The country’s trade deficit increased by 36.34 per cent to $5.28 billion in the first seven months of the current financial year 2016-17 compared with that of $3.87 billion in the corresponding period of the FY16. The deficit increased during the period due to lower export earning growth against higher import payments. According to the latest Bangladesh Bank data, the export earnings posted a growth of 4.42-per cent in the July-January period of the FY17 compared with that of 7.11-per cent growth in the same period a financial year ago. The export earnings stood at $19.61 billion in the first seven months of the FY17 while the earnings were $18.78 billion in the same period of the FY16. The export earnings stood at $17.54 billion in the July-January period of the FY15. The imports registered a growth of 9.88 per cent in the July-January period of the FY17 compared with that of 7.30 per cent growth in the same period of the FY16. The import payments stood at $24.90 billion in the first seven months of the FY17 while it was $22.66 billion in the corresponding period of the FY16. The import payments stood at $21.11 billion in the first seven months of the FY15.
Recourse to resource mobilisation from non-bank sources pushed up domestic public debt by nearly 17 per cent in six months to Tk 2.78 trillion until December. During the six months, according to official findings, government borrowing from the banking system marked a negative growth for the switch to non-bank borrowing.People familiar with the financial market told the FE such divergence from banking to non-banking sources impacts the debt-market development. They also said such type of negative borrowing also highlight that the government is losing its space for development works for repayment of huge debts. Public-sector net borrowing from the banking system dwindled into a negative territory with Tk 152.08 billion during the July-December 2016 period of this fiscal year as its repayment is higher than that of fresh borrowing.Its borrowing also marked negative in the last fiscal year, worth Tk 58.71 billion, in comparison with the same period a year before. Sources at the Ministry of Finance and in the banking channels told the FE that this was due to higher inflow of cash from the non-bank sources like the national savings certificates. Besides, the growth in NBR tax mobilisation remained positive. The government planned to borrow from the banking system Tk 389.38 billion (net). It has a plan to repay Tk 1.03 trillion this fiscal year for its debt from the banking system received as long-and short-term debts earlier.
Mercantile Bank Chairman Shahidul Ahsan has drawn benefits from Tk 44-crore shares held by two sponsor directors in the NRB Commercial (NRBC) Bank, violating the Banking Company Law, according to Bangladesh Bank findings. Shahidul influenced the NRBC Bank board to allow him to enjoy dividends against the shares and get loan facilities for his business organisation. He even attended meetings of the NRBC Bank board on several occasions in breach of the law, found the BB. “Shahidul Ahsan is the actual beneficiary of the shares held by two NRBC Bank directors — Kamrun Nahar Sakhi and ABM Abdul Mannan — and those shares are forfeitable,” said a central bank report prepared last year. Contacted, Shahidul said, “The report [by the central bank] is completely false.” He, however, declined to explain. Asked, NRBC Bank Chairman Farasath Ali refused to say anything on the matter. According to the BB report, Shahidul was present in last year’s annual general meeting of the NRBC Bank as proxy for Sakhi, who lives in Canada. He also attended several meetings of the NRBC board and its executive committee in violation of the rules. The NRBC Bank chairman admitted this to the BB enquiry team.
BB governor assures DSE of bond market revival steps
Bangladesh Bank governor Fazle Kabir at a meeting on Tuesday assured the Dhaka Stock Exchange board that the central bank would take appropriate measures to revive the bourse’s bond market. His assurance came following a plea made by the bourse at the meeting held at the BB headquarter in the city. BB deputy governor SK Sur Chowdhury, DSE chairman Abul Hashem, managing director KAM Majedur Rahman, directors Monowara Hakim Ali, M Kaykobad, Md Masudur Rahman, Md Rakibur Rahman, Mohammad Shahjahan and Khwaja Ghulam Rasul were also present at the meeting. Meeting sources said that the DSE requested the central bank to consider its earlier plea for giving the bourse access to the BB’s treasury bill transaction system. As the BB controls the clearing system of treasury bill, without becoming connected to the central bank system it will not be possible for the bourse to expand bond market transaction, the sources said. They also said that the bourse had reduced bond transaction charge to Tk 50 a transaction with a view to making the bond market vibrant.
Bank, telecom, fuel, power issues attract investors
The Dhaka bourse Tuesday observed a vibrant session amidst enthusiastic participation of investors. The market started the day’s session positively and continued without any major undulation riding on the news of 28 per cent rise in net foreign investment in stocks in February. “Buoyancy in several large-cap issues, mostly from bank, telecom and fuel and power sectors has contributed sharply to the upswing in indices,” commented International Leasing Securities, a stockbroker, in its regular market analysis. Accordingly, bank sector posted the highest gain of 1.30 per cent followed by telecommunication 0.95 per cent and fuel and power 0.57 per cent. The stockbroker noted that participation from the investors which is denoted by turnover increased by 17 per cent over last session as the bargain hunters was active on lucrative stocks. Maintaining the previous day’s upbeat note, the market inaugurated the session on a positive vibe, gaining 37 points within the first 30 minutes of the session. Index remained sideways till the end of the session and retained the initial gain, eventually ended 33.66 points higher.
Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (BHBFC) has constituted a squad aiming to check corruption and irregularities at its loan processing and sanctioning level, officials said. The state-owned specialised financial institution has formed the squad headed by its deputy general manager, they added. The officials also said the squad will take necessary measures to identify the causes of delay and remove complexities in loan processing. On the other hand, a committee set up with its director will monitor the activities of the squad from time to time, they mentioned. Currently, sanction and disbursement of different loans by the corporation are going on at a snail’s pace. Many applicants have not received their next cheques for loan even after taking first and second cheques. The loan receivers are not providing mortgage documents on their flats against loan, a senior BHBFC official told the FE. A good number of initial and formal loan applications are being cancelled due to various reasons. Besides, in many cases, the corporation’s loan processing activities are also being delayed, he added. The committee will take necessary steps according to the policy on flat loan if the borrowers do not receive the third cheque for loan and mortgage the flats, he said, adding that it is high time to reduce unnecessary delays and complexities in processing and disbursement of different loans.
Anna Marrs, Regional CEO, ASEAN & South Asia, and CEO, Commercial and Private Banking of Standard Chartered Bank, recently arrived in Dhaka for her first official visit to the country, says a press release. During her two-day Dhaka visit, she will meet senior government officials, regulators, along with clients and customers of the bank. Central to the discussions will be how Standard Chartered can further contribute to Bangladesh’s economic growth and the development of its financial sector. Anna Marrs joined Standard Chartered as Group Head of Strategy and Corporate Development in January 2012.
Govt decides on export of sand to S’pore, Maldives
The government has decided to allow the export of sand to Singapore and Maldives at Tk 1 per cubic foot, reports BSS. The decision was taken at a meeting of National Sand Corridor Management Committee on Monday with land minister Shamsur Rahman Sharif in the chair. Sharif said sand can be lifted experimentally for six months initially from the proposed site of Jamuna river by keeping the flows normal for river traffic and navigability. If any adverse impact on the environment is detected, the dredging will be kept stopped, he added. Earlier, Infrastructure Dredging Limited applied to the ministry of water resources seeking permission for dredging Jamuna river and exporting the sand to Singapore and Maldives at its own cost initially for a period of two years.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) is set to start electronic payment of customs duty this month, using the Asycuda world system, in a bid to help exporters and importers. Although e-payment of tax was introduced in 2012, the traders could not pay customs duty or large amount of taxes due to some limitations in the system. The e-payment system failed to attract taxpayers as they could not pay tax through their bank accounts directly. Officials said exporters and importers can pay customs duty directly through their bank accounts with the integration of the Asycuda world system. They can pay any amount of customs duty online using the e-payment Sonali bank portal. Bangladesh Bank and Sonali Bank are working as treasury banks of the government. In the first phase, exporters and importers at Kamalapur Inland Container Depot (ICD), Dhaka would get the opportunity for e-payment of customs duty.
National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman directed on Sunday all its tax zones to open income tax camps in their respective areas for boosting revenue income. The directive came while the NBR chief was on a visit to Income Tax Zone-3 in the capital. The tax camps will be opened in Dhaka first and latter across the country to provide the taxpayers quick and better services. He said such initiatives will help the government to expand the existing tax-net by including new taxpayers. Businesses and individuals are now eager to include themselves in the income tax structure, as they consider it as a matter of pride.
The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI) requested the government on Tuesday to review the latest gas price hike decision, taking into consideration its impact on national economy. “The MCCI believes that the proposed gas price hike will raise transportation cost, production and other related costs, electricity generation and fertiliser production costs, and costs of agri-products and essential commodities, which will raise inflation,” the chamber said in a statement. “The gas price hike is not tolerable for consumers. Besides, the hike, at this moment, may hinder the country’s economic growth and welfare.” The MCCI said the untimely gas price hike will destabilise the competitive position of many sectors, including ready-made garment (RMG). “The export target that the government has set centring Vision 2021 and the goal set for uplifting the country to high-middle income status may be affected by the gas price hike.”
Women in business to thrive on access to finance: study
Strong supporting conditions such as access to financial services and ease of doing business pave the way for businesses owned by women to progress, according to a study by MasterCard. These enabling conditions are pivotal in overcoming the two main obstacles — cultural biases and fewer opportunities — that discourage women the most from becoming entrepreneurs, according to the study “MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs”. The index uses 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators to look at how 54 economies in Asia, Africa, America and Europe differ in terms of the level of women advancement outcomes, knowledge assets and financial access and supporting entrepreneurial factors. “The prevalence of ambitious, resourceful women should be regarded as a prime business opportunity. As society addresses existing cultural bias, we will do our part to help create those conditions that will strengthen the foundation for personal and economic growth,” said Martina Hund-Mejean, chief financial officer of MasterCard.
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