Most listed banks’ net profits rise on defaulted loan rescheduling
Amid a sluggish business situation, the net profit after tax of most of the banks listed with the capital market increased last year from that in the previous year, thanks to wholesale rescheduling of defaulted loans. Twenty-seven of the 30 banks listed with the Dhaka and Chittagong bourses have so far announced their net profits after tax. Of them, 18 banks made higher profits in 2015 compared with that in 2014. The net profit after tax of eight banks waned last year, while one listed bank incurred losses. The combined net profits of the 27 banks in 2015 increased BDT 18.91 crore or just 0.37% to BDT 5,098.26 crore from that of BDT 5,079.35 crore posted in the previous year. A Bangladesh Bank senior official said most of the banks had rescheduled a huge amount of defaulted loans till September last year, which was the main reason behind the rise in net profits. The BB official said the banks calculated net profits by deducting the tax and provisions against defaulted loan from their operating profits. The banks have to keep a provision between 20% and 100% against their three types of classified loans, while they have to pay 42.50% corporate tax on their operating profits.
SoBs file 0.2 million certificate cases against delinquent borrowers
Funds amounting to around BDT 5.81 billion belonging to six state-owned banks (SoBs) are now stuck in nearly 0.2 million certificate cases filed against agri-loan borrowers, officials said. The number of cases was until March this year. Some 460 cases were filed in that month while 1,252 cases were settled at the same time. Data shows that during the period between January 1991 and March 2016, some 12,531 warrant orders involving BDT 450 million remained unattended as the delinquent borrowers could not be traced. Statistics available with the central bank showed that the Bangladesh Krishi Bank (BKB) had the highest number, 90,724, pending certificate cases involving BDT 2.91 billion. The bank also had 5,348 unattended warrant orders involving BDT 150 million. The Agrani Bank has the second highest number — 31,599 — of pending cases involving BDT 475 million after settlement of 301 cases in March. The bank, however, did not file any new certificate case in that particular month. The Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB) had 31,327 cases pending until March this year which involved BDT 1.56 billion. It had 2,509 unattended warrant orders. The Janata Bank had 18,568 pending cases involving BDT 421 million and Sonali Bank has 17,828 pending cases to recover BDT 397 million until the period under review. The Rupali Bank stands at the bottom of the list with 3,337 pending cases involving BDT 43.29 million overdue loan. It has 369 unattended warrant orders against BDT 5.0 million overdue amount.
Half of mobile money accounts inactive
More than half of mobile money accounts have gone inactive, with the number rising every month, according to data from Bangladesh Bank. In February, there were 3.39 crore registered MFS accounts, and 59% of them were inactive. In the same month last year, 57.18% of accounts were inactive. Banks are unable to attract mobile wallet users. In most cases, the agents open the accounts as they get a commission, but users are not interested in these services, said industry insiders. Agents usually get BDT 30-50 to open a new MFS account, according to Abul Kashem Md Shirin, deputy managing director of Dutch-Bangla Bank. “A large number of users think they are not getting enough benefits from this service, and that’s why they lost interest,” Shirin said. In Bangladesh, e-commerce and other related services do not have a strong footprint yet, although banks and other service providers are trying to increase the number of active accounts, he said. By the central bank’s definition, if any account does not register a transaction within 90 days, it will be categorized as inactive.
Bangladesh Bank’s policy support leaves no impact on stock market
Dhaka stocks on Thursday failed to come out of the red zone despite the central bank’s policy supports announced for adjusting the banks’ over exposure in the capital market. The stakeholders concerned said no impact of the Bangladesh Bank’s (BB) policy supports was reflected in the market. The supports could not create any vibe, as investors are yet to be clear about the measures. “After issuance of the circular regarding adjustment of the banks’ over exposure, the investors will be able to realise the benefits of the central bank’s policy supports,” said Ahmad Rashid Lali, a former director of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE). The market started the session negatively on Thursday, and the broad index DSEX lost 25 points within the first 33 minutes. After recovering the loss within the next 25 minutes, DSEX again started to decline, and almost a free fall was observed throughout rest of the session.
Two held in BASIC Bank scam case
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) with the help of police arrested two businessmen, in a case of misappropriating BDT 70 crore of BASIC Bank, from their homes in Jamalpur early yesterday. The arrestees, Shamim Ahmed Suja and his brother Sarwar Jahan, are directors of MRN Auto Bricks Ltd in Jamalpur. The commission had filed a case against 14 people, including the two businessmen, with Paltan Police Station in Dhaka on September 23, 2015, said Md Ibrahim, deputy director of the ACC. Ibrahim and the case’s investigation officer led the team to make the arrests at about 4am. The arrestees were produced before the chief judicial magistrate court in the afternoon, and then sent to jail, said Kamruzzaman, a court inspector.
World Bank again looks askance at GDP growth estimate: Deep concern over stagnant private investment
The World Bank (WB) Saturday expressed its reservation about Bangladesh’s official estimation of 7.05% economic growth for this fiscal as it sees the performance of almost all the relevant indicators weak. The WB has also questioned the growth ‘sustainability’ and ‘inclusiveness’ in the coming days with private investment remaining stagnant. It is difficult to match the government’s growth estimation with the related indicators of Bangladesh’s economy, said Dr Zahid Hussain, Lead Economist of the WB Dhaka office during unveiling of the Bangladesh Development Update report in Dhaka. The government at the end of March last disclosed the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS)’s provisional data where it predicted the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth at 7.05% for the current financial year (FY) 2015-16. After unveiling the provisional GDP growth data, many have expressed scepticism over the official estimation. The WB had earlier forecast that Bangladesh’s GDP would grow at 6.3% in the current FY16. The ADB and the IMF also projected growth below 7.0% for the country too. Dr Zahid Hussain said: “The 7.0% official growth estimate is not easy to reconcile with growth-related indicators such as remittance, export, industrial production, import of industrial raw materials and capital machinery, tax revenue collection and ADP implementation, among others.”
World Bank projects GDP growth at 6.8% for FY 2017
The World Bank has projected 6.8% GDP growth for Bangladesh in the next fiscal year (2016-2017) expressing its doubt about the 7.05% provisional estimate. However, there is no specific forecast for the current fiscal of 2015-16, said lead economist of the World Bank Zahid Hussain, reports United News of Bangladesh. In its Bangladesh development update released on Saturday, the global lending agency said no economic indicator except export grew faster in the fiscal year 2015-16.
Moody’s sees strong growth for Bangladesh
Moody’s Investors Service said Bangladesh’s Ba3 government bond rating is supported by the country’s stable and strong growth performance and modest debt burden. However, low per capita income, persistent fiscal deficits and a factious political environment pose credit constraints, the company, a leading provider of credit ratings, research and risk analysis, said in a statement. Moody’s conclusions were reflected in its just-released credit analysis that examines the sovereign in four categories: economic strength, which is assessed as moderate; institutional strength — very low; fiscal strength — low; and susceptibility to event risk — moderate. The report is an annual update for investors, and is not a rating action, according to the statement. Moody’s report points out that for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, Bangladesh’s GDP growth edged higher to 6.5% and the government projects a 7.1% expansion in fiscal 2016, supported by industrial activity and backed by a track record of macroeconomic stability. However, weak infrastructure constrains potential growth for the country, it said. Exports have remained in the positive territory, despite subdued levels of global trade. “But the undiversified nature of the export basket — skewed towards textiles — presents risks because Bangladesh could lose its export share to other emerging competitors over time.”
First LNG terminal to be ready by next year
The construction of the country’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal will be completed by the end of December next year, said Nazimuddin Chowdhury, secretary of the energy division, yesterday. Nearly 70% of the work has been completed so far, he said at the fifth business consultative meeting of the commerce ministry. Petrobangla and US-based Excelerate Energy are setting up the terminal on the island of Moheshkhali in the Bay of Bengal. The unit will provide natural gas to Chittagong, which has been facing an acute gas crisis for a long time. A 90-kilometre pipe of 30-inch diameter will carry the gas from the floating terminal to Anowara to feed the national grid. The LNG will be imported from Qatar. In 2010, the government took the step to import LNG in the wake of the declining reserves of natural gas. “We are not expecting much gas from the local wells,” Chowdhury said, adding that a total of 108 wells are currently being explored for gas. The government plans to set up three more LNG terminals.
Tower business guidelines in the offing: State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications
The government will prepare guidelines for tower business in telecom sector keeping in mind the cost efficiency of operators that build and maintain towers separately and that will ultimately benefit end users. State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim said this at a seminar on “The Prospect of Tower Business in Bangladesh” organized by a Telecom Reporters Network, Bangladesh (TRNB) at Westin Hotel in the capital. Telecom Reporters’ Network Bangladesh (TRNB) president Rased Mehdi moderated the seminar while its general secretary Shamim Ahmed presented the keynote paper. The state minister said the upcoming policy on tower business would ensure foreign direct investment. “We would create competitiveness in tower business…Monopoly business would be discouraged through ensuring level playing field in the sector.” She said the government would also consider ensuring lower tower through sharing cost so that consumers can get benefit of it. At the seminar, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood said BTRC encourage investment in telecom sector. He said the commission would provide tower sharing licences in an open tender.
Muhith asks businesses not to be rebellious about VAT law: Prices of gas for domestic use will rise
Reiterating his plan to implement the new value added tax (VAT) law from next fiscal year, finance minister AMA Muhith advised businessmen on Thursday not to be rebellious in paying tax at a business advisory committee meeting. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed presided over the meeting attended by the country’s top trade body leaders and Secretaries concerned. In the face of repeated demands made by trade body leaders, Mr Muhith said he will sit with them soon to resolve the disputes that have arisen about the new VAT law. At the meeting, the trade body leaders handed over a document again to the finance minister which focused their reservations on seven points of the law. Mr Muhith, at this point, advised the business leaders to maintain accounts properly which will reduce their tax burden. Mr Muhith, on demand of businessmen, hinted at reduction of corporate tax rate to some extent. The minister said uninterrupted gas will be available for industrial units by December 2017 when the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal is built and domestic consumers start using it instead of piped gas. In the meeting, Energy and Mineral Resources Division Secretary In-charge Nazimuddin Chowdhury informed the businessmen that gas price for domestic and vehicle use will see a rise soon. But, he said, gas price for industrial use would not be raised this time.
Businesses for continuation of package VAT
Businesses demanded on Thursday continuation of package VAT (value-added tax) system for the small and medium traders in the upcoming national budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016-2017. Requesting the government to show flexibility in this connection, they said the business people especially the small and medium entrepreneurs could launch street protests to avail the facility, which is not included in the new VAT act to be implemented from July this year. At the same time, leaders of the country’s various chambers and associations also demanded taking immediate measures to bring necessary changes in the just-made VAT and Supplementary Duty Act-2012 through discussion with the stakeholders to make it a business-friendly one. The demands and suggestions were made at the 37th NBR-FBCCI National Consultative Committee meeting for consideration in the upcoming budget held at a city hotel where Finance Minister AMA Muhith was present as the chief guest. Speaking at the consultative committee meeting, Director of FBCCI (Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry) Abu Motaleb said business people are seriously worried over the fact that the existing package VAT was not included in the just-formulated VAT and Supplementary Duty Act.
NBR: Only 4% of registered entities submit VAT returns regularly
Despite various efforts taken to increase revenue collection, still more than 96% of the entities registered for value-added tax do not submit returns regularly, officials said. According to the National Board of Revenue, out of nearly 840,000 registered entities with Business Identification Number (BIN), only 32,000 maintain regularity in submitting VAT returns. However, NBR expects that the rate of compliance will increase as new VAT law comes into effect. The law, due to be effective from July this year, offers some benefits for the VAT payers, which the tax officials think will be encouraging for the taxpayers. Currently, those who can deduct VAT at source on multiple rates include government agencies, private agencies approved by the NGO Affairs Bureau or the Department of Social Services, banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions, public limited companies, and companies registered under the Large Taxpayers Unit (VAT). Under the new law, the VAT will be calculated on a 15% uniform rate and one-third of the amount of VAT on all products and services can be deducted, said Zakir Hossain, additional commissioner of the NBR VAT Online Project, at a seminar on Wednesday. The seminar was held on the new VAT law. NBR Member (VAT implementation) Jahangir Hossain said the new law would simplify the VAT deduction at source process enforcing a single rate.
Dhaka to focus on infra support as ADB meeting begins next week
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith will focus on infrastructure development at the 49th annual general meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that begins next week in Frankfurt in Germany. The finance minister leaves Dhaka today (Sunday) to attend the four-day meeting where over 3,000 finance and development ministers, central bank governors, government officials, business leaders, investors, journalists and representatives from civil society will gather from May 2-5 to discuss on sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. Saifuddin Ahmed, Joint Secretary of Economic Relations Division (ERD), told BSS on Saturday that the finance minister would present a document at the meeting, with focusing on regional connectivity and infrastructures including rail, road, power, seaport, land port and corridors. The ADB has already a big stake in Bangladesh infrastructure development and other areas, with providing the country the necessary assistance like technical, financial and knowhow.
BSC seeks to carry coal for Rampal power plant: Its capacity belied by vessel constraint
Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) is willing to carry the entire load of coal for fuelling the Rampal power plant despite having no mother vessels and suitable lighters, officials said. They, however, said the corporation plans to buy an adequate number of mother vessels and lighters before the power plant starts operation by 2019. The BSC move to buy three bulk carriers and as many oil tankers with Chinese funding has been laid in the lurch for years. Another bid of the BSC to buy an old vessel was cancelled last year following objection raised by the Prime Minister’s Office. According to officials, presently the corporation has only five ships of which two are oil tankers and three bulk carriers. The oil tankers-MT Banglar Jyoti and MT Banglar Shourabh-remain engaged in crude-oil lightening for Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC). The MV Banglar Kakoli, MV Banglar Kallol and MV Banglar Shikha are used in the lightering of wheat and other goods. The BSC has decided to sell MV Banglar Kakoli and MV Banglar Kallol since no international ports accept these outworn vessels. The two seafarers were bought over 35 years back.
FBCCI calls for protection of local industry
Bangladesh’s top trade body urged the government to rationalize tariff, protect local industry, and keep supplementary duty on import. It also recommended setting a uniform 1% duty on the import of capital machinery and basic raw materials in order to eliminate inconsistencies in the duty-related procedure. The calls came at the 37th consultative meeting with the National Board of Revenue yesterday. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry demanded 3% duty on intermediary goods and 10% uniform duty on intermediary raw materials and essentials goods. Finance Minister AMA Muhith, State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan and NBR Chairman Nojibur Rahman were present at the meeting with FBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmad in the chair. The FBCCI president proposed bringing tariff rationalisation to the NBR to eliminate inconsistencies in the duty process of raw material import. He recommended continuing the supplementary duty on imported finished goods. Regarding tax structure, he said that there should be a guarantee for businesses on stability about the rates of taxes and duties so that they could prepare their business plans.
National aid policy drafted for effective use of external resources
The government has drafted national aid policy for the first time in Bangladesh to achieve development goals ensuring an effective use of external resources. The Economic Relations Division (ERD) has developed the policy under the name of National Policy on Development Cooperation, which will be effective from the date of approval by the government. The move was taken to manage the external resources after achieving the middle-income status when official development assistance (ODA) flows from bilateral development partners might be decreased. However, other potential sources, such as support from southern sources and dedicated funds may increase in the future, the draft said. The external resources include ODA (grants and concessional loans), vertical funds and international foundations, climate fund, aid for trade, non-concessional, commercial borrowings and other sources of cooperation such as south-south and triangular cooperation. The draft policy has outlined the government priorities regarding the provision of foreign assistance, including preferred aid modalities, basic principles to be followed, the main procedures as well as corresponding roles and responsibilities for the provision, acceptance, coordination and management of foreign assistance.
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