Loans in many categories have now come down to a historical low of single digits, playing into businesses’ hands — and yet the demand for credit and investment is not picking up. Be it term loan, corporate loan, home loan or working capital, all can be availed by a good client within single digit interest rate. There are 57 banks and nearly three dozen non-bank financial institutions in Bangladesh. All the lenders compete with each other to net customers from a USD 220.0 billion economy. City is offering home loans at 8.75% — which is 9.0% for most of the banks — down from 11.0% a year ago. The interest rate for auto loan costs 10-11%, which was 14-15% last year.
Default loan growth in the country’s banking sector slowed down in July-September quarter of the current year as the country’s business have started to grow further overcoming the shock due to the pro-longed political turmoil Default loan growth rose by 3.7% or over BDT 23.0 billion in the third quarter of this year compared to 6.6% growth in the second quarter, according to the central bank data. The total default loans in the banking sector stood at over BDT 657.0 billion as of September which was 10.34% of the total sectors’ outstanding of BDT 6359.9 billion, according to the Bangladesh Bank data. The default loan amount was over BDT 633.0 billion or 10.06% in April-June quarter. The default loans of six state-owned commercial banks decreased slightly to BDT 299.0 billion in September compared to BDT 300.0 billion in June this year.
The capital-to-risk weighted asset ratio (CRAR) of Bangladesh’s banking sector stands in a lower position than those of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka due to higher volume of classified loans, particularly in the public sector banks here. According to the experts and bankers, CRAR of the country’s banking sector under the Basel-III standard will be completely different, if the CRAR of three specialized banks (SBs) is deducted from that of all banks. These observations came during a roundtable titled ‘Basel-III: Preparation of Banks in Bangladesh’, held at Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM) in the capital on Thursday. S A Chowdhury, Professor A K Gangopadhya Chair of BIBM, presided over the program. Among the SAARC countries, Pakistan maintains the highest level of CRAR at 17.9 per cent in 2015, following Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh at 14.2 per cent, 12.7 per cent and 10.8 per cent respectively. It was revealed in a paper titled ‘Basel-III: Preparation of Banks in Bangladesh’, presented by Professor and Director (RD&C) of BIBM Prashanta Kumar Banerjee.
BDT weakening against dollar on import rise, poor remittance
The US dollar has appreciated against Bangladeshi currency taka over the last few weeks as the country’s import demand picked up remarkably in the first quarter of the current fiscal year 2016-17 and at the same time the inflow of inward remittances decreased. Bangladesh Bank data showed that the dollar had almost appreciated every day in the banking channel since the last week of October as it was quoted (buy-sales) at BDT 78.57–BDT 78.58 on November 16, up from BDT 78.4–BDT 78.4 on October 27 this year. Besides, on the curb market the rate of dollar also shot up to BDT 83.0 in recent days because of a rise in the exchange rate in the banking sector and the recent ban by the Indian government on INR 500 and INR 1,000 denomination notes that forced Bangladeshi travelers intending to go to India to buy dollars. a BB official. The central bank, which had purchased dollars from the banking sector almost in every day to stop the slide in the dollar rate in recent months, has not buying dollars since October 24.
Capital machinery imports more than doubled in the first quarter of fiscal 2016-17 from a year earlier on the back of the remediation works being carried out by garment factories. Between July and September, letters of credit for import of capital machinery worth over USD 1.8 billion, up for USD 820.0 million a year earlier, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank. The government infrastructure projects and expansion of steel mills and the food processing sectors also contributed to the spike in capital machinery imports. Businessmen have to pay only 1.0% duty for import of capital machinery, so a section of them show inflated prices, it has been alleged. As per law, capital cannot flow out of Bangladesh without prior approval from the central bank.
The government reaffirms its projection of real gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 7.2% in the current fiscal year. Earlier, the World Bank (WB) projected the growth to be 6.81% in early October this year. Officials said the government side remained upbeat on the projected growth as it sees many growth-pulling sectors performing well in line with the annual economic growth target. The revised projection on the economy was highlighted in the quarterly review by the Ministry of Finance that was placed before the finance minister in the past week. It also expects the nominal GDP to stand up at BDT 19.6 trillion at the end of the fiscal year. According to the government report the public expenditure was equivalent to BDT 262.2 billion in the July-September 2016 period against BDT 214.6 billion in the corresponding period a year before. The ADP execution was equivalent to BDT 166.9 billion in the quarter from BDT 115.95 billion in the corresponding previous period. Project aid also surged to BDT 48.5 billion in the quarter. It was BDT 37.3 billion in July-September 2015. The report says credits to the private sector were having risen 15.34% higher in the period under review against 12.9% a year earlier. Among other macroeconomic indicators that gauge economic growth, export earnings grew at 6.53% in July-October period. It was 4.95 in July-October 2015.
The prices of a good number of prescription medicines have marked an abnormal rise in recent weeks prompting a chorus of disapproval by suffering patients and people in general. Medicine buyers allege that the drug-makers have raised prices primarily being guided by their greed for making higher profit. But the pharmaceutical companies attribute the drugs’ price hike to the rising cost of raw materials globally. The recent increase in prices of some lifesaving and commonly-used medicine groups and brands like fexofenadin (Fenadin of Renata or Fexo of Square), omeprazole (as is Losectil of Eskayef), clonazepam (Pase of Opsonin or Rivotril of Radiant), Tolperisone Hydrochloride (Myolax of Incepta), valsartan (Diovan of Novartis), ciprofloxacin (Cilocin of Pacific), calcium (Calbo-D of Square or Ostocal-D of Eskayef) and a wide range of vitamin items (Neuro-B of Square, Bextram Gold of Beximco or Bost of General) has sparked widespread criticism. The rate of increase in many cases hovered starkly over 50 to 60.0% with the helpless customers and patients always at the sufferers’ end apparently in absence of any price control authority. Leading pharmaceutical company Square recently hiked prices of its various medicine brands including its popular prescription product Neuro-B, an item containing Vitamin B1B6B12, citing short and costly supply of raw materials. Before an astonishing 60.0% rise in price from BDT 150.0 to BDT 240.0 per pack, Neuro-B went off-market for several weeks.
Export of plastic goods fetches USD 49.2 million in four months
Export earnings from plastic sector increased significantly in July-October period of the current financial year, compared to that of last fiscal, said official statistics. During the period, the sector earned USD 49.18 million from export of plastic goods, reflecting a 76.0% growth. The earning was USD 27.9 million in the corresponding period of fiscal year (FY) 2015-16, according to data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). According to the BPGMEA data, currently 300 manufacturers export plastic goods worth nearly BDT 30.0 billion annually. Manufacturers said the demand for plastic wastes is also increasing day by day in international market. The export volume of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) waste bottle flakes is around 50,000 tons worth more than BDT 1.0 billion a year, according to them. Bangladesh exports a number of items like shopping bags, garbage bags, butcher bags, oven sacks, industrial films, PVC pipes and bags, polythene sheet, plastic hangers, hand gloves, ropes, plastic waste, V belt, toys, electric switches, polyester thread, computer accessories, video/audio cassettes, melamine table ware, toothbrush, ball pen, artificial flower and wall clock.
Grameenphone’s share of active subscribers has expanded by 4.0 percentage points after biometric re-registration, cementing its position as the market leader. Between January and August this year, the market saw active subscribers drop by 11.9% to 117.8 million. Out of the six operators, Grameenphone lost the lowest number of subscribers, according to data from Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. It lost 2.2 million active connections, but its market share widened to 46.3% in August from 42.4% in January. Grameenphone started the year with 56.7 million active SIMs, which stood at 54.5 million in August. Banglalink, the second largest operator in terms of connections, holds a 24.6% market share, although it lost 3.9 million active connections over eight months. As the third largest operator, Robi lost 1.4% of its subscribers and its market share shrank to 19.8%. Airtel, in the process of merging with Robi, lost 1.3% of market shares in the eight months, according to BTRC data. Robi started the year with 28.3 million connections and reached 23.3 million at the end of August. The two operators lost 7.8 million connections jointly. Airtel started with 10.7 million active SIMs, which fell to 7.9 million. The biometric re-registration process also shook the lone state owned operator Teletalk as it had to block 1.3 million active connections. Currently, its market share stands at 2.5%, which was 3.1% before the re-registration process started in December last year.
Citycell pays BDT 1.0 billion to BTRC for survival
Citycell yesterday paid BDT 1.0 billion to the telecom regulator — a move which might help them avoid any further suspension of license. On November 3, the Supreme Court directed the operator to pay another BDT 1.0 billion to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission by November 19 or else its spectrum will be barred. “We have complied with the court order and we are happy that we made the payment before the stipulated date,” said Mehboob Chowdhury, chief executive officer of Citycell, the country’s oldest mobile operator. Citycell owes the BTRC BDT 4.8 billion, according to the telecom watchdog. But the operator disputes the figure. It earlier paid BDT 1.3 billion to the BTRC along with BDT 140.0 million as tax to the National Board of Revenue but it was not enough to save it from getting its spectrum suspended on November 6. “We will now try to resolve the other issues and start planning a fresh start,” the Citycell CEO said.
Business volume of the country’s super-shops has been rising gradually over the years, following an increased turnout of customers despite some impediments, insiders said. According to them, the chain-shops are now able to attract 5.0% of the total customers across the city, comparing to around 2.0% a few years back. Now middle- and upper-class working people prefer such one-stop centers for buying different types of products, as they get grocery, cosmetics, frozen foods, homemade foods, electrical items, gift items, and cloths etc under one roof. Besides, the super-shops offer relaxed and hassle-free shopping experience, quality service, convenient location, and bargain-free fixed price, thus catching the attention of busy city dwellers. However, the super-shop owners think that comparing to market demand such shops have not increased that much across the country due to some factors. These factors include unequal VAT collection system, scarcity of suitable space for opening new outlets, lack of coordination among the government agencies concerned and their inconsistent quality specifications, and absence of any specific policy for the sector.
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days
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