Bad loans rise by 21.0% to BDT 524.5 billion in 2016
Bad loans, the worst type of defaulted loans, in the country’s banking sector increased by 20.6% to BDT 524.5 billion in last year as the scheduled banks failed to recover their classified loans, said officials of Bangladesh Bank. They said a rise in financial scams in banks aggravated the situation. According to the latest BB data, the amount of bad loans was BDT 434.9 billion as of December 31, 2015. As of December 31, 2016, the bad loans accounted for 84.4% of the total classified loans — BDT 621.7 billion — in the banking sector. The non-performing loans in the banking sector increased by BDT 108.0 billion in 2016 as the central bank unearthed a number of loan scams in different banks that fueled the overall banking sector defaulted loans. The BB data showed that the overall defaulted loans increased to BDT 621.7 billion as of December 31, 2016 from BDT 513.7 billion as of December 31, 2015. The huge amount of bad loans usually puts an adverse impact on the banks’ loan disbursement capacity as they (banks) have to keep 100% provision against the loans, the BB official said.
Syndicated loans shrink as large projects become scarce
The volume of syndicated loans fell significantly in recent years mainly due to lack of large projects in the private sector. This highlights one unwanted development that financial institutions are gradually losing the good mode of financing. People, familiar with the development in banks and financial institutions, told the FE that syndicated loans fell both by number and volume. The syndicated loans amounted to BDT 102.5 billion in 2015, BDT 98.3 billion in 2014 and BDT 1,218.9 billion in 2013, the highest amount recorded. The amount was BDT 53.1 billion up to June in 2016 and the data for remaining six months of that year could not be found. Relevant officials said many private parties are now sourcing funds from foreign sources thus contributing to such shrinkage in syndicated loans which require well documentation and usually consumes more time. A research study, conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM), showed that the percentage of bad syndicated loans is less than 1.0% whereas non-performing loans in overall lending are over 10.0%.
Country’s overall imports grew by more than 12% in the first seven months of the current fiscal year (FY) thanks to a steep rise in import of capital machinery, officials said. Actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) rose to USD 26.6 billion during the July-January period in the FY 2016-17 from USD 23.7 billion during the same period in the previous fiscal, according to the central bank statistics. On the other hand, opening of LCs, usually known as import orders, rose by 12.3% to USD 27.46 billion in the first seven months of the FY 2017 from USD 24.5 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal. An upward trend in importing capital machinery may continue in the coming months for implementation of different ongoing infrastructure development projects across the country, according to the central banker. Besides, setting up of large-scale power plants is pushing up the import of capital machinery, he explained. Currently, the government is implementing nine projects under a Fast-Track Project Monitoring Committee, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Import of capital machinery or industrial equipment used for production increased by nearly 65.0% to USD 3.2 billion in the seven months to January of this fiscal year against USD 1.95 billion during the same period of FY 16.
Around 90% of investors having valid beneficiary owners’ accounts do not participate in share transactions at the stock market at least once in a month as most of the accounts are operated only to subscribe IPO shares. As per Central Depository Bangladesh Limited’s data, 2,955,801 beneficiary owners’ accounts were active with central depository system as of March 9, 2017, meaning that just around 10.0% of the capital market investors having an active BO account participate on the trading. Out of the active BO accounts, only 3,18,000 accounts participated at the trading floor of the bourse in February this year, while the rest 26,37,801 investors did not participate on trading during the period, a Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission data showed. Out of the 0.3 million BO accounts or investors participating in trading, less than half of the investors traded shares worth above BDT 100,000 during the month. A total of 146,900 investors traded shares worth above BDT 100,000. While the figure of investors participating through their respective BO accounts during December last year was lower than February this year. As per the BSEC data, a total of 279,000 investors participated in the bourses’ trading during the period through their BO accounts, while only 0.1 million investors traded shares worth above BDT 100,000. The data also showed that 230,000 investors participated on the trading floor in July 2016, when the market was comparatively dull. Investors’ participation was low compared to BO account number as all the accounts were not operated for share transaction in the secondary market, market operators said.
Tax collection from mobile companies rebounds in December-January
The government’s revenue collection from mobile phone companies increased by BDT 1.2 billion or 5.2% in the July-January period of the current fiscal year compared with that in the same period of last fiscal year thanks to a growth in revenue income in December and January. The revenue collection from the sector started to pick up in December due to an increase in mobile connection after a negative growth in the tax collection in the first five month of the FY 2016-17. According to the National Board of Revenue data, the revenue board received BDT 23.4 billion in VAT, supplementary duty, SIM tax and source tax from five mobile phone operators — Grameenphone, Robi, Banglalink, Airtel and Teletalk — in July-January of FY17 against BDT 22.3 billion it collected in the same period a year ago. NBR officials said that revenue collection first entered in the positive zone in December when revenue earnings increased by only BDT 1.9 million. In July-January period of this fiscal year, sales of new SIM cards and replacement of old ones increased by 131,491 to 31,372,911. In the same period of last fiscal year, the number of new and replaced SIM cards was 31,241,420.
Mirsarai economic hub’s first phase nears completion
Major development works like construction of connectivity roads, embankments and bridges and supply of drinking water for commissioning the first phase of Mirsarai Economic Zone have almost been completed. Government high officials on a spot inspection said the phase one of the economic zone in a 550-acre area would generate 100,000 employments after its successful completion. Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) has chosen Powerpac-gasmin-Eastwest JV as developer for the zone and would sign an agreement on March 22. Around 70.0% of works on connecting roads, 750.0% of embankments and bridges and 80 per cent of safe drinking water through pipeline have been mostly completed so far. In the second phase, two EZs would be established on 1300 acres of land. Already, feasibility, and social and environmental-impact studies have been completed in the second phase. The BEZA has also obtained clearance from the directorate of environment.
Bangladesh team in India to finalize terms of building cross-country pipeline
A high-powered government team is currently visiting India to finalize terms over construction of the proposed 130-kilometre cross-country pipeline and long-term import of petroleum oil from the neighboring country, said officials. The team, comprising officials from the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR) and state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC), will also discuss planned building of a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottling plant and other relevant issues on energy cooperation, they said. Final deals over energy sector cooperation including the construction of the pipeline are expected to be inked during the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in April. Before the ongoing visit of the government team to India, the two neighboring countries failed to reach a consensus. India’s state-run Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) recently had reneged on the agreed term of bearing the cost of building the pipeline, it has been alleged. It was a violation of the terms of memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked in October last year as the BPCL had agreed to build the pipeline at its own cost to export around 1.0 million tons of diesel from its Numaligarh refinery in Assam to Bangladesh for 15 years, said the official.
Garment exports to non-traditional markets increased 3.4% year-on-year to USD 2.08 billion in July-December of the current fiscal year, according to data from Export Promotion Bureau. Except for the European Union, the US and Canada, Bangladesh considers all other countries as non-traditional markets. The government began giving cash incentives on garment exports to emerging markets to offset the fallout from financial meltdown that the world faced in 2007 and 2009. These cash incentives on export to non-traditional markets drove growth over the years. The government gave 5.0% cash incentive to apparel exporters in 2009-10, 4% in 2010-11 and 2.0% in 2011-12. They are still receiving 2.0% cash incentive for export to new destinations. Subsequently, exports to India, China, Russia, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, South Korea, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand started to rise. In 2008, garment exports to non-traditional markets stood at USD 800 million; in 2015-16, the figure crossed USD 3.9 billion.
Home appliances brand Singer has introduced energy efficient and environment friendly refrigerators with R600a gas. Refrigerators with R600a gas can reduce electricity consumption up to 50 percent, according to a statement. Normal gas or R134a gas in refrigerators increases the electricity consumption and is harmful for the environment. This is why, R134a gas is going to be banned in near future. Moreover, due to excessive power consumption and bad impact on the environment, most of the R134a gas producer countries are stopping its production. Therefore, servicing of normal R134a gas refrigerators will be difficult in near future. Developed countries have been using R600a gas for long. Use of this gas is increasing all over the world. R600a gas is environment friendly and it does not have any adverse effect on the ozone layer.
Luxury hotel business boom as foreigner visit increases
Hospitality industry is booming as foreigners visit have increased a lot in recent years with arranging of different international program including IT conference, tourism conference, international fair on RMG. Steady economic growth has contributed a lot to boost the hospitality business. As demand is increasing, number of five star hotels are being built in the country’s two main cities. Based on the demand of accommodation, construction works of 10 to 12 five-star hotel are going on in Dhaka and Chittagong. These hotels would be ready for the guest within five years. Construction of International hotel chain Marriott, Hilton, Novotel, Sheraton, InterContinental Holiday Inn, Marriott Courtyard and one more Westin hotel’s are going on in full scale. Now, 10 five-star hotels have over 2,000 rooms and more 10 hotels would give provide around 2,000 rooms. Marriott International will be built beside Jamuna future park with an accommodation of 700 rooms, Dhaka Sheraton at Purbachal, Holiday Inn at Tejgaon and Westin at Banani residential area, Pacific Jeans in Chittagong.
State Minister for Post and Telecommunications Begum Tarana Halim said on Saturday Bangladesh Postal Department has earned BDT 3.01 billion in revenue in last fiscal year 2015-16 against the target of BDT 2.78 billion (278 crore), reports BSS. She expected that the postal department would be able to earn higher revenue against its target during the current financial year as the government introduced new services for overcoming deficit of the department. The initiatives included post e-center for rural community, automation of postal department activities, construction of information technology based rural post offices, strengthening postal transportation system, introduction of postal cash card, electronic/mobile money order service, post e-commerce service, logistic mail and others.
Highlighting the role of jute for economic development, State Minister for Textile and Jute Mirza Azam has said the government has already taken steps to expand the internal market of jute along with expanding its export for increasing the jute sector’s contribution to the national economy. Jute sector has huge potentials for economic development. We’ve already taken steps to expand its internal market, boost export and root out corruption for increasing this sector’s contribution to the national economy.
Bangladesh’s wheat imports are expected to hit a record high this fiscal year on the back of increasing domestic demand and stable international price. As of March 6, a total of 42.14 lakh tonnes of wheat has been brought in to the country, with the private sector accounting for over 95 percent of the imports, according to data from the food ministry. In fiscal 2015-16, 43.66 lakh tonnes of wheat was imported. Importers credited the rise in domestic consumption to the lower price of wheat than rice, change in eating habits, and expansion of bakeries and restaurants. Growing export-oriented food processing sector as well as the stable price in the international market also fuelled the surge in imports, they said. The export of wheat processed food items like biscuits, noodles and so on to neighbouring countries like the Seven Sisters in India and Myanmar is on the rise.
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