Public banks are getting into some difficulty in lending as their overall shortfall in provision against both classified and unclassified loans increased over 6.0% in the first quarter (Q1) of this year. According to the central bank’s latest statistics, the amount of provisioning shortfalls of three out of the six state-owned commercial banks (SoCBs) rose to BDT 64.7 billion during the January-March period of the current calendar year from BDT 60.8 billion in the preceding quarter. Talking to the FE, a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said the provision shortfall of SoCBs widened during the period under review mainly owing to higher growth in their non-performing loans (NPLs). During the January-March period, the total amount of NPLs with the six SoCBs bloated into BDT 357.2 billion from BDT 310.3 billion in the previous quarter.
The overall shortfall in provision against general and defaulted loans in the banking sector stood at Tk 5,232.26 crore as of March 31, 2017 with six banks failing to keep required provision during the period. The provision shortfall in the banking sector, however, slightly decreased in the first quarter of this year as the banks faced a shortfall of Tk 5,470.02 crore as of December 31, 2016, according to the latest Bangladesh Bank data. The banks have to keep provision against its disbursed loans to secure the depositors’ money in line with the bank company act, a BB official told New Age on Wednesday. Banks sanction and disburse loans to their clients from the depositors’ fund, so they (banks) have to keep the provision for the interest of their depositors, he said. The six banks which failed to keep required provision against the loans are Sonali Bank, Rupali Bank, BASIC Bank, Premier Bank, Bangladesh Commerce Bank and National Bank, according to the latest Bangladesh Bank data.
The central bank has fixed office hours for all banks from 9:30am to 4:00pm for the month of Ramadan. Bank staff will get a prayer break between 1:15pm and 1:30pm, Bangladesh Bank said in a statement today. Banking services will remain off on Friday and Saturday as per regular scheduled.
RAKUB, Ansar-VDP bank to borrow BDT 9.0 billion from Bangladesh Bank
Two state-owned banks (SoBs) got state guarantee to borrow BDT 9.0 billion from Bangladesh Bank to replenish their cash coffers, officials said. Under the guarantee Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB) will get BDT 7.0 billion as loan from the central bank’s refinance scheme while Ansar-VDP Unnayan Bank will take BDT 2.0 billion. Earlier, the Ansar-VDP Unnayan Bank was also given another state guarantee last month against a loan worth BDT 1.0 billion from refinance scheme of the central bank. In issuing state guarantees the two banks have been asked to submit business plans as to how they will enhance their business and cut down non-performing loans (NPLs). The rate of classified loans of all the SoBs is considered very high and various lending agencies have been requesting the government for taking fruitful measures to cut down NPL overhang. Officials at the ministry of finance said the RAKUB was provided the state guarantee to make available low-cost credits as the bank has been reeling from impacts of liquidity crisis and small capital base.
Sayeed H Chowdhury has recently been re-elected as the chairman of One Bank for another one-year term. The bank’s Board of Directors has also re-elected Asoke Das Gupta as its vice chairman and Zahur Ullah as the chairman of the executive committee. Chowdhury is the founder chairman and CEO of blue chip conglomerate HRC and a member of the British Institute of Management, the bank said in a statement yesterday. He is also the chairman of Media New Age Ltd and Information Services Network Ltd. He is also the honorary adviser of Bangladesh Ocean Going Ship owners’ Association, according to the statement.
Bangladesh Association of Bankers (BAB) has donated Tk 1.36 billion (Tk 136.20 crore) to three benevolent organisations dedicated for social welfare, education, and autism. The three organisations are – Jatir Janak Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Memorial Trust, PM’s Education Assistance Trust Fund, and Suchna Foundation, an organisation led by PM’s daughter Saima Hossain, dedicated to the autistic people, reports BSS. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received the cheques of the donations from the representatives of 37 banks at her Gonobhaban residence on Monday evening.
The government plans to increase the food subsidy by around 32.0% to BDT 37.2 billion in the revised budget for the outgoing fiscal year. It also wants to increase the food subsidy to BDT 40.0 billion in the new budget for the next fiscal year, according to the plan of the finance ministry. The food subsidy was increased by more than 50.0% in the current fiscal year over the previous budget although prices of staples fell in international and local markets. The government introduced a programme last year to distribute rice among the poor at BDT 10 a kilogram, which is mainly creating pressure on the subsidy to be increased, a food ministry official said. Besides, rice prices start going up this year. The government had plans to import 0.2 million tonnes of rice this year, which may increase further in the next fiscal year, the official said. Rice distribution through open market sales will also be increased, which would also contribute to the increase in the food subsidy, he said.
VAT-free turnover limit likely to be BDT 3.6 million
The government may increase the VAT-free turnover ceiling to BDT 3.6 million from BDT 3.0 million as it looks to appease small and medium firms anxious about the impact the new VAT law would have on their profitability. Currently under the VAT Act 1991, many small and medium businesses pay a fixed amount of VAT, known as package VAT, and they usually do not submit returns regularly, even though a section of them generate enough sales to be able to pay the turnover tax. The implementation of the new law, which envisages a uniform 15 percent VAT, will put an end to the practice of paying package VAT along with the other reduced rates now in effect. The new VAT law, which will take effect from July 1, will force a large number of retail and wholesale stores to maintain records and pay VAT based on actual sales, said revenue officials. Now, a joint panel of the National Board of Revenue and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry upon reviewing the new VAT law suggested an increase in ceiling to support the small and medium firms. The reason being, many smaller firms do not have the capacity yet to maintain records precisely, as demanded by the new VAT law. The highest ceiling of turnover tax is also expected to be raised to BDT 15.0 million a year from BDT 8.0 million, as prescribed in the new VAT law framed in 2012.
Kuala Lumpur to open up new area for Bangladeshi workers
The Malaysian government on Tuesday indicated they will open up new areas like mining for Bangladeshi workers, reports UNB. Secretary General of Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ramlan Ibrahim shared the plan when he met Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali at his office. They will continue to recruit more workers from Bangladesh, he said. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the ongoing recruitment process of Bangladeshi workforce in Malaysia under ‘G to G Plus’ mechanism. Mahmood Ali stressed the need for maintaining transparency in the system and requested Malaysia to continue recruiting more workers from Bangladesh. He highlighted the advantages of investing in the Special Economic Zones being established by the government all over the country and encouraged Malaysian investors to come forward to invest there.
The third round of TICFA talks ended in Dhaka Wednesday without discussing the crucial issue of restoration of the generalised system of preferences (GSP) facility for Bangladesh’s products on the US market. However, US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bernicat told newsmen that extending duty-free and quota-free market access is within the purview of US Congress which decides trade benefits. Commerce secretary (in-charge) Shubhashish Bose led the host side at the Trade and Investment Cooperation Framework Agreement (TICFA) meeting while US assistant trade representative Mark Linscott led the US delegation. Briefing the press after the daylong US-Bangladesh trade talks Mr Bose said the two sides discussed ways of expanding of trade and investment between the two countries.
Global unionists urge EU to probe GSP for Bangladesh
Global rights groups again called on the European Union to investigate Bangladesh’s GSP status as it failed to address the commitments regarding labour issues of Sustainability Compact. Citing last December’s Ashulia incident, they alleged that that Bangladesh showed anti-union behaviour last year. Industriall Global Union, UNI Global Union and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) with their European affiliates have evaluated the progress made in line with the Compact ahead of its today’s (Thursday) review in Dhaka. Earlier on January 18 last, the groups in a joint letter to the European Parliament made the same call. The Sustainability Compact was signed among the EU, Bangladesh, the US, Canada and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to improve labour rights and factory safety in the garment industry after the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed more than 1,100 workers in 2013.
Germany will provide an amount of 7.0 million euro as grant to address the funding needs of the RMG factories in Bangladesh. The grant will disburse through KfW, a German government-owned development bank, (4 million) and GIZ (3 million) in this regard. Bangladesh and Germany Monday signed two bilateral agreements – Financial Cooperation (FC) and Technical Cooperation (TC) – on the financing of environment and safety retrofits in the readymade garment (RMG) sector, reports UNB Additional secretary (Europe Wing), Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance Muhammad Alkama Siddiqui, and German Ambassador in Dhaka Thomas Prinz signed the agreements respectively.
China to become biggest investor in Bangladesh with Chevron acquisition
China is poised to become the biggest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bangladesh with an imminent acquisition of US company Chevron’s local assets. Chinese envoy in Dhaka Ma Mingqiang made this observation Wednesday, adding that China’s overflowing funds are also already pouring into Bangladesh via different other offshore sources. According to the figures of the Chinese ministry of commerce, a total of USD 34.3 million was channelled from China into Bangladesh as foreign direct investment in 2016 while, according to Bangladesh government statistics, this figure amounted to USD 61 million. The Chinese envoy noted that even if the official figures are taken into account, the Chinese investment in Bangladesh had experienced very high annual growth in recent years.
High land prices, unavailability of adequate land and ransom by locals are the major factors driving away keen Chinese investors from Bangladesh, said Ma Mingqiang, ambassador of China, yesterday. “We see huge opportunities for investment in Bangladesh but many difficulties as well,” he said at the monthly meeting of the Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry, held at the Westin hotel in Dhaka. The country should improve the investment climate and remove the barriers confronting foreign investors, he said, adding that China is mainly interested in Bangladesh’s infrastructure and export-oriented manufacturing sectors.
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