New cashless payment system in the offing
Bangladesh is moving one step closer to being a cashless society after the central bank gave the go-ahead to a company to facilitate payments between parties through online fund transfers. Called the iPay, the fintech startup’s system will function like Paypal, which operates a worldwide online payments system, and Paytm in India. To avail the services of iPay, one will have to open a eWallet that would be linked with one’s bank account. The eWallet can be loaded by transferring funds from the bank account. Once loaded, the customer can transfer funds to another with an eWallet, make payments for purchases, pay utility bills, taxes, tuition fees and transport fares — without touching any cash. The system will be rolled out tomorrow.
AB Bank launches int’l debit card, new deposit scheme
AB Bank on Monday launched the country’s first dual currency debit card services along with a new deposit scheme. The launch of the products — Visa International Debit Card and Deposit Double Instalment Scheme — was announced by the bank’s managing director, Moshiur Rahman Chowdhury, at a press conference held at the Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka. The international debit card will allow customers to use the debit card both at home and abroad, while AB Bank’s customers who have normal Tk accounts can endorse their passports and use their debit cards abroad within their regular travel quota limits, said Moshiur. Under the new deposit scheme, anyone can double their money in three years with an initial deposit of Tk 50,000 and monthly instalments of Tk 910. The product can be availed by both individuals and businesses, he added.
The dollar crisis in Bangladesh
Since June 2017, the market in Bangladesh has been facing challenges with foreign currency payments as the price of the US dollar is going up. In order to bring some respite, Bangladesh Bank has been selling dollars in limited quantity to commercial banks. From July 2017 to date, the central bank has released more than $1.5 billion in the market. However, nothing seems able to stabilize the volatile dollar market and so the appreciation of the dollar against taka continues unabated. According to market data, on March 15 of last year, the import settlement rate, or BC selling rate, of dollar was Tk80.65; on March 15 this year, the rate was Tk83.50, indicating a rise in exchange rate by 3.54% within a period of just one year. The inter-bank rate for the dollar against taka on the same day last year was 79.55 and 82.96 this year. Commercial banks are selling dollars at a higher rate. Despite instructions from Bangladesh Bank, that exchange rate of dollar should not exceed Tk83, a number of banks are selling dollars above that level too.
New head of global banking at StanChart
Standard Chartered Bank Bangladesh has recently announced the appointment of Enamul Huque as Head of Global Banking, Bangladesh. Prior to this appointment, he was the Head of Commercial Banking, the bank said in a statement Monday, said a statement. Speaking about the appointment, Naser Ezaz Bijoy, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank Bangladesh said, “”I am delighted that Enam will be leading our Global Banking business. Enam has been a veteran resource of Standard Chartered leading a number of business teams with great success and leaving his mark in each. In his new role, I have no doubt this talented member of our team will continue to contribute significantly towards delivering on our commitment to be here for good for Bangladesh – its economy, businesses and the communities we work with.”
BSEC seeks revised proposal from Chinese consortium
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday sought a revised proposal from the Chinese consortium for 25 percent stakes of the Dhaka Stock Exchange to accommodate all the amendments the stock market regulator had suggested. As per the BSEC’s recommendations, the consortium of Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange has agreed to withdraw most of its terms and conditions as they contradicted the laws of the land and were not in the best interest of the DSE general shareholders. The stock market regulator now wants them on the official document that would be signed. “We will do everything to abide by the regulators’ instructions,” said KAM Majedur Rahman, managing director of the DSE. The Dhaka bourse will hold a board meeting and an extraordinary general meeting soon on the matter, he added.
Govt agrees to WB reform agenda for $750m loan
The government has agreed to take loan of $750 million from the World Bank on condition that it would carry out legal and administrative reforms to create jobs against the backdrop of shrinking employment growth. The government has agreed to carry out reforms on bonded warehouse facility, customs laws in addition to establishing one-stop services, formulation of law on secured transactions as per WB recommendations, officials said. The WB also wanted the government to establish a pension regulatory authority, conduct a feasibility study for preparing a law on employment injury insurance and strengthen the labour court. Besides, the WB also wanted the government to ensure more jobs for vulnerable groups and adoption of an action plan on women’s employment.
Cost climbs as VAT digitisation process lies in limbo
The digitisation process of the value-added tax (VAT) system under the VAT online project (VOP) of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) is in limbo due to the revenue board’s foot-dragging in amending the relevant rules to support the automated system. The delay, however, has resulted in both time and cost overruns of the project. Provisions of digitisation need to be incorporated into the existing VAT law 1991 in the VAT system-automation process, officials said. However, a draft of the VAT rules of the NBR supporting the digitisation process was rejected by the apex trade chamber as a copycat. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) alleged that the draft rule is a ‘duplicate copy’ of the new VAT law, the implementation of which has been deferred by two years, until June 30, 2019.
Mandatory use of T challan likely for tax payment
The government is considering making the use of treasury challan mandatory for tax payment to avoid delay usually made in encashment of pay orders, demand drafts and account payee cheques, officials said. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has been asked to take preparations to fulfil the government’s desire as non-receipt of revenue in time forces it to take loans to meet its needs and pay a huge amount of money as interest, they added. According to sources, a recent meeting of the cash and debt management committee (CDMC), chaired by finance secretary in-charge Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, was told that many income tax officials do not deposit pay orders, demand drafts and account payee cheques in the month when they collect those. The revenue officials held up the instruments in most cases as their performance is evaluated on a monthly basis. In such case, they also follow the trend of government’s cash transactions whether the government is in need of money or not.
Bangladesh’s homegrown line up of agro-machineries adds to progress
The agro machineries produced in Bangladesh can be divided into several categories such as—ploughing machines, seeding plantation machines, irrigation machines, fertilizer and insecticides applying machineries, harvesting machineries, threshers, and post harvesting machinery. DAE’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Ashok Kumar Biswas said that currently the internal market size of farm machineries was more than Tk10,000 crore. Of them, the country’s local entrepreneurs provide 20-25 percent of the products. “The local entrepreneurs mostly import the machinery parts from China, Japan, Korea and other countries and assemble them locally. Although they are producing almost all kind of machineries except diesel engine and certain number of high technological machines,” Ashok told the Dhaka Tribune. Though the amount of homegrown machineries are less in quantity, the local entrepreneurs claim that the quality of their products were better than Chinese products while a number of products were being exported aboard.
GP, Banglalink pay Tk 1.52b in 4G VAT
Two leading mobile phone operators — Grameenphone and Banglalink — have paid Tk 1.52 billion in Value Added Tax (VAT) on their spectrum acquisition fee for 4G, reports BSS. Bangladesh Telecommu-nication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) deposited the amount to the Large Taxpayer Unit (LTU) of the National Board of Revenue (NBR), said a NBR official. Robi, another mobile phone operator, however, did not clear the VAT worth Tk 170 million. “Last week, Grameen-phone and Banglalink paid Tk 1.52 billion to BTRC. A cheque for the amount was handed over to the LTU today (Monday),” LTU commissioner Md Matiur Rahman told BSS.
Govt plans to install 20m pre-paid power meters in three years
The government plans a move to install 20 million (two crore) pre-paid meters to ensure hundred per cent pre-paid metering system in the next three years to reduce the system loss, ghost billing, consumers’ sufferings and other anomalies in the power sector, reports BSS. “We have installed 800,000 pre-paid meters across the country, while 27 lakh (2.7 million) meters are under procurement process,” Director General of Power Cell Engineer Mohammad Hossain told the news agency on Monday. He said the government will install 20 million pre-paid meters across the country and six power distribution companies have been working to set up the pre-paid meters. Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC), Dhaka Electric Supply Company Ltd (DESCO), Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB), West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (WZPDCL) and Northern Electricity Supply Company Limited (NESCO) are working to install pre-paid meters.
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)||$ 62.26||↑0.20||↑0.32%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||$ 66.27||↑0.22||↑0.33%|
|Gold Spot||$ 1,316.31||↓0.54||↓0.04%|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days *
|USD 1||BDT 83.22|
|GBP 1||BDT 116.79|
|EUR 1||BDT 102.72|
|INR 1||BDT 1.28|
*CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES ARE TAKEN FROM BLOOMBERG.