Country’s scheduled banks cut their rates of interest on lending further in August, for the 20th month in a row, against the backdrop of the businesses’ persistent reluctance to borrow from banks due to a sluggish business situation, said Bangladesh Bank officials. BB data showed that the weighted average interest rate on lending in the banking sector declined to 10.2% in August from 10.3% in July. The weighted average rate on lending was 10.4% in June, 10.6% in May, 10.6% in April, 10.8% in March, 10.9% in February and 11.1% in January of this year. The rate had declined throughout last year. From 12.3% in January 2015, it had dropped to 11.2% in December 2015. The banking sector was forced to lower the lending rates due to a sluggish credit demand from the businesspeople due to the existing dull business, a BB official told New Age on Thursday. The BB data showed that the weighted average interest rate on deposit of the banks also decreased to 5.4% in August from 5.5% in July. The BB official said that the majority of the banks had recently cut their interest rates both on deposits and lending in the face of dull business. The country’s businesspeople have been adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach for long in regards to expanding their business by taking bank loans due to the sluggish business trend amid political uncertainty and vulnerable law and orders situation, he said. Due to the lower credit demand from the industrial sector, banks are now having huge excess liquidity that has forced them to rush to invest in government treasury bills and bonds.
Bangladeshi exporters to the UK are starring at another round of price cuts due to the freefall of pound sterling against the US dollar over Brexit issues. The currency fell off a cliff on Thursday to strike a 31-year low of $1.1841 before rebounding to upwards of $1.2439 on Friday, according to the AFP. The UK is the third largest export destination for Bangladesh after the US and Germany, accounting for 11.13 percent of the total shipments. In fiscal 2015-16, Bangladesh exported $3.80 billion worth of goods to the UK, registering a 6.01 percent year-on-year growth, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. Of the total shipments to the UK in a year, 80 percent are garment items. And because of a sizeable Bangladeshi community in Britain, there is high demand for local fruits and vegetables as well. The freefall of the pound means the British consumers will have to pay more for the same basket of goods, so they can cut back on their expenditure. This can prompt British retailers to demand price cuts from exporters to maintain the demand at home.
Syndicated loans have emerged as a good tool for banks to reduce the risk of loan defaults by borrowers, as financing by multiple lenders helps spread out credit risk, said a survey by Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management (BIBM). The survey finds that only 0.64 percent of syndicated loans are classified compared to 10.06 percent of bank loans; the percentage of rescheduling of syndicated loans is also low. “The good performance of syndicated loans might be a result of rigorous scrutiny at pre-sanction and monitoring by multiple banks at post-sanction,” said BIBM Supernumerary Professor Helal Ahmed Chowdhury, presenting a draft paper on loan syndication in Bangladesh, at a research workshop at BIBM office. The survey was conducted among the banks and financial institutions, where 62 percent of banks and 37.5 percent of non-bank financial institutions responded, said Chowdhury, co-author of the paper, at the programme. Two assistant professors of BIBM Atul Chandra Pandit and Md Ruhul Amin, BIBM Lecturer Md Abdul Halim and Prime Bank Deputy Managing Director Md Touhidul Alam Khan also contributed to the study, the first ever on loan syndication in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has moved to take action against 22 merchant banks which failed to manage any initial public offering in two calendar years. The decision came from a recently held commission meeting, a BSEC official said. Under the move, the commission will issue second spell of show-cause notices to the merchant banks, he said. The commission came up with the move to give some more time for the entities and to find any progresses of the institutions to comply with BSEC rules, the BSEC official said. If there is no progress, commission will step forward in taking enforcement action against the entities, he said. Apart from the rules violation, bringing quality IPOs through the institutions was another reason behind the BSEC move, he said. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission (Merchant Banker and Portfolio Manager) Rules, 1996, under the registration certificate conditions a merchant bank must furnish at least one issue to the commission in two calendar years for bringing it to the capital market. Another BSEC official said that the commission took the move as fund raising by businesses witnessed a sharp decline in the just concluded fiscal year. A DSE report showed that fund raising from the capital market through IPOs declined by 34.3%, or BDT 4.5 billion, in the fiscal year 2015-16 compared with that in the previous fiscal year. As per the statistics, 11 companies raised BDT 8.6 billion through IPOs in FY16 while 16 companies had collected BDT 13.1 billion from the market in the same process in FY15.
ADB, Citi to facilitate up to $100m to microfinance sector
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Citi will together facilitate up to US$100 million of local currency loans to microfinance institutions in developing Asia as the Microfinance programme has supported more than two million microfinance borrowers, primarily in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia, reports BSS. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has entered into an agreement with Citi in this regard under the Microfinance Risk Participation and Guarantee programme, said an ADB release. Backed by ADB’s AAA credit rating, the Microfinance programme provides risk sharing and guarantees to international and local partner financial institutions. Since 2012, the Microfinance programme has supported more than two million microfinance borrowers in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. More than $200 million private sector co-financing has been raised so far through the programme.
About 63 percent of the remediation works in the Alliance-affiliated garment factories have been completed until yesterday. The disclosure came in the third annual report of the Alliance, which was published yesterday. The Alliance, a platform of 29 North American retailers, was formed after the Rana Plaza building collapse in April 2013. The association has been inspecting 765 of the garment factories from which its members source to fix three specific flaws, including structural, electrical and fire. Currently, the Alliance is focusing on the most critical repairs, which also happen to be the costliest and most time-consuming for factories to achieve, such as installation of fire doors, reinforcement of structural beams and columns and installation of sprinkler systems. Some 55 percent of the high-priority remediation works are complete.
The country’s exports in the first quarter of the current fiscal year grew by 4.1% to USD 8.1 billion compared to that of the corresponding period of FY 2015-16, according to the provisional data of the Export Promotion Bureau. Export earnings stood at USD 7.8 billion during the same period of last fiscal. The earnings, however, fell short of the target by 9.7% set for the July-September of 2016-17 fiscal, it showed. Merchandise shipment in September 2016 also fell by 5.6% to USD 2.2 billion from USD 2.4 billion in the same month of 2015. Officials and exporters attributed the long Eid vacation last month to the slow growth. Export earnings from readymade garments including knit and woven in July-September period of the fiscal 2016-17 grew by 3.5% to USD 6.7 billion from USD 6.4 billion in the same period of last fiscal, according to provisional data. The earnings from readymade garment exports were 9.3% lower that the target of USD 7.3 billion set by the government for the first quarter of the current fiscal. Earnings from home textile export fell by 2.5% to USD 156.4 million in July-September period which was USD 160.5 million in the corresponding period of last fiscal. Jute and jute goods recorded 1.0% negative growth to USD 204.5 million in the July-September period of FY 2016-17 from USD 26.6 million in the same period of FY16. Earnings from leather and leather products exports in the first quarter of current fiscal grew by 16.7% to USD 319.1 million which was USD 273.4 million in the same period of last fiscal, according to data. Leather footwear export increased by 22.8% to USD 158.4 million during the July-September period of current fiscal year. Frozen and live fish exports grew by 13.9% to USD 136.7 million which was USD 120.1 million in the same period of last fiscal.
Downturn in garment export to US: Growth drops below 1.0%
Growth in Bangladesh’s apparel export to the United States dropped below 1.0% during the first eight months of the current calendar year over the corresponding period of 2015. According to sources in business circles, sluggish economic recovery in the country’s single-largest shipment destination-the US market-is largely to blame for the slowdown in the export growth. A growing competition by other exporters, particularly Vietnam, for the market share and denial of duty-free and quota-free access for Bangladeshi apparels are also seen as deterrents. The country’s exports grew by 0.9% to USD 3.7 billion while it’s one of the main competitors, Vietnam, posted a 3.0% growth to USD 7.3 billion during January-August period of 2016. The trade scenario came clear from data of Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA), a concern of the US Department of Commerce. Export earnings grew by 11.0% in January and 8.5% from January to February in 2016, the data revealed. Exports of the country’s non-apparel items, including shrimp and plastic products, also declined. The turnover amounted to USD 142.2 million during the January-August period, accounting for a negative 6.88% growth. On the other hand, Chinese apparel exports also witnessed a negative growth of 7.7% to USD 18.3 billion during the same period of this year. Meanwhile, the RMG exports of India slightly maintained the growth by 0.1% to USD 2.6 billion while Cambodia’s declined by 14.8% to USD 1.4 billion during the same period.
Petroleum import costs to soar as Bangladesh buys cleaner fuel from January
The country’s petroleum import costs are set to increase from next year as the government has decided to buy cleaner fuel from January 2017 to ensure safe and clean environment and check air pollution, said officials. State-owned Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) would import only cleaner diesel from January 2017 as it would stop taking delivery of lower grade diesel from Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) after December this year, a senior BPC official said. The BPC has estimated that importing the lower sulfur diesel might lead to higher import costs to the extent of around 40-60 cents per barrel. Diesel is the most-consumed petroleum product in Bangladesh. The BPC imports around 3.0-3.5 million tonnes (mt) of diesel a year, which is around 60% of total oil imports, to meet its mounting demand in transport sector, power plants, irrigation and industries. The BPC spent around BDT 150.0 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2015-2016 to import around 4.76 million mt of petroleum products, crude and refined oil combined, which was 44.44% less than the costs of petroleum products of the previous FY 2014-15, BPC statistics revealed. The downward trend of oil prices in the international market, coupled with lower volume of oil imports, helped slash the BPC’s oil import costs over the past one year, said the BPC official.
BPC moves to assess actual liquid fuel consumption: Seeks data from NBR on private import of fuels
The state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has moved to assess the country’s actual energy consumption by compiling private sector’s import data following suspected clandestine sourcing of fuels. Currently, the corporation does not have any data of private-sector import of energy products and condensate. Recently, it sought last two years’ import data of all types of energy products from the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to know how much the private-sector businesses import. The ministry forwarded the letter to the NBR for taking necessary steps regarding the matter of energy trade. On the search list are data of energy product imports, including furnace oil, diesel, and condensate, for 2014-15 and 2015-16, names of importing companies, names of energy products, volume of products in tones and time of import. Also, the letter says, the BPC is facing difficulty in finding out actual production of condensate by the plant owners as it does not have import data of condensate by local private refinery owners. As per law, filling stations have to procure fuel oils from BPC. There is an allegation that some of the gas stations, agents and packed dealers have nexus with the private-sector refineries. They are supplying adulterated fuel oils in the country.
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