Private sector credit growth increased further in January due to higher short-term loans, availed particularly by the corporate entities, for settling their foreign currency liabilities with the banks. The growth in private sector credit flow rose to 15.61 per cent in January 2017 on a year-on-year basis from 15.55 per cent in December 2016. It was 15.01 per cent in November, according to the central bank’s latest statistics, released on Sunday. “The private sector credit growth increased in January following higher short-term lending, taken mainly by the corporate entities to clear their foreign currency loans with offshore banking units (OBUs) of the banks,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE. Most of the corporate entities have settled their foreign currency loans with the local ones to avoid exchange loss in near future, the central banker explained. “The corporate entities were encouraged to avail local currency loans following a depreciating trend of the local currency, Bangladesh Taka (BB), against the US dollar (USD) recently,” he noted. The exchange rate of the local currency depreciated by 28 poisha against the US dollar in the last one month in inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market, bankers said. The US dollar was quoted at BDT 79.40 on March 05 against BDT 79.12 on February 01, they added. Lower interest rates on lending have also encouraged the corporate entities to receive short-term local currency loans, according to the BB official.
EEF projects to require Tk 28b fresh fund in next five FYs
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has estimated a fund requirement of Tk 28 billion in next five financial years (FYs) to meet the demands for agro-processing and ICT projects under the Equity and Entrepreneurship Fund (EEF). The central bank recently apprised the Finance Division of the projection ahead of the upcoming national budget for the next fiscal year as the EEF fund comes as a budgetary allocation, officials said. The government has allocated Tk 37.0 billion between fiscal year 2000-01 and 2016-17 for the EEF. Of the amount, some Tk 20.25 billion has been released until January 2017. Making the projection for the period from FY 2017-18 to FY 2021-22, the BB said the agro-processing projects would require Tk 6.0 billion in the next FY and Tk 6.0 billion more in the following FY. The information and communication technology (ICT) projects would require no fresh fund in the two FYs as the existing fund remained idle for lack of adequate demands. The ICT sector still has unused funds worth more than Tk 4.06 billion, officials said.
Govt gives loan moratorium facility to frozen fish exporters
The government has given frozen fish exporters a moratorium facility for 30 per cent of their outstanding working capital loans taken from different banks to help them mitigate liquidity shortage. Under the facility, 30 per cent of the working capital loans along with the interest of regular shrimp and other frozen fish exporters will be transferred to a block account for one year. The finance minister on February 28 issued a circular in this regard. After the one-year moratorium, the loans will become active and fish exporters must repay interest at the rate of 7 per cent while the government will provide the banks the remaining 3 per cent considering the total interest of 10 per cent. The exporters will have to pay the loans by eight years in quarterly instalments. ‘As 30 per cent of the working capital loans will go to the block account and to be opened subsequently, the rest 70 per cent continues to be regular loans,’ explained an official of the finance ministry. The ministry estimated that the government would have to pay Tk 9.44 crore a year for the interest payment and the total amount would be Tk 75.49 crore in eight years, which would be provided from the budgetary support.
Muhith rejects proposal to raise banks stock exposure
Finance Minister AMA Muhith has rejected Orion Group Chairman Obadul Karim’s proposal to raise the limit of stock market exposure for commercial banks along with any contract with the company on the basis of its stocks. The minister recently expressed his agreement with a Bangladesh Bank letter that argued that risks to the banking sector would increase if the limit is raised and if companies can obtain loans on their stock market holdings. However, the central bank says large business groups can obtain loans for investment in priority sectors in the country under state loan guarantee. The Orion Group appealed directly to the Prime Minister’s Office to amend the provisions of the Bank Company Act. The government is amending the law to change the structure of bank director boards. Earlier, Bangladesh Bank General Manager Abu Fara Md Nasar sent the letter to the Finance Ministry recommending that the provisions 26 (A) and 26 (B) of Bank Companies Act 1991 not be amended, in reply to the ministry’s query. In his letter, he said if the provisions are amended, there will be a negative impact on the country’s stock market. Officials of the Bank and Financial Institutions Division said the central bank does not agree with the proposed amendment to provision 26 (A) as the big groups want to have contracts with banks who invest in stocks.
Sonali Bank has sought consent from the central bank to transfer Tk 171 crore to its operation in the UK that is suffering from cash crunch. The board of the bank has approved the transfer of the money to increase the capital of Sonali Bank (UK) to 40 million pounds, after the capital base fell to 28 million pounds in 2015, which was inadequate to run its business. Bangladesh Bank is reviewing the proposal and may give its approval, said officials at Bangladesh Bank and Sonali Bank. Sonali Bank (UK) was set up jointly by the government and the state-run commercial bank in 2001 with a capital of 11.57 million pounds. The government owns 51 percent share while the remainder is held by Sonali Bank. The government has transferred Tk 178.41 crore to the UK operation last July in proportion to its share. Md Obayed Ullah Al Masud, managing director of Sonali, declined to comment, but said their UK operation is profitable now. In 2011, Sonali Bank was allowed to transfer 6.58 million pounds to boost its capital to 25 million pounds.
A Chinese bank in collaboration with Grameen China has opened six branches in the country’s Henan province which will follow the microcredit model of Grameen Bank. Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus attended the launch as the chief guest on February 26. Zhongyuan Bank and Grameen China have teamed up to provide financial services to the rural poor of the province, Yunus Centre said in a statement yesterday.
Country’s small and medium entrepreneurs will have more scope to flourish their businesses under the new Value Added Tax (VAT) law as tax exemption facilities for such businesses have been expanded to a large extent. Under the existing VAT law small businesses are paying VAT but as per the new VAT regime to be implemented from July 1 this year, all businesses with annual turnover up to Tk 30 lakh shall be completely exempted from paying VAT, reports BSS. “The new VAT law will play an important role for flourishing of small and medium businesses as special focus has been made on this law for these businesses which are playing major roles for the country’s economic progress,” NBR chairman Md Nojibor Rahman told BSS.
Dhaka Stock Exchange’s net income dropped more than 11 percent year-on-year to Tk 119 crore in fiscal 2015-16 — its third year of demutualisation. As its net income declined, the earnings-per share also slid to Tk 0.66 last fiscal year from Tk 0.75 a year ago, according to DSE statistics. The bourse will place the financial statement at its annual general meeting on March 23. A DSE official said one of the main reasons for the fall in net income was the declining interest rate on deposits in the money market. Most of the bourse’s income is generated from interest on fixed deposits, but the average deposit rate declined to 5.54 percent at the end of June last year, from 6.8 percent a year ago. The DSE has around Tk 1,000 crore in fixed deposits with several banks.
The Dhaka Stock Exchange has recommended 10 per cent cash dividend for its shareholders for the financial year of 2015-2016. The DSE board at a meeting on February 22 made the recommendation despite a 15-per cent fall in the bourse’s profit in FY16 from the previous fiscal year. The dividend proposal for FY16 will be placed before the bourse’s 55th annual general meeting scheduled to be held on March 23. The DSE had disbursed 10 per cent cash dividend to its shareholders in FY15 when it made a profit of Tk 134.64 crore with earnings per share of Tk 0.75. But, the bourse’s profit fell to Tk 119.82 crore in FY16 with its EPS coming down to Tk 0.66. DSE officials said that the bourse would have to divert some fund out of its reserve of around Tk 1,000 crore to give its shareholders dividend for FY16 as the total dividend would stand at around Tk 180 crore.
Anti-debt activists have called for a citizens’ debt audit in Bangladesh as the country is overburdened with debt with foreign creditors calling the shot. They made the call during a two-day South Asia workshop of CADTM (Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt) held at Dhaka from March 3-4, 2017. A citizens’ debt audit is an assessment of a country’s debts. It enables people to grasp the ‘ins and outs’ of its national debt process. In Bangladesh, the question of the repayment of public debt is undeniably a taboo subject and the debt audit is a means of breaking this taboo, according to a media statement. The borrowing governments were democratically elected, thus their debts are legitimate; they must be paid, it says.
NBR to start pre-budget talks with stakeholders on Mar 8
The National Board of Revenue is set to start pre-budget discussions with stakeholders including trade bodies, business associations and research and professional organisations from Wednesday to prepare the national budget for the next fiscal year of 2017-18. The NBR, on Wednesday, the first day of the discussion, will discuss with the representatives of three leading trade bodies—Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Every year, the revenue board holds pre-budget discussions with the stakeholders to listen to their proposals for the budget, particularly on issues related to income tax, customs duty and value-added tax. Pre-budget discussions are very important this year as focus of both NBR and stakeholders will be on implementation of the new VAT law, officials said.
Take duty-free access to US market thru’ Kenya: FBCCI
Bangladesh can take the advantage of duty-free access to the market of the United States of America through Kenya, as the African country already enjoys the opportunity. Mentioning this, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) urged governments of Bangladesh and Kenya to take measures to improve bilateral trade relations, reports BSS. “Kenya gets duty-free access in the USA market. Bangladesh can enjoy the opportunity by working with Kenya,” said FBCCI First Vice President M Shafiul Islam at a meeting with a Kenyan business delegation at the chamber’s conference room in Dhaka on Sunday. An FBCCI spokesperson told BSS that Principal Secretary of Kenyan Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Ministry Julius Korir led a 15-member delegation in the meeting.
BD should espouse ‘public interest capitalism’: Expert
A leading global entrepreneur defined a new economic model styled ‘Public Interest Capitalism’ which he said developing countries like Bangladesh should espouse for a balanced development for all. Developing countries like Bangladesh should adopt the notion of ‘Public Interest Capitalism’ instead of the prevailing ‘Shareholder-Centric Capitalism’ to ensure more balanced development across the board, said George Hara, Group Chairman of DEFTA Partners, a leading venture-capital firm with global footprint. Simultaneously, he suggests, the government should eliminate double taxation and provide incentives to bring more investment in the Small and Medium Enterprise sector. “Public-interest capitalism is the way to go for developing countries like Bangladesh,” George Hara, who was in the capital recently to sign a partnership deal with the local venture-capital-firm Maslin Capital, said in an exclusive interview with the FE.
The government has earned revenue worth Tk 24,596 crore from the country’s six mobile operators since 2000, State Minister for Telecom Tarana Halim told parliament yesterday. Replying to lawmakers’ queries, Tarana also said the government has a target to earn Tk 1,582 crore from the mobile operators in the current fiscal year. Grameenphone, the market leader, gave Tk 11,360 crore, Robi Tk 5,273 crore, Banglalink Tk 5,208 crore, Airtel Tk 1,595 crore, and Citycell, the oldest operator, gave Tk 697 crore. State-owned operator Teletalk provided revenue of Tk 460 crore, Tarana said in a scripted answer.
Bangladesh will add 1.1cr new mobile users by 2020: GSMA
The country will connect another 11 million (1.1 crore) unique mobile customers by 2020, to join the league of top ten growing countries, a study by GSMA, the association of mobile operators, projected. The global organisation of all the mobile operators said within the next few years, 900 million unique mobile subscribers will join worldwide, and 72 percent of that will be from the top ten countries, according to a study report titled ‘The Mobile Economy’. A unique customer is a single user who may have a single or multiple SIMs. Currently, around 85 million unique customers are using mobile connections in the country, according to Association of Mobile Telecom Operators in Bangladesh (AMTOB), though the number of active SIMs stands at more than 120 million. Industry experts said there is a tendency to use multiple SIMs in a market like Bangladesh. India, already the world’s second largest mobile market, will be the primary driver of this growth, with 310 million new unique subscribers expected in the period to 2020, helped by improving affordability, falling device prices and better network coverage, reads the report.
BGMEA floor space owners worried about compensation
The individuals or organisations who own floor spaces in the BGMEA Complex are worried about compensation and relocating elsewhere now that the Supreme Court has ordered the BGMEA to tear the building down. The apex court on Sunday dismissed the BGMEA’s petition seeking review of its verdict that upheld the High Court’s demolition order last year. The High Court verdict, issued in 2010, also directed the BGMEA to return the money the owners paid to buy the floor spaces, as those transactions now stand vitiated. The court also ordered the BGMEA to pay the compensation within 12 months from the date the owners make the claim. Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune on Sunday, some of the owners said the compensation claim could turn ugly if the BGMEA did not follow the court’s order.
The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate yesterday recovered huge quantities of cigarettes, televisions and contraband liquors imported from China under false declarations. The items were found after six containers were opened at the New Mooring Container Terminal at Chittagong Port in presence of officials of the directorate and Chittagong Customs House. The directorate detected 12 containers in two consignments, while physical examination of the rest six containers will be held today. The two consignments were brought by two separate business firms — Henan Anhui Agro Lc at Dumni of Khilkhet in Dhaka and Agro BD & JP of Keraniganj. Both the firms are owned by a person named Khorshed Alam, said officials. The declaration said the imported products were capital machinery to produce animal feed, they added. But no office or factory was found at the respective addresses of the companies, officials said.
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