Government to formalise mobile banking for remittance
Planning Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal said on Sunday the government is going to formally allow sending remittance from overseas countries to Bangladesh through mobile banking system. “A significant volume of remittance is coming through the informal channels. Besides, the Bangladeshi expatriates are also sending money through bKash. So, the government has decided to formalise mobile banking system for sending foreign exchange,” he said after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting. Referring to the discussion at the NEC meeting, the minister said the government wants to track all the remittances, including the formal channels and the informal channels, to check ‘hundi’ and other illegal operations for sending money from abroad. He said according to the government plan, the central bank will have an account, where all the remittance operations will send foreign exchange. Currently, the Bangladeshis working abroad send remittance through banking system, mobile banking and some other informal channels.
ONE Bank re-elects Sayeed as chair, Asoke vice-chair, Zahur EC chair
The board of directors of ONE Bank has re-elected Sayeed H Chowdhury as its chairman for another one-year term with an effect from May 11, said a news release. The board has also re-elected Asoke Das Gupta as its vice-chairman and Zahur Ullah as executive committee chairman of the bank. British educated Sayeed is the founder chairman and CEO of diversified blue chip conglomerate HRC. He is a member of the British Institute of Management. Sayeed is the chairman of Media New Age Ltd and Information Services Network Ltd. He is also the honorary adviser of the Bangladesh Ocean Going Ship owners’ Association. Sayeed is the chairman of the editorial board of the national Bengali Daily JAIJAIDIN. Asoke is a reputed businessman of the country. He was a freedom fighter in the country’s liberation. He is the chief executive of IMTREX and the managing director of Uniroyal Trade Limited. He is also the chairman of Uniroyal Securities Limited and Ocunova Eye Hospital.
Government likely to allow investment abroad on case-to-case basis
The government has decided in principle to allow Bangladeshi investments abroad amid strong plea made by several companies in this regard. The issue of letting investment abroad by three Bangladeshi groups of companies — Ha-Meem Group, Akij Group and Nitol-Niloy Group — was placed before the cabinet body on the day. The committee turned down their proposals, but decided that investment by Bangladeshi companies abroad will be allowed on case-to-case basis, officials said. After the meeting, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed said a policy will be framed regarding Bangladeshi investment abroad. Presently, making investment abroad for resident Bangladeshis is not open under the foreign-exchange regulation act. But under sub-section 6 of section-4 of the act, the central bank in consultation with the government can identify areas of equity investments abroad.
The country’s import expenditure increased by more than 11.0% or USD 3.4 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year (FY). The import of capital machinery jumped nearly 53.0% during the period, contributing to the substantial rise in overall imports, officials said. But the capital machinery for the energy and power sector contributed most part of the expenditure, they added. A senior central bank official said machinery for other sectors and intermediate goods for industrial consumption also increased substantially, showing signs of boosting production in the country in future.
GDP grows 7.24%, per-capita income increases to USD 1602
Bangladesh’s economy has grown at a 7.24% in the current fiscal, driven by industrial and service sectors, according to latest official estimates that outweigh donor projections. The per-capita income in the country has also increased to USD 1602 (estimated figure), marking a 9.35% rise over the USD 1465 that was in the last FY2016, the government data released Sunday showed. Officials said the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth at constant price broke all previous records in Bangladesh’s history. In the last financial year (FY), 2015-16, the country’s economy expanded by 7.11% by official count–thereby breaking a ‘6% growth trap’ after long nine years. Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal unveiled the growth data while briefing journalists after Sunday’s meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC), held at the Planning Commission, which endorsed the country’s next development budget (ADP) worth BDT 1.53 trillion. According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the country’s total GDP size at current price stood at BDT 19.56 trillion (USD 248.77 billion) in the current FY2017.
Government plans to use USD 7.6 billion foreign aid next year
The government is gunning for record foreign aid utilisation next fiscal year with the view to wooing the electorate ahead of the national election scheduled for 2019. Bangladesh could never utilise more than USD 4.0 billion of foreign aid in a year, but the government plans to utilise about USD 7.6 billion of foreign aid in fiscal 2017-18. The disclosure comes after Finance Minister AMA Muhith last week said the budget for fiscal 2017-18 — the last full fiscal year before the elections — will be an exceptional one. The government wants to accelerate the progress of a number of transformational projects such that they can take some shape when the Awami League gets into campaigning mode, said planning ministry officials. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday approved BDT 1,533.3 billion as the outlay for next fiscal year’s Annual Development Programme, which is 39.0% higher than the current year’s allocation. The government’s own fund contribution has been raised 24.0% to BDT 963.3 billion and foreign fund 73.3% to BDT 570.0 billion. The state-owned enterprises will get BDT 107.5 billion, where the amount of foreign aid is more than BDT 30.0 billion. At present, more than USD 32.0 billion of foreign aid is sitting idle in the pipeline.
Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) moves to buy 8 more ships with Chinese funds
The Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) has moved forward to buy eight more vessels with Chinese funds worth BDT 20 billion while six other vessels are under construction to enrich its fleet, sources said. In this regard, proposal will be sent to the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF), China for financing the four projects under which these vessels will be bought. With Chinese Exim Bank’s funding, three product oil tankers and three bulk carriers at a cost of USD 184.5 million are under construction which, the BSC expects, will start joining its feet in mid-2018. Officials said last year the foreign loan search committee in its 35th meeting at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) approved procurement of two chemical/crude oil tankers of 35,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage) each, two mother tankers of 125,000 DWT each, and four cellular container ships of 1,500 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) each.
Banglalink’s gross revenue slid 1.2 percent year-on-year to Tk 1,200.65 crore in first quarter of the year after its active customer base shrunk more than 3 percent. In addition, intense price competition, which accelerated following the SIM re-verification process, negatively impacted revenues, said the operator’s parent company, which was recently rebranded Veon from VimpelCom. However, there was no mention of the operator’s profitability during the period. Banglalink, currently the country’s third largest operator, saw its earnings from data usage soar 43.09 percent to Tk 152.77 crore during the period, according to the report. The boost in data revenue came from data traffic growth of 93 percent along with 4 percent increase in active data users, which resulted in a 2.3 percent growth in Banglalink’s average revenue per-user in the first three months of 2017.
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