Despite increase in defaulted loans, comprehensive earnings per share of most of the listed banks increased during the first quarter of the year 2017 against that in the same period in the previous year. As the country’s banking sector was having a huge amount of liquidity, banks increased their focus on retail banking, helping the entities to avail increased profit during the year compared with that of the same period in the previous year, bank officials said. In terms of comprehensive earnings per share, performance of 19 out of listed 30 banks improved during the January-March quarter of the year 2017, compared with that of the same period of the previous year 2016, while 11 banks reported lower earnings reports, according to Dhaka Stock Exchange data. Of the banks, Dutch-Bangla Bank reported highest EPS during the first quarter of the year. Earnings per shares of the bank, however, declined to BDT 2.91 in Q1, 2017 from that of BDT 3.29 in the first quarter of 2016.
Offshore banking units’ NPLs rise fourfold in first quarter
The amount of classified loans of offshore banking units (OBUs) of different banks swelled more than four times or Tk 3.08 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of the current calendar year. The volume of non-performing loans (NPLs) that were offered in terms of foreign currencies rose to Tk 4.10 billion during the January-March period of this year from Tk 1.01 billion in the preceding quarter, according to the central bank’s latest statistics. In Q1 of this year, the figure of classified loans was earlier stated at Tk 11.90 billion as a leading private commercial bank (PCB) wrongly reported NPL of Tk 7.81 billion in their OBU operations. Later on, the PCB had sought apology from the Bangladesh Bank (BB)’s department concerned and requested to drop the figure from the BB’s report.
Defaulted loans in state-run banks Tk 41,399.70cr as of March 31, 2017
The eight state-run banks held 56.39% or BDT 414.0 billion of the total defaulted loans in the banking sector as of March 31, 2017 as the banks disbursed large amounts of loans to their clients violating rules, Bangladesh Bank officials said. The amount of the total defaulted loans in the banking sector stood at BDT 734.1 billion as of March 31, 2017. Sonali Bank, Rupali Bank and BASIC Bank also failed to keep required provision against their disbursed loans and advances after the end of March due to a drop in their operating profits. The five other state-run banks are: Janata Bank, Agrani Bank, Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank and Bangladesh Development Bank. A BB official told New Age on Thursday that the defaulted loans in the banking sector including that in the state-run banks increased significantly in the first quarter of 2017 as the central bank had recently discovered a number of loans scams in the banks. The overall defaulted loans in the banking sector also rose by BDT 112.4 billion in the first three months (January-March) of this year, the BB data showed.
State banks to get BDT 17.0 billion to plug capital shortfall
The government will keep an allocation in next year’s budget to meet state banks’ capital deficit in continuation of a years-long trend to go easy on the financial institutions for their irresponsible lending practices. Some BDT 17.0-BDT 18.0 billion may be allocated for the state banks in fiscal 2017-18’s budget, down from the current year’s BDT 20.0 billion, according to a finance ministry official. Despite criticism from economists, the government has been allocating funds for state banks from the state coffer for several years now. Even after the substantial capital injection, the eight state banks — six commercial and two specialized — ran a total deficit of BDT 138.2 billion as of December 31, 2016. The capital deficit of the six commercial banks was BDT 59.9 billion. Sonali has a shortfall of BDT 34.8 billion, BASIC BDT 26.8 billion and Rupali Bank BDT 7.1 billion. Agrani, Janata and Bangladesh Development Bank have surplus. The two specialised banks — Bangladesh Krishi Bank and Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank — together have a capital shortfall of BDT 78.3 billion. Last year, the finance ministry started working on an alternative way to plug the state bank’s capital deficit, said an official.
Excel Dyeing rushes to buy 3.20cr shares of Islami Bank
Little-known Chittagong-based Excel Dyeing and Printing has completed its purchase of 3.20 crore shares of Islami Bank worth about Tk 100 crore over the past two days, well ahead of its announced timeframe. Earlier on Tuesday, Excel, which already had 3.23 crore shares, announced its intent to complete the transaction in 30 days. With the latest acquisition, Excel’s total holdings stand at slightly over 4 percent — enough to secure two seats on the IBBL board. The rushed approach has thickened the air of intrigue surrounding the little-known company, with many calling it a ruse for the much-talked about S Alam Group of Chittagong. Excel Dyeing is one of the seven companies that bought Islami Bank shares last year in bulk to become corporate directors of the bank. The companies collectively hold over 14 percent shares in the bank, with the holdings rising to over 16 percent with the latest share transaction. The six other companies are: Armada Spinning Mills, ABC Venture, Blue International, Grand Business, Paradise International and Platinum Endeavors.
Bangladesh Bank should intervene to restore stability in the trouble-hit Islami Bank Bangladesh Ltd and avoid spillover impact on the entire banking industry, analysts said yesterday. IBBL has been going through massive changes – from the owners to the board, committees and top management – for the past one year. Two independent directors of the bank—vice chairman Syed Ahsanul Alam and chairman of the risk management committee Abdul Mabud—resigned from the board on Thursday, two days after their removal from their executive posts. A group of seven directors have threatened to quit their jobs en masse if any of them is forced to step down. The recent rift in the board has got a lot of attention from the businesses, the bank’s depositors and the banking community as a whole.
Bangladesh’s banking sector malignancy for economy
Despite significant growth, the sector is currently faced with a number of serious challenges, the think-tank said in its state of the economy report presented at a programme at the Brac Centre Inn in Dhaka. According to the report, the sector is struggling to recover from the setbacks of large financial scams in a number of state-owned and private commercial banks, unearthed in recent years. “Most indicators reveal a poor health and lack of discipline in several banks.” It said despite various initiatives taken by the central bank, the amount of non-performing loans has piled up. The think-tank said the latest decision to provide more directorial posts to a single family and extend their tenure in a bank will mean that the family ownership will have greater control on banks with the possibility of erosion of corporate governance.
Investment in National Savings Certificates (NSCs) surpass BDT 420.0 billion in 10 months
The net investment in the national savings certificates and bonds surpassed BDT 420.0 billion in the first 10 months of this fiscal year as a section of people continued to invest heavily in the NSCs to enjoy high returns from the tools. Net investment in the savings tools in July-April period of FY 2016-17 increased by 58.9% to BDT 421.0 billion compared with that of BDT 264.9 billion posted in the same period a fiscal year ago, according to the latest data of the Directorate of National Savings. DNS and Bangladesh Bank officials said people had been maintaining a huge investment in the NSCs for the last two years as returns from the tools were very high compared to the other rates prevailing in the market. The net sales of the tools sharply broke the yearly record within the first nine months (July-March) of FY17 hitting BDT 376.5 billion against the previous record of BDT 336.9 billion that was registered in FY16. The government is yet to cut the rate of interest on the tools to meet the interest of politicians and bureaucrats, the officials said. Underprivileged people have no capability to purchase such high-worth instruments, according to them. The high returns on the savings tools are pushing up the government’s interest liability which has already created a difficult situation to implement the deficit financing of the fiscal budget, they said. The banks are now offering hardly 7.0% interest rate on their deposit products, whereas the rates for the NSCs are between 11.0% and 11.8%.
Mobile Financial Services encouraging, require more efforts for wider role: working paper
A central bank working paper has found the mobile financial services (MFS) to be encouraging in Bangladesh, looking at the performance since its inception in 2011. It suggests more efforts for promoting the much desired financial inclusion — reducing the number of unbanked people. The working paper is titled ‘Are Mobile Financial Services Promoting Financial Inclusion in Bangladesh? An Assessment Study’. Bilkis Sultana and Md. Mahbubar Rahman Khan, General Manager and Deputy General Manager of Research Department of Bangladesh Bank respectively, prepared the paper. But there are lots of evidences that financial inclusion, bringing the unbanked people under banking, promotes growth and development. As Bangladesh Bank has introduced MFS for inclusion of the unbanked people in the financial network, the authors believe that it is important to examine whether the introduction of the service has promoted financial inclusion in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh faces formidable challenges in moving to a higher growth path of 8 percent plus GDP to become a middle-income country, Mahbubur Rahman, president of International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh, said yesterday. The foremost challenge lies with the stagnant private investment followed by weak institutional capacity to implement development projects, he said. To achieve its goal of middle-income country status by 2021 and to accelerate inclusive growth as well as reduce poverty and income inequality, the country will require a substantial increase in yearly investments from 29 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2015 to 34.4 percent of GDP by fiscal year 2020.
Uniform VAT rate to remain unchanged at 15.0%: Finance Minister
Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith has said the uniform VAT rate will remain unchanged at 15.0%, reports bdnews24.com. “There’s a lot of discussion over the issue and we have decided to keep it at 15.0% in the next fiscal year,” Muhith told a group of reporters at his secretariat office in Dhaka on Saturday. Muhith signalled that he would take the VAT-exempted annual turnover limit beyond BDT 3.0 million. “The new ceiling will be fixed in a day or two,” he said. After the exemption threshold, businesses, registering turnover of up to BDT 8.0 million a year, now pay 3.0% tax. In the new fiscal year, the threshold will be raised to BDT 12.0 million or above, and the tax rate will be reset at 4-5%, according to Muhith. “It means we are providing special exemptions to small businesses.” Muhith said 25,000 to 26,000 businesses out of 800,000 registered for VAT pay the value added tax now. “The businesses have raised the prices a bit for Ramadan. This has nothing to do with VAT.”
Rich people will have to pay more to the government exchequer after Finance Minister AMA Muhith hinted of an increase in surcharge on wealth next fiscal year. “Some changes will be brought in the different slabs of surcharge by increasing the rate,” he told reporters at his secretariat office in Dhaka yesterday. At present, a 10% surcharge is applicable on net wealth between BDT 22.5 million and BDT 50.0 million, and 15% on wealth between BDT 50.0 million and BDT 100.0 million. For wealth between BDT 100.0 million and BDT 150.0 million, the surcharge is 20%, for BDT 150.0 million and BDT 200 million is 25%, and 30% on net wealth exceeding BDT 200 million. The middle-class though will get some relief as the individual tax-free ceiling will be raised slightly from existing BDT 0.25 million. But the threshold will be fixed permanently. The corporate tax will be kept almost unchanged save for one sector, he said, without naming the sector and the direction of the change. The interest rate on saving instruments will be cut as the current rate of over 11% is “absurd” in comparison to the market rate of 7%, the minister said. Like every year the state banks will get allocation in the new budget for recapitalization.
BGMEA wants 5.0% cash incentives on export for 2 years
Bangladesh garment industry owners have urged the government to provide 5% cash incentives on apparel export for the next two years. Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Md Siddiqur Rahman made the demand at a press conference Saturday. The conference, titled “Present Situation of the Country’s Apparel Industry and Forthcoming Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18”, held at BGMEA headquarters in Dhaka. The proposal was made to facilitate the BGMEA and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) members only. BGMEA President Siddiqur also called for exemption of tax at source from the apparel sector for at least for two years and slashing corporate tax to 10.0% from the existing 20% for the five years starting next fiscal year.
Dhaka, Ankara set to finalize ToR next week to initiate FTA talks
Bangladesh and Turkey are set to finalize terms of reference (ToR) next week aiming to initiate talks over signing of a free trade area (FTA) deal between the two Muslim nations, officials said. A Turkish delegation led by deputy director general of the ministry of economy Mehmet Tan will sit with a Bangladeshi delegation, led by additional commerce secretary Shafiqul Islam, in Dhaka to finalise ToR. Bangladesh is eager to ink the deal for removal of additional duty on textile and garment import imposed by Turkey in June 2012. Textile and garment export accounted for over 90% of total Bangladeshi exports to Turkey. The imposition of 17.0% additional duty hit hard Bangladesh’s apparel exports to the Eurasian country. Bangladesh and Turkey had decided to commence FTA negotiations in April 2012 during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Ankara visit.
Regulatory body likely for universal pension coverage
The government is planning to establish a separate regulatory body for managing and expanding pension coverage in the country. The decision follows its plan to bring all citizens under the universal pension scheme, the finance ministry sources said this week. Once fully implemented, all retirees, both from public and private sectors as well as formal and informal sectors, would be eligible for old-age pension on their retirement. The finance division is currently preparing a concept paper in this regard in the light of which a project would be initiated by the first quarter of next year for implementing the universal pension scheme. The World Bank (WB) has already shown its interest in funding the project, sources said.
Kamrul Islam Sharif, a private job holder who lives in Mohammadpur, bought two air-conditioners by lending money from a friend, as the scorching summer heat has become unbearable this week. “I was not prepared to spend Tk 1.35 lakh at the moment, but the unrelenting heat forced me to borrow some money to buy two air conditioners — one of the ACs has a one-tonne capacity and the other has a 1.5 tonne capacity,” said Sharif on Monday. He also saw a crowd of people buying air conditioners at the store he went to. “My next festival bonus will not be enough to pay back the money in full. It will take a few more months to payback,” added Sharif. As the heat wave reaches new heights across the country, the sale of air conditioners and air coolers has seen a sharp rise among the city dwellers. In the last two years, traders have seen a boom in the sale of air conditioners during the hot summer months.
Newly-merged mobile phone operator Robi posted a net loss of Tk 171.10 crore in the January-March quarter as a consequence of merger-related expenses. The operator had made a net profit of Tk 39.70 crore during the same quarter in 2016, before its merger with Airtel in November. Robi had been a profitable venture in recent years. The operator, however, lost Tk 389 crore in 2016 as it paid merger fees and spectrum charges and financed nationwide network modernisation work.
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