The central bank of Bangladesh Wednesday sought from all scheduled banks the relevant information about the volume of Indian rupee notes of 500 and 1000 denominations held by them. The notes were demonetised Tuesday night. “We’ve already contacted different banks, including the State Bank of India (SBI) operations in Bangladesh, over phone to know about holdings of their 500-and 1000-denomination Indian currencies,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE Wednesday. Most private commercial banks (PCBs) and foreign commercial banks (FCBs) replied in the negative, according to the central banker.
Government plans to scale up investment facilities
The government has planned to increase investment facilities by taking USD 300.0 million loan from the World Bank to bring pace in the private investment, said officials at the finance division yesterday. An official of Finance Division said interest of the loan will be 0.75% to 1.5%. Economic Relation Division, at a recent inter-ministerial meeting, has recently finalized the USD 300.0 million World Bank loan proposal. Sources in the finance ministry said a portion of this fund will go to the country’s health sectors, including National Tuberculosis Control Program under a Social Impact Bond. The Social Impact Bond is a tool to give maximum advantage to the private sector in investing Tuberculosis program. The World Bank approved USD 10.0 million in additional financing to help Bangladesh scale up its e-procurement system.
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka agree to sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have agreed to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) to boost bilateral trade, the commerce ministry said in a statement yesterday. This year’s JEC meeting is the fifth of its kind between the two South Asian countries. Rishad Bathiudeen, industry and commerce minister of Sri Lanka, led his country’s delegation at the meeting, where signing the FTA was an agenda. If the FTA is signed, this will be Bangladesh’s first free trade deal with a country. Normally, Bangladesh, as a least-developed country, enjoys duty-free export benefit to many countries, but Sri Lanka, as a developing country, does not get such trade privileges. Ahmed said the FTA will boost Bangladesh’s exports, while Sri Lanka will be able to buy goods of global standards at lower prices from Bangladesh. Bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka was a meagre USD 76.0 million in 2015-16, of which Bangladesh’s import was USD 45.6 million and Sri Lanka’s USD 30.5 million. The minister said Bangladesh produces garments, pharmaceuticals, cement, paper, electrical items, and jute goods, which are high in demand in Sri Lanka.
Edotco gets permission to buy back shares from Robi
The telecom regulator approved a proposal from edotco Bangladesh, a tower business company, to buy back 31.01% shares from its parent company Robi. Once the buyback is completed, edotco’s total holding in its Bangladesh unit will expand to 80.01% while Robi’s will shrink to 19.99%. Currently, Robi holds 51.0% shares in the company and edotco 49.0%. The Malaysian telecom tower management company aims to get a full license to run its operations in Bangladesh. In April, edotco applied to buy back the shares from Robi as the draft guideline does not allow any company to have any affiliation with any mobile phone operator. The draft also said any foreign tower company must have local partners to run its business in the country, promoting some local companies to start contacting edotco, said a senior official of the company. At present, edotco manages 8,000 towers of the six mobile phone operators in Bangladesh with permission from the BTRC. In 2014, Robi applied to the BTRC to transfer 80.0% of its shares to edotco but the commission rejected the plan.
WB dissents from PPA amendment: Says amended law may further delay project execution
The World Bank (WB) has expressed its reservation about the amendment to Bangladesh’s public procurement law that it says would further delay project implementation, officials said. The Bank made known its doubt over the recent amendment to the Public Procurement Act (PPA) 2006, during a two-day review of its funded projects. WB Operations Manager Rajasree Paralkar, ERD Additional Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam and high officials from the WB, ERD and government agencies attended the review meeting in Dhaka that ended Wednesday. The government early August amended the PPA, making a provision wherein it is stated that bids with less or more than 10.0% of the official cost estimation against any tender can be cancelled. Government agencies usually invite tenders from contractors or firms for procuring goods or services or works by estimating a cost officially. Official cost remains always hidden for the bidders.
India’s currency move leaves visiting Bangladeshis in trouble
Several thousand Bangladeshis who are currently visiting India are left high and dry after New Delhi’s shock move to withdraw Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 bank notes from circulation. In a bid to crack down on corruption, counterfeit currency and tax evasion, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a special address to the nation on Tuesday evening announced that 500- and 1,000-rupee notes would become invalid from midnight. The move has put Indians and travelling Bangladeshis alike in a state of colossal inconvenience as retailers from restaurants to pharmacies and hospitals refused to accept the bills.
Bangladesh should start negotiations with the new US government to get back the generalised system of preferences (GSP) and duty-free market access for apparel items, garment exporters said yesterday. Proving all media reports wrong, Republican candidate Donald Trump has won the US presidential election, which the local garment exporters termed as the beginning of a new era not only for the US economy, but also for Bangladesh’s trade ties with the North American country. The US is the largest export destination for Bangladesh. “So, any major change in US politics and economy is important for us,” said Atiqul Islam, the immediate past president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
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