Bangladesh Bank mulls uniform calculation of forward rates
The central bank plans to develop uniformity of calculation in case of forward rates among the banks aiming to ensure discipline in the country’s foreign exchange market. The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has asked for the methodology of calculation on forward rates from nine banks within a week, according to officials. The instruction came at a meeting of senior officials of the banks held at the central bank headquarters in Dhaka Wednesday with Mohammad Khurshid Wahab, General Manager of the BB’s Foreign Exchange Policy Department (FEPD), in the chair. “We’ll take the next course of action after receiving the methodology of such calculation from the banks,” a BB senior official told the FE after the meeting. The latest move came against the backdrop of rising trend in forward deals with offering different rates by the banks concerned to their clients.
Services Sector: Export earnings rise 42pc
Export earnings from the services sector grew 42.14 percent year-on-year to $396.58 million thanks to increasing income from goods transportation and rising export of skilled human resources. “The services sector’s export has been growing over the last few months because we are sending more skilled and professional personnel abroad,” said Ali Ahmed, CEO of Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute. “Our airlines are also carrying more goods of other countries. Our target is to export $1 billion worth of services in the computer and IT services.” Transportation services by the sea, air, rail, road and others earned $431.45 million in the July-March period of the current fiscal year, up 36.24 percent year-on-year, according to official data. Year-on-year, personal services export grew 25.64 percent to $265.99 million, financial services export 88.73 percent to $121.28 million and insurance services export 281.93 percent to $3.17 million. However, export in the telecom sector decreased 12.99 percent to $246.59 million and computer services 11.88 percent to $132.35 million. The overall services export rose 20.53 percent to $3.03 billion in the July-March period.
Reliance on agent banking growing
People living in rural and remote parts of the country continue showing eagerness in becoming attached to agent banking as the model promises to be a low-cost, simplified option. Commercial bankers say the periphery of agent banking, rolled out just two years ago, has been widening significantly almost every quarter for an initiative of banks to bring in an alternative to branch-based banking. For instance, deposit collection through agent banking rose 239.53 percent year-on-year to Tk 1,633 crore in the January-March quarter this year. It reached Tk 1,399 crore in the previous quarter, according to Bangladesh Bank data. The number of accounts with the 16 banks now offering agent banking services stood at 14.69 lakh as of March this year, up from 12.14 lakh three months earlier. At the end of the first quarter of this year, the total number of agents rose to 3,216, up 24.79 percent from what was three months ago.
Bankers asked to perform duties with sincerity, honesty
Bankers were asked to discharge their duties with utmost sincerity and honesty to ensure transparency and accountability in their jobs, reports BSS. The call came in the closing session of a daylong workshop titled “Writing Observation of Internal Audit Activities and Report Preparation” in Rajshahi city yesterday afternoon. Senior bankers at the workshop urged their subordinate audit officers to prepare their audit report with efficiency and neutrality to establish trust and confidence in all concerned in this regard. Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB) organized the workshop at it’s headquarter of Laboratory of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division.
Long-term bond for retired government officials under study
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has made some proposals including issuance of long-term bond for the investment of the retired government officials and employees, officials said. Recently, Dr Mashiur Rahman, Economic Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister (PM), has sent the proposals to the finance ministry for consideration, according to official sources. Currently, some 697,212 retired government employees are receiving pension from the state coffer. The economic affairs adviser placed five proposals in this connection. One of the proposals said investment amount to ‘pensioner sanchayapatra’ should be similar ahead of retirement. Another proposal says interest/profit rate should be considered in line with general provident fund.
Stock exchanges to form Centre Counterparty Bangladesh Limited (CCBL) in a week
The country’s stock exchanges will form a new company, namely Centre Counterparty Bangladesh Limited (CCBL), within a week to foster payments system against the shares sold through the trading platform. After a negotiation of shareholding portions to be held by the bourses, the long-awaited formation of the CCBL reached a final stage on Wednesday, when the boards of Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges held a meeting and finalised formation of the company. The initial paid-up capital will be BDT 3.0 billion. “After taking necessary regulatory approval, the exchanges will complete the formalities with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC) to form the CCBL,” said a CSE official, who attended the meeting.
NBR to audit use of materials imported with tax benefits
The National Board of Revenue has asked its field offices to conduct audit on use of materials imported taking duty benefits to find out whether importers violated the conditions of the benefits and evaded tax. In an instruction, the NBR asked its customs and value-added tax intelligence and other VAT offices to inspect business premises or factory sites of importers and check fulfilment of conditions applicable for availing the benefits. Customs audit, modernisation and international trade wing of the NBR issued the instructions on April 22 in this connection as per decisions of the NBR taskforce on VAT audit and intelligence. Officials said that the revenue board issued the instructions sensing duty evasion through misuse of conditions imposed under various statutory regulatory orders. Importers, mainly manufacturers, enjoy duty and tax concessions on import of different types of materials, such as capital machinery, spare parts, factory safety equipments and raw materials under the SROs.
IFC to pump $72m into two local industrial groups
The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has sought the government’s approval for investing US$ 72 million in two local conglomerates to make sure both groups get working capital, officials said. According to its articles of agreement, the World Bank’s private lending arm needs to take prior permission from the member state concerned if it wants to finance an enterprise in the territories of that country. The IFC, according to an available note, wants to invest $50 million in Pran Agro Business Ltd, Pran Agro Ltd and Natore Agro Ltd to help meet the companies’ capital expenditure and working capital requirements. Besides, the IFC wants to invest $22 million in Esquire Knit Composite Ltd to support its establishment of a readymade garments factory at Bhaluka in Mymensingh.
WB funds to help microenterprises adopt cleaner technologies
The government yesterday struck a financing agreement with World Bank (WB) to help microenterprises adopt cleaner technologies. The $110 million Sustainable Enterprise Project will help about 20,000 microenterprises in the manufacturing and agribusiness sectors adopting environment-friendly practices. It will provide loans to microenterprises for innovative and environmentally sustainable technologies and practices. “Around the globe, we have seen that investing in clean, green, and climate-resilient technologies helps countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable growth,” said Qimiao Fan, country director of the WB, in a statement. “The project will help Bangladesh create quality jobs, improve competitiveness and boost growth while improving environmental sustainability.”
Move to bring cement under jute packaging act
A move is underway to bring the cement industry under the mandatory jute packaging act with a view to increasing the use of jute bags in the country. To this end, a sub-committee under the technical committee of the Ministry of Textiles and Jute collected samples of jute bags, official sources said. Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and Bangladesh Jute Mills Association (BJMA) have made the samples of bags as per specifications set by the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute (BSTI). Presently, the cement industry use 700 million bags annually — all made from woven polypropylene (WPP) and every cement factory has a WPP plant to produce such bags. With development expanding at a rapid pace in the country, the demand for packaging materials will shoot up over the next two or three years, sector insiders said.
Khirsa mango to get GI tag soon
The Khirsapat mango of Chapai-nawabganj, popularly known as himsagar, is set to become the third product after hilsa and jamdani to get the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The development comes after the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute applied for GI certification for the mango variety in February last year on behalf of the growers of Chapainawabganj, one of the main mango-producing districts. As per rules, the Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT), which last month gave its preliminary nod, will now wait for two months to see whether anyone has any objection to registration of the fruit as a GI product.
Accord’s extension runs into trouble
The Accord’s bid to prolong its stay in Bangladesh became uncertain after the High Court yesterday extended its restraining order on the government from extending the inspection agency’s tenure by three more months. Earlier on May 10, the EU-based factory inspection and remediation agency got the extension from the government to stay on in Bangladesh for six more months after its original five-year tenure ends on May 31.
Australian partner buys more stake in bdjobs.com
Local investors of Bangladesh’s leading career management site—bdjobs.com—have sold another 10.0% stake for BDT 300.0 million to its Australian partner SEEK International. SEEK has now become the leading shareholder with 35.0% stakes while Fahim Mashroor, one of the founders of the site and CEO, holds 33.0%. Seven others own the remaining shares. SEEK purchased 25.0% of shares of bdjobs in 2015, when the company was valued at BDT 1.5 billion, said Mashroor, who owns another leading e-commerce site, ajkerdeal.com. This time it is valued at BDT 3.0 billion as it generates profits every year, he said. Established in 2000, bdjobs started making profits after three years. Last year, it made a profit of around BDT 150.0 million, which was BDT 135.0 million in 2016.
2 lakh farmers facing certificate cases
About two lakh farmers across country are facing certificate cases for defaulting repayment of agricultural loans. The financial burden caused grave concern among the affected families, according to the farmers as well as the banks.
130m use mobile phones, 70m internet in country
Bangladesh is set to become a middle-income country free from poverty and hunger through implementation of the 10 special initiatives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina by 2021, officials said. The government has set its sights on bringing down the extreme poverty rate to 8.0 per cent by the year 2020, they mentioned. Noting that digitalisation is one of the main programmes of the government, they said a total of 5,735 digital centres have been set up across the country. As the digital technology is flourishing fast, the country has got 130 million mobile phone users and 70 million internet users, they said at an exchange of views meeting here on Wednesday.
Japanese investors upbeat about investment climate in BD
Japanese investors who have stakes in Bangladesh have shared their positive experiences to encourage their peers to invest in the country, reports bdnews24.com. They underlined the challenges facing Bangladesh but said there are enough advantages for investing in the country which is implementing a major reform package to ease doing business. The Japanese investors were speaking at an investment seminar co-organised by the Bangladesh embassy, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority or BIDA, and the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Osaka on Tuesday.
‘Flower sector to boost economy’
Flower industry has great opportunity to boost the country’s economy, speakers said at a seminar on Wednesday. Bangladesh is a favourable place for flower industry though this sector is yet to get momentum, they also said. Variety of flower, access to finance, green house infrastructure with adequate irrigation system, export market, research and development, training, skill development, transportation are some of the challenges in this sector, they stressed. Flower export target was fixed at $13 million in Fiscal Year 2017-18 and already more than $8 million has been earned from July to December, DCCI Vice President Riyadh Hossain said at a seminar. Global consumption of cut flowers is estimated at a staggering $40 to $50 billion per year. There are around 145 countries involved in the cultivation of this ornamental crop, he added. According to Bangladesh Flower Society, around 10,000 hectares of land are being cultivated in this regard.
Organic mango farmers overlooked for exports
The sweet scent of mango is in the air once again. But, instead of rejoicing, Rajshahi’s orchardists are feeling uneasy. And the cause for their concern is the perplexing government attitude towards export of organic mangoes. The organic mango growers in the region had invested earnestly to improve cultivation methods, prodded by an industry crisis several years ago brought about by excessive chemical use on mango crops. They introduced the fruit-bagging method, which drastically cuts down the number of times mangoes are sprayed with pesticides before reaching the market. Bagged mangoes are sprayed with pesticides about three times, in contrast to 62 times under the unethically-grown non-bagging method. Organic mango growers naturally hoped to benefit from increased exports. But the reality has been starkly different.
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