Tofail Ahmed inaugurates the 100th branch of Dhaka Bank
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed inaugurated the 100th branch of Dhaka Bank Limited at Banani in the capital on Wednesday in presence of, among others, the bank’s chairman Reshadur Rahman, founder Chairman Abdul Hai Sarker, former Chairman A.T.M. Hayatuzzaman Khan, directors and Managing Director & CEO of the bank Syed Mahbubur Rahman.
Forex reserve falls below US$ 32b
Country’s foreign exchange reserve (forex) fell below US$ 32 billion again on Wednesday, following a regular bi-monthly payment to Asian Clearing Union (ACU) and the central bank’s direct selling of US dollar to the commercial banks. The forex reserve came down to $31.92 billion on the day from $33.23 billion on the day before, according to the central bank’s latest data. Bangladesh paid $1.39 billion to the ACU against imports during the March-April period of the current calendar year, according to officials. Earlier the forex reserve dropped below $32 billion around two months ago mainly due to higher import payments. The reserve was recorded at $31.93 billion on March 08, following the ACU payment for the January-February period of this year, and on the day before it was $33.49 billion. “Lower rice imports from India have brought down the overall import payments under the ACU arrangement during the period under review,” a senior official of Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE. Bangladesh imports different consumer items, cotton, raw materials and capital machinery from the ACU member countries, particularly from India, Pakistan and Bhutan, according to the official.
No change in yield rates of savings tools for now
Finance Minister AMA Muhith Wednesday ruled out the possibility of revising the yield rates of the government saving certificates since the bank deposit rates are now almost equivalent to those. “So we don’t need to revise it (yield rate of saving tools). We will settle it in a meeting,” Muhith said at a pre-budget discussion with members of the Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF) at his secretariat office. The minister said the government has a policy to fix the yield rates of savings tools at rates slightly higher than the bank deposit rates. The decision was taken so since the savings tools were floated for resource mobilisation.
Will the government bailout save Farmers Bank?
In a bid to save the scam-hit Farmers Bank Ltd from the liquidity crisis, the government and Bangladesh Bank have authorized four state-owned banks and one state-owned financial institution to inject Tk715 crore into the bank in exchange for 60% of its shares. According to the circular, the four banks – Sonali, Agrani, Janata, and Rupali – will invest Tk165 crore each in the bank, while the state-owned Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) will provide Tk55 crore. Meanwhile, Bangladesh Bank, the central bank, and apex regulatory body for the country’s monetary and financial system, issued a circular in this regard on Tuesday, relaxing three articles [14, 23, and 26] of the Bank Company Act 1991 to facilitate the bailout process.
HSBC basks in satellite glory
One more feather is adding to the cap of HSBC’s successful operations in Bangladesh as the stage is all set to launch the country’s first satellite. The London-based banking giant has lent 155 million euros or about Tk 1,400 crore for Bangabandhu-1 satellite, which will be sent into orbit from its launching pad in Florida. “It is a great accomplishment for the country and we are proud to play our part in achieving this milestone,” said Francois de Maricourt, chief executive officer of HSBC Bangladesh, in an interview with The Daily Star. The Bangabandhu-1 Satellite, which is scheduled to be launched today if weather permits, will be the first Bangladeshi geostationary communications satellite. It will enable the country to own and provide communications and broadcasting services locally and regionally.
Experts for corporate tax cut to deepen capital market
Experts at a roundtable on Wednesday stressed the need for reducing corporate tax and listing companies having good fundamentals to deepen the capital market. They also emphasised on bringing discipline in IPO (initial public offering) management and dividend declaration. The speakers put forward the recommendation at the meeting orgnised by an association of investors in the capital. Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) Chairman Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen and market experts attended the meeting. The CSE chairman appreciated the recent growth of the capital market, but said it was not up to the mark as compared to the GDP growth.
Green Delta Ins re-elects Karim as chair, Shamsun Nahar becomes vice chair
Md Abdul Karim has been re-elected as the chairman of Green Delta Insurance Co Ltd, said a press release. Shamsun Nahar Begum Chowdhury has been elected as the vice chairperson. Karim is former principal secretary to the Government of Bangladesh and the managing director of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation. He was chairman of the National Board of Revenue and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation. Shamsun Nahar brings to the board cutting-edge international practices that has resulted in the establishment of several innovative customer centric products and helped reinforce company systems and protocols, the release also said. She is involved with multiple social and welfare organisations across Bangladesh, it said.
Premier Leasing Securities re-elects chair
ASM Feroz Alam has recently been re-elected as chairman of Premier Leasing Securities Ltd, the company said in a statement. He is the vice chairman of Mercantile Bank Ltd, director of National Television Limited (RTV). He is a sponsor and former chairman of Premier Leasing and Finance Limited. Alam is the founder of Shaheda Gafur Ibrahim General Hospital Kalaiya, Patuakhali, the statement added.
IMF projects 7.0pc growth in FY ’18
Bangladesh economy is set to grow by 7.0 per cent in the current fiscal year (FY), according to the latest projection of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Fund’s regional economic outlook for Asia and the Pacific, released on Wednesday, also showed Bangladesh would be the second fastest emerging market and developing economy in the region after India. Indian economy is projected to grow by 7.40 per cent in the current year. “In Bangladesh, growth should slow slightly to 7.0 per cent in FY2018, while inflation should drop toward target as the effects of food price shocks wane,” said the report. It also mentioned that growth was above 7.0 per cent in Bangladesh in the past year which was mainly driven by consumption. The report also said Asia is embracing the digital revolution.
NBR to set product-wise minimum import value
The National Board of Revenue has decided to set the minimum import value for several hundreds of products product-wise instead of the existing country-wise for imposing customs duty. The NBR took the decision to prevent duty evasion through misdeclaration, particularly under-invoicing, of the prices of imported products as it found evidences of huge duty leakage in the existing system in which the minimum value is set based on the country of origin of the products. The decision may come into effect from the next budget for the fiscal year of 2018-2019. The NBR has already formed a joint committee consisting representatives from public and private sectors to recommend the possible minimum import value of products based on its nature instead of country of origin for the next budget. Currently, the minimum import value is applicable to more than 550 products including clothes, fabrics, natural honey, tea, fish, chocolate, biscuits, fruit juice, perfumes, toiletries, tyre, footwear, ceramic tiles, sanitary ware, tableware, kitchenware, glass, razors, different types of electronics products, motor vehicles, parts and accessories. Setting minimum import value means that importers cannot declare the value of those products lower than the NBR-set value.
Thai businesses seek to invest in BD
Thai entrepreneurs have sought to invest in Bangladesh in different sectors like automobiles, renewable power and energy, electronics equipment, household equipment and infrastructural development. Kobsak Pootrakool, Minister attached to the Thai Prime Minister’s Office, said this at a ‘Business Dialogue’ between a high-profile Thai delegation and the Bangladesh-Thai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BTCCI) at Dhaka Club during their recent visit to Bangladesh, says a press statement. Pootrakool, who led the 32-member delegation, lauded the development of the pharmaceuticals industry and said many industries like Square Pharmaceutical Ltd. are export-oriented and there is huge potential in this sector. Bangladeshi products have huge potential in Thai market and a large number of Bangladeshi people also buy Thai products, he added.
Transsion investing Tk 100cr in handset plant
Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Transsion Holdings will start running its handset assembly plant in Gazipur by June while the commercial launch of its devices is expected in July. The plant has already been set up and the company is moving ahead with its plans to invest Tk 100 crore, which is coming into the country as foreign direct investment, said Rezwanul Haque, chief executive officer of Transsion Bangladesh, yesterday. Transsion Holdings rolled out its products in Bangladesh in July last year and has already grabbed about 15 percent of the market share. The company aims to market its locally-assembled smart and feature phones and 90 percent of its preparations have already been completed. It also plans to export smart devices within next two years. “Our first target is to cater the local market and then we will plan about the export market,” said Haque, also the immediate past general secretary of the Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association. Currently, the company has two brands: itel for the feature phone segment and Techno for the smart-phone segment.
Urbanisation proceeds with no strategic vision
Development economists at a programme said on Wednesday the experience with urbanisation in Bangladesh is rather dismal as it has proceeded haphazardly with no strategic vision. They also said there is little control over the conversion of land from agricultural to non-agricultural while land rights are highly insecure. They stressed on decentralisation of administration and establishment of an accountable city governance system. They noted that the aspirations to be a mid-income and high income country need institutional reforms as goals and targets require to be matched with strategies, policies and institutions. Their observations came during a book launching ceremony at PKSF auditorium in the city. Bangladesh Economists’ Forum (BEF) organised the event where state minister for finance MA Mannan was present as the chief guest in the unveiling programme of the book titled ‘Institutions for Development — Urbanisation and Land Issues in Bangladesh’.
Summit’s Gazipur plant starts supplying power to national grid
The second unit of Summit power plant in Gazipur has started supplying electricity to the national grid commercially from Wednesday. The 300-megawatt (MW) furnace-oil fired power plant is owned by the consortium of Summit Corporation Ltd and Summit Power Ltd having the stakes of 80% and 20% respectively. The ‘100 hour Reliability run test’ as well as ‘dependable capacity test’ were completed Wednesday. The power purchase agreement and implementation deal were signed with the government for a period of 15 years on December 10, 2017. This is, however, the only furnace oil-fired power plant under the fast-track project that came online within the stipulated timeframe of nine months. In August last, the government issued the letter of intent to the sponsor of this power plant along with several other firms to implement the projects within nine months under fast-track. Summit Gazipur II Power is located in Kodda, Gazipur — about 30 kilometres (kms) north of Dhaka city. The power plant is supplying power at 230 kilo volt (KV) to Tongi and Kaliakoir grid sub-stations. Summit’s total power generation reached 1,800 MW with the initiation of supply from its Gazipur power plant, consolidating its position as the leading private sector electricity producer.
Power tariff to be hiked soon: Finance Minister
The government is going to increase electricity tariff soon as the cost of raw materials has gone up, said Finance Minister. He said that he is certain that the tariff of electricity will rise. The minister, however, added that the hikes would be gradual to make those bearable. He also hinted that if the power tariff will continue rising in future because the prices of raw materials have risen. Finance minister also described the existing power situation well and said investments have already been made to set up power plants to generate 30,000 megawatts of electricity by 2024. He also said that the size of the next budget would be fixed in a week and it might be BDT 4.60 trillion.
Supply of re-gasified LNG hits bumps
The delays in construction of necessary pipeline along with tie-up and ‘synchronisation’ complexities have held up the supply of re-gasified LNG (liquefied natural gas) to consumers. Although the first consignment reached the country on April 24, the government has not completed the necessary work to commission the supply of re-gasified LNG. “I hope the pipeline would be constructed soon to initiate the commercial supply of LNG by May 21,” Petrobangla chairman Abul Mansur Md Faizullah told the FE Wednesday. But industry insiders said it might be delayed further as the pipeline construction is facing a major hurdle, crossing the Karnaphuli River. The US-based Excelerate Energy Bangladesh Ltd (EEBL) brought in its floating, storage and re-gasification unit (FSRU) — Excellence — after loading 136,009 cubic metres of lean LNG from Qatar’s RasGas.
Leaving out women could hurt demographic dividend pursuit: 56.9pc women not in education, employment, training, says CPD
The low participation of women in the work force could seriously hurt Bangladesh’s chance of tapping the demographic dividend, the local think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has warned. About 56.9 per cent of women in Bangladesh are not in education, employment and training and as such, the country is missing out on significant opportunities, the CPD has cautioned. Their observations came at the public dialogue on “Promoting Female Employment in Bangladesh for Realising Demographic Dividends” in the capital on Wednesday. “Female labour force participation in Bangladesh continues to be significantly lower than their male counterparts,” said CPD Distinguished Fellow Professor Mustafizur Rahman in his keynote presentation.
Hyundai Rotem set to get Tk 26.79b contract
South Korean rolling stock manufacturer Hyundai Rotem Company, the second lowest bidder, is set to be awarded a locomotive supply contract worth Tk 26.79 billion. The railway ministry sent a proposal in this regard to the cabinet committee on government purchase (CCGP) a couple of days ago. The lowest bidder, Vossloh Espana, was excluded as its name was changed during the tender-awarding process, Railway Secretary Mofazzel Hossain said in the proposal. Bangladesh Railway (BR) floated the tender for purchasing 70 metre-gauge diesel electric locomotives two years ago under a government-financed project. A total of 26 companies purchased schedules, but finally five companies took part in the bidding process. They are CSR Ziyang Co of China, CSR Sifang Co Ltd of China, Hyundai Rotem of South Korea, Vossloh Espana of Spain and Grindrod Locomotives of South Africa. The tender evaluation committee in collaboration with the technical subcommittee recommended two companies-Vossloh Espana of Spain and Hyundai Rotem of South Korea-as responsive bidders.
Rangs Toshiba brings new smart Android TV
Rangs Toshiba yesterday launched a new smart television—Pro Theatre Ultra HD 4k Android TV—which will enable customers to access the internet through Google Play Store. “These new model TVs are developed to focus on the conveniences for home entertainment while taking advantage of the latest android TV platform,” said Rubaiyat Jamil, CEO of Rangs Industries Ltd. The television belongs to the company’s Pro Theatre U97 Series and has the ability to optimise apps and games, millions of YouTube contents, latest movies and music to give a large screen experience, he said. Jamil spoke at a press meet at Four Points by Sheraton Dhaka, Gulshan in the city.
Singer witnesses record turnover in 2017
Singer Bangladesh Ltd hopes the demand of consumer durables will be accelerated in the coming days in the country as the government has taken a serious move to ensure access of electricity for all by 2021. Singer, country’s largest home appliances and consumer electronic item selling company is also optimistic that Bangladesh’s elevation from least developed country to developing country will have positive impact to raise the market size of consumer durables. According to the company’s latest annual report, Singer recorded the highest Tk 11.1 billion turnover in 2017, registering an increase of 23 per cent compared to the previous year, thanks to stable trading conditions, additional marketing initiatives and presence of new products. “The Singer Group as well as the company achieved its highest ever turnover of Tk 11.1 billion in the backdrop of macroeconomic stability and political calmness,” the annual report, 2017 said.
Telcos asked to set Tk 5 limit by June 1
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has set a fresh deadline of June 1 for mobile phone operators to limit customers’ internet pay per use within Tk 5. The telecom regulator came up with the fresh instruction to the mobile phone companies on Monday as they continued to violate BTRC’s earlier directive in this regard, a senior official of the commission told New Age on Tuesday. One of the leading mobile operators was earning more than Tk 1,200 crore every year in the absence of such limit, he informed. Meanwhile, a BTRC conducted survey showed that 99 per cent of the mobile phone subscribers support the regulatory move to limit pay per use data, he said. The BTRC letter, sent to the chief executive officers of all the mobile phone operators on Monday, also says that the operators must stop internet of customers once they completes using internet of Tk 5 under the pay per use tariff rate.
Private airlines ask for jet fuel price cut, end to disparity
Top officials of private airlines on Wednesday sought government initiatives to reduce the price of jet fuel and remove the discrepancy in fuel prices between domestic and foreign airlines. Speaking at a pre-budget discussion, the officials said domestic airlines would face difficulties in keeping services operational if the discrepancy is not removed. “This overpricing and discrepancy in jet fuel prices needs to be addressed for our survival,” said US-Bangla Airlines CEO Asif Imran. Currently, a foreign airline pays Tk65 per litre of jet fuel whereas a domestic airline pays Tk91 per litre, he added. The official further said if domestic airlines depend on foreign airports such as in Kuala Lumpur, then a huge amount of foreign currency would be spent which is detrimental for Bangladesh. Novoair Managing Director Mofizur Rahman echoed the US-Bangla Airlines CEO’s comments that jet fuel prices were too high and said: “We are compelled to purchase the fuel at the price offered here. We have no choice.” He added that the airline was willing to pay VAT, but the current fuel price was out of their reach.
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