Bangladesh needs to diversify Export Basket
Bangladesh needs to diversify its export basket and comply with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to overcome challenges that would emerge after the country’s graduation from the group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), experts said on Sunday. They also called for providing policy support towards creating a more business-friendly environment and improving competitiveness and for better negotiation with trading partners in order to achieve sustainable growth in export. The experts made the observations at a discussion session marking the launching of the ‘Bangladesh Trade Policy and Negotiation Capacity Building Support Project’, organised by the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) at a city hotel. Funded by the Trade and Advocacy Fund (TAF2+) of UKaid, the project aims to build capacity of the government officials. The Ministry of Commerce (MoC), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) of the UK and Policy Research Institute (PRI) will jointly implement the project. Terming direct subsidy to exportable products contradictory to WTO rules, he said a balance in the policies for export and the domestic market should be ensured. It has been observed that the subsidy to exportable products other than RMG items hasn’t been effective; so there are scopes for rethinking the issue. In another presentation on ‘Options for Trade Relationship with the EU after Bangladesh’s LDC Graduation’, Dr Mendez-Parra said Bangladesh would graduate from everything but arms (EBA) facility in 2027, landing in the EU Standard GSP regime when tariffs on 98.5 per cent of the exports to the EU will rise to almost over 9.0 per cent. A free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU will require limited reciprocity and a longer implementation period from Bangladesh. It should also be ready to negotiate and implement additional disciplines.
Citi launches 15th edition of Micro Entrepreneurship Awards
The Citi Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Citigroup, yesterday launched the 15th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards (CMA) to encourage micro, small and medium entrepreneurship in the country. This year the CMA programme is being organised jointly by the Citi Foundation and the Shakti Foundation, while the strategic partner of the event is the Credit and Development Forum. The awards, which were initiated in 2005, will be given in six categories, the organisers announced at a press conference in the capital’s Six Seasons Hotel. The deadline for submission of the applications is January 25 next year. The award ceremony is expected to be held next year. The best micro-entrepreneur will get Tk 4.5 lakh and the best woman micro-entrepreneur, the best agriculture micro-entrepreneur and the best youth micro-entrepreneur will receive Tk 3.5 lakh each. The first runner-up in each of the four categories will receive Tk 1.5 lakh and the second runner-up Tk 1 lakh. Most of the SME entrepreneurs run their businesses by taking microcredits from different institutions and micro-entrepreneurs do not become defaulters but big borrowers do. Despite making a huge contribution, the SMEs are still not properly financed and recognized.
BB gives Tk 5.3m to Marginal Farmers in Cox’s Bazar
A total of Tk 5.3 million was distributed among the Tk 10 bank account holders of different Commercial Banks in Cox’s Bazar on Saturday as part of the Bangladesh Bank (BB)’s Financial Inclusion efforts. Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank A K M Fazlur Rahman distributed the cheques of loan money as the chief guest among 100 account holders of 28 commercial banks at a ceremony at the BIAM Foundation Auditorium. The loan was given from the re-financing fund of the Central Bank. Regional BRAC Bank Head of Chattogram Salah Uddin Hajari presided over the function. The BB arranged the loan distribution function under the supervision by BRAC Bank at the district town, the prime tourism hub of the country. Head of BRAC Bank SME Banking Department Sayed Abdul Momen, Manager of its Cox’s Bazar branch Ahmed Samshed Sultan Shaibal and Cox’s Bazar Press Club President Mahbubur Rahman also attended the programme and spoke. Branch Managers of 28 commercial banks in Cox’s Bazar were also present. Another aim of this loan distribution is to inspire them to open bank account and promote and expand the Tk 10 account opening programme.
SIBL for mobilizing low-cost deposits
Social Islami Bank Limited (SIBL) has put emphasis on mobilising low-cost deposit by bringing more unbanked people under its network through bolstering financial inclusion programmes across the country. Under the latest moves, the second generation private commercial bank (PCB) is set to strengthen its rural banking activities with expansion of agent banking and booth banking along with ATM booths in the coming days. Around 30 per cent people in Bangladesh are still excluded from formal financial system mainly due to the lack of banks’ dedication to offer diversified services, existing collateral-based system for loan disbursement, low level of financial literacy, and information asymmetry. They have already provided financial support to some 9443 ultra-poor families who had no access to any financial institutions previously. The central bank offered a special facility to loan defaulters on May 16, allowing them to reschedule loans by paying 2.0 per cent down payment for a maximum of 10 years. The SIBL started its journey on 22 November 1995 with only five branches. Now it has 159 branches that are set to cross 160 branches by the end of 2019.
Bank Asia to expand Agent Banking
Bank Asia Limited has planned to expand its agent banking initiative in each village of Bangladesh within the next five years, the bank’s top executive said on Sunday. The leading private commercial bank (PCB) has also decided to diversify its investment portfolios focusing retail and small and medium enterprises (SME) instead of corporate one in the next five years. Under the latest strategies, the investment in retail and SME will rise to 50 per cent of its total loans and advances during the period under review from the existing level of 35 per cent while the investment in corporate entities will come down to 50 per cent from the existing level of 65 per cent. The Bank Asia started its journey on November 27, 1999 to materialise the dream of a group of successful and renowned entrepreneurs of the country with a mission to assist in bringing high quality service to the customers and to participate in the growth and expansion of national economy, the MD explained. In 2014, the Bank Asia introduced agent banking services for the first time in Bangladesh aiming to help minimise the social inequality through empowering particularly the small and vulnerable income groups across the country. Bank Asia has already collected more than Tk 12 billion so far as low-cost deposit mostly from rural people through setting up 3317 agent banking points across the country.
United Commercial Bank handed over fire safety cushion
United Commercial Bank Limited handed over fire safety cushion on Sunday to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Prime Minister’s Office. Anisuzzaman Chowdhury, Executive Committee Chairman of UCB, Mohammed Shawkat Jamil, Managing Director handed over the equipment to the Prime Minister. Minister of Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan and Minister of Land Saifuzzaman Chowdhury were also present.
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