60pc of women SME entrepreneurs struggle to get loans
Over 60.2 percent of the women SME entrepreneurs’ demand for finance remains unmet as banks and non-bank financial institutions do not want to lend to women, a survey found. The unmet demand for financing was estimated at Tk 6,007 crore for fiscal 2014-15, according to the report of the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank Group. The survey was conducted among 500 women SME entrepreneurs in 12 districts, including seven divisional headquarters. Additionally, 40 qualitative interviews were conducted with government agencies, financial institutions, women business associations and other stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The report titled “Mapping the market potential and accelerating finance for women SME entrepreneurs in Bangladesh” will be unveiled at a programme in Dhaka today. Only 31 percent of the women SME entrepreneurs were able to finance most of their entire business requirements, the report found. On a regional basis, enterprises in Rajshahi had the widest gap in financing, averaging Tk 10.67 lakh per enterprise, followed by Khulna. The lowest average financing gap was seen in Barisal.
BIAC signs deal with Permanent Court of Arbitration
Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre or BIAC yesterday teamed up with the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration to promote mutual assistance and sharing of expertise. Muhammad A (Rumee) Ali, chief executive of BIAC, and Hugo H Siblesz, secretary general of PCA, signed an agreement in this regard. Leoni Margaretha Cuelenaere, ambassador of the Netherlands to Bangladesh, exchanged the signed papers of the agreement on behalf of PCA with BIAC’s CEO at the Le Meridien Hotel in Dhaka. The agreement will provide a framework for cooperation between both the institutions involved in the peaceful settlement of international disputes, BIAC said in a statement.
The securities’ regulator has moved to set a new provision to make use of proceeds from the Initial Public Offerings (IPO) available to investors through the websites of listed companies and stock exchanges. The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) has already finalized the provision which is likely to be approved soon. Sources concerned say the condition of publishing utilization of IPO proceeds will be included in the list of other conditions which are set while approving the IPO proposals once regulatory approval is received in this regard. As per the new provision, the issuer companies will give updates on the use of IPO funds available on the websites of the concerned companies and stock exchanges as well. The regulatory move came as the shareholders remain in dark about the use of IPO funds despite the fact that the shareholders reserve right to know about utilization of the fund. According to another BSEC official, the imposition of new condition will start with Shepherd Industries, which recently got regulatory approval to float shares under fixed pricing method.
Bangladesh should get ready to implement the sustainable development goals on its own, as external resources might not be available as expected, just like in the case with the millennium development goals, experts said yesterday. Developing and least developed countries, including Bangladesh, did not get financial assistance as promised by the rich countries, according to the final evaluation report on the MDGs that was launched at the National Economic Council auditorium in Dhaka. “We got only 40 percent of the promised funds,” said Shamsul Alam, a member of the General Economics Division (GED) of the planning commission, who led the task of preparing the report.
Products for trade under Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement likely to double
The number of products for low-tariff trading under the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), previously known as the Bangkok Agreement, may more than double as the member-countries finally agreed to conclude soon the fourth-round negotiations, officials said. Trade ministers of the six-nation bloc will sit for Ministerial Council in Bangkok mid-January to endorse the decisions taken in the expert-level negotiations, they added. Bangladesh, China, India, South Korea, Laos and Sri Lanka are members of the block. With the endorsement by the highest decision-making authority, the fourth round of trade talks will enter into force. It was launched in October 2007 and was scheduled to be concluded by the third ministerial council in October 2009. Trade officials in Dhaka said the APTA experts had reached a consensus on tariff concessions under fourth round of negotiations in 2013. But some policy-level disagreements between China and Korea and China and India have delayed the process. Presently some 4,857 products enjoy tariff preferences under APTA-and the list may get longer to reach 10,000 with the ministerial council approval for conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations. In the fourth round of negotiations Bangladesh agreed to provide tariff concessions for 600 from present 209 products, India 3,000 products from present 618, and China over 2,000 products from 1,858, officials said earlier.
Agro-based industry fails to make breakthrough in global market
The country’s agro-based industry, despite having a substantial growth for the two decades in domestic market, is yet to raise its share in the global arena, insiders said. They attributed inadequate marketing capacity, transportation obstacles and tough quarantine rules and regulation from abroad to the sector’s such less-than-expected level of export earnings. Sustained economic growth, rising incomes and rapid urbanization have fostered widespread changes in consumers’ demand for food that attracted hundreds of investors to enter the agro-based industries raising its turnover to nearly BDT 1.3 trillion annually. But despite a massive positive growth in domestic agro-based markets, export of the items is much lower—only worth BDT 47 billion. This is only 1.88% of the country’s overall export, insiders said highlighting the need for bringing massive changes in export infrastructure. Entrance of a number of big conglomerates in the sector in last one decade has made the sector oversaturated making it tough for new players, said market leaders.
Bangladesh to import 200,000 tonnes of wheat from Russia
Bangladesh has turned to the Black Sea region for wheat as supply from India dwindled. Last year, Bangladesh rejected three shipments involving a total 125,000 tonnes of French wheat after the grain failed to match tender specifications. The rejections came after the state buyer faced severe criticism for importing 200,000 tonnes of wheat from Brazil, that were later found to have poor quality. Apart from government purchases, private traders import about four million tonnes of wheat annually to meet growing demand while the country’s domestic output has stagnated at about one million tonnes. Rice is the main staple for Bangladesh’s 160 million people, but wheat consumption is also rising because of lifestyle changes.
Sylhet Hi-Tech Park project sent to cabinet committee for approval
ICT Division sources said Bangladesh Navy-operated organization Dockyard and Engineering Works Limited (DEW) will develop the project as part of the government plan to implement the Vision 2021. Shyam Sunder Sikder, secretary to the ICT Division, has sent the project summary to the cabinet committee on November 15 for approval. The project is worth BDT 1.3 billion. Earlier, State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak reviewed the summary of the project and gave his consent to send it to the committee. According to the project summary, the DEW will implement the project work as per the direct procurement method (DPM). The park will be established on a 162.6-acre land at Companyganj upazila in Sylhet district. An official of the ICT Division said it is a priority project of the government. Considering it, Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority will put additional care so that it can be completed quickly. Under the project, the dockyard will build an approach road, an administrative building, a sub-power station, a fibre optical connectivity and a boundary wall.
Revised pension scheme for government servants gets PM’s nod
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has approved a revised pension scheme for the retired public servants, said officials. The PM gave her nod to the scheme forwarded by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) on November 19, a senior official of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told the FE Tuesday. A gazette notification over the modified pension scheme would be released soon on completion of necessary formalities, he said. The scheme is expected to be made effective from July 01, 2017. When implemented, the retired public servants would be able to withdraw half of their gross pension money at one go immediately after retirement and the remaining half would be retained and paid on monthly basis with annual increment, said a senior MoF official. Currently, the retired employees have the option for drawing up to 100% of their gross pension money at a time, which was so far availed by around one-fifth of the retired government officials, said the official revealing the MoF statistics. According to the MoF, the government spent BDT 100 billion as pension and gratuity payments to public servants in fiscal year 2015-16 (FY’16) which was BDT 71.9 billion in FY’15, BDT 57 billion in FY’14 and BDT 59.5 billion in FY’13.
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