The e-mail ID of Bangladesh Bank (BB) has been hacked and false mail sent to different commercial banks using the Central Bank’s mail ID, sources said. Executive Director of BB Subhankar Saha told media that they have got a suspicious mail on Monday after the occurrence of the hacking incidence at Foreign Currency Division on March 14. All the sections of the Central Bank have already been informed not to open or forward any suspicious mail to anyone, he said. After the hacking the mail ID of Foreign Currency Division, many mails were sent to different commercial banks and financial institutions even also from other mail IDs of BB from 8:00 pm on March 14. But the hacker could not steal money or information from any banks of the country as BB has taken different cautionary steps. BB governor Fazle Kabir in a directive asked IT section of the Central Bank to go through the matter, Subhankar Saha informed. Besides, the Central Bank has also informed the matter to the Ministry of Finance. BB, in a letter to the Ministry of Post, Telecommunication and ICT sought help for detail enquiry of hacking incident. System Manager of ICT Operation wing of BB, Muhammad Ishaq Mia issued the letter on March 15.
Banks can issue guarantee in both local, foreign currencies
The central bank has relaxed its regulations allowing the commercial banks to issue guarantee for foreign firms in both local and foreign currencies to facilitate their business in Bangladesh. “We’ve relaxed the guidelines for foreign-exchange transactions to facilitate foreign firms’ business activities in Bangladesh,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE. He also said the banks are now allowed to issue such guarantee without having to take prior approval from the central bank. The BB issued Monday a circular to this effect, asking all authorised dealer (AD) banks dealing in foreign exchanges to follow the latest instructions on issuance of guarantee on behalf of non-residents in favour of residents in Bangladesh. It is observed that for underlying transaction beneficiaries in Bangladesh require guarantee in Bangladesh Taka (BDT) instead of foreign currencies, the central said in its circular. “To facilitate the transaction, it has now been decided that ADs may issue guarantee, bid bond or performance bond in local currency against taka-equivalent back-to-back foreign-currency guarantee with suitable coverage for exchange-rate fluctuation from counter-guarantee-issuing banks abroad,” the circular noted.
9 new banks pressing BB for relaxing licence conditions
Nine new scheduled banks have mounted pressure on Bangladesh Bank to withdraw many of the conditions, including expansion of banking in rural areas, under which they were given licences in 2012. To push for their demand, the banks came up with a set of proposals at a meeting with the BB at its headquarters in the capital Dhaka on November 21 last year. The central bank provided licences to the nine banks on political consideration despite severe criticisms from different corners. The nine banks are: Meghna Bank, Midland Bank, Modhumoti Bank, NRB Bank, NRB Commercial Bank, NRB Global Bank, South Bangla Agriculture and Commerce Bank, The Farmers Bank and Union Bank. The owners of the banks have been pressurising the central bank to allow their banks to open two new branches in the urban area against one new rural branch. The BB earlier asked all banks to set up one rural branch against one urban branch to speed up financial inclusion in the country.
The country’s banking sector has witnessed slow growth of deposit in the current year compared with previous year, sector insiders said. They said, the depositors these days feel discouraged from putting money in banks for lower interest rates. The growth of deposits, on a year-on-year basis, rose to 13.13 per cent in the last calendar year from 13.08 per cent a year ago while the credit growth increased to 15.32 per cent from 12.58 percent, shows a Bangladesh Bank data. The deposit growth decreased gradual mainly due to lower interest rates, offered by the banks, central bank sources said. The growth rate of deposits came down to 13.5 per cent in September 2016 from 14.46 per cent at the end of June. It further came down to 13.13 per cent in December the same year. On the other hand, the credit growth climbed to 15.32 per cent in December from 14.5 per cent in September 2016. The rate was 15.42 in June. Bankers and experts said, depositors now feel encouraged to invest their money in government savings schemes and stock market for getting higher returns on their investments. Some depositors also prefer Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFIs) to banks in depositing their money because it offers higher interests on term deposits, they added.
Bangladesh Bank on Monday granted permission to state-owned Sonali Bank for opening taka and dollar accounts required before signing an agreement with PayPal paving the way for starting the global online payment company’s operation in Bangladesh. The BB issued a letter to Sonali Bank giving it the permission to open the accounts required for settling drawing arrangement so that remitters can send inward remittance to Bangladesh through PayPal. Sonali Bank principal officer Md Nawab Hossen told New Age on Monday that the central bank had given permission to open taka and dollar accounts to settle foreign transactions through PayPal. ‘The bank will open the accounts by tomorrow (Tuesday) with its wage earners corporate branches in the capital,’ he said. With the central bank’s permission for opening the accounts, Sonali Bank has successfully completed all procedures on its part. Sonali Bank will sign an agreement with PayPal within the shortest possible time in San Francisco of the United States after opening a legal channel for transaction, he said.
The Bangladesh Bank has maintained its adamant stance on allowing local businesses to invest abroad, recently turning down proposals from three industrial giants — Akij, Nitol and Ha-Meem. Akij Group proposed to invest $20 million in Malaysia, Ha-Meem $10 million in Haiti and Nitol $7 million in Gambia to set up a bank. Ha-Meem intended to invest in the island nation’s garment sector to prop up its shipments to the US, while Akij wanted to buy a Malaysian company that produce fireboard and hardboard. Between 2011 and 2016, the BB allowed nine businesses to undertake foreign investment from their export retention quota. “Those investment amounts were not as large as the ones being proposed by the three groups,” said a senior executive of the BB. The central bank has now sought the finance ministry’s opinion on the matter, he said. “The proposals are too big for the BB to approve on its own as per the foreign exchange guideline,” the official added. In its review on the proposals, the central bank said both the remittance and export, the two main sources of foreign currency for Bangladesh, are on the slow lane. In the first eight months of fiscal 2016-17, remittance slumped 17.6 percent year-on-year to $8.11 billion, according to data from the BB. Export earnings in February stood at $2.72 billion — down 4.49 percent year-on-year and 21.49 percent month-on-month.
Govt devising ways to offload shares of state companies
The government is devising ways to offload state-owned companies’ shares as well as its stakes in multinational firms that are operating in Bangladesh. Finance Minister AMA Muhith is expected to attend a high profile meeting tomorrow in this regard. Secretaries, Chairman of Bangla-desh Securities and Exchange Commission, and representatives of the Civil Aviation Authority, the Bangladesh Bank, the Dhaka and Chittagong bourses and the Investment Corporation of Bangladesh will attend the meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss how funds can be raised from the capital market through listing of state-owned companies as well as offloading of government stakes in different multinational companies, said a senior official of the finance ministry. The issues of share offloading and listing of some 45 companies including state-owned enterprises and multinational companies where the government has significant stakes will also be discussed. Additional share offloading of the already listed state-owned companies such as Titas Gas, Padma Oil, Eastern Lubricants, Desco, Power Grid Company, Meghna Petroleum, Jamuna Oil, Usmania Glass and Atlas Bangladesh will also be discussed, he added.
Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) has designed a Tk 568 crore plan to establish a composite jute textile plant to make fabrics, particularly denim. The denim fabrics will be made by mixing jute and cotton to meet the rising demand, both at the domestic and global markets. The state-run corporation said it has already received the approval from the project evaluation committee of the planning ministry. The project is now awaiting the final approval from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council. “We have found that this project will be profitable,” said Mahmudul Hassan, chairman of BJMC, which operates 26 jute mills. Over the years, hessian fabrics and jute sacks have been dominating BJMC’s annual production basket. The latest step was taken to diversify the production basket and expand market opportunities for the natural fibre, officials said. BJMC, which accounted for one-fifth of total production of jute goods of 9.63 lakh tonnes in fiscal 2015-16, has also taken an initiative to set up new production units to make more diversified products including viscose, said Babul Chandra Roy, an adviser of BJMC.
Bangladesh-Bhutan commerce secretary-level meeting is scheduled to begin in Thimphu on Thursday, where Dhaka is set to place a couple of fresh agenda, including review of BBIN agreement and the related protocol, officials said. Besides, other new agenda that the country will put in place during the two-day meeting are – long-term visas for Bangladeshi businessmen as well as amendment to description of HS code of some items like citrus fruit juice, pineapple and guava juice etc, they added. Ministry of Commerce (MoC) officials in a meeting recently decided to discuss various issues in the meeting, which include – enhancing cooperation in tourism sector, cooperation between trade associations of the two countries and Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and National Standard Body (NSB) of Bhutan, and use of inland water transport routes for bilateral trade and cargo transit.
Country’s garment accessories manufacturers have urged the government to provide a duty-free facility in the next budget for them to import fireproof paint. Bangladesh Garments Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGAPMEA) also proposed a cut in tax at source to 0.5 percent from the existing 0.70 percent on the export earnings. They also demanded a waiver in corporate tax for garment accessories and packaging industry from 35 percent to 15 percent. The association made the demand during their budget proposals for the next budget for the 2017-18 fiscal. Sources said the National Board of Revenue (NBR) will hold a pre-budget discussion with BGAPMEA representatives on the first week of the next month.
The government should offer 20 percent cash incentive on the export of software and IT-enabled services, leaders of ICT trade bodies said at a pre-budget discussion yesterday. They also demanded withdrawal of the 15 percent value-added tax on internet use in the next budget. On behalf of the stakeholders, Sami Ahmed, component team leader of the government’s Leveraging ICT project under the ICT division, placed the demands at a meeting organised by Bangladesh Computer Council. State Minister for Planning and Finance MA Mannan said they will take these demands into consideration before finalising the budget for fiscal 2017-18. Mustafa Jabbar, president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, said there are several export-oriented industries that are currently enjoying cash incentives. In its seventh five-year plan, the government gave the ICT industry a target to earn $1 billion by 2018 and $5 billion by 2021. In 2014, the industry earned $445 million and so far this year, the amount crossed $700 million.
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