according to data available on its web site. The government pension fund of Norway invested USD 244.41 million in the Bangladesh equity market in 2017 compared with USD 112 million invested in the previous year. The fund made the investment in shares of 20 companies that are listed with the Dhaka Stock Exchange. The Norway’s wealth fund has been increasing its stake in the Bangladesh stock market every year since its start of investment in the country in 2015 with around USD 19 million. The market maintained its bullish trend in the year 2017 on the surge of bank shares. The Norway’s fund also invested mostly in equities of eight listed banks. The SWF invested most in Grameenphone — USD 48.72 million, followed by Square Pharmaceuticals USD 35.54 million, BRAC Bank USD 33.26 million and Mutual Trust Bank USD 19.84 million. It also invested in shares of City Bank, Eastern Bank, ONE Bank, Mercantile Bank, Southeast Bank and Prime Bank. Besides, the Norway’s fund invested in shares of IDLC Finance, LankaBangla Finance, ACME Laboratories, Bangladesh Submarine Cable, Berger Paints Bangladesh, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, IFAD Autos, MJLBD, Olympic Industries and Singer BD. The net foreign investment was BDT 17.05 billion in 2017, up from BDT 13.41 billion in the previous year. According to the DSE data, the net overseas investment at the DSE was BDT 19.43 billion in 2013, BDT 26.20 billion in 2014 and BDT 1.86 billion in 2015.
Making new income tax law loses gear in election year
Enforcing a new income-tax law from the upcoming fiscal year to fill a void looks uncertain in the election year, sources said. The revenue board has adopted a go-slow strategy over completing the draft of the new law, taking a tipoff from government side, sources said. Sources concerned think the government is unlikely to enforce the crucial law in the election year lest there should be any backlash over new provisions. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) had a plan to put the draft of new income-tax law in public domain by December 2017 in the process of making the law that became imperative following a court verdict. The drafting of the income-tax law 2017 in Bangla is yet to be completed by the income-tax wing of the NBR for uploading it for stakeholder opinion.
Development budget will not be revised down
The development budget is unlikely to be revised down this fiscal year despite the knowledge that a big chunk remains unused every year. “So what we can’t spend the amount? It will stay at the state coffer — no one will be able to make away with it,” Planning Minsiter AHM Mustafa Kamal told The Daily Star last week. In fiscal 2017-18, Tk 155,931 crore has earmarked for the annual development programme, Tk 95,515 crore of which would come from the government’s own fund and Tk 60,416 crore from foreign aid. Of the sum, 33.35 percent have been expended in the first seven months of the fiscal year. In the draft proposal for revised ADP that will be placed before the National Economic Council on Tuesday, a cut of Tk 4,950 crore from the foreign aid component would be presented.
Country to launch one-stop investment services in Jun
Investors often complain of cumbersome service procedures and unnecessary delays in getting their businesses rolling in Bangladesh. It so happens largely because of current multi stop service deliveries. How about providing the investors with a one-stop service instead? State-run investment promotion agency Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) is all set to introduce one-stop services in June this year. BIDA identified time as the roadblocks and is now moving forward to removing the barriers to drawing more local and foreign investments. Its efforts have recently been well supplemented in the form of promulgation of the relevant law. The Jatiya Sangsad on February 5 passed the One Stop Service Bill, 2018. In an exclusive interview with UNB, BIDA Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam, said investors would get one-stop investment services from June this year.
Bangladesh, Russia, India sign MoU on trilateral cooperation
Bangladesh, Russia and India signed a memorandum on trilateral cooperation Thursday in Moscow for the implementation of Rooppur NPP construction project, according to a statement released by Rosatom on the day. Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation-Rosatom , Bangladesh’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the Department of Atomic Energy of India signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation for the implementation of the Rooppur NPP construction project in Bangladesh, according to the statement issued by Rosatom’s PR manager in South Asia Daria Savchenko. On the Russian side, the memorandum was signed by Deputy Director General for international relations of the State Corporation Rosatom Nikolay Spassky, for Bangladesh side by the Ambassador of Bangladesh in the Russian Federation S. M. Saiful Hoque and for Indian side by the Ambassador of India in Russia Pankaj Saran respectively. The Russian side is building a nuclear power plant in Bangladesh on ‘turnkey’ basis. The general construction contractor is JSC Atomstroyexport, which is a part of the Engineering Division of Rosatom. The scope of work includes design, production and supply of equipment, construction, installation, start-up and commissioning. The MoU set a framework for the interaction of the Russian contractor, Bangladeshi and Indian experts for implementing works related to the project.
Plan to build 800-MW plant at Rupsha sans ensuring gas supply
The government has planned to build an 800-megawatt (MW) gas-based power plant at Rupsha in Khulna despite uncertainty over the supply of natural gas, officials said on Thursday. Power Division officials said they have a plan to start the construction of the proposed power plant early this year. The Tk 88.16-billion power plant project is now awaiting approval of the Planning Commission (PC). The state-owned North-West Power Generation Company Limited (NWPGCL) has proposed to build the plant, depending on the availability of imported LNG, to be supplied to the local gas transmission line, a senior Power Division official said. The proposed 800-MW plant will require 125 million cubic feet of gas for generating power a day. According to the proposal, the LNG will be gasified through a proposed Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) at Maheshkhali or at Mongla or in Patuakhali. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has assured of providing US$600 million funds for the power plant project and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has assured $200 million.
Matarbari dev project to be ‘fast track’ one
The government has decided to enlist Moheshkhali-Matarbari integrated infrastructure development initiative as a ‘fast track’ project to quicken its implementation, sources said. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) recently formed a high-profile body to coordinate the development works in the area, they added. Chief Coordinator for SDG Affairs at PMO Abul Kalam Azad will lead the 14-member committee. It also comprises the secretaries of PMO, Power Division, Energy Division, water ministry, Road transport and highways Division, shipping ministry, industries ministry, commerce ministry and Local Government Division, and the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) executive chairman, among others. The committee has been asked to oversee and monitor the overall infrastructural development works in Moheshkhali-Matarbari area. According to officials, once a project is enlisted as a ‘fast track’ one, PMO closely monitors its implementation progress and provides necessary supports for removing bottlenecks in its completion. The government also keeps special allocation for the ‘fast track’ projects in the budget.
Bangladesh forerunner among South Asian countries in green Ready-Made Garment (RMG)
Bangladesh has taken the foremost position in sustainable green industrialization in the readymade garment (RMG) sector with the sub-continental region’s highest number of 67 USGBC LEED certified factories. Bangladesh is in lead position in South Asia in setting up green RMG factories, according to Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Middle East Markets, of Green Building Certification Inc (GBCI). Indonesia is in second position while India securing third spot. BGMEA in collaboration with USGBC and GBCI awarded the 13 LEED Platinum ranked factories for their high performance in green industrialization. “The world’s highest rated LEED Platinum denim factory, knit, washing plant and textile mill, all are located in Bangladesh”, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President said.
RMG failing to move apace with BD economic progress
The extent of social upgradation Bangladesh’s apparel sector has attained over the last five years is unable to keep pace with the desired progress on the economic front, risking its sustainability, a study reveals. Such uneven situation has posed a threat to the long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the largest export-earning sector, says the study report by the Centre for Policy Dialogue. It also revealed that the ratio of female workers declined while male participation increased. Also, while the share of female employment in upper-and middle grades was slowly rising particularly in grade III, IV and V, they remained scant in top grades such as grade I and II. The wage gap between male and female has also declined, it further showed. “The upgradation is most prominent in case of social issues, particularly with regard to standards, non-discrimination and employability, but very poor in terms of rights,” Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the CPD, said while presenting the preliminary findings of the survey. Upgradation is moderate in gender-related issues while enterprises are behind in terms of economic upgradation due to poor performance in product and functional upgradation. “Such an unbalanced growth usually has limited positive impact in terms of firm’s overall competitiveness, especially of small and medium enterprises,” says the presentation on the findings. The outcome of the survey, titled ‘New Dynamics in Bangladesh’s Apparel Enterprises: Perspectives on Restructuring, Upgradation and Compliance Assurance’, was shared at a dialogue on ‘Ongoing Upgradation in RMG Enterprise: Results from a Survey’ in the city Saturday.
Women’s participation in RMG workforce declines
The ratio of female workers’ participation in the RMG sector, known as a women-driven sector, has seen a decline in the recent years, a survey report says. The survey, titled “Ongoing Upgradation in RMG Enterprise: Preliminary Results from a Survey” conducted by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), was released on Saturday in Dhaka.
More gas discoveries likely
Bangladesh’s prospects of unearthing more gas have brightened further after the latest discoveries in Bhola, experts said yesterday. “I am not saying that Bangladesh is floating on gas, but I am also not saying that we don’t have any more gas,” said Badrul Imam, a professor of the Dhaka University’s geology department. The fact is that there is a big amount of gas lying underground — waiting to be used. There is ample scope for finding petroleum reservoir or oil and gas reservoir especially in the southern coastal region, he said. Imam’s comments came at a seminar on “Prospects of Bhola Gas Field and Energy Security”, organised by the Forum for Energy Reporters Bangladesh (FERB) at the Dhaka Club. State-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company (Bapex) has started production of gas on an experimental basis from a newly found field in Bheduria union located on the northern part of Bhola. The gas field has been named Bhola North and is about 32km north of the Shahbazpur Gas Field in the district.
Exports of jute, jute goods show steady growth
Jute and jute goods export maintained a steady growth as the country earned $66.18 crore in the first seven months (July-January) of the current fiscal year (FY2017-18), which is 17.36 per cent up from the previous fiscal (FY2016-17), reports BSS. The country earned $56.39 crore by exporting jute and jute goods during the same period in FY2016-17. According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), earnings from raw jute export were $9.55 crore during July-January period of FY2017-18, from jute yarn and kundali were $41.46 crore, from jute sac and bag were $9.25 crore and from other jute products were $7.03 crore. “There is huge demand of jute and jute goods of Bangladesh in around 60 countries. But we are failing to exploit this huge export potentials properly because we are lagging behind in production and diversification of jute and jute products,” said Chairman of Bangladesh Jute Mill Corporation (BJMC) Dr Mahmudul Hasan. Talking to the news agency, he said the present government has taken special measures to produce quality jute and diversify jute products. Along with extending policy support, the government has increased cash incentive for diversification of jute products, he added.
Railway agrees to share fiber lease revenue with Grameenphone (GP)
Bangladesh Railway has agreed to share with mobile phone operator Grameenphone its revenue from lease proceeds of railway’s 1,600 kilometers of fiber optic cable. A joint committee comprising representatives of Bangladesh Railway and Grameenphone, which was formed for revising agreement between the entities on dark fiber use, has agreed in this regard, officials of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and Bangladesh Railway have said. GP wants its rights to determination of price of BR’s fire to ensure that there is no discrimination and logical revenue sharing. Apart from that, the mobile phone operator would continue to give all day to day support, customer communication and technical assistance, among others, along with lease money to Bangladesh Railways. On the other hand, GP will use BR’s 10 pairs of fiber optic cables in 24-pair section, 8 pairs in 16-pair section and all four-pair in Jamuna Bridge Railway Link Project section. Meanwhile, Bangladesh Railway has already leased 412 kilometres of its fibre cable to another mobile phone operator, Robi Axiata Limited, which was developed by the BR after 1997 and remained out of the contract between BR and GP.
BTRC to block 30 lakh sims for breaching rules
At present, one national ID card can have at most 15 mobile connections on it. Earlier on December 31, 2017 the government gave a two-month timeframe for subscribers to deactivate their excess SIM cards. “But the response was low,” said a top official of the telecom division related with the process. The BTRC used its main server, where all the mobile operators are connected, to detect that about five lakh NID cards had registered more than 15 SIM cards each. Now, violators will have their SIM cards blocked at random without getting any prior notice, said the official. The SIM blocking process will start soon, he said, adding that state-owned Teletalk might be spared. Subscribers can find the total number of SIM cards registered against his/her NID card by dialling the USSD code *16001# from their handsets and then providing the last four digits of their NID card number. An initial government assessment of one lakh SIM cards taken at random from all six mobile operators found that 75 percent of those had faulty registrations.
eGeneration partners with German co
eGeneration Limited, leading IT company for system integration, blockchain, data analytics, training and software solutions has recently signed an agreement with Germany based software solution company Logosworld for critical SAP implementation. eGeneration has a major focus on cutting-edge technologies and has a diversified portfolio of clients in countries including USA, UK, UAE, Russia, Uganda, Japan, Canada, Denmark, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and India. Logosworld works with hologramming, smart industry, cloud, project implementation and so on. Besides, they are providing ERP solution SAP & corporate training to different countries. Both companies will work jointly to implement various projects locally and internationally.
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