The government’s net borrowing from the banking sector turned negative in the first quarter of this financial year because of a surge in the net investment by clients in the national savings certificates and bonds. According to the latest Bangladesh Bank data, the government made no net borrowing from the banking sources in the July-September period of the FY 2016-17 but made net repayment of BDT 51.46 billion in the period. The BB data showed that the government borrowed BDT 41.96 billion from the BB in the first quarter of FY17 while it repaid the scheduled banks BDT 93.42 billion against its previous loans, making the government’s overall bank borrowing negative of BDT 51.46 billion. The government set a bank borrowing target of BDT 389.38 billion from the banking sector for FY17. The government’s net borrowing from the banking sector stood at only BDT 48.07 billion in FY17 against the annual borrowing target of BDT 385.23 billion because of a surge in the net investment in NSCs.
Bangladesh Bank has taken a decision to form a dedicated cyber security unit to tackle cyber related fraudulent acts in its information technology system. The executive management team of the central bank took the decision in its meeting in the last week of September, a BB official told New Age. He said that the central bank had taken the decision amid huge criticism from different corners after the country’s foreign exchange reserve heist, he said. The central bank’s new unit will monitor the security system of its information technology system, he said. The cyber security unit will also detect the loopholes of the central bank’s IT system, he said. The unit will play a role in strengthening the existing fire wall of the central bank’s information technology system so that the hackers will not be able to attack its (BB) system. ‘Seven to eight officials will be appointed in the new cell. The central bank will open the new unit in the shortest possible time’, he said.
Bangladesh government will pay £3.3m that the British regulator fined Sonali Bank in the United Kingdom for its failure to prevent money laundering, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith. “We will have to pay the fine within the stipulated time. Sonali Bank already appealed to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), but failed to avoid the fine,” he told journalists in Dhaka on his return from abroad yesterday. The UK operations of Bangladesh’s biggest bank, Sonali Bank have been banned from accepting deposits from any new customers for 24 weeks, reports BBC Online. The bank’s top anti-money laundering official, Steven Smith, has been banned from any similar job in banking. But its main business, remitting cash to people in Bangladesh, is unaffected. The FCA said the bank had failed to put anti-money laundering controls in place. Bangladesh government has 51% ownership in the bank. An FCA investigation found that the bank’s failure to operate proper controls against potential money laundering had taken place despite previous warnings from the regulator as long ago as 2010.
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission finds Bangladesh Bank draft guidelines conflict with securities rules
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission has observed that a provision in the Bangladesh Bank’s draft guidelines on external audit of banks is inconsistent with the exiting securities rules. The BSEC made the observation at a recent meeting with BB officials. According to the section 23(1) of the draft guidelines, before finalizing the audited financial statement (of a banking company), a tripartite meeting will be held among Bangladesh Bank, the bank concerned and the external auditor. A BSEC official said that the commission might raise the issue at a coordination meeting of the financial regulators including the BB scheduled to be held on Monday. The capital market regulator apprehends that the provision may create scope for leakage of price sensitive information and result in insider trading of bank shares.
Foreign funding to nongovernmental organisations through the NGO Affairs Bureau dropped 15 percent year-on-year in fiscal 2015-16 after the government took on a cautious approach on them. Last fiscal year, the NGO Affairs Bureau released $640.55 million in grants, down from $749.86 million a year earlier, according to a report. However, the total commitment made last fiscal year was $807.16 million, up 34 percent year-on-year. The government has bumped up its monitoring activities on the NGOs operating across the country, which may have impacted the overall donation sum, said a senior official of the bureau, which is run under the Prime Minister’s Office.
South Asia registered higher growth in the past three decades but it did not translate into enough job creation, needed for sustainable transformation of the region by 2030. “Employment is the key. Employment generation can both mobilise and create resources,” said Deepak Nayyar, chair of South Asia Centre for Policy Studies (SACEPS), India. Nayyar’s comments came in a keynote presented at a session on possible pathways for sustainable transformation of South Asian economy by 2030 at the two-day ninth South Asia Economic Summit, held at the Le Méridien hotel in Dhaka. The Centre for Policy Dialogue is jointly hosting this year’s conference — under the theme “Reimagining South Asia in 2030” — along with other leading think-tanks of the region. South Asia recorded rapid economic growth over the last couple of decades but the growth did not create adequate jobs. Surplus labour of agriculture was absorbed by the informal sectors, Nayyar said, citing a low level of employment generation in the manufacturing sector. “South Asia’s progress in industrialisation in disappointing,” he said, while citing Bangladesh as an exception.
Bangladesh’s economy is on a roll, even as its democracy weakens
The London-based Economist in its latest issue has published an article on Bangladesh, especially on the state of economy and politics. The full text is as follows: The last time a Chinese president visited Bangladesh, back in 1986, things were rather different. For one thing, he did not carry $40 billion in his pocket. This is the sum that government sources say Xi Jinping, China’s current leader, is bringing for a day-long stopover on October 14th, on his way to a summit of big developing countries in the Indian resort of Goa. Admittedly, the windfall will come in the form of loans for some 21 infrastructure projects including elevated expressways, railroads, bridges and power plants. But it is welcome all the same. Bangladesh, too, has changed a lot in 30 years. Even if its 160m people remain mostly poor, the country can no longer be dismissed as “the armpit of India”. Its GDP is growing by 7% a year, as fast as China’s, and by some social indicators it has overtaken its giant neighbour India. With a booming garment industry that now ranks second only to China’s in exports, plus some 10m diligent overseas workers sending money home, Bangladesh has enjoyed current-account surpluses for all but one of the past ten years.
Bangladesh, China agree ‘strategic partnership’: Ink 27 agreements, MoUs on trade, investment, capacity building
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed on Friday their firm resolve to work towards socio-economic advancement of the peoples of the two countries with Xi saying China-Bangladesh relationship is now at a new historical starting point, report agencies. They also agreed to expedite the process for establishing the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) economic corridor and increase communication and coordination on international and regional issues concerning shared interests. In their statements following official talks between the two leaders at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), they termed the visit of the Chinese president a ‘historic’ one to elevate the ‘closer compressive partnership of cooperation’ between the two nations to ‘strategic partnership for cooperation’. Xi said he had a very productive meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and reached agreements on a number of issues. He said the two countries agreed to elevate China-Bangladesh relationship from a closer comprehensive partnership of cooperation to strategic partnership of cooperation and to increase high level exchanges and strategic communications so that bilateral relations would continue to move ahead at a higher level.
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) has taken a move to release estimate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on a quarterly basis despite shortage of its technical manpower. Earlier, it took similar moves but later these failed mainly due to the same grounds. One such programme under the ADB-sponsored failed and another move under a big project named NSDS (National Strategy for the Development of the Statistics) was also unsuccessful. However, the BBS this time has prepared a project in this regard at a cost of BDT 160 million. People, familiar with the latest development, said If this move clicks, the national statistical organisation will be able to release the same from the first quarter (Q1) of the next financial year (2017-18). Currently, the national accounting wing, which measures the GDP on both production and expenditure methods, releases the estimate on a yearly basis. It prepares provisional data sometime in May each year based on data of major economic sectors. Then they take another one year for final GDP data.
Leading mobile operator Grameenphone has opposed the telecom regulator’s move to hold the allocation of GP’s new number series (013) before completing the ongoing regulatory audit on the operator. In a recent letter to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, the operator said that allocation of the new number series was no way related to the ongoing audit process. It also said that the BTRC audit process currently was on course but without new number series the operator would not be able to serve new subscribers after November this year. GP requested the regulator to reconsider its decision and to allow GP to use the new number series before the company runs out of new connection for subscribers.
Mobile phone operator Robi has applied to the telecom regulator seeking permission to pay its merger fee and merged spectrum price in four instalments over the next three years. In a separate letter, Robi also informed Bangladesh Telecommuni-cation Regulatory Commission that they will not acquire the entire 2G spectrum that Airtel is currently using in two different bands. The government has fixed Tk 100 crore as merger fee and Tk 33.8 crore as fee for each megahertz of Airtel’s 2G spectrum that the merged entity will use over the next four years. Currently, Airtel is using 15 MHz spectrum for 2G services. Of the spectrum, 10 MHz is on the 1,800 MHz band and 5MHz on the 900 MHz band. According to the government decision, if the merged entity decides to leave behind any spectrum it has to be from the 900 MHz band. In that case, Robi will have to pay a total of Tk 338 crore as spectrum fee along with the merger fee of Tk 100 crore.
Majority of realtors operate in Dhaka sans Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha
registration: Industry insiders fear rise of apartment-related frauds More than 86% of the real estate companies are operating in the capital without having mandatory registration from the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk). Non-compliance of the regulations concerned coupled with violation of the building code by these realtors pose a threat to safety of their structures and increase the risk for their clients being duped, industry insiders said. They said getting registered with Rajuk to operate in the capital has been made mandatory, but most of the operators avoid registration and continuously violate the national building code. Such irregularities also feared to have put the process of planned urbanisation initiative at stake. Urban planners and industry insiders blamed a sort of deceiving mentality of some realtors, harassment by a section of Rajuk officials and poor enforcement of laws for the violations. According to an estimate, at least 2,639 companies are in operations in the capital. Of them, 1,139 members of Real Estate & Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB). Only 360 of them have got registration so far, according to Rajuk, showing that even the REHAB members were not complying with the regulations.
India-based Bajaj Auto Limited, a leading three-wheeler manufacturing company has partnered with Runner Automobiles Ltd for marketing 3-wheeler passenger and cargo categories with alternate fuels like LPG and diesel in December 2016, said a statement. The introduction of Qute, the latest offering of Bajaj, would cater to the commuting needs. With this defining agreement with Bajaj, Runner would be expanding into 3 & 4 wheeler mobility segment of automobiles. On this association, Mr. Manish Singh Rathore, General Manager (International Business) said, “Bajaj would be introducing 3-Wheeler CLPG in passenger and Diesel in Passenger & Cargo) along with 4-Wheeled Qute in Bangladesh market through Runner in December 2016. Both Qute & 3-Wheeler would provide added mobility options to Bangladesh Customers. Qute- a safe, smart, fuel efficient, environmental friendly and compact mobility solution on 4 wheels is already present in 20 countries. With its unique design, it would cater to consumer travel needs on highways as well as in dense traffic conditions, especially in metro cities like Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna etc.” Mr. Mukesh Sharma, Managing Director & CEO, Runner Automobiles Ltd. also mentioned “Runner would, in a phased manner, create a complete ecosystem for distribution & servicing of 3-wheelers & Qute, pan Bangladesh. These products would be competitively priced and would come with customized financing packages for various segment of customers.”
Chevron to sell majority of stakes in BD operations
US energy giant Chevron intends to sell majority of its stakes in Bangladesh operations by retaining the operatorship on all three of its onshore gas fields following dip in global energy price, said officials. The company is already in talks with several potential buyers over its planned sale of Bangladesh stakes but yet to reach any deal in this regard, a senior official of Petrobangla, the state-owned supervising authority of Chevron’s operations in Bangladesh’s oil and gas sector, seeking anonymity told the FE. He, however, could not say what would be the exact portion of stake that Chevron Bangladesh intends to sell out. The Petrobangla official said he was informed about this issue from a senior Chevron Bangladesh official when he inquired about the company’s future plan regarding the Bangladesh operations. Chevron Bangladesh’s spokesperson was not available for comment on this issue. According to the existing agreements between Chevron Bangladesh and Petrobangla, the US-based company won’t be able to sell or handover its stakes to any company without prior approval from Petrobangla, said Istiaque Ahmad, Chairman of Petrobangla, to the FE.
During his visit, Kim will meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, along with other senior government officials, for broad ranging discussions on the country’s development progress and explore opportunities to deepen the World Bank’s engagement, said the bank in a statement yesterday. Jim Yong Kim is the fifth World Bank president to visit Bangladesh. He will also meet with civil society representatives and private sector leaders. He will visit several World Bank-supported projects. Kim will join a public event to mark End Poverty Day to celebrate Bangladesh’s achievements in lifting more than 20 million people out of poverty in less than two decades with its strong economic performance, innovative work with the poor, job creation by the private sector, consistent investment in human development, and effective disaster management.
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