Credit binge squeezes banks’ liquidity
The overall excess liquidity with the country’s banks shrank by nearly 18 per cent or Tk 154.61 billion by January, mainly for a lending binge against a deposit dearth. Selling the US dollar by the central bank also contributed to the trimming of their excess liquidity, officials said, as experts forewarned of slower economic activity for possible financing crunch. The excess liquidity came down to Tk 712.36 billion in January last from Tk 866.96 billion a month before, according to latest statistics of Bangladesh Bank (BB). It was Tk 921.64 billion in September last calendar year. A major portion of the excess liquidity has already been invested in government-approved securities and BB bills as a risk-free investment for the banks, they added. On the other hand, excess reserves, generally known as excess over daily minimum cash reserve requirement (CRR) with the central bank, rose to around Tk 47 billion in January 2018 from Tk 46 billion in December 2017, according to the BB officials. “Excess liquidity may rise in the coming months as the central bank has already taken different measures, including revised advance-deposit ratio (ADR) limit,” a senior BB official said.
BB eases forex rules for shipping lines
The central bank has relaxed foreign exchange regulations allowing the shipping lines to issue bills of lading to the name of importers after receiving advance payment instead the name of banks earlier, officials said. Under the relaxations, authorised dealers (ADs) in foreign exchange banks will issue a certificate to the exporter in the prescribed form to be produced to the carrier company, enabling them to draw the shipping documents accordingly. The central bank issued a circular in this connection on Wednesday and asked the all ADs banks to follow the latest regulations properly. “We’ve relaxed the regulations to facilitate the country’s foreign trade,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE while explaining the main objective of the relaxations. The BB in its circular said: “It has now been decided that ADs may allow carrier companies to draw railway receipts, bills of lading, airway bills and other documents of title to cargo to the order of importer or other designated parties as per stipulations of export letter of credit/valid sales contract only if the shipment is made against full payment received in advance through normal banking channel.”
Muhith warns of losing soft loan facility, rise in debts
Finance Minister A M A Muhith on Wednesday warned all of some impending challenges, including losing concessional loan facility and increase in debt as the country has earned eligibility, preliminarily, for graduating to a middle-income country. “From now on no loan will be available, everything will be debt. When we take debt, we have to be careful, so that we do not sink into quicksand.” The minister said these while briefing newsmen at his secretariat office on the eve of Bangladesh’s becoming eligible to graduate to a developing country. “We have to change our mentality. The facilities we avail from various sources have to sacrifice. We have to keep in mind that we are no longer a least developed country (LDC).” Mr Muhith said these will have to be reflected in outlook and policies of the country. “We have already started taking steps in this regard. We are taking scale-up facility (high interest loan) from Japan during the last couple of years as part of our adjustment process.” On the other hand, while listing benefits of the graduation, the finance minister said: “We will enjoy equal benefits that the other countries get as developing nations. So, it is not correct that we will be deprived of facilities.” “We will feel a psychological boost that we are no longer beggar,” said Mr Muhith.
BB working to enable Islamic banks to participate in repo, reverse repo operations
Economic affairs adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. Mashiur Rahman Wednesday said Bangladesh Bank is working to develop instruments such as Islamic Treasury Bills, Government Ijarah Sukuk, etc to enable Islamic banks to participate in repo and reverse repo operations. Addressing a two-day international technical workshop titled ‘Liquidity Management Tools for Islamic Financial Institutions’ which began on the day, the adviser said Islamic banking industry in Bangladesh through its Shariah compliant banking activities has been contributing to economic growth of the country and towards realising the vision of the Government to achieve higher middle income status by 2021. Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited and General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions (CIBAFI) jointly organised the event, said a statement. The adviser to the Prime Minister’s Economic Affairs inaugurated the workshop at Pan Pacific Sonargaon on the day as the chief guest. Presided over by Arastoo Khan, Chairman of Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd, the programme was attended by Abdelilah Belatik, Secretary General, CIBAFI as guest of honor and Abdur Rouf Talukder, Acting Secretary, Ministry of Finance as special guest. Md. Mahbub ul Alam, Managing Director and CEO of Islami Bank addressed welcome speech. Researchers and top executives from various local and foreign banks and financial institutions participated in the workshop.
Bangladesh Bank to release commemorative note marking graduation from LDC status
Bangladesh Bank is set to release a commemorative note titled “Bangladesh is on the march towards development-March, 2018,” marking the country’s eligibility for graduation from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing one. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will release the note on Thursday, said a press release from the central bank. The note will be available from Bangladesh Bank’s Motijheel office at Tk70. If anyone wants to receive the note with a folder, he or she has to pay Tk200.
Southeast Bank, BSL ink deal
An agreement was signed between Southeast Bank Limited and BSL (BRAC Services Limited) recently. Under this agreement, Southeast Bank Credit Card Members can avail up to 20 per cent discount on accommodation & food. In presence of S. M. Mainuddin Chowdhury, Additional Managing Director, Southeast Bank Limited, Md. Abdus Sabur Khan, Head of Cards of Southeast Bank Limited and Mohammad Zahirul Islam, Head of Sales & Marketing of BSL (BRAC Services Limited) signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.
ICB plans to issue Tk 2,500cr bond
The Investment Corporation of Bangladesh, which is one of the largest investors in the capital market, plans to issue a long-term bond of Tk 2,500 crore to prop up jittery stocks. The development comes as the state-owned enterprise finds itself in a spot of cash crunch after banks started pulling out funds from November last year following a central bank notice that instructed them to strictly maintain their single borrower exposure limit.
Beijing for no politicization
China said it expects Bangladesh’s relevant authorities would not ‘politicize” the issue of China’s planned strategic investment in the Dhaka bourse. Chine expressed the hope that Bangladesh’s relevant authorities will select the best partners on the principle of fairness, mutual benefit, and win-win cooperation and be accountable to investors. After protracted talks, Bangladesh’s stock-market regulator on Monday expressed its inability to approve the Chinese consortium’s bidding offers for being strategic partner of the country’s premier bourse and asked the bidder to submit a ‘revised’ proposal, fulfilling five conditions. According to the 2013 demutualization scheme, 25 % of the 1.8 billion shares of the DSE will be sold to strategic partners, 35 % to small investors while 40 % will be with the Trading Right Entitlement Certificate or TREC holders. The DSE wishes to attract strategic partners to get advanced technological facilities, and consultancy services for management and business development.
Commercial gas price might rise by 70%, household gas could cost double
After the much-criticized two-step hikes in the price of gas last year, authorities have proposed yet another increase which could see the price of gas for commercial prices rise by 70%. On Tuesday, Bakhrabad Gas Distribution Company (BGDC) proposed the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to hike commercial prices by 70%. A formal proposal was submitted on Wednesday.
No VAT on port services for exporters: NBR
Export-oriented industries will not have to pay value-added tax on port services provided by the Chittagong Port Authority, said the National Board of Revenue. VAT wing of the revenue board on Tuesday asked the port authority to stop collecting 15 per cent VAT on port services from 100 per cent export-oriented industries. The NBR informed the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association of the decision and asked field-level customs houses and other commissionerates to take steps as per the decision. On December 27, the revenue board in a letter asked the CPA to deduct 15 per cent VAT on all types of charges and fees received from port users for providing any type of service. The CPA provides around 60 types of services to port users, mainly importers and exporters. The revenue board in 2005 provided VAT exemption on port services to 100 per cent export-oriented industries, deemed exporters along with factories located in export processing zones. The BGMEA in early March complained that the CPA had been charging the VAT from export-oriented RMG sector despite the exemption. The BGMEA requested the NBR to issue an order clarifying the issues and asking the CPA to stop deduction of VAT from exporters. Officials of the CPA said that they charged the VAT as there was no instruction in the latest NBR letter over non-deduction of the VAT from the RMG sector. In this context, the revenue board on Tuesday issued the letter saying that the applicability of the statutory regulatory order issued in 2005 providing the exemption still remains in place.
Graduation from LDC: Bangladesh to face tougher export challenges
Bangladesh’s export sector will face tougher competition in the global market after losing duty-free market access and preferential trade benefits when it graduates from LDC status and officially joins the ranks of developing countries. The Committee for Development Policy, a UN panel, on March 16 announced Bangladesh’s eligibility for the developing country category as it has met the three prerequisite criteria in terms of National Income per Capita, Human Assets Index, and Economic Vulnerability Index. But the country will have to pass two more reviews in 2021 and 2024 to get rid of the Least Developed Country (LDC) tag. Upon its promotion, Bangladesh will get three more years’ grace period after which it will lose the trade facilities it enjoys as an LDC.
Ease cost of doing business to sustain graduation: analyst
Bangladesh needs to ease the cost of doing business and bring in massive regulatory reforms to create a conducive business environment to sustain the graduation from the least developed country grouping, said a noted economist yesterday. It should maintain a smooth graduation and associated momentum and sustainability to prevent a revert and not fall in a middle-income trap, said Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue. With the use of modern technologies in production, Bangladesh may also face challenges of jobless growth and erosion of preferential trade benefits in the European Union, said Rahman. He was presenting a keynote paper on “getting ready for LDC graduation opportunities, challenges and pathways towards sustainable graduation” at the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies in Dhaka.
US$ 0.8m Dutch support for rice fortification in BD
Netherlands government has provided US$ 0.8 million to support a rice fortification scale-up programme in Bangladesh. The money will be spent to scale up an initiative on rice fortification which is being implemented by WFP in collaboration with the Ministry of Food, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, and other partners, said a WFP release on Wednesday. In 2017, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs distributed fortified rice in 35 sub-districts covered under the Vulnerable Group Development (VGD) programme. This year, distribution of fortified rice is planned in 66 sub-districts, according to the release.
RMG units to invest $2.0b in MEZ, create 0.5m jobs
Apparel makers are likely to invest a total of US$ 2.0 billion at the proposed garments park in Chittagong’s Mirsarai Economic Zone (MEZ), creating around 0.5 million job opportunities there. Land for setting up garment factories in the country’s largest economic zone (EZ) is expected to be ready by this December. These were mentioned during a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) at a city hotel on Wednesday. BEZA executive member Harunur Rashid and BGMEA president Md Siddiqur Rahman signed the MoU on behalf of their respective sides. Abul Kalam Azad, chief coordinator for SDG affairs in Prime Minister’s Office, attended the ceremony as the chief guest, while BEZA executive chairman Paban Chowdhury presided over it.
‘Create skilled manpower, develop infrastructure to face challenges’
Plastic goods manufacturers on Wednesday suggested the government should create skilled manpower and develop infrastructure to face challenges confronting the country following its graduation from the LDC status. “As we became eligible for graduation from the LDC to a developing nation, we have to deal with various challenges,” president of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA) Jasim Uddin told a press briefing at its office in the city. He also suggested creating a knowledge-based administration for sustaining the graduation status. Congratulating the government for attaining the ‘developing country’ status, he said the joint efforts by the government and the private sector have made it possible. He, however, hoped that following the graduation, the plastic industry would not face any stiff competition, as Bangladesh exports plastic products mainly to Asian countries. He said that if this sector gets policy support and requisite facilities, the volume of exports from the country would be between $6.0 billion and $7.0 billion by 2030.
BD not yet ready for fourth industrial revolution: Experts
Bangladesh needs to adopt proper policy, develop infrastructure and reform the education system in order to benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, experts at a discussion said on Wednesday. Though digital industrialisation helps increase production, reduce trade cost, enhance competitiveness and improve global supply and value chain, Bangladesh is not ready for such transition, they observed. Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) organised the discussion on ‘The Impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution on Trade and Economic Development’ at its office in the city. Abul Kasem Khan, president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), and Ratnakar Adhikari, executive director, EIF secretariat of WTO (World Trade Organisation), Geneva, among others, spoke at the meeting moderated by Ali Ahmed, chief executive officer of BFTI.
Walton to export laptops to Nigeria
Walton, a local electronics maker, on Wednesday signed a contract with Western Bez Limited of Nigeria to export laptops. The signing ceremony was held at the finance ministry in Dhaka with finance minister AMA Muhith attending the ceremony as chief guest. Walton DG-Tech Industries Limited chairman SM Rezaul Alam and Western Bez Limited director Devid None signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides. Posts, telecommunications and information technology minister Mustafa Jabbar and state minister for information and communication technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak were present, among others, at the function. Walton officials said they have plans to export laptops to Nepal, Bhutan and East Timor in future.
BTRC to go soft on telcos to enforce cap
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has opted to take a soft line with the mobile phone operators in enforcing its directive that caps pay per use of internet package at Tk 5. The telecom regulator has taken the stance following opposition from the mobile phone operators to the directive. In February, the telecom regulator issued the directive asking the mobile phone operators to set the ceiling on the pay per use of internet package at Tk 5. The commission came up with the directive with a view to saving customers from bill shock under the internet package following concerns raised by the mobile phone users in a public hearing held in 2016. The mobile phone operators at a recent meeting with BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood opposed the directive saying that the telecom regulator took the decision without holding any consultation with them, senior officials of the commission told New Age.
Government confident of generating 12,000 MW power to meet summer demand
State Minister for the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources (MPEMR) said Wednesday the government would have no problem in supplying electricity in the coming summer. The country has already generated the highest 10,084 megawatt (MW) of electricity on March 19. He said around 900 MW of electricity could be generated from solid wastes being generated from the capital daily.
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