The central bank asked commercial banks to provide EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) and Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) services from all branches by December 31. To this effect, the Bangladesh Bank (BB) issued a circular Monday, asking the managing directors and chief executive officers of all scheduled banks for taking effective measures to build up public awareness about electronic-payment systems. The banks have also been advised to take initiatives for providing internet-banking services to their customers’ level after ensuring necessary security. The central bank gave more than seven months to the banks for installing all necessary software and hardware to prepare all bank branches across the country for providing such services to the clients, the BB official explained. Meanwhile, around 15 banks are taking preparations to cater internet- banking services to their customers using the BB’s national payment swish (NPS), according to another central bank official. Earlier on October 29, 2015, the central bank of Bangladesh formally launched the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system aiming to facilitate business activities across the country. Under the RTGS system, any member-banks will be able to transfer minimum BDT 0.01 million to another bank instantly.
The growth in the country’s industrial sector has declined in the current fiscal year after a two-year consecutive rise, officials said Monday. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) data showed that the industrial sector’s growth dropped to 10.50% in the financial year (FY) 2016-17 after a notable surge to 11.09% in the previous FY2016. Since FY2015, the growth level of industrial sector started rising as it made a remarkable jump to 9.67% year-on-year from a fall of 8.16% in the previous FY2014. Economists said if fall in export and remittance earnings is not held in check, the growth in the industrial sector will continue to fall in the coming years. Meanwhile, the BBS has estimated the overall GDP growth at 7.24% in the current FY2017, compared to that of 7.11% in the FY2016. However, the BBS data, released recently, showed that the growth in service and agriculture sectors increased to 3.40% and 6.50% respectively in the outgoing FY2017World Bank (WB) Lead Economist in Bangladesh Dr Zahid Hussain told the FE that since the export growth had fallen to only 4.0% and local consumption has also been affected due to lower remittance inflow, the industrial sector’s growth might fall. The WB projected the global economy to grow by 2.7% in the outgoing FY2017 from 2.4% in the last FY2016 and the international trade to 3.6% in the FY2017 recovering from weak 2.5% in the last FY2016.
City Bank signs deal with ICD for private sector development in Bangladesh
City Bank signed a deal with Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) to strengthen collaboration for fostering private sector development in Bangladesh. The joint collaboration will encompass the areas of finance, public private partnership transactions, lines of finance and any other areas of mutual interest, the bank said in a press release yesterday. The signing ceremony took place at the 42nd annual meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group at Hilton Hotel in Saudi Arabia on May 18. The ICD, a multilateral development financial institution, is part of the IDB. Khaled Al Aboodi, CEO of ICD, and Sheikh Mohammed Maroof, deputy managing director of City Bank, signed the deal.
The recruitment of Bangladeshi workers abroad has surged 47% in the last four months to April after the Middle-eastern nations boosted hiring, officials said. A total of 368,411 Bangladeshis found overseas jobs in January-April, up from 249,861 in the same period last year, data with the state-run Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) showed. The number of outbound jobs in the last four months was 81,434 in January, 85,038 in February, 106,454 in March and 95,485 in April, according to BMET data. Sector insiders and experts attributed such upward trend to resumption of the Saudi Arabia market as it hired a significant number of workers from the beginning of this calendar year. They expressed the hope that if the trend continues, the number of outbound workers would exceed 1.0 million this year. Of the total workers, Saudi Arabia alone has recruited 216,101 Bangladeshis in the last four months, followed by Oman 37, 403, Qatar 36,661 and Kuwait 16,881. More than 10 million Bangladeshis have gone abroad since1976 serving in as many as 160 countries.
LafargeHolcim, StanChart team up for distributor financing program
LafargeHolcim Bangladesh Ltd has become the latest partner of Standard Chartered Bank’s “Distributor Financing” program. The bank is offering the program for the distributors of LafargeHolcim to enhance its business capacity, the bank said in a statement. This global programme is part of the bank’s ‘Banking the ecosystem’ initiative, which aims at deepening relationships with corporate clients, and their buyers, according to the statement. Rajesh K Surana, CEO of LafargeHolcim Bangladesh Ltd, and Abrar A Anwar, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Bangladesh, signed the agreement at the head office of the bank in Dhaka on Sunday. With this initiative, the distributors of LafargeHolcim Bangladesh will be able to get financing facilities from Standard Chartered Bank with easier terms and a very competitive pricing against their purchase of goods from LafargeHolcim Bangladesh. In the last few years, Standard Chartered has become active in the market in financing the supply chain of its corporate clients.
The High Court halts the publication of results of a written test for the recruitment senior officers at Janata Bank for three months following allegations of question leaks. In the order passed on Monday, judges also asked the state-run bank to refrain from recruiting anyone to the posts for the same period, according to bdnews24.com. On Apr 21, the latest batch of jobseekers attended the two-hour written test at Dhaka’s Eden College, Lalmatia Women’s College and Ideal College. Fifteen of them filed a writ petition on which the High Court issued the order on Monday.
National Bank Ltd (NBL) has put up Citycell’s head office for sale after the mobile operator failed to pay back its loan of Tk 454.45 crore. The bank published an advertisement yesterday in a newspaper requesting for tenders to purchase the 38,800 square feet floor space with 5.04 decimal of land in Mohakhali area. Interested parties can submit their offer by June 15, according to the advertisement.Citycell, which has been out of service since October last year, said it is in the process of paying back the sum owed to NBL and has already opened talks with the bank on the issue. “After we saw the advertisement we contacted the bank’s top management and they said they will cancel the process by publishing another advertisement on the same newspaper this week,” said Faisal Morshed Khan, son of Citycell Chairman Morshed Khan. Choudhury Moshtaq Ahmed, the acting managing director of the bank, did not respond to phone calls and messages from The Daily Star. Khan said they have already paid the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission’s dues and will gradually pay back NBL’s entire unpaid loan.
Garment workers to get group insurance payout from central fund
The payment of group insurance money for garment workers will now be made from a ‘central fund’, instead of relevant factory authorities amid strong protest from rights groups. Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) in a recent circular informed its member-factories that they would not be required to pay insurance premium to the apex body from May 7 last saying the claim of the group insurance would be met from the central fund. The BGMEA’s move came in line with the labor ministry’s decision in this regard. The government, after the Rana Plaza building collapse, formed the ‘central fund’ for the country’s readymade garment (RMG) sector. It came into effect from July last year with money received from each export receipt at 0.03%, officials said. According to the existing labor law, group insurance is mandatory for an establishment having at least 100 permanent workers and it is the responsibility of the employer to make arrangement for payment of the amount. Each of the workers and his or her nominees in the apparel sector is entitled to receive BDT 0.2 million for death and BDT 0.125 million for any disability while at work, according to the group insurance policy. The workers are already deprived of the existing profit of the company while they would now get the insurance amount from their portion because of their death at work.
Additional SD to be slapped on mobile services, tobacco after VAT rate cut
The government is set to impose additional supplementary duty (SD) on some sectors like tobacco and mobile services to compensate the revenue loss due to the proposed reduction of value-added tax in the new VAT law. Officials of the finance ministry said that the sectors which had been paying VAT at the rate of 15% over the years, contributed more than 40% of overall indirect tax revenue collected by the National Board of Revenue. The government will incur a significant amount of revenue loss after reduction of VAT rate from 15% stipulated in the new VAT and Supplementary Duty Act-2012 which is scheduled to come into force from July 1 this year. Finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has already hinted that the VAT rate will be lowered following strong opposition from businesses and other stakeholders, saying that 15% would be very high compared with other countries having similar economic strengths. Though Muhith is yet to declare the new rate, officials said that it might be set at 12% or 13%.
Baraka Power, a joint venture between local and non-resident Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, has bought Bela Fashions, an export-oriented woven garment factory, for BDT 300.0 million to diversify its business. The acquisition will add about BDT 70.0 million net earnings per year for Baraka, according to the company’s disclosure to the Dhaka Stock Exchange. The electricity business is restricted and none can go for expansion without the government’s permission, which has led Baraka to explore options in other areas. Baraka will invest another BDT 100.0 million in addition to the acquisition cost to modify the 10-line factory. The debt and equity ratio in BDT 400.0 million will be 70:30, according to the company. Incorporated in Bangladesh in June 2007, Baraka has a power plant in Fenchuganj, Sylhet that generates 51 megawatts of electricity. Baraka Patenga Power, a 51% subsidiary company of Baraka Power, generates and supplies 50MW on a build-own-operate basis. Baraka got listed in the Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges in May 2011. Each Baraka Power share traded at BDT 41.7 yesterday on the Dhaka Stock Exchange. Earnings per share of Baraka were BDT 0.77 in the first quarter of 2017, up from BDT 0.74 a year earlier.
ADB awards best performing project teams in Bangladesh
The Asian Development Bank has awarded three of its best performing project teams in Bangladesh as part of its efforts to promote efficient project implementation. Cai Li, deputy country director of the ADB resident mission in Bangladesh, presented the awards for the year 2016 to the winning teams at a ceremony in Dhaka on Sunday, according to a statement. Senior government officials, project directors of ADB-assisted projects, members of the winning project teams, and ADB staff members attended the ceremony. The winning project teams are: Participatory small scale water resources sector project, executed by the Local Government Engineering Department; SASEC railway connectivity: Akhaura-Laksam double track project, executed by Bangladesh Railway; and, Power system efficiency improvement project, part A — construction of Ashuganj 450 megawatt power plant, executed by Ashuganj Power Station Company Ltd.
City Group gets PQ licence for setting up EZ at Rupganj
Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority on Monday issued pre-qualification licence to City Group for setting up a private economic zone in the country. The City Group got the licence to establish the City Economic Zone Limited on 81.88 acres of land on the bank of Shitalakhya River at Rupganj in Narayanganj. BEZA executive chairman Paban Chowdhury handed over the licence to City Group chairman and managing director Fazlur Rahman on Monday at a programme held at BEZA office in Dhaka. The group will have to meet all necessary requirements like getting environment impact assessment certificate and submission of detailed designs of the zone by one year for getting the final licence. The group has already completed the development of the land selected for the SEZ, said its officials. The zone will also have the facilities of water treatment plant, waste treatment plant and fire safety equipments for the investors. City Group expected that around 3,000 jobs for skilled and unskilled people would be created at the factories in the first year of commercial operation of the zone.
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