Remittance rebounded in October after hitting a seven-year low the previous month, bringing a sigh of relief for the government. The Bangladeshi diaspora sent home $1.16 billion last month, up 14.85 percent from a year earlier and 35.83 percent from the previous month, according to data from the central bank. Remittance is a major source of foreign currency for Bangladesh and its descent since fiscal 2015-16 has progressively become a matter of concern for the government. Although the official explanation being pushed for the shrinking remittance inflow is the persistent weakness in the Gulf Cooperation Council economies, where the majority of the migrant workers reside, it does not present the complete picture. The growing popularity of digital “hundi” among migrant workers is another reason for the lower official remittance figures in recent times.
BB cuts lending rate for FSSP fund
Bangladesh Bank (BB) has cut the interest rate for the Long Term Financing Facility (LTFF) under the Financial Sector Support Project (FSSP). Under the FSSP fund for long-term financing, the banks can lend money for ventures in the industrial productive sectors for tenures of five to 10 years, under the condition that the banks would pay interest rate between 2.50 per cent and 3.00, including LIBOR (London Inter Bank Offered Rate) depending on the category of banks, said the central bank in a circular on Wednesday. Earlier the rate was 2.50 per cent to 3.50 per cent including LIBOR. The interest is being fixed considering the respective bank’s CAMELS (Capital, Assets quality, Management, Earning, Liquidity, and Sensitivity) rating, a recognized international rating system that bank supervisory authorities use in order to rate financial institutions.
New top brass for Social Islami Bank
Md Anwarul Azim Arif has recently been elected as the new chairman of Social Islami Bank. The bank also elected Quazi Osman Ali as its managing director, the bank said in a statement yesterday. Arif was the vice chancellor of Chittagong University from 2011 to 2015. He joined the university in 1976 as a lecturer. He completed his MCom from Chittagong University and MBA from the University of the Philippines.
Brac Bank to provide loan facilities to BTI’s customers
Brac Bank Limited is set to provide retail Loan facilities, such as home loans, auto loans, personal loans and credit card support to customers of real estate developer Building Technology and Ideas Limited (BTI). Memorandum of Understanding in this regard was signed by Brac Bank and BTI at a ceremony held on Tuesday at BTI’s head office in Dhaka. Chief Operating Officer of BTI Limited HM Tarikul Kamrul and Head of Retail Banking of Brac Bank Limited Nazmur Rahim signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. Brac Bank’s Head of Retail Sales Kyser Hamid, Head of ADC Imtiaz Ahmed, BTI Limited Managing Director F R Khan and Executive Director (Sales) Nur E Alam, were present at the signing ceremony, among others.
Govt to relax rebate rules for import of capital machinery
The government is set to relax the rules for rebate facilities on the import of capital machinery. Items under the rebate facilities include machinery for LPG bottling and power plants, a Finance Division official told the Dhaka Tribune. The relaxing of the rebate facilities will waive more than 1% in duties and taxes. The official said that a gazette notification in this regard would be issued once Finance Minister AMA Muhith gives his consent for the rebate proposal. However, some conditions would be put in place regarding the rebate facilities, the official added. Sources in the Finance Division said that several flagship local firms had applied to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) asking to relax rules for rebate facilities on the import of capital machinery and parts for capital machinery, in response to which an NBR committee prepared the new policy. The companies included Petromax Limited, Universal Gas and Cylinder limited, Petroleum Product Limited , Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BPL) ,S Alliance Power Limited, Dhaka North Power Limited and Para 1320MW Ultra-Supercritical Coal Based Heat Power Center .
Bapex confirms gas reserve in new Shahbazpur well
State-run Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration and Production Company Ltd (Bapex) confirmed the presence of new gas reserve at Shahbazpur East-1 well located at Borhanuddin upazila of Bhola district on Wednesday, officials said. It flared up gas of around 30 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) to make sure the new reserve, they said. However, it will take some more days to estimate the quantity of the new reserve, Bapex managing director Md Nowshad Islam told the FE. “We confirmed having new gas today, after the flare up ranging between 25 to 30 mmcfd.” He said the gas has been flowing from around 3,500-metre depth and pressure of gas at the new well is around 5,500 pound per square inch (PSI). Usually the country’s currently producing onshore gas fields, including those operated by US’s Chevron, had pressure ranging arond 4,200 psi initially, he added. The discovery of a new gas field in Bhola having an estimated reserve of around 700 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of reserve was announced on October 23. Geologists, including former Bapex top officials who worked in Bhola for oil and gas exploration, however, said that the new well is within the similar structure of Shahbazpur gas field.
Investment bids with BIDA rise 140.36pc in July-Sept
The volume of the aggregate investment proposals registered with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) during the July-September period of this year rose by 140.36 per cent over the previous three months (April-June). . The investment proposals worth Tk 697.66 billion, both local and foreign, were registered with BIDA during the July-September period of 2017 compared to those of Tk 290.25 billion during April-June period of the same year, according to a BIDA press statement. Of the total, BIDA registered local investment proposals amounting to Tk 516.277 billion for setting up some 361 industrial its in the July-September period, compared to Tk 274.38 billion for 396 units in the April-June period. On the other hand, investment proposals worth Tk 181.38 billion were registered with BIDA for 10 cent per cent foreign units and 20 joint venture industries during the July-September period. The volume of investment proposals with BIDA for the foreign direct investment (FDI) and joint venture ones was Tk 15.87 billion during last April-June period, the BIDA statement said.
China Harbour seeks 9.64pc hike in project cost
The China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) has sought a 9.64 per cent hike in the cost of the Dhaka–Sylhet Expressway project within a year of signing the deal. With the hike, the cost of the project will increase to Tk 1,864 crore from the existing Tk 1,700 crore. On October 2, CHEC sent a letter to the secretary of the Road Transport and Highway Division and placed the demand. On October 10 last year, Bangladesh and China had signed a framework agreement to build the Dhaka–Sylhet four-lane expressway under a government-to-government (G2G) project. Under the agreement, the 226-km highway will be converted into a four-lane expressway. Roads and highways department (RHD) chief engineer Ebne Alam Hasan had signed the agreement on behalf of the Bangladesh government, while CHEC president Tang Qiaoliang had signed for the Chinese government. In the letter, CHEC mentioned that under the G2G project, the Chinese government funds the project, while the CHEC, as the contractor nominated by the Chinese government, is responsible for furnishing the project cost estimate and carrying out negotiations with the government until an agreement is reached. The same exercise is practiced by other G2G projects in Bangladesh.
European investors keen on Bangladesh
Many European companies and individuals want to invest in Bangladesh in a bigger way as they deem the country to be a good option, said a foreign investor in the country. “It is because of a sizeable ready-to-work labour force of the country and its fast growing economy,” Nuria Lopez, managing director of Zalo Knitting and Arrow Sports Wear, told The Daily Star in an interview recently. But, unfortunately, foreign investors face a lot of hurdles in setting up their businesses in Bangladesh due to a complicated company registration process, energy crisis, bureaucratic tangles and higher tax structures.
Telenor to invest more, seeks clear terms
Telenor Group, the majority shareholder in Grameenphone, is keen to invest heavily in Bangladesh to broaden its digital services, especially in 4G segment, but wants to be clear on terms and conditions first, said its top executive. “Digital services are the future and Grameenphone is fully ready to invest in this segment,” Sigve Brekke, CEO of the Norwegian multinational telecom company, said in an interview with The Daily Star yesterday. He, however, didn’t mention the amount it plans to invest. “We see a huge opportunity in Bangladesh. We are willing and waiting to invest in network to offer the service. But the terms and conditions to make money from it have to be clear.” Brekke said Grameenphone has made it clear to the government that it needs predictability on policies and regulations because “we are going to invest huge amount of money”. “We need to know under which basis we are investing. We need predictability on the Telecom Act, something the industry has been discussing with the government for many years,” Brekke said, adding that GP wants business-friendly conditions in every aspect. Telenor owns a 55.8 percent stake in Grameenphone, while Grameen Telecom owns 34.2 percent, and the general and institutional shareholders the remaining 10 percent.
Slovenian-Bangladeshi joint venture wins mobile phone number portability bid
Infozillion BD Teletech Consortium Limited, a Slovenian-Bangladeshi joint venture, has won the license bid of much awaited mobile phone number portability (MNP) service. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) will hand over license to the winning company on November 7 with a view to introduce the service in January. Mobile number portability is a technology that allows customers to change their operators after a specific timeframe retaining their existing eleven digit number. The government has fixed Tk30 as charge for the service. BTRC has been trying to introduce the MNP service, which would help bring more competition to the market and improve the service quality, for the last few years. Currently, some 72 countries including neighboring India and Pakistan have introduced the service, with Singapore being the pioneer in this field. The telecom regulator has asked the winning firm to deposit the licensing fee, Tk10cr, within a month. Infozillion BD Teletech Consortium is a joint venture of Infozillion BD Limited and Teletech D.O.O, Slovenia where the foreign partner has 55.9% share. But, it has given undertaking that once the license is granted, Infozillion and Teletech will set up new special purpose venture (local company) and foreign shareholding will be cut down below 51%. Besides, the Teletech has claimed it has a total of 14.7m subscribers and running operation in Armenia, Montenegro and Slovenia since 2006.