Transactions of high-value cheques with banks boom
High-value cheque transactions with Bangladesh’s banking system have increased significantly, driven by big turnovers of corporate bodies, sources said. Such banking bonanza, from economic point of view, reflects a growing momentum in the economy. The number of such hefty cheque transactions, valued Tk 0.5 million and above, marked nearly a twofold increase in five years to 1.9 million in the last fiscal year. It was over 1.0 million in fiscal year 2012. The amount of money also soared significantly to Tk 10.83 trillion in 2016 fiscal, from Tk 4.64 trillion in 2012 fiscal, according to latest official statistics available with the central bank of the country. People at the corporate bodies told the FE that the sales of their goods and services had grown much along with payments to the suppliers. Bangladesh’s aggregate consumption constitutes over 80 per cent. They said there are many private organisations in the country which deal with more than US$1.0 billion worth of turnover a year by selling their goods.
The number of mobile financial service (MFS) accounts marked a drastic rise in February after the central bank lowered the transaction ceiling. Active mobile money accounts soared 44.85 percent to 2.39 crore in February compared to the previous month, but the total transaction value dropped 11.42 percent. The number of total registered accounts increased 18.89 percent to 4.99 crore in the month, according to a Bangladesh Bank report on MFS. It was predicted that the transaction value would decline after the new limits were imposed, but the rise in the number of active accounts was a surprise, said industry insiders. “If users were to maintain the same transaction value as before, they would need to open new accounts. And they did so,” said Md Abul Kashem Shirin, managing director of Dutch-Bangla Bank, a leading MFS provider that operates the Rocket brand. Previously, users could deposit Tk 25,000 into their mobile wallets each day and take out the same amount. But now, they have to make do with Tk 15,000 for cash-in and Tk 10,000 for cash-out, after an order of the central bank came into effect on February 1.
The board of Bangladesh Bank on Monday asked its management to restructure its fire safety measures to prevent any fire incident. The directive came following the March 23 fire incident on the 13th floor of the central bank, where the BB maintains foreign exchange polices. The BB board gave the instruction at a monthly meeting held at the central bank headquarters in the capital. BB board member Jamaluddin Ahmed told New Age after the meeting that the central bank would request the Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence to keep one of its units stationed at the BB premises round the clock. The BB board also asked its management to deploy its own security men on all floors of the central bank round the clock to check any type of unexpected incident, he said. The board asked the central bank to restructure its fire safety measures in line with the latest system. No regular official activities at the foreign exchange policy department of Bangladesh Bank were held on Monday due to the March 23 fire incident.
United Air lobbies scam-hit Agrani for BDT 3.0 billion loan
Out-of-operation United Airways (Bangladesh) Limited has approached scam-hit Agrani Bank for a loan worth around BDT 3.0 billion after receiving no response from most of the financial institutions to its BDT 2.3 billion bond offer. Most of the financial organizations have already rejected proposal of the United Airways to subscribe its bond due to controversies surrounding it and out-of-operation status of the private sector airline for almost two years. The operation of the loss- making airlines has remained suspended since May 5, 2015 as none of the 11 aircraft of the organization is fit for flying. State-owned Investment Corporation of Bangladesh, which was in the process of financing United Airways by subscribing its bond, also declined recently to subscribe the bond. A senior ICB official last week told New Age that his organization had already informed United Airways that it would not invest any fund in the bond considering long non-operation and poor financial state of the entity. As the ICB was in doubt whether the airline would be able to resume flight operation with the funding and whether the investment would be recoverable or not, it did not accept the investment proposal, he Compiled by: Research & Development Unit, Dhaka Bank Limited
Dhaka-Thimphu JWG to work out ways for bilateral transit soon
Bangladesh and Bhutan will soon work out ways for striking a bilateral transit deal to boost trade among the two countries, officials said. The decision was taken at a bilateral commerce secretary level meeting in Thimphu last week. A joint working group (JWG), to be formed soon, will meet in Dhaka by June next. The JWG will make recommendations on the transit deal. A commerce secretary level meeting will be held later this year to finalise the deal, officials said. The ministry of shipping is working separately on a water transit deal where Bangladesh and Bhutanese sides were in disagreement over inclusion of passenger and tourism alongside goods transportation. Bhutan insists that only goods transportation will be included in the water transit deal while Bangladesh wants to include passengers and tourists too. The land-locked mountainous country is interested to strike the transit deal with Bangladesh to use the latter’s ports to facilitate its overseas trade.
European Union (EU) wants uniform labor standard in and outside Export Processing Zones (EPZs)
European Union wants that a common standard be maintained to ensure equal rights for workers employed in the country’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and beyond. Arne Lietz, a member of the European Parliament and head of visiting EU parliamentary delegation, came up with the call at a press conference after a meeting with the Bangladesh Garment Manufactures and Exporters (BGMEA) in the capital on Monday The delegation is on a fact-finding mission and it is a follow-up visit of the members that took place last year. In line with the EPZ Act, workers at EPZs factory practice labor rights issue under Workers Welfare Association (WWA).The workers rights groups and global buyers are also demanding direct trade union outside of EPZs. It is very important that there should be right to form trade unions, hold collective bargaining and right to organize trade union, according to Lietz.
Industries may re-export returned exports sans tax
All export-oriented industries can release their products sent back by the buyers and re-export those without paying duty- taxes on certain conditions. The exporters have to follow six-point dos issued by the National Board of Revenue (NBR), including re-export of the returned products within six months of their release. Exporters who do not enjoy bonded- warehouse facility have to pay duty and taxes on temporary admission of returned products. With the issuance of the recent order, dated March 16, by customs (export and bond) division, all of the exporters will be able to release the returned products and re-export those without needing to pay duties and taxes. However, they have to give unconditional and sustained bank guarantee, equivalent to customs duty (except Advance Income Tax), prior to the release of the products. Exporters have to complete the re-export of returned products within six months of their release. In case of failure in re-export within the given timeframe customs authority will encash the submitted bank guarantee for collecting due duty-taxes and take punitive action as per law.
Compiled by: Research & Development Unit, Dhaka Bank Limited
Bangladesh apparel exports continued steady growth, despite the global economic downturn, according to the largest B2B (Business to Business) website-VizBibe. The London-based organisation’s report further said that Bangladesh annually exports around $30 billion worth of clothing every year. And last year its official export data showed that it was $28.09 billion. Third party exports accounted for the rest. The VizBibe research revealed that it was because of increased labour productivity, entrepreneurial resilience and improvements in labour safety, standards and factories that Bangladesh was able to maintain it upward trend. According to the report, Bangladesh surpassed India as the world’s largest clothing exporter in 2003. It also said that currently Bangladesh holds 6 per cent of the global market. The latest trend, according to the report, is an uptick in denim exports from Bangladesh.
RMG makers, workers urge EP team to continue GSP in EU
Local apparel makers and labour leaders in their separate meetings with the visiting delegation of European Parliament (EP) urged its members to take steps for continuing Bangladesh’s GSP benefit in the EU markets, meeting sources said. They made the appeal to the delegation in the wake of the European Commission’s warning of temporary withdrawal of Bangladesh’s generalized system of preferences (GSP) facilities over ‘serious labour rights violation’ in the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector. The four-member team of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) comprised Arne Lietz, S & D Co-rapporteur on Garment Report, Linda McAvan, EP Chair of Development Committee, Nobert Neuser, S & D Development Coordinator, and Agnes Jongerius, S & D INTA. During the first day of the delegation’s three-day visit, the members held meetings with International Labour Organization (ILO) officials, labour activists, and leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in the capital.
The government has undertaken a project to provide Internet connectivity in 772 unions using optical fibre by end of 2018. The project titled ‘Establishment of ICT Network to Remote Areas (Connected Bangladesh),’ also aims to enhance the backbone network nationwide, ICT Division sources said. They claimed about 25-30% of the population will directly benefit from the project. The funds for the project will be sourced from a Social Obligation Fund (SOF). Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) established the SOF where different mobile operators have been chipping in 1% of their gross revenue. Sources said the regulator has over Tk700cr in its fund presently. Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) would execute the project in alignment with “Vision 2021: Digital Bangladesh” goals. Many industry insiders opine that completion of the project would boost the scope of e-commerce and online services in remote areas of the country.
UK-based e-commerce real estate agency bproperty.com has gone live on Thursday. The portal was inaugurated at a press conference at The Westin. Senior officials of bproperty.com including Head of HR Tazrin Zinia, Head of Operations Rejbeen Ahsan and Marketing Manager Monjur Murshed kicked off the proceedings for bproperty.com. Users now can rent, buy and sell apartments and commercial spaces in Bangladesh by visiting www.bproperty.com, calling bproperty.com call center number 01981111444 or visiting bproperty.com customer care centers physically.
Indian visa rules for Bangladeshis relaxed further
Bangladeshi tourist visa applicants with confirmed air tickets to India can now walk-in and submit their visa applications up to three months in advance from their date of journey to India. Indian High Commission in Dhaka on Monday conveyed the decision which will come into effect from April 1 in Indian Visa Application Centers (IVACs) in Rajshahi, Rangpur, Sylhet, Chittagong, Khulna, Jessore, Mymensingh, Barisal and IVAC in Mirpur in the city. The initiative is taken Compiled by: Research & Development Unit, Dhaka Bank Limited as part of the ongoing initiatives to liberalize, streamline and ease access to Indian visa for Bangladeshi nationals. As per existing provisions, applicants were allowed to walk-in and submit applications up to a month in advance from the date of journey to India. The walk-in Tourist visa scheme was first launched in October 2016 for women travelers and their family members in Dhaka and was subsequently extended to all applicants and all IVACs outside of Dhaka.
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