Out-of-court settlement over BB reserve heist likely
Bangladesh would consider an out-of-court settlement with a bank in the Philippines over US$81 million (S$107 million) cyber heist money, Bangladesh central bank officials said on Thursday, reports Reuters. The money was stolen from its accounts in New York by hackers who wired the money to Manila. In one of the world’s biggest cyber heists, the hackers stole the Bangladesh Bank money held at the New York Fed in February 2016 using fraudulent orders on the SWIFT payments system and sent it to Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. From there, it disappeared into the casino industry in the Philippines. No one has been charged for the heist despite an international investigation and two years of finger-pointing among Bangladesh, the Philippines, the Fed and SWIFT. “There is an option before us to settle the issue out of court,” a senior official at Bangladesh’s central bank told Reuters.
Central bank’s combat plan takes shape by August
Bangladesh Bank (BB) expects to unveil a three-year national strategy by August next aiming to take necessary actions against financial crimes, officials said. A draft roadmap for formulating ‘national strategy for preventing money laundering and combating financing of terrorism 2018-2020’ has already been accepted by the committee concerned. Under the roadmap, the draft strategy paper is likely to be prepared by June next. It will be finalized and placed for approval to the national coordination committee on anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) by July next and the paper will be published in August next.
IBN Sina completes sale of IBBL stake
IBN Sina Trust, one of the corporate sponsors of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited (IBBL), has completed sale of its entire holdings in the company. Earlier on April 26, the trust expressed its intention to offload the entire holdings in the IBBL. On May 3, the IBBL made a disclosure on completion of selling out the entire holdings by the trust. As per the declaration, the trust sold above 36.07 million shares of the IBBL at prevailing market price through the stock exchanges. According to information of Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), the sponsor-directors hold 46.70% shares while institutions 9.16%, foreigners 26.37% and general shareholders 17.77% as on March 31, 2018.
Investment in City Bank’s subsidiary
As against the offer of City Brokerage Ltd, a subsidiary of the City Bank Limited, the board of directors of the company has decided to invest in share capital for an amount of BDT 300 million (equivalent shares of 30 million @ BDT. 10 each) of the subsidiary, subject to obtaining approval from the regulatory bodies and compliances with the rules and regulations.
BRAC Bank’s Q1 post-tax profit grows by 9.0%
BRAC Bank’s profit after tax during the first quarter (Q1) of 2018 increased by 12% to BDT 1,247 million on the solo basis against BDT 1,118 million in the corresponding period of last year. During the January-March period of the current calendar year the consolidated profit after tax was recorded at BDT 1,383 million, up by 9.0% compared to BDT 1,267 million in the first three months of 2017. During the first three months of the current calendar year, the bank’s Earnings Per Share (EPS) on the solo basis were registered at BDT 1.45 against BDT 1.13 in the corresponding period of 2017. The consolidated EPS also rose to BDT 1.48 from BDT 1.34. At the end of March, 2018 the net asset value (NAV) of the bank on the solo basis was BDT 31.90, up from BDT 26.41 in the first three months of 2017. Similarly the consolidated NAV rose to BDT 32.64 in the first quarter (Q1) of 2018 from BDT 27.41 in the corresponding period of 2017.
Most banks offer lower dividends in 2017
The board of directors of 16 banks, out of 30 listed banks, declared lower dividends for 2017 than that of the previous year as the profit margins declined due to huge provisioning. Only five banks declared higher dividends than that of the previous year while seven declared similar dividends and two other no dividends for 2017, according to statistics available with the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE). Dutch-Bangla Bank came up with the highest dividend – 30 per cent cash – for its shareholders. The bank had also disbursed similar dividend in the previous year.
Remittance soars for 7th month straight
Remittance maintained its upward trend for the seventh month after inflows in April soared 21.10 percent to $1.32 billion, propelled by the depreciation of the taka against the US dollar. On April 30, the interbank exchange rate was Tk 82.99, which was Tk 80.23 a year earlier. Remittance is a major source of foreign currency for Bangladesh and its descent since fiscal 2015-16 became a matter of concern for the government. Last fiscal year, the receipts were the lowest in six years. April’s inflows, which are higher than the previous month’s by 2 percent, take the current fiscal year’s receipts so far to $13.27 billion, up 17.15 percent year-on-year. “Bangladeshis living abroad are remitting more money through the formal channel,” said Syed Mahbubur Rahman, managing director of Dhaka Bank. The majority of the banks are facing a shortage of greenback for the last few months due to spiralling import payments against lower export earnings. So, the banks are putting in their best efforts to bump up remittance inflows through their respective channels, said Rahman, also the chairman of Association of Bankers, Bangladesh, a forum of banks’ chief executives.
Reforms can boost inflow of remittance thru formal banking channel
A massive awareness campaign and regulatory reforms are essential to encourage Bangladeshi expatriates to send home their hard-earned money through secure and authorised fund transfer channels, said the country director of an international money transfer company. The regulatory authority, commercial banks and cross-border money transfer operators (MTOs) in the country need to work together to this end in order to bring in more remittances through formal banking system, he said in an interview with the FE recently. “Money transfer through unauthorised channels, largely known as ‘hundi’, may not decline in the near future, but regulatory authorities, especially the central bank, can take effective steps to slash its flow,” said Mohammad Khairuzzaman, Country Director and Head of Operations of Transfast, an international money transfer and cross-border payments company.
Liquidity crisis brings cheer to state banks
The ongoing liquidity crisis, which has become a bane for private banks and non-bank financial institutions, is turning out to be a boon for state lenders, which are flush with funds. To cash in on the situation, state banks are lending to private banks on a short-term basis for 8 to 10 percent interest — a safe return that no bank could earn even a year ago. “These loans will help us earn more, but such income is temporary,” said Mohammad Shams-Ul Islam, managing director of Agrani Bank, which has lent out the highest among the state banks.
BB seeks Tk 6.0b to finance farm projects under EEF
The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has sought an allocation of Tk 6.0 billion for its Equity and Entrepreneurship Fund (EEF) in the fiscal year of 2019 to finance agro-based projects, officials said. Presently, the EEF has an amount of Tk 3.91 billion in its coffers from the last year’s allocation, thus the central bank did not seek any fresh funds for the ICT sector, they said. Officials said since the EEF policy was being revised, receiving new loan applications remained suspended from the last year. General manager of EEF Unit of the central bank Parimal Chandra Chakraborty told the FE Wednesday the final revised copy of EEF policy would be sent to the ministry of finance next week. Once the policy is approved by the ministry, new loan application would be received, he said.
BSEC approves Chinese Consortium’s bid, finally
The securities regulator has finally approved the proposal made by a Chinese consortium for being the strategic partner of Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE). The approval came Thursday at a meeting held at the office of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) with its chairman Prof M Khairul Hossain in the chair. Now the premier bourse-DSE-has no bar to signing a share purchase agreement with the Chinese consortium comprising Shenzhen Stock Exchange and Shanghai Stock Exchange. Following the approval, the DSE will sign the share purchase agreement with the Chinese consortium on May 14.
Prime Bank changing business model
Prime Bank is bringing major changes to its business model for wholesale, retail and SME banking in order to diversify its operations by 2021. Under the plan, the second generation bank will raise its investment in retail and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to 40-45 percent in the next four years from 20 percent now. “We will double our loan disbursement in retail and SMEs as part of the bank’s roadmap for 2021,” Rahel Ahmed, managing director of Prime Bank, told The Daily Star in an interview recently. Last year, SME and retail loans accounted for 9.29 percent and 10.90 percent respectively of the bank’s total disbursed loans. “We will disburse loans to the dealers, distributors and suppliers of the corporate groups under our SME programme,” said Ahmed.
IPDC gets new DMD
IPDC Finance Limited has announced the appointment of Rizwan Dawood Shams as its new Deputy Managing Director, effective from April 1, 2018. He was the General Manager and Head of Business Finance & Special Asset Management of IPDC for the last 3 years. Mr.Rizwan has 15 years of experience in financial service industry. He joined IPDC on November 1, 2007 as Senior Manager under Corporate Investment and played pivotal role in transforming the leading FI over the years with increasing responsibilities.
Net foreign fund at Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) sinks in April
The net foreign investment in the Dhaka bourse turned negative in April, after a month’s break, as the foreign fund managers followed a ‘go-slow’ strategy. The overseas investors collected shares worth BDT 5.03 billion but sold shares worth BDT 5.28 billion last month, resulting in their net position negative by BDT 247 million, according to statistics available with the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE). In March, the foreign investors’ net position was BDT 1.57 billion, as they purchased shares worth BDT 4.56 billion and sold shares worth BDT 2.99 billion, the DSE data shows. Meanwhile, the overseas investors’ net position was also negative BDT 947 million in February, as they brought shares worth BDT 3.93 billion and sold shares worth BDT 4.88 billion, according to the DSE statistics. A stockbroker who deals with foreign investors, preferring anonymity said that the foreign investors followed a ‘go-slow’ strategy in April and slow in making the purchase while some booked profit.Managing director of Investment Promotion Services said that foreign investors were optimistic and willing to invest in the market as the market situation was improving after solving the liquidity problems. However, he said, the foreign investors were not the market drivers as their investment makes up less than 2.0% of DSE’s total market cap. In 2017, the overseas investors bought shares worth BDT 65.76 billion while they offloaded stocks worth BDT 48.71 billion to take their net investment to BDT 17.05 billion, the DSE data shows.
ADB’s new strategy focuses on prosperous Asia: Its chief lauds Bangladesh ICT sector, economic growth
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will pursue a new ‘Strategy 2030,’ aiming to attain a resilient, inclusive, prosperous, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific. Tackling poverty and rising inequality, fostering regional cooperation and integration, mobilising private resources, promoting local government and food security, accelerating progress in gender equality and enhancing support to combat climate change are among the priority areas of the new strategy. ADB president Takehiko Nakao highlighted the Asian lender’s future strategy, which was released this year in the opening session of the 51st annual meeting of the ADB, held in the Filipino capital of Manila.
Dhaka to push for waiver of ADB’s commitment charge
Bangladesh will seek waiver of the existing ‘commitment charge’ levied by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and grant assistance from the lender to cope with the ongoing Rohingya crisis. Finance minister AMA Muhith, who is now in Manila to attend the 51st annual meeting of the ADB, is expected to raise the issue when he meets ADB President Takehiko Nakao today (Sunday). “I am going to put forward a couple of issues including seeking the withdrawal of the ADB’s existing commitment charge and the bank’s grant for helping tackle Rohingya problems during my meeting with Mr Takehiko Nakao,” Muhith told this correspondent.
Non-tax revenue posts negative growth in 10 months to Feb
The non-tax revenue dived even as the cumulative collection of domestic revenue grew 54.55 per cent to Tk 1.26 trillion in the 10 months to February, the ministry of finance said. Tax, non-tax and non-NBR revenue registered less than expected growth until February of fiscal year 2017-18, forcing the government to slash the target for the current year.
NBR forms body to frame investor-friendly policies
The revenue authority has formed a panel aiming to frame investment-friendly fiscal measures and improve the business climate to attract both foreign and domestic investors. Termed as the Investment Promotion Team (IPT), the 21-member panel comprises representatives from investment promotion agencies and trade bodies, according to a notification issued by the National Board of Revenue last week. The team will assess tax, duty and value-added tax-related proposals submitted by trade bodies and also recommend inclusions in the national budget, starting with the upcoming fiscal year of 2018-19.
NBR goes slow on launching survey of foreign cos
Transfer Pricing Cell of the National Board of Revenue has yet to launch the planned functional survey on the 1,000 foreign companies and other foreign entities operating in the country due to confusion in the high-ups of the tax authority over the consequence of the survey. In October last year, the revenue board initially approved the plan of the TPC for conducting the survey on the multinational companies, their representative offices, liaison offices and other foreign entities to check tax evasion through transfer pricing process. Then, the cell placed a detailed report on the overall situation of transfer pricing and its plan to the board seeking approval for the survey, officials of the income tax wing said. They added that the then top brass of the NBR did not give final approval being confused over the possible impact of the survey on the country’s investment climate and repercussion among the foreign investors and adopted go-slow approach on the issue.
Land Economic zones face delay as land dev in slow lane
Land development and the construction of embankment have emerged as the most challenging task, raising fear about missing deadlines for the country’s major economic zones. The problems pushed the builders of the economic zones into troubles because most sites are located on char, low-lying and hilly areas. This situation requires strenuous efforts and also demand enough filing materials like sand to prepare the builders well for sitting of industrial units of different types. Though utility service-providers in many sites could make some progress, the slow land development work in the zones put the agencies in tight spot. The Financial Express correspondents got such an impression during recent visits to some of the most priority economic zones such as Mirsarai and Anawara in Chittagong, Sabrang Tourism Park and Naf Tourism Park in Teknaf and the proposed zones at Moheskhali in Cox’s Bazar and Shreehatta at Sherpur in Moulovibazar.
BD offers SEZ to Thai investors
Bangladesh will allocate a special economic zone (SEZ) with all kinds of facilities to Thai investors if they want to invest in the country, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said on Thursday. The minister placed the proposal at a meeting with a visiting Thai delegation, led by Thai Minister for Economic Reforms and Investment Dr. Kobsak Pootrakool, in the city. One special economic zone will be provided to the Thai investors if they come up with investment proposals, said the minister.
Bangkok wants to invest in energy, infrastructure
Thai minister for economic reforms, investment and development Kobsak Pootrakool has expressed interest to invest in infrastructure, energy and other potential sectors of Bangladesh for mutual benefits of the two countries. Praising Bangladesh’s recent economic development, the visiting Thai minister conveyed his government’s willingness to strengthen trade ties with Bangladesh and become a development partner of the country. He expressed the interest at Bangladesh-Thailand Business Dialogue, organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at its conference room in the capital on Thursday.
Listed cement companies see moderate fall in Jan-Mar quarter earnings
The earnings of listed cement companies declined moderately for January-March quarter of 2018 as compared to the same period of previous year as profit margins squeezed due to multiple reasons included increased prices of raw materials. Manufacturers said the price of cement has not increased as compared to increased manufacturing cost. That’s why the earnings of the listed cement companies declined during the quarter despite the sales volume increased by 12%, they added. Of the seven listed companies, one witnessed loss while the earnings per share (EPS) of five others declined moderately for the period compared to same period of the previous year. Only one company reported increased EPS for the January-March quarter. Chief executive officer of MI Cement, said increased prices of raw materials have mainly squeezed the profit margins of the cement companies. He also said that the price of one ton of clinkers rose to USD 53 from USD 40 while the transport cost rose 66%, leaving an adverse impact on the profit margins. He also added that the depreciation of local currency against USD is also a reason behind the decline in last quarter earnings. He mentioned that the earnings of cement companies would increase in the next quarter as the manufacturers increased the cement price by some extent. Confidence Cement Officials said that for deviation in comparison to the same period of previous year, continuous increase of raw material price without rational increase in the finished goods price is attributable to the financial performance, and increase in payment against imports, interest and advance income tax paid, is attributable to the cash flow position.
DPDC to install smart grids for the first time in Bangladesh
Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) will be installing smart grids for the first time in Bangladesh in the capital’s Dhanmondi, Azimpur, Green Road, Lalmatia and Asad Gate areas. New substations will accompany the smart grids in these five areas. Related sources said: “Power lines are spread all over the streets and underground in an entangled mess and it is difficult to determine one from the other in times of power connection issues. With the help of smart grids, we can instantly address issues such as power outage in an area or house as they will use sensors and automatic response mechanism to deliver immediate responses.”
Bangladesh, Oman sign LNG import deal today
State owned Petrobangla is set to sign an agreement today for importing Natural Liquefied Gas (LNG) from Oman aimed at ensuring energy security in the country, reports BSS. Spokesman of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Mir Mohammad Aslam Uddin told the news agency yesterday that the agreement to this effect would formally be inked at a ceremony at Petrobangla Bhaban here. The Petrobangla, he said, would sign the agreement with Oman Trading International, a state-owned organization.
Fully foreign-owned logistics firms likely
The government may soon withdraw restriction on fully foreign-owned logistics companies to start business in Bangladesh amid growing push from overseas players. Currently, the majority foreign shareholding in the logistics business of the country is not allowed. The ministry of commerce (MoC) in collaboration with the EU Business Council is set to conduct a joint action research, which will analyse the costs and benefits of such move, officials involved in the process told FE last week.
Govt looking to export surplus potato: Minister
Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury said the government has taken an initiative to export surplus potato for the benefits of farmers. “We are trying to export the surplus production of potato so that the growers can earn a good profit,” she said while inaugurating the ‘DCCI Agro Tech 2018’ at the International Convention City Bashundhara in the capital on Thursday. The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) in association with USAID’s Agriculture Value Chain (AVC) Project organised the two-day fair.
Take measures to realise Tk 18.93cr VAT from Robi
The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has requested the National Board of Revenue to take measures to realise Tk 18.93 crore in value-added tax from mobile phone operator Robi Axiata Limited. Earlier, on April 18, the BTRC issued a letter to the mobile phone operator asking it to pay within seven working days the VAT on the 4G licence acquisition and technology neutrality fees worth Tk 378.63 crore. Instead of paying the VAT (at the rate of five per cent of the fees), Robi issued letter to BTRC showing a number of reasons for non-payment of the VAT. ‘Besides issuing the letter to the NBR last week, all the departments of BTRC — legal and licencing, engineering and operations, spectrum management and monitoring, and system and services — have stopped issuing any sort of tariff approval and no-objection certificate related with operation of the mobile operator since April 26,’ a BTRC official told New Age recently.
Low-grade battery makers operate sans permission: Alleges industry trade group
The use of low-grade and inefficient batteries remains unchecked due to the establishment of a number of illegal and unauthorised manufacturing units across the country. This causes losses of revenue to the government exchequer every year, industry insiders alleged. Most of these batteries are being used in three wheelers, or autos in suburb areas. Some of such inferior quality batteries are also being used in IPS (instant power supply) machines and solar panel systems. A section of unscrupulous business people having nexus with corrupt officials of state-run departments have installed several dozens of battery manufacturing units across the country. These ‘unauthorised’ battery manufacturing factories neither have permission to install such plants nor have licence from Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) or for purchase, use or storage of acid, it has been alleged. Most of these ‘illegal’ battery manufacturing units are located in Khulna, Bagerhat, Narsingdi and around Dhaka city, insiders said.
Olympic Industries boosts production capacity
Olympic Industries — the country’s oldest consumer goods manufacturing company – has enhanced its capacity of cartoon, noodles and bakery manufacturing lines to the growing demand for its products. Commercial operation of the company’s cartoon manufacturing line completed with corrugation and printing with an estimated annual capacity of 66 million cartoons and the commercial production started from Tuesday at the company’s Kutubpur factory. Commercial operation of the company’s noodles manufacturing line with an estimated annual capacity of 9,000 metric tons also started from Tuesday at the company’s Kutubpur factory. Commercial operation of an additional tunnel oven to increase the company’s annual bakery capacity by 1,800 metric tonnes started from Tuesday at the company’s Madanpur factory. The company has also informed that it also plans to enter into a third-party manufacturing agreement with Lucerne Cocoa & Chocolate Products, to have its Chocolate products manufactured by Lucerne. The agreement will be for an initial period of two years, commencing from June 2018 for an estimated monthly production of 20 metric tons.
Pathao looks to launch mobile wallet
Pathao, a ride-hailing app in Bangladesh, plans to launch its own mobile wallet next year to reduce consumer reliance on cash payments, reports CNBC. “Payments is a big challenge. Bangladesh is a cash-based economy and most of the transactions happen over cash,” Pathao’s CEO and co-founder, Hussain Elius, told CNBC’s ‘Street Signs’ recently. “However, we are very excited to move into the e-transaction space and just next year, we are launching our own wallet,” he said, adding that switching to e-payments would take time as people are “still very attached to cash.” The sluggish pace of mobile banking in Bangladesh is also due to a stark urban-rural divide. Of its 165 million inhabitants, more than 70 per cent live in rural areas where there are little to no basic banking services. Other factors include changing regulations and slow adoption of new payment methods. Payments, therefore, are still predominantly made in cash despite government initiatives to boost mobile financial services. Pathao, the first mover in the motorcycle-taxi industry, has made inroads in tackling Bangladesh’s commuting problems.
DCCI seeks cut in corporate tax, surcharge on net wealth
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) urged Saturday the government to reduce corporate tax and surcharge on net wealth in the upcoming budget for the fiscal year (FY) 2018-19. It made the call for reduction in corporate tax and surcharge so that the entrepreneurs could reinvest their saved money in infrastructure, Initial Public Offer (IPO), equity and other sectors. “We have requested the government to reduce corporate tax and surcharge on net wealth. We will reinvest our saved money in infrastructure, IPO, equity and other sectors,” DCCI president Abul Kasem Khan told a pre-budget press briefing held at the conference room of the trade body. DCCI also suggested that the upcoming budget should be based on 4Es such as empowerment, encouragement, engagement and environment.
DCCI demands green field listings in the stock market
The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has demanded green field projects or companies to be listed in the capital market for the development of public infrastructure. DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan said at a press conference on the budget proposals for the fiscal year 2018-19 in Dhaka Chamber Bhaban in the city on Saturday that infrastructure was an urgent issue for development. “Infrastructure sector is largely responsible for the failure of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bangladesh. As our infrastructure sector gets modernized, more FDI will come into the country. But many green field projects or companies in this sector can not work due to lack of money.
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)||$ 69.72||↑1.29||↑1.89%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||$ 74.87||↑1.25||↑1.70%|
|Gold Spot||$ 1,314.50||↑2.44||↑0.19%|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days *
|USD 1||BDT 83.85|
|GBP 1||BDT 113.46|
|EUR 1||BDT 100.29|
|INR 1||BDT 1.25|
*CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES ARE TAKEN FROM BLOOMBERG.