Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday hinted at lowering the interest rates on savings instruments as the returns from these tools are very high compared to other rates prevailing in the market. Steps in this regard may be taken in the next budget session, he said after a meeting with the leaders of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) at his secretariat office. At present, the commercial banks offer hardly 7.0% for deposits, whereas the rates for savings instruments are over 11.0%. The high returns on savings tools are also pushing the government’s interest liability up every year. For example, the government set a target to raise BDT 190.0 billion from the sale of its savings schemes, but the sale was doubled to nearly BDT 380.0 billion in the first nine months till March this fiscal year. The sale from these tools more than doubled to nearly BDT 340.0 billion against a target of BDT 150.0 billion last fiscal year. The interest rate on the five-year family savings certificate is 11.52% and it 11.76% for the five-year pensioner savings schemes. The return on the three-year post office savings certificates stands at 11.28%. Economists and bankers said if the trend continues, money will flow out of bank deposits and end up in savings schemes, meaning the government’s interest liability will go up further.
Banks can receive repayment cheques fulfilling conditions
Country’s commercial banks can now receive repayment cheques against disbursed loans from their clients by maintaining three procedures, under revised rules. The central bank revised its prudential guidelines for consumer financing and small-enterprise financing by adding a new regulation related to procedures of loan repayment. Firstly, the banks will have to take authority for debiting money from their clients’ accounts as per loan agreement. Under the second procedural condition, a memorandum of deposit of cheque (MDC) has to be taken from the clients concerned. Lastly, fully prepared and valid signed postdated cheques have to be taken for each installment by stipulating amount and date as per repayment schedule. The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has already issued a notification to this effect, asking the chief executive officers (CEOs) and managing directors (MDs) of all scheduled banks to incorporate the new regulation into loan agreements with the clients.
98pc of annual farm loan target amount disbursed in 10 months
Country’s banks distributed 98.26 per cent of their annual farm loan disbursement target amount in 10 months (July-April) of this fiscal year of 2016-17 as they have been focusing on the area of loan disbursement for quite some time due to a lower credit demand from the industrial sector. The banks disbursed Tk 17,244.69 crore in July-April, while the annual disbursement target is Tk 17,550 crore, according to the latest Bangladesh Bank data. A BB official told New Age on Sunday that the banks would easily surpass their annual farm loan disbursement target this fiscal year as the rate of interest on farm loans was now 10 per cent while the rates for many of the consumer loan products of the banks were between 8 per cent and 9 per cent. The banks have been lowering the interest rates for their almost all products for last few years as they are grappling with surplus liquidity amid dull business situation in the country. The BB data showed that farm loan disbursement also posted a 22.05-per cent growth in the 10 months of this fiscal year compared with that in the same period of FY16.
A Bangladesh Bank inspection team has found that Sonali Bank UK Ltd paid Tk 2.41 crore (£0.23 million) to a company which was assigned to prepare its (bank) core banking solution system but failed to accomplish the job. The SBUK, a subsidiary company of Sonali Bank, appointed the outsourcing company named Sonali Polarish Financial Technology Ltd without any competitive bidding process in 2010 to prepare its core banking solution system. The bank cancelled the agreement with the firm in 2016 due to its failure to set up the system although the bank paid 85 per cent of the agreed amount for the job to the company. A three-member inspection team of the central bank conducted the inspection between November 28 and December 12 of 2016 after the SBUK was fined £3.25 million by UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulatory Authority for violating prevention of money laundering act. The inspection team unearthed that the SBUK had improperly spent Tk 2.10 crore for training its staff and distributing the manpower between 2014 and 2016.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said the government has no plans to meddle into the affairs of Islami Bank, which has plunged into a bout of infighting. “We will intervene if we get any complaint from the Islamic Development Bank,” Muhith told reporters at his secretariat office. The Jeddah-based multilateral development financing institution holds more than 7.5 percent stakes in IBBL. Quoting his recent meeting with IDB officials in Saudi Arabia, the finance minister said: “IDB is least interested in IBBL.” Muhith, however, said he has no idea what is happening at Islami Bank in recent days.
Mohammad Shamsul Islam has recently joined NRB Global Bank Ltd as deputy managing director, said the lender in a statement. Prior to joining NRB Global Bank, Islam was the executive vice-president of AB Bank. Islam started his banking career in 1989 with AB Bank as a probationary officer. He obtained his MBA degree on banking from Dhaka University.
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has eased a number of conditions including the minimum capital requirement for becoming a market maker for listed securities in the finalized market maker rules. In the finalized rules, the minimum capital requirement for becoming a market maker has been lowered to BDT 100.0 million from BDT 500.0 million proposed in the draft rules. The commission finalized the rules titled Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (Market Maker) Rules, 2017 at the latest commission meeting held on May 9, a BSEC official told New Age on Sunday. Market makers are entitled to keep prices of shares within a certain range through buying and selling based on fundamentals of companies depending on market situation. As per the finalized rules, stockbrokers and stock dealers would only be entitled to act as market maker. A market marker with a paid-up capital of just BDT 100.0 million, however, would be allowed to act for the service for only one listed securities. To be market maker for more than one listed securities, stockbrokers or stock dealers will have to increase their paid-up capital proportionately.
A substantial quantity of essential goods including gram, date, pea, sugar, edible oil and lentil has been imported through Chittagong Port ahead of the Ramadan. Among consumer goods, these items have very high demand during the month of fasting. So the business houses keep huge stocks of the items ready to meet the demand, sources said. The sources said the prices of the Ramadan consumer items are very likely to remain static or near normal if the local administration strengthens monitoring on prices to protect the consumers from the clutches of the so-called syndicates of dishonest importers, traders and hoarders.
The government is likely to raise the tax-free income limit for individual taxpayers after two consecutive fiscal years of maintaining the same threshold. Sources concerned said the ceiling could be revised upward to BDT 275,000 from the existing one of BDT 250,000 in the upcoming budget for FY2017-18. The decision on increasing the tax-free limit has been taken following demand from cross-sections of people, including business chambers, civil society, tax lawyers and common taxpayers, for raising the ceiling much higher in view of rising cost of living. Officials see increasing tax-free ceiling as a sensitive issue and may be changed with instructions from the high-ups. A number of marginal taxpayers will be dropped out from the list of tax-return filers after a raise in the threshold. Currently, some 1.6 million individuals submit tax returns to the income-tax department, although the number of registered taxpayers or electronic taxpayer-identification number (TIN)-holders is above 2.8 million. In the Finance Bill 2015, the government fixed higher the tax-free limit at BDT 250,000 from BDT 220,000. The ceiling was increased to BDT 220,000 in the budget for 2013. Officials see increasing tax-free ceiling as a sensitive issue and may be changed with instructions from the high-ups. In the Finance Bill 2015, the government fixed higher the tax-free limit at BDT 250,000 from BDT 220,000. The ceiling was increased to BDT 220,000 in the budget for 2013.
VAT, supplementary duty target to be 33.0% higher in FY2017
The government is going to set an ambitious VAT and supplementary duty collection target for the upcoming fiscal year, which is 33.2% higher than the current year’s revised target. This is feared to put additional financial pressure on mid- and low-income groups. Finance Division officials said the government will achieve the next fiscal year’s revenue target of BDT 2.5 trillion if the National Board of Revenue ensures generation at a proposed VAT rate not below 10.0%. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked for a reduction of the VAT rate to 12.0% from 15.0%. However, the matter will be settled after the prime minister’s return from Saudi Arabia, officials said. Following a prescription of the International Monetary Fund, the government has enacted the new VAT law to introduce a 15.0% flat rate of VAT changing the present multiple rates.
Finance Minister A M A Muhith said on Sunday the new VAT (value added tax) rate will be fixed by this week, and the rate will be a uniform one. “The VAT rate will be finalised on 25th or 26th of May,” he told newsmen at his secretariat office. In the face of massive outcry from the business community the government is likely to reduce the VAT rate from 15 per cent, as mentioned in the VAT and Supplementary Duty Act 2012. The new act is yet to come into full-fledged implementaion, but the government is firm to do so from this July.
Aman Group yesterday opened the second unit of its cement mills in Narayanganj to become one of the top construction material makers in Bangladesh. The new plant, called Aman Cement Mills Unit-2, has a production capacity of 10,000 tonnes daily and 3.5 million tons annually, said the company in a statement. The group said this is the single largest production factory in the country. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed inaugurated the cement factory at a programme held at the International Convention Centre Bashundhara in Dhaka. The factory is located in the group’s economic zone in Sonargaon, Narayanganj. With about three dozen cement manufacturers in Bangladesh, the country has an installed production capacity of 35.0 million tons a year against the local demand for 20.0 million tons. Aman Economic Zone houses other factories of the group such as Aman Packaging, Aman Shipyard, Aman Food & Beverage, and Aman Green Energy.
No changes to SIM tax, supplementary duty in next budget
There will be no changes to supplementary duty on mobile uses, plus SIM and replacement tax rates in the upcoming budget, according to the NBR budget proposal. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has already proposed BDT 100 as SIM tax and BDT 100.0 as SIM replacement tax to the Finance Ministry in the next budget. At the same time, NBR also proposed to impose a 5% supplementary duty on services provided through mobile communication in the budget. In the budget of Fiscal Year 2015-16, the government first proposed to impose supplementary duty on services provided through mobile communication. Currently, mobile operators are paying BDT 100 as tax on Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards. The government fixed BDT 100 .0as both issuance and replacement taxes for the modules in last year budget. Meanwhile, the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB) urged the revenue authority to withdraw VAT on mobile internet services in the national budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18. The association also urged the government to withdraw the tax and replacement fees on SIM cards. The mobile operators also demanded removal of 1.0% surcharge on mobile usage and reduction in corporate tax to 35.0% from the existing 45.0%.
Bepza eyes USD 4.5 billion investment from Mirsarai economic zone
Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (Bepza) will set up an economic zone at Mirsarai of Chittagong with an eye to attracting USD 4.5 billion in investment. Bepza and Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) signed a memorandum of understanding on the planned zone at the Prime Minister’s Office in Dhaka on May 18. About 350 industrial units will be set up in the proposed economic zone. It will create jobs for half a million people, said Bepza in a statement. Speaking on the occasion, Khan said Beza has allocated 1,150 acres of land to Bepza for setting up the economic zone. Eight export processing zones under Bepza located at different parts of the country have already earned reputation for attracting investment. Paban Chowdhury said Bepza is a successful organization. During 2009-16, Bepza attracted USD 2.66 billion in investment. In the eight EPZs, the cumulative investment stood at USD 4.28 billion as of April this year. Some 462 industrial units are now operational in the zones, exporting goods worth USD 58.17 billion and creating jobs for 469,929 people so far.
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