BB urges caution before allowing private sector to invest abroad
The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has suggested the government take into consideration a number of factors, including the ratio of private sector investment in the country, before allowing investments abroad, officials said. In a recent letter sent to the ministry of finance (MoF), it made the plea after receiving loads of applications from businessmen who are interested in making overseas investments. The central bank needs MoF’s consent first before permitting anyone to make investment abroad, officials added. In its letter, the BB mentioned the applications of three separate business groups who want to send US$ 20 million to Malaysia for acquiring two companies there, set up a garment factory in Haiti for which it needs to send $10.44 million, and establish a bank in Gambia by sending $7.0 million respectively. Making equity investment abroad for resident Bangladeshis is not open under the existing foreign exchange regulation act. But under sub-section 6 of section-4 of the act, the central bank can give permission for capital account transactions to interested businessmen in consultation with the government. The central bank in its letter said the foreign exchange reserve situation has to be taken into consideration first before making capital account convertible. It said the convertibility can only be considered if adequate foreign currency remains in hand after meeting necessary import cost, if export earnings show continuous rise, remittance inflow and foreign investment continue to increase for a long period.
BB’s master circular to set interest rate for green products
The Bangladesh Bank has issued a master circular on rules and regulations of the Refinancing Scheme for Environment-friendly products and initiative. As per the circular dated March 16, entrepreneurs will get bank loan at lower interest rate for some 51 environment-friendly products and initiatives in 8 sectors under a Tk 200 crore re-financing scheme, launched by the Bangladesh Bank in 2009, As per the new master circular, bank will charge maximum 8-9 percent interest on the loan to be provided to the entrepreneurs for the investment for 51 products and initiatives in 8 sectors. In this case the interest rate will be calculated as bank rate plus 3-4 percent. But the interest structure will be bank rate plus 2 percent when it comes to the financing for the solar irrigation pumping system, said the master circular of the central bank. Source : http://www.observerbd.com/details.php?id=63938 http://en.prothom-alo.com/economy/news/142525/Solar-irrigation-projects-to-get-priority
Use of repo, reverse repo declines
The reverse repo operation in the money market, a process where central bank borrows money from banks through bidding as a means of monetary tool, remains almost halted for quite sometime. It has happened, as the Bangladesh Bank (BB) did not accept bids, signifying that the monetary instrument is ‘losing its effectiveness.’ On the other hand, the volume of money borrowed through repo operations, a process where banks borrow from the central bank, also declined significantly in the recent period. Such pictures were presented in a report of the central bank on the money market. The money market experts told the FE that through such reluctance to borrow from the commercial banks BB wants to give a signal that the market is in equilibrium and it requires no intervention. But in real sense there is adequate liquidity in the banking system. BB latest statistics shows that the volume of idle money, which remains unused for long in the banking system, amounts to Tk 2.77 trillion or equivalent to nearly 16 per cent of the country’s GDP, as of November 2016.
Loan recovery efforts by scam-hit BASIC Bank could made no significant progress as 30 loan defaulters owing Tk 1402.17 crore were yet to make any response to the bank’s call to regularise their loans. Bank and financial institutions division officials said that those clients were given the loan by former board of the bank during 2010-14. Appointed in June 2014 the present board of the bank identified 77 borrowers who were given Tk 3020.45 crore as loan in violation of the Bank Company Act reportedly by the previous board chairman Sheikh Abdul Hye Bacchu. Only seven borrowers who owed Tk 208.16 crore to the bank responded to the call to regularise the loan till date, officials said. The present board of the bank is still trying to regularise loan worth Tk 1374.96 crore sanctioned to another 38 borrowers. The dismal picture of loan recovery by BASIC Bank came up in a report that was sent by the bank to the bank and financial institutions division in the last week. The officials said the division is examining different performance indicators following a demand made the bank to the government for a bailout fund worth Tk 2,600 crore. Bank and financial institutions division secretary Eunusur Rahman said that BASIC Bank sought the bailout fund to meet its capital shortfall.
Call to provide easy term loans to renewable energy projects
Bangladesh Bank Deputy Governor Shitangshu Kumer Sur Chowdhury called on the financial institutions to provide loans on easy terms for renewable energy projects from the refinancing funds provided by the central bank. He made the comment while addressing a seminar, titled ‘Contribution of Financial Institutes to Development of Renewable Energy in Bangladesh’ at the Dhaka University on Saturday.“The government has developed a mega plan for energy sector projecting 10 per cent of national grid to be produced through solar energy by 2020,” he said. “From financial institutes, we can contribute to the expansion of renewable energy by green financing. The banks can tag renewable energy sector as best way to utilise the refinancing fund,” the BB official opined. Institute of Energy, University of Dhaka, and Bangladesh Solar Energy Society (BSES) jointly organised the four-day National Renewable Energy Conference 2017 and Green Expo, which began on Wednesday. SK Sur said the central bank has laid emphasis on green financing, as there is no alternative to green financing to have the blessings of limited resources for 16 crore people in a small territory of 55,000 square miles.
My Second Home Project: Malaysia sends report on 14 Bangladeshi investors
Malaysia Financial Intelligence Unit (MFIU) has sent the Cash Transaction Report (CTR) on 14 Bangladeshis out of total 50 who have invested in ‘Malaysia My Second Home’ project through money laundering. MFIU has recently sent the report to the finance ministry of Bangladesh and suggested Mutual Legal Assistance procedure to collect the deeds and documents on investment in My Second Home project and other purchase related documents including flat/land/car. MFIU has also informed the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) about it. The MoF informed the parliamentary standing committee on finance ministry about the Malaysian report. The CTR has also been sent to the anti-graft watchdog. MFIU has claimed that they don’t have any information about 36 other Bangladeshis. As many as 32 cases related to flat/car or money laundering through any other way in Singapore, the UK, the USA, Hong Kong, and Canada are under investigation by the ACC.
Microfinance has contribution in eliminating poverty, said Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue. Poverty alleviation will be sustainable if micro borrowers are engaged with skill development and income generating work, Rahman said in a discussion styled ‘Microfinance and social safety in Bangladesh’, held at the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation yesterday. The event was organised by the Debate for Democracy, a non-profit non-government organisation that tries to improve the quality of life through debate, dialogue and development talks. The main problem of microfinance is that borrowers take loan from several institutions at a time and they tend to pay off one microfinance institution’s loan by taking loan from another one, Rahman said. “Microfinance has both positive and negative aspects,” said Hassan Ahamed Chowdhury Kiron, chairman of the Debate for Democracy. It is said that the poor are losing everything due to the pressure to clear their microcredit loans but there are success stories too, he said.
The “National Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Fair-2017” scheduled to be concluded on Sunday, gets one day extension. The fair will now conclude on March 20. SME foundation took the decision in line with the stakeholders demand including sellers and buyers, reports BSS citing a press release. SME Foundation is organising the exhibition with the main thrust of promoting the SME products, exhibition and introduction of SME goods for expanding business, trade and commerce. The fair began on March 15. Around 200 SME institutions are exhibiting their SME products, including Jute, agriculture and leather products and electrical and Information and Technology goods.
Mohammad Naushad Ali Chowdhury joined the Institute of Bankers, Bangladesh as secretary-general on March 16. He was an executive director of Bangladesh Bank and on post retirement leave. During his long career at the central bank spanning more than three decades, he worked at various departments dealing with bank supervision, foreign exchange policy, financial stability, sustainable finance, and internal audit. Chowdhury was also the deputy chief of Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit of the BB, and a director of Karmasangsthan Bank.
Bangladesh overtakes China as top denim supplier to EU
Bangladesh has overtaken China to become the largest denim supplier to the European Union — a development that would give confidence to the country’s garment sector as it looks to hit $50 billion in exports by 2021. In the January-June period of 2016, Bangladesh exported €567.97 million worth of denim products to the 28-nation bloc — enough to secure a 21.18 percent market share, the highest. The country has also become the third largest denim supplier — after China and Mexico — to the US. It exported $186.30 million worth of denim products to the US, registering a 12.03 percent market share, eclipsed only by China (26.04 percent) and Mexico (25.40 percent). The headway has been possible because of the millions of dollars that the local denim fabrics makers invested to set up state-of-the-art facilities in their plants. Currently, Bangladesh has 30 denim mills for which investment to the tune of $1 billion was made, said Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Ltd, a leading denim exporter. The collective production capacity of the mills is 435 million yards a year, he said.
Bangladesh should not discourage foreign direct investment (FDI) that would come from the world’s major tax havens, speakers at a seminar recommended Saturday. It would help increase the FDI inflow into the country, they said, taking part in the discussion. Leading think tank Policy Research Institute (PRI) organised the seminar titled ‘Improving Investment Climate: Key Policy Reforms and Institutional Priorities’ at a hotel in the capital. Bangladesh should look forward to the world’s major tax havens to increase the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, said Syed Nasim Manzur, president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI). “Colour of the money does not matter as long as that money flows into my country,” he said. “From that point of view, the world’s major tax havens can be a good source of investment for us.” A tax haven is usually referred to a country or jurisdiction that offers favourable tax or other conditions to its taxpayers than that of the other jurisdictions. Tax havens usually have a low-tax or no-tax regime or have generous tax incentives.
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think tank, on Thursday said Bangladesh’s exports will face an additional 6.7 percent tariff on an average once it graduates from the LDC status permanently, resulting in an estimated export loss by US$ 2.7 billion in the preference-offering countries. The CPD stressed the need for designing a well-craft graduation strategy to face the reality beyond 2027 when Bangladesh will face MFN tariff (lowest possible tariff among WTO members) in exporting its goods. “Currently, Bangladesh enjoys preferential market access, to varying degrees and extent, in markets of more than 40 countries. Unless Bangladesh manages to renegotiate through bilateral agreements or as part of regional trade arrangements, it’ll have to face MFN tariff rates in exporting to those markets beyond 2027,” CPD Distinguished Fellow Prof Mustafizur Rahman said at a dialogue in the city. The CPD arranged the dialogue titled ‘Bangladesh and the LDC Graduation Challenges’ at Lakeshore Hotel in the city. Mustafizur presented the keynote paper on Pathways to Bangladesh Graduation from LDC Group: Prospects, Challenges and Sustainable Graduation Strategy. Citing Unctad estimates, Bangladesh export may fall by 5.5-7.5 percent as a result of loss of preferential access, he said.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has planned to reward the families whose all eligible members submit income tax return, reports BSS. “To motivate people for submitting income tax return, we’ve mulled to introduce tax-paying family award for those with all eligible members paying tax,” said NBR Chairman Nojibur Rahman. He said the tax officials have already been directed to find the way for giving the reward. The NBR chairman revealed this while talking to the news agency last week during a two-day visit to country’s southern region to boost revenue generation. Mentioning that the tax payers are being welcomed warmly, Nojibur said taxpaying is a credit and now the people of Bangladesh feel proud of submitting income tax return. During the visit, the NBR Chairman also attended two pre-budget discussions in Bagerhat and Gopalganj to know tax proposals from the people at the grassroots.
Pre-paid metres for city household consumers by May
Household consumers in the city’s Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, Bashundhara, Badda, Khilkhet, Cantonment, Mirpur, Uttara and adjoining areas are going to get pre-paid metres by May this year. To install the pre-paid gas metres, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Ltd on Thursday singed a contract with Japanese firm Toyokeiki Company Ltd (TCL). Titas Gas took the project to install pre-paid metres for 200,000 household consumers in Dhaka city with financial support from the government and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said a company press release.
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