Six banks face BDT 60.6 billion in provision shortfall
Six banks including scam-hit BASIC and Sonali banks faced provision shortfall of BDT 60.6 billion against their general and defaulted loans as of March 30, 2016. Another four banks which failed to keep required provision are Janata Bank, Bangladesh Commerce Bank, National Bank and Premier Bank. The provision shortfall of Sonali Bank stood at BDT 16.8 billion as of March 30, 2016 against a provision shortfall of BDT 16.7 billion as of December 31, 2015, that of BASIC Bank BDT 36.8 billion from BDT 33.1 billion, Janata Bank faced BDT 2.3 billion in provision shortfall from a surplus amount of BDT 4.1 billion, Bangladesh Commerce Bank posted BDT 2.4 billion in shortfall from a deficit amount of BDT 2.3 billion, Premier Bank faced BDT 1.4 billion provision shortfall from a balanced position and National Bank registered BDT 880.0 million in shortfall from BDT 1.5 billion in deficit a quarter ago. A BB official told New Age on Wednesday that the six banks, which faced provision shortfall, had earlier faced huge corruptions resulting that their provision shortfall continued to increase.
Banks giving low-cost loans to manufacturers
Banks are providing industrial loans at a maximum cost of 6.5% — which is almost half the going interest rates — from a fund provided by the World Bank, a development that will put a smile on the faces of businesses. At present, the rate of interest on industrial loans is 11 to 12.0%, which businessmen say reins in their investment. The WB last year provided USD 291.0 million to Bangladesh to extend long-term foreign currency credit to private sector firms. Subsequently, the government created a fund using the WB loan for disbursement through a select few commercial banks. As of now, a total of 30 credit proposals have been received by the Bangladesh Bank, of which five have been sanctioned. The highest rate of interest on the loans is 6.5%, according to bank officials. Eastern Bank has approved a total of USD 13.85 million for three firms: Premiaflex Plastics Ltd, Flamingo Fashions, and Mahmuda Attires Ltd. Premiaflex Plastics Ltd got a USD 3.5 million loan at an interest rate of six-month LIBOR plus 3.25% and five years’ tenure. The LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) is less than 1.0% at present.
Ministry of Finance set to release new BDT 5.0 treasury notes
The BDT 5.0 denomination note, which has recently been made government note, will be released shortly, officials familiar with the development told the FE. The cabinet in August of 2015 approved the BDT 5.0 denomination note and coins as treasury notes primarily to expand the government control over legal tenders. Currently BDT 1.0 and BDT 2.0 notes/coins are issued by the government and signed by the Finance Secretary while other notes are bank notes issued by the Bangladesh Bank (BB) and signed by the BB Governor. However, both the bank notes signed by the central bank governor and the finance secretary will be valid legal tenders until the former is phased out gradually from the market. The government earlier took the move to turn the bank notes into treasury notes to maintain a balance between bank and treasury notes. The finance division argued that the government had low shares over the currencies available in the market. They said from 1974-75 to 2014-15, the volume of total currencies rose by 306 times to BDT 854.85 billion.
BSEC seeks public opinion on listing small firms
The market regulator Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) has sought public opinion on its certain proposals for setting up a dedicated trading platform for small firms at the stock exchanges. With the country’s economy expected to grow at over 7.0% and size of the economy already crossed the USD 200.0 billion mark, small and medium enterprises’ need to raise their capital is increasingly important. Market players opined that hundreds of SMEs (small and medium enterprises) would look at raising capital from outside sources in the coming years, which may include venture capital funds, private equity or the capital market. The BSEC has invited comment from the public by this month. Currently, only those companies with a minimum paid-up capital of BDT 300.0 million are eligible to list on the stock exchanges. According to the BSEC proposals, companies with minimum paid-up capital of BDT 50.0 million with a positive net profit after tax at least for immediate preceding two financial years will be eligible to raise funds by using the platform. But they will have to raise at least BDT 50.0 million from “qualified investors” through listing on the platform, and the post-issue paid-up capital will not cross BDT 300.0 million. If paid up capital of the company exceeds BDT 300.0 million, the company may apply for listing in the main board of exchanges.
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) seeks full tax exemption
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) is set to submit a proposal to the revenue board and ministry of finance soon seeking full tax exemption. The officials said the BSEC is not supposed to come under tax net as the state-owned entity does not conduct any business. The securities regulator is going to submit the proposal regarding full tax exemption ahead of announcement of the national budget for the fiscal year (FY) 2016-17. The securities regulator is supposed to pay income tax on its annual income from the fiscal year (FY) 2016-17 as the government introduced a graduated tax rate for the entity through finance bill 2015. In this regard, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) issued a statutory regulatory order (SRO) which came into effect from July 1, 2015. The securities regulator gets revenues from the IPO (initial public offering) consent, registration fee, BO (beneficiary owner’s) account opening and maintenance fee and penalty imposed on stakeholders and listed companies.
Axiata warns government no merger of Robi, Airtel if BDT 7.0 billion fees imposed
President of Malaysia-based Axiata Group, the parent company of mobile operator Robi, has warned the Bangladesh government that the proposed merger between Robi and Airtel would not take place if the government imposes BDT 7.0 billion as spectrum adjustment fees. Jamaluddin Ibrahim, who is also the chief executive officer of Axiata, in a recent letter to the telecom state Minister Tarana Halim said that if the government levied BDT 7.0 billion for the merger of Robi and Airtel, the proposed merger would be deemed ‘unviable’. Axiata, according to the letter, came to know about the government’s plan to impose BDT 7.0 billion fees through media reports. Ibrahim also requested Tarana to reconsider the proposal to levy fees of ‘exorbitant magnitude’ on the proposed merger. When contacted, Tarana on Wednesday denied receiving any letter from the Axiata chief. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission last week proposed that the government should impose around BDT 7.0 billion on mobile phone operators Robi and Airtel in fees for adjusted spectrum of their proposed merged entity.
Government okays MNP service guidelines
The government has finalized the mobile number portability service guideline that will enable subscribers to switch mobile operator without changing his/her number. Telecom ministry officials said the draft guideline was approved by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the telecom minister. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission in May last year sent the draft MNP guideline to the ministry after the country’s mobile operators failed to come up with a MNP solution. The BTRC will hold an auction to award a license for the service with a base price of BDT 10.0 million. According to the MNP guideline, a subscriber will be able to avail the service by paying BDT 30 and will have to continue with it for a minimum of 45 days. The MNP licensee will have to have experience of handling at least 10.0 million subscribers. The MNP license will be valid for 15 years and the licensed company will have to share revenue at 5.5% from the second year of operation.
Budgetary steps to help raise female labor participation by 10.0%
The upcoming budget will give priority to participation of women in the labor force, seeking to ensure gender balance in societal and economic fronts. The government feels that women’s participation rate must be raised and more females should join the mainstream economic activities for a speedy economic growth, people involved in preparing the budget documents told the FE. The budget speech to be placed on June 02 will set a target of 10.0% rise in labor force participation of women in the next five years beginning July next. The government apparently took the issue seriously as female participation is on the decline as per the latest labor force survey released early this year. The survey, conducted in 2013 by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), says participation of women in labor force is 33.5%, down by 2.5% point from its previous survey of 2010. The people, familiar with the development at the Finance Division, said the government now wants to raise the female labor force participation at least to 44% from the current level of below 34.0%.
Budget prep mired as ministers on tour
The preparation for the next fiscal year’s budget seems to get locked as decisions on some vital matters including the value-added tax issue are still pending. Officials said ministers concerned and the NBR chairman have gone out of Dhaka keeping the decisions pending while the budget announcement is just two weeks away. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the budget allocations for different ministries and divisions before leaving for the United Kingdom on an official tour, said Finance Division officials. She also approved the current fiscal’s revised annual development program and next fiscal’s annual development program. Finance Minister AMA Muhith will propose budget allocations for different sectors and interest groups after coming to Dhaka. He is due to arrive today from Indonesia. NBR Chairman Nojibur Rahman will return home from Moscow two days later while State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan will arrive in Dhaka one day before budget announcement. Muhith is expected give decisions on the issues including government’s bank borrowing, recapitalization fund for state-owned banks, enforcement of the new VAT law, allocation for project implementation under the Public-Private Partnership in the upcoming fiscal year.
ADB unhappy with slow project execution in Bangladesh
The Asian Development Bank wants government agencies to expedite project execution and improve development outcome further to receive its funds for the ADB’s USUSD 6.0 billion-funded projects in Bangladesh. Officials said the Manila-based lender sat Wednesday for a tripartite review meeting in Dhaka for the stocktaking of 14 ongoing projects which are facing implementation delays in different stages. The meeting also discussed the readiness of pipeline projects during the 2016-2017 period and prioritized actions to achieve targets. Joint Secretary of the Economic Relations Division (ERD) Saifuddin Ahmed and Bangladesh Country Director for ADB Kazuhiko Higuchi co-chaired the Tripartite Portfolio Review Meeting (TPRM). Senior government officials, project directors, and ADB staff members attended the meeting. Among the 14 projects, the TPRM reappraised ADB’s USD 350.0 million skills for employment investment programme, USD 185.0 million-funded Bangladesh: power system expansion and efficiency improvement investment programme, USD 198.0 million SASEC road connectivity project and Urban public and environmental health sector development programme.
FBCCI seeks import duty revision for steel industry
Country’s apex chamber urged the government to save the local steel and re-rolling industries by rationalizing the existing import taxes for the sector in the new budget. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) made the plea recently in a letter to the finance minister, as the budget for 2016-17 fiscal is in the making. Also, the FBCCI cautioned that prices of the vital construction materials would go up if the revision is not made, specifically in line with the SAFTA taxation measures. Abdul Matlub Ahmad, president of the FBCCI, wrote the letter following a joint proposal of Bangladesh Auto Re-rolling and Steel Mills Association, Bangladesh Re-rolling Mills Association and Bangladesh Steel Mill Owners Association. The local industries have sought withdrawal of 5.0% customs duty and 25.0% regulatory duty (RD) on Ferro-manganese, Ferro Silicon and Ferro-Silicon Manganese and 10.0% RD on the raw materials. Those are supporting raw materials of billet/ingot, a raw material for rod.
World Stock and Commodities
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)*||$47.49||(0.7)||(1.45%)|
|Crude Oil (Brent)*||$48.12||(0.81)||(1.66%)|
|Dow Jones Industrial Average||17,526.62||(3.36)||(0.02%)|
|USD 1||BDT 78.36*|
|GBP 1||BDT 114.20*|
|EUR 1||BDT 87.94*|
|INR 1||BDT 1.17*|
*Currencies and Commodities are taken from Bloomberg.