Important Business News Extracts – October 04, 2017
Interest rates on bank deposits increase
Interest rates on bank deposits increased further following higher credit growth particularly in private sector, officials said, citing latest disclosure. The weighted average interest rate on deposits rose to 4.93 per cent in August 2017 from 4.89 percent in July, according to the central bank’s statistics released Tuesday. The rising trend in deposit rates recorded in the last couple of months after the containing of fall since January 2015, when weighted average interest rate on deposits was 7.26 per cent. “We expect that the upward trend in the interest rate on deposits will continue in the coming months,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE. Most banks receive deposits offering higher interest rates to increase their deposit growth more than that of credits, the central banker explained. Currently, bank deposits recorded slower growth than that of credits as depositors feel discouraged from keeping their money with the banks mainly due to rock-bottom interest rates.
BB rejects City request to set up subsidiary in HK
Bangladesh Bank has declined to give City Bank the permission to set up a subsidiary company in Hong Kong given the declining imports from the Asian nation. The private bank in its application in October last year said it would provide trade financing amongst other services to its clients. It also requested the central bank to allow it to transfer HKD 6.16 million (equivalent to Tk 6.46 crore) to Hong Kong for setting up the company, to be named City Overseas Finance. Upon receiving City’s application, the central bank made an assessment to see whether the proposed venture would be viable or not. The BB report found that Bangladesh’s import from Hong Kong has been on the descent for the last one decade.
Dhaka Bank inks term sheet with Chandpur Power Gen
Dhaka Bank Limited signed a Term Sheet with Chandpur Power Generations Limited – a concern of Doreen Group for arrangement of Syndicated Term Loan of USD 65.00 million Monday at the Corporate Office of the bank. Dhaka Bank Limited is the ‘Mandated Lead Arranger’ and ‘Agent’ for this transaction. Chandpur Power Generations Limited is a proposed 115 MW (net) HFO-based power plant to be implemented at Chandpur on Build, Own and Operate (‘BOO’) basis with an approximate Project Cost of USD 85.00 million equivalent to BDT 6,800.00 million. Mr. Tahzeeb Alam Siddique, Managing Director of Chandpur Power Generations Limited and Mr. Syed Mahbubur Rahman, Managing Director of Dhaka Bank Limited signed the agreement on behalf of their respective companies.
Capital shortfall cripples commercial operation of Probashi Kallyan Bank
An initiative taken by the government to start the commercial operation of Probashi Kallyan Bank (PKB), a state-owned specialised bank, has seen no visible progress mainly due to lack of required paid-up capital, officials said. In this regard, Bank and Financial Institutions Division (BFID) wants to hold an urgent meeting with the finance division, the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment and Wage Earners Welfare Board, they added. BFID has sent a brief summary to the finance division requesting it for taking necessary steps to arrange a meeting on the paid-up capital of the bank. A senior PKB official said the paid-up capital of the bank is Tk 1.0 billion. In 2015, the government approved a proposal for raising the paid-up capital of the bank from Tk 1.0 billion to Tk 4.0 billion after issuing a gazette. About Tk 3.0 billion (300 crore) additional paid-up capital for the bank switching over to scheduled operation is urgently needed. For this, commercial operation of the bank is delayed, a PKB source said. According to the decision taken in a meeting held in March 2017, the finance division will take necessary steps to arrange Tk 2.50 billion and Wage Earners Welfare Board (WEWB) will provide Tk 500 million as paid-up capital.
Southeast Bank Limited signed an agreement with Apollo Hospitals
Southeast Bank Limited recently signed an agreement with Apollo Hospitals Dhaka. Under this agreement, Southeast Bank Credit Cardholders can avail up to 25 per cent discount and 36 months EMI (Equal Monthly Installment) facility for their various medical services. SM Mainuddin Chowdhury, Additional Managing Director, Southeast Bank Limited seen on the occasion.
Portal for customs clearance for export, import on way
The government is set to establish an electronic portal that brings all government agencies dealing with exports and imports under one platform, the National Board of Revenue said yesterday. To be termed the National Single Window, the portal will ensure faster processing of trade-related documents and clearance, which will facilitate faster and increased cross-border trade, the revenue authority said. “Businesses will be benefited from the establishment of the National Single Window as all the government departments will come under one umbrella,” said MA Mannan, state minister for finance and planning. Mannan’s comments came at the inauguration of a four-day workshop at Grand Sultan Tea Resort & Golf at Sreemangal in Sylhet, organised by the NBR and the World Customs Organisation. NBR Chairman Md Nojibur Rahman said it would be tough to implement the window without ensuring effective coordination among the revenue authority, commerce, finance and planning, food, industries, agriculture ministries and the other related departments. “Participation from businesses is also important,” he said. An NSW allows a single point of entry for submission of data and information, re-use of data and information to avoid repeated keying-in of data, single synchronous processing of data and information and quick and easy release and clearance of cargo.
ASA, the second largest micro-lender by customer numbers, has set a target to disburse Tk 31,500 crore in the current fiscal year. The money would be lent among eight million clients, the microfinance institution said in a statement yesterday. The decision was taken at the organisation’s 38th annual general meeting in its headquarters in Dhaka on September 28. The meeting also approved a budgetary allocation of Tk 40 crore to implement non-financial programmes, which comprise primary healthcare, primary education strengthening, physiotherapy, sanitation, and hygiene. The lender also took decisions to expand the coverage of the non-financial programmes in the coming years to provide access to a large segment of disadvantaged people of the country.
Moving from development finance to climate finance
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declared her intention to make Bangladesh graduate from being a Least Developed Country (LDC) within the next few years and the government has already formally notified the United Nations of this intent. LDC is a UN-recognised category that brings with it certain privileges such as access to grants and low-interest loan funding under Official Development Assistance (ODA) from the developed countries. Bangladesh, as an LDC, has been getting several billion US dollars each year in such concessional ODA either through low-interest loans from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank or as grants from bilateral donors such as UK, Germany, USA, Denmark, European Commission and others. Once we graduate from the LDC status, into lower-middle-income status, we will no longer be eligible to receive these concessional ODA funds and will have to take loans on open-market interest terms. This means that we need to start planning for this transition straight away. Below are some ways in which we can plan to cope with the time without ODA and possibly replace it with climate finance.
Corporate solutions to help create a supportive ecosystem
Citi Bangladesh and Sri Lanka participated in the Belt and Road Infrastructure Conferencein Hong Kong recently with over 200 key stakeholders across Asia. The initiative was organised in collaboration with the Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA) and the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO) of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). Citi was a key sponsor of the event. The conference focused on the infrastructure and financing requirements of the Belt and Road. Such financing will certainly help create a supportive ecosystem for an inclusive development in the area, said a statement. Citi’s capabilities across the Belt and Road include areas such as corporate and investment banking, treasury and trade solutions, lending, hedging, capital markets and advisory services. During the conference, Citi presented country overviews and underlined the opportunities for countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to benefit from the Belt and Road and the bank’s ability to serve clients in 58 of the 65 Belt and Road markets.
The government has allowed two private refiners to export a total of 57,273 tonnes of sugar this fiscal year, according to commerce ministry officials. The nod for sugar export comes at a time when the state-run Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC) is importing the sweetener on behalf of the government to boost public stock such that it can intervene in the market in case of a price spiral in the domestic market. BSFIC had initially invited bids for the purchase and received four, two of which were from local refiners. London-based ED&F Man Sugar Limited finally got the contract with the lowest offer, $470 per tonne. City Group of Industries, which owns the country’s largest sugar refinery, got the permission to export a total of 50,000 tonnes of refined sugar and Deshbandhu Sugar 7,273 tonnes until June 30, 2018. “We have given permission so that the refiners can utilise their production capacities, which are higher than the domestic requirement for sugar,” said a senior official of the commerce ministry. The private millers have enough stock of sugar, so the export will not hamper supply in the domestic market, he added.
Prices of building materials register significant rise
The prices of key construction materials, including steel rods and bricks, have marked a significant rise in the recent times, triggering anxiety among the realtors, sector insiders have said. They said the price of rods has constantly been increasing for last several months mainly due to high cost of raw materials. Congestion of cargoes at Chittagong seaport, increased transport cost and disruptions in gas supply to some steel mills were also responsible for the price hike, they added. Talking to the FE, traders at the old Dhaka said the price of rods increased by a range between Tk 4,000 and Tk 5,000 per tonne in last three to four months. Sonjoy Chowdhury, proprietor of Metro Traders at Nawab Yousuf Road, said the cost of raw materials is on the rise for last couple of months despite sluggishness in demand. “The millers have constantly been raising the price since May. That’s why we have to sell at higher price,” he added.
The sale of private cars witnessed a significant rise over the last few years, thanks to easy access to automobile loans with low interests, reports BSS. A total of 20,304 new cars have been registered with Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) in 2016 that means over 55 cars hit the streets every day, according to the latest official data. BRTA said 21,062 new cars got registration in 2015 while 14,699 in 2014. “We’ve has already given registration to 16,160 cars in the first eight months (January-August) in 2017,” a BRTA official told the news agency. The number of total private passenger cars in the country is 3,24,701 and that of these cars, 2,55,622 are in Dhaka metropolitan area, according to the data of BRTA updated in August 2017. “People, especially the mid-ranking office executives, can take car loans easily from banks. So, they are purchasing cars to make their journey hassle-free,” said the BRTA official. Responding to the question why the number of cars taking registration in Dhaka is higher compared to the other cities, another BRTA official said many car owners from other areas of the country take registration from Dhaka to get high price at the time of resale. “We are offering auto loans with lucrative interest rates. The loans are processed quickly for both new and reconditioned cars,” said Additional Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of Mutual Trust Bank (MTB) M Hashem Chowdhury.
Bangladeshi youth icon and social entrepreneur Minhaj Chowdhury has won the first-ever “Under 30 Impact Challenge” at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Boston in the US. Minhaj, cofounder and CEO of Drinkwell, aspires to bring positive changes to the world and is doing just that, as his firm offers a lifeline to a quarter million people by providing them with more than a million litres of safe drinking water in Bangladesh and India, a region where drinking water supply is often contaminated with arsenic, fluoride and iron. “Let me tell you about my day. Flew into Boston straight from Dhaka last night to participate in the Forbes Under 30 $500,000 Impact Challenge this morning while still jetlagged,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “20 minutes after the pitch I learn that WE WON! We’ll be receiving a growth investment from TPG Rise Fund, a $2 billion fund co-managed by Bono of U2 whose funders include Richard Branson of the Virgin Group! “What a way to start the next stage of growth for Drinkwell — SO PROUD OF MY AMAZING TEAM!!!” Drinkwell has also created employment for 500 people, and in 2015 Minhaj was selected in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, Forbes said in a report on Monday.
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