Bangladesh’s entire banking and financial corporate have been plagued by a menacing default culture that is setting roots deeper every year with no one or way to stop the drainage of loaned money and recover it.Banking sources said the amount of default loans is increasing every year depriving genuine borrowers and causing extra financial crunch on the banks and corporations in both public and private sectors. The authorities have been pondering, so far vainly, how to reclaim the loans that unless recovered soon may have to be declared “bad” money or to be written off, the sources said.Sources said out of Tk 8,283 crore extended as loan by 16 state-owned banks and corporation as on July 2016 Tk 700 crore are in default.The updated figures between July and February this year are not available yet – but sources said definitely the amount of defaulted money has gone up.Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC) have Tk 362 crore in default out of Tk 4,058 crore loans disbursed.The default amount stands Tk 90 crore in Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) out of Tk 2,000 crore it loaned out.Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) disbursed Tk 994 crore loans of which Tk 21 crore is default while the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) has Tk 39 crore unrealized out of Tk 745 crore disbursed as loan.
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange (BSEC) approves rights offer of IFIC Bank
The securities’ regulator Wednesday approved the rights offer of IFIC Bank. Bangladesh Securities and Exchange (BSEC) at a meeting on the day also approved the draft prospectus of an open-end mutual fund and draft rules of a clearing and settlement company under Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (Clearing, Settlement and Central Counter Party) Rules, 2017. As per the BSEC approval, the IFIC Bank will issue one rights share against one existing share at an offer price of BDT 10.0 each. The company will raise a fund of above BDT 5.63 billion by issuing above 563.8 million shares to strengthen capital base as per the requirement of Basel-III. The regulator approved the draft prospectus of Credence First Growth Fund, an open-end mutual fund, which will be floated with an initial size of BDT 200.0 million. Of BDT 200 million, the sponsors will contribute BDT 20 and the remaining BDT 180.0 will be collected through sales of units. At Wednesday’s meeting, the BSEC has also approved the proposal of winding up of the ICB AMCL First NRB Mutual Fund. As per the Securities and Exchange Commission (Mutual Fund) Rules, 2001, a closed-end mutual fund will be winded up after completion of 10 years. ICB AMCL First NRB Mutual Fund completed its tenure of 10 years on March 20 last.
Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (BHBFC) has proposed the government to double its house loan ceiling, which is currently Tk50 lakh, as construction costs surged in recent years. If raised, the ceiling will be Tk1 crore. BHBFC placed the proposal at a meeting at Finance Division Tuesday with Bank Division Secretary Md Eunusur Rahman in the chair. The meeting decided to reduce interest rate of the house loan to make it competitive in the market. The interest rates for Dhaka and Chittagong will be reduced to 9.5%-8.5% from existing 10%-12%. Five new house loan products were also placed at the meeting. They include home loans for expatriate Bangladeshis, home loans for rural people and farmers, house development and construction of houses Bank Division sources said the proposal of raising loan ceiling is likely to be approved at another meeting of the Finance Division. Apartment loans for Dhaka and Chittagong areas will be increased to Tk90 lakh from the existing Tk40 lakh with interest rate reduced to 10% from existing 12%.
BASIC internal report finds involvement of former chairman
An internal report has detected involvement of immediate past chairman, directors and management in major loan scams and irregularities taking place in BASIC Bank during 2010-2014 period. The bank has prepared its own report on the basis of a number of reports, including inspection report of Bangladesh Bank, report of commercial audit department, two audit reports of the audit firms engaged by the bank itself, and internal evaluation report. The internal report was submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Finance at its 19th meeting held on Wednesday. Committee chairman Abdur Razzaq chaired the meeting at the Jatiyo Sangsad (JS), where Finance Minister A M A Muhith was present. The report stated that BASIC Bank disbursed loans amounting to Tk 59.95 billion in favour of 187 clients. Of the amount, Tk 51.18 billion was funded and Tk 8.77 billion non-funded. The loans were disbursed despite negative opinion given by the branch loan committee and head office loan committee. Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed 56 cases against 120 people in September 2015, drawing criticism from all quarters. The ACC dropped the then chairman of the bank Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu’s name from the list of accused persons.
RAKUB takes Tk 5.5cr in illegal processing fees from farmers
Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank slapped Tk 5.50 crore in loan processing fees on farm loans taken by the farmers in the last financial year 2015-2016 breaching the Bangladesh Bank’s rules and regulations that bar such fees.The state-owned specialised bank imposed 0.50 per cent application processing fees on agriculture loans taken by farmers in the FY16 pocketing Tk 5.50 crore, showed a RAKUB document submitted to the central bank.Despite repeated warning from BB, the Rajshahi-based bank, which was established for agricultural development in the country, is still taking the processing fees, said a RAKUB official.According to the central bank’s agriculture loan policy, no bank is allowed to take any loan processing fee or any other hidden charges from farmers in disbursing farm loans. The interest rate on the agriculture loan is 10 per cent. When contacted, BB executive director and spokesperson Subhankar Saha told New Age on Wednesday that the central bank had already asked RAKUB to withdraw the loan processing fees as such charges were unlawful.‘There is no scope to give facility to RAKUB to take the service charge in line with the central bank’s farm loan policy’, he said.
Dhaka to push for adding yen to ACU currency basket
Bangladesh is likely to propose addition of Japanese yen (JPY) as the third currency to the basket of the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) aiming to facilitate payment among its member countries for eligible transactions, officials said. Presently, US Dollar and EURO (EUR) are being used for payment among the member countries Some transactions between Bangladesh and Iran remain incomplete due to a US sanction on Iran. Banking transactions were not being made with Iran, although Bangladesh has dollar and EURO accounts with the country under the ACU mechanism, a BB source said. The next Board of Directors meeting of the ACU would be held in July next in Sri-Lanka, where the inclusion of JPY in the ACU basket will come up for discussion, he added. Banking transactions would be easier further between the two countries alongside other ACU member countries, if the JPY is added to the ACU currency basket like EURO and dollar, he also said.
Sadharan Bima risks account attachment for Tk 2.0b tax default
Sadharan Bima Corporation (SBC) may face legal action, including account forfeiture, by government’s revenue authority over unpaid corporate tax worth Tk 2.0 billion, officials said. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) might be compelled to attach bank accounts of the state-owned insurance entity for collecting the arrears in income tax that have accumulated since 1990. The Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU) under the income-tax wing of the revenue board served final notice to the SBC recently having failed to get satisfactory response from the corporation despite several reminders. Officials said as per the final notice the last date for payment of the unpaid tax expired on March 13, 2017. In the letter, the LTU warned action under section 143 of the income tax ordinance 1984. As per the income-tax law, the tax authority can collect its due tax through attachment of bank accounts of a tax defaulter. In that process, they collect the arrears direct from bank accounts of such taxpayers. The LTU audit wing has counted the arrears in income tax worth Tk 2.08 billion after assessment of tax files of Sadharan Bima Corporation from tax year 1990-91 to 2013-14.
Bangladesh petitions United Nation soon for LDC graduation
Bangladesh moves to make a strong case to the United Nations (UN) next week for LDC graduation as it wants to avail the next triennial review of eligibility criteria in 2018. If the move sails through, official sources said, the targeted graduation of the country out of the club of world poor may be accomplished by the year 2024. Bangladesh has already reached necessary threshold levels for LDC graduation for two major criteria set by the UN and is expected to stand all three tests by next year, they said. A high-level government delegation led by Professor Alam will present the Bangladesh case at the plenary meeting of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP) of the UN in New York which will allow the country to be considered for the next LDC (least developed country) graduation review in 2018. The delegation to the meeting will also include Secretary of the Economic Relations Division. As per UN provisions, inclusion and graduation of LDCs are based on three criteria: per-capita gross national income, human assets, and economic vulnerability to external shocks. To be eligible for graduation from least developed countries, a country must reach threshold levels for graduation for at least two of these three criteria, or its GNI per capita must exceed at least twice the threshold level.
The government’s development spending rose almost 31 percent year-on-year to Tk 45,532 crore in the first eight months of the fiscal year, somewhat bucking the trend of previous few years. Some Tk 123,346 crore has been allocated for the annual development programme this fiscal year, meaning the ministries and divisions used up almost 37 percent of the sum in the July-February period. At this point last fiscal year, 34 percent of the total allocation was used up, according to the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division. ADP allocation increases every year, but its performance is evaluated by calculating the rate of implementation in comparison with the total outlay. The implementation rate this year is still low in comparison to the historical trend. Development spending has been slow since fiscal 2012-13 in terms of percentage of the total outlay. In the first eight months of fiscal 2012-13, ADP implementation stood at 44 percent, with the rate progressively declining since. Due to the slow implementation rate, the government on February 28 revised the ADP allocation downwards to Tk 119,295 crore.
Businesses will have to obtain VAT registration online from now on, said a senior official of the National Board of Revenue yesterday. “No registration will be given manually from the field offices. All will have to register electronically,” said Zakir Hossain, deputy project director of the VAT Online project. A firm will have to sign up for a Business Identification Number (BIN) by visiting www.vat.gov.bd . Companies that already have BINs will have to re-register online within June 30 to be able to file returns online from fiscal 2017-18. However, small businesses that have an annual turnover of less than Tk 30 lakh will not need to register. After taking preparations for several months now, NBR is ready to open online registration for all. Its aim is to implement the new VAT law 2012 in an automated environment and provide better services to taxpayers, increase revenue collection and ensure transparency and accountability in revenue administration.
Apparel sector may miss the $50 billion export target by 2021 due to slow growth in overseas sale of readymade garments and other external factors, analysts and exporters fear. They said shifting of buyers to Vietnam and other neighbouring countries, increased facilities to RMG sector in several Asian nations and gradual fall in prices are affecting the growth in export earnings of Bangladesh RMG sector. According to sector insiders, RMG export growth is not adequate to achieve the huge target by 2021. The sector even missed the export target for the July-February period of the current fiscal year (FY), they said. Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data show, RMG export in the first eight months of the current FY stood at $28.09 billion, which is 5.64 percent lower than the target of $30.38 billion.
BEZA set to form Tk 2.0b fund for pvt zones development
The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) is set to form Tk 2 billion fund to provide seed money to private economic zones to develop the sites. BEZA Executive Chairman of BEZA Paban Chowdhury disclosed this at a seminar titled ‘Attracting Investment in Economic Zones of Bangladesh’. The BEZA organised the seminar at a city hotel. He said Bangladesh has been receiving very poor and insignificant foreign direct investment despite many moves to increase it. “We received around US$2 billion in 2016 which is the highest FDI the country so far got but it is only one-fifth of Myanmar’s foreign direct investment,” he said. He said the country has an excellent legal framework for promoting investment, but its implementation is very poor. Under-invoicing is hurting the country’s investment. This needs correction, Mr Paban Chowdhury suggested. Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Abdul Matlub Ahmad said the country is lagging behind in planned industrial development.
The two-way trade between Bangladesh and Hong Kong (HK) reached at $1.7 billion in 2016 mostly favouring the island-city. Bangladesh imported products including telecommunication equipment and fabrics worth $1.5 billion, while its exports were US$ 0.2 billion in the last calendar year. The figures were disclosed at a press conference of Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), a Hong Kong-based exhibition organizer, held Wednesday in a city hotel. Bangladesh can enhance its trade and business relations with Hong Kong and other Asian countries through participating in different trade shows there, said Johnny Wan, director of Exhibitions Market Development of HKTDC. Hong Kong is a strategic location and close to China, he said, adding buyers from across the world visited the fairs organised by the company and Bangladeshi suppliers could increase their business connectivity with them.
The government has planned to revive talks with Saudi entrepreneurs for investments in Bangladesh as promised during the Prime Minister’s visit to the oil-rich Kingdom last year, officials said. “We discussed on the proposed Saudi investments issue with our embassy official stationed in Riyadh in the capital (Dhaka) recently,” executive chairman (EC) of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority Kazi M Aminul Islam told the FE. He said the embassy official would soon finalise a list of officials of the two countries for exchange visits to each other for the discussion on the investment issue. “We have directed our embassy official who deals with trade or commercial affairs to finalise the list of officials for mutual exchange of visits,” he said. He said there would be a meeting or forum in the capital, which would be sponsored by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) with an aim to attract investments not only from the KSA, but also from other middle-eastern countries in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the country’s apex trade body is also considering dispatching a letter to the country’s mission in Riyadh to push the issue and convince the Saudi government for investments in Bangladesh, according to the business circle.
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