Classified farm loans fall due to rescheduling
The classified loans in agriculture sector registered a significant fall in seven months up to January as rescheduling of such loans was allowed until December 31 last, officials said. The amount of non-performing loans (NPLs) of farmers dropped by more than 37.0% to BDT 72.19 billion during the July-January period of the current 2015-16 financial year from BDT 45.19 billion in the same period last year. “The volume of classified loans in the agriculture sector fell drastically during the period under review mainly due to rescheduling of such loans up to December last,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE Monday. The share of NPLs in the total outstanding loans of the agriculture sector fell to 13.86 cent in the first seven months of this fiscal from 23.72% in the same period of the FY 15. Total outstanding loans in the sector stood at BDT 326.01 billion during the period under review against BDT 304.35 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the central bank’s latest statistics.
Banks move to equip ATMs with anti-skimming devices
Banks have rushed to install anti-skimming devices and PIN shields at their automated teller machines to meet the central bank’s deadline of March 15 for deploying such gadgets to protect their customers from fraudsters. The banks will have to assess the effectiveness of the solutions as well. The Bangladesh Bank directive came after four ATMs of three banks were skimmed off by local and international fraudsters between February 6 and February 12 in Dhaka. The ATM skimming, which was unprecedented in Bangladesh, cost the banks over BDT 2.5 million and dented the confidence of ATM users. “We have received letters from 22 banks that want to install anti-skimming devices in their ATMs,” said Munir, managing director of IT Consultants that owns the country’s biggest payment processing consortium, Q-Cash. It has about 3,000 ATMs in its network for its 33 client banks. An anti-skimming device protects a card from being skimmed off by fraudsters and the PIN shield makes it more difficult for them to capture the cardholder’s PIN with the miniature camera that they install on the ATM fascia.
BSEC decision on MFs stands
The liquidation or conversion of closed-end mutual funds (MFs) into open-end ones will continue as the securities regulator’s decision prevails in legal battles up to the highest court, jurists said. ‘No order’ was passed by the Supreme Court (SC) on the petitions filed seeking to stay the regulator’s latest order, the attorney-general said. “The SC did not give any order following the petitions that sought stay order on the effectiveness of the securities regulator’s letter on completion of conversion or liquidation of MFs. This means that the liquidation job of the MFs will continue,” Attorney-General Mahbubey Alam told the FE. Three separate stay petitions were filed Monday, seeking stay on action of the BSEC letter sent on February 17 for completing the liquidation and conversion of five closed-end MFs. Earlier in the day on Tuesday, the hearing was conducted on the stay petitions and the SC fixed 11.30 am for delivering order. At the time of delivering order, the SC pronounced ‘no order’. Advocate Morsheda Begum Lipi, a counsel for the trustee of the AIMS First Guaranteed Mutual Fund, said ‘no order’ is one kind of ‘rejection’. “So, the liquidation or conversion of MFs will continue as per the regulator’s directive,” Advocate Lipi said.
Move on to raise BDT 2.5 billion from local, foreign sources
A local venture-capital firm moves to raise a fund of BDT 2.5 billion from local and overseas sources to provide equities to private-sector firms. BD Venture Capital, established in 2012 on the country’s capital market, wants to go for the fundraising under the alternative investment rules issued in 2015 by the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC). This will be firm of its own kind as no such firms raised such fund before. Currently, Bangladesh has three venture-capital firms in operations. The venture firm will ink a deal with Green Delta Capitals today (Wednesday) in the city to empower it to arrange the fund. The firm will need regulatory approval from the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission to this end. There are huge demands for equities from the small and medium enterprises, especially IT-based industries, the company MD said. The investors will participate in the fund for a period of 10 years with minimum unit price of BDT 5.0 million. But there will be no coupon or yearly yield rates. But there will be hurdle rates, meaning the minimum rate of return on investment in order to compensate for risks.
Washington puts ‘more stress on economy than security’
The United States places priority more on Bangladesh’s growing economy than security concern, American senior diplomats said Tuesday. The views came just days after the US embassy in Dhaka issued a travel alert for American citizens, citing security risks in Bangladesh. The diplomats were speaking at a press conference organized ahead of the ‘US Trade Show 2016’ at a city hotel. They also said that the interest in investment and doing business has been growing dramatically as the awareness about the economic progress in Bangladesh has been increasing internationally. American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh and the US Embassy will co-sponsor the 24th annual event to be held at Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the city.
Government Okays 12 projects worth BDT 66.5 billion
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday approved 12 new and revised projects involving BDT 66.5 billion. One of the projects is for constructing 13,000 small bridges and culverts that will connect earthen roads in rural areas. The Ecnec allocated BDT 36.8 billion for building the bridges and culverts; the construction work will begin by 2019. A planning ministry official said the bridges would not only improve communication but also contribute to poverty alleviation. A total of 4,959 bridges and culverts were constructed in 459 upazilas between 1994 and 2009, according to a planning ministry proposal. The number was 1,615 between 2009 and 2012. From 2012 to 2016, a total of 4,928 bridges will be built at a cost of BDT 10.9 billion, which is now under implementation. Another project — Running and Development of Upazilas — has been taken at a cost of BDT 10.6 billion, where Japanese agency JICA will provide BDT 9.6 billion. The project aims to strengthen the local government system, and in the first phase, 100 upazilas will be brought under the scheme.
World Stock and Commodities
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)*||$34.07||(0.33)||(0.96%)|
|Crude Oil (Brent)*||$36.72||(0.09)||(0.24%)|
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||16,865.08||348.58||2.11%|
|USD 1||BDT 78.50*|
|GBP 1||BDT 109.55*|
|EUR 1||BDT 85.29*|
|INR 1||BDT 1.16*|
*Currencies and Commodities are taken from Bloomberg.