Imports up 11.66pc in seven months
The country’s overall imports grew by 11.66 per cent in the first seven months of the current fiscal year (FY), 2017-18, mainly due to higher import of food grains and fuel oils, officials said. Actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) rose to US$ 29.65 billion during the July-January period of FY 18, from $26.55 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the central bank’s latest statistics. “The existing upward trend of overall import may continue in the coming months due to higher import pressure, particularly of capital machinery for power plants, and of infrastructure development projects across the country,” M A Halim Chowdhury, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Pubali Bank Limited, told the FE on Wednesday. Besides, the rising trend of fuel oil prices in the global market may push up the country’s overall import payment obligations in the near future, the senior banker explained. Food grains import, particularly of rice and wheat, jumped by nearly 206 per cent to $1.96 billion in the first seven months of this fiscal, from $642.83 million in the same period of the previous fiscal. Import of consumer goods rose by nearly 62 per cent to $4.70 billion during the period under review from $2.90 billion in the same period of FY 17. “The import of food grains, particularly rice, may fall slightly in the coming months due to seasonal effect,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE.
Women occupy 12pc of board seats in banks
Nearly 12 percent of the board members of different banks in Bangladesh are women, a development that can give them a sense of pride. Two banks—state-owned Janata and private UCB—have female chairpersons in their boards. In 48 public and private local banks, 74 out of the 618 directors are women and 30 out of 40 private commercial banks have at least one female director in their boards. In the fourth generation banks that came in the market in 2013, women have 15 percent shares on the boards. But Islami Bank, the country’s largest private bank, has no female director. Analysts welcomed the development saying that the move would empower women more than before. Banks are including more female directors in their boards than any time before, said Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled, a former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank. He said there were no female employees in banks before Bangladesh’s independence. Bangladesh Bank introduced a quota system for appointing women in banks after the independence, and now they are also taking their place in the boards which is a good sign, he said.
Bangladesh’s Southeast Bank’s bond gets BSEC nod
The Bangladesh’s securities regulator has approved the proposal of BDT 5.0 billion non-convertible floating rate sub-ordinate bond to be issued by Southeast Bank. The regulatory approval came on Wednesday at a meeting held at the office of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) in the city. The tenure of the bond will be seven years. The bond will be issued to local financial institutions, insurance companies, corporate bodies and other eligible investors through private placement. The company will raise capital through bond issue to fulfil the requirement of Tier-II Capital Base.
Chinese party withdraws most conditions
A Chinese consortium that got go-ahead to be a strategic investor of Dhaka Stock Exchange has withdrawn most of the conditions it had earlier included in its bidding. It withdrew 16 conditions and changed three more to be eligible to buy 25 percent share of the premier bourse, after some of the provisions collided with local laws and were found not to be fitting for other shareholders of the DSE. The consortium comprising the Shenzhen Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange made the changes after the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) sought clarification about the conditions. One sticky provision was the price the Chinese consortium was willing to pay for per share. It had offered Tk 22 per share. Many stock brokers had thought that the price was fixed. But the DSE said the price is not fixed. If the DSE distributes any dividend it would affect the price. In its clarification to the BSEC, the DSE said the price adjustment is a common practice. However, the potential strategic investor has agreed to waive the condition. Another condition said the DSE would have to take approval from the consortium in case of winding up of the company, appointment of liquidator, sanction of scheme of liquidation or restructure, purchase of any intellectual property, valuation and offer price of share under the planned initial public offering and appointment of auditor. The BSEC raised questions about the legal basis of the provisions, and the DSE conveyed the regulator’s queries to the Chinese consortium. Another condition had said the DSE would have to take permission from the consortium in case of borrowing more than Tk 10 crore, arrangements with creditors amounting to Tk 10 crore and investment of more than Tk 10 crore. But the condition has been waived as well. The new threshold has been proposed at Tk 100 crore. The consortium has retreated from another condition that had been seeking to make liability of directors unlimited and make it mandatory to take its permission while dealing with existing or potential asset of the company. The consortium has also moved away from its demand to be appointed as co-chief technical officer as this violates the DSE’s demutualisation scheme. On the issue of governing law and jurisdiction, the consortium had wanted to follow the laws of England. Now, it has agreed to be governed by the laws of Bangladesh, if required, the DSE said in the clarification.
New AMD of Premier Bank
Md. Abdul Jabber Chowdhury recently joined The Premier Bank Limited as Additional Managing Director (AMD). Prior to his joining to Premier Bank as AMD, he was the Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of United Commercial Bank Ltd, responsible for Chittagong division business. Earlier, he was the Deputy Managing Director of Shahjalal Islami Bank Ltd. from 2009 to 2014. Mr. Jabber during his long service of 38 years in banking capitalised the opportunity to gain professional expertise.
NBR sets all wings to combat money laundering
Watchdogs of all wings of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) are now set to sniff out money-laundering offences, as limited probe authority proved insufficient. Officials said the revenue board now opened up the scope of investigation by empowering all of its wings, including income tax, VAT and customs, to deal with a rising incidence of his financial crime. Earlier, the investigation authority in such cases of pecuniary offences was confined to its Central Intelligence Cell (CIC). In an order, dated March 5, 2018, the NBR cancelled its previous order which had only authorised the CIC to conduct investigation into money laundering. Officials said the previous order, dated October 02, 2016, was against the provision of the Money Laundering Act. The Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID), during the last one year, had persuaded the NBR to do away with the order. “As the previous order was not consistent with the Section 2 (Tha) (Aa) of the Money Laundering Prevention Act 2012′, the NBR scrapped the letter regarding investigating authority,” says the latest order. The board’s administration member, S.M Ashfaq Hussain, dispatched the order to the VAT, customs, income tax and all other relevant offices across the country. “The money laundering-related investigation and other steps would be taken by the NBR wings concerned — income tax, VAT, customs or CIC — which would detect the offence,” the NBR letter reads. In case of request from other entities, excepting the NBR, for investigating a money-laundering case that was detected by the latter, the NBR will hand over investigation authority to its wings as per relevance of the case.
BD to take up issue with WTO as bilateral efforts prove futile
Bangladesh would challenge India’s imposition of anti-dumping duty (ADD) on its jute goods by taking up the issue with the dispute settlement body of World Trade Organisation (WTO), officials said. They said Ministry of Commerce (MoC) will take necessary steps to prepare the case properly and take it up with the WTO as soon as possible. The Ministry of Textiles and Jute requested the MoC for taking the initiative. The government took the decision after rejection of its appeal and repeated attempts for withdrawal of the anti-dumping measure by the Indian authorities, they added. Earlier, India had imposed ADD on Bangladesh’s lead acid battery, but withdrew it immediately after consultation on a case filed by Bangladesh at the WTO. Trade expert Prof Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), stressed on taking a good preparation so that a strong case could be filed with the WTO.
Chinese co set to win 48km Dhaka bypass road project
Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has finally selected a Chinese joint venture company for construction of Dhaka bypass road under public private partnership (PPP) initiative. Sources said the company was selected for its lowest offer of Tk 31 billion to construct the 48-kilometre road. Two other Chinese companies also took part in the bid. Both the construction cost and vulnerable gap funding (VGF), which is the share of the government in the PPP project, proposed by the company was lowest among the three companies, they added. Officials said the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges has already approved the proposal after necessary evaluation. “It is now a matter of time to award the contract,” said an official. The evaluation report already sent to the law ministry for vetting, before submitting it to the cabinet committee on economic affairs for final approval. The RHD had taken the Dhaka Bypass road (connecting Joydevpur, Debugram, Vulta and Modonpur) project in 2013 to establish an easy link of the industrial belts of greater Mymensing and 16 northern districts with Chittagong and Sylhet regions bypassing capital Dhaka.
Top Vietnamese co to invest $100m in leather, footwear sector
Leathergoods And Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding & Cooperation Agreement with Vietnam Leather, Footwear and Handbag Association (LEFASO) Monday at LFMEAB conference room. The agreement was exchanged between LFMEAB and LEFASO at Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka in the presence of Mr. Tran Dai Quang, President of Vietnam and Mr. Tofail Ahmed, Commerce Minister of Bangladesh, among others, said a statement. Under the agreement, TBS Group – member of LEFASO and one of the top 5 footwear manufacturing and export companies in Vietnam -agreed to invest $100 million in Bangladesh leather and footwear sector, which is likely to create 10,000 new jobs. The MoU aims to strengthen collaboration and develop mutually beneficial relations between LFMEAB and LEFASO. Both parties will facilitate joint activities, assistance in building the cluster, sharing information and knowledge. Both parties agreed to work towards common goals, including closer cooperation between the footwear industries in both countries.
BTCL slashes domain registration charges
Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited has reduced annual registration charges of dot bangla (.bangla) and dot bd (.bd) domain addresses to Tk 800 scrapping its earlier provision of taking unusual charge for ‘premium category names’. From now on, BTCL will give registration of the domain addresses on first-come first-serve basis, said a BTCL press release issued in this regard on Wednesday. It also said that anyone interested will get scope to register a domain and complete the payment procedure online. Earlier, annual registration charge for different types of premium category names were Tk 25,000, Tk 15,000 and Tk 5,000 respectively. The new decision of the state-owned BTCL came following instruction from the posts, telecommunication and information technology minister Mustafa Jabbar.
BTRC rejects AMTOB time extension plea for MNP launch
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has turned down a plea made by the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh seeking additional time for the rollout of mobile number portability service. The association of the country’s mobile phone operators had sought additional two months for adopting technologies required to launch the MNP service, a senior official of the commission told New Age on Tuesday.
Women in workforce: Employment without empowerment
Despite a steep 35% growth in female employment in the last decade in the industrial sector, the number of women overall in the job force remains low compared to their male counterparts in Bangladesh. According to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) flagship report titled “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2018,” female employment in Bangladesh has seen a 35% increase, reaching 18.1 million from 2008 to 2017, while male employment has seen an 11% increase, reaching 45.7 million.
Local and Global Stock Indices *
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
World Commodities *
|Commodity||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)||$ 61.31||↑0.16||↑0.26%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||$ 64.48||↑0.14||↑0.22%|
|Gold Spot||$ 1,327.46||↑1.89||↑0.14%|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days *
|USD 1||BDT 83.22|
|GBP 1||BDT 115.73|
|EUR 1||BDT 103.21|
|INR 1||BDT 1.28|
*CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES ARE TAKEN FROM BLOOMBERG.