BDT 1,137.0 billion loans regularized to overcome post-poll meltdown
The country’s banking sector has regularized a total of BDT 1,137.0 billion from July 2013 to December 2015 during political turmoil following the national poll held on January 5, 2013. Of the total amount, banks have rescheduled BDT 823.9 billion and restructured BDT 313.8 billion. Of the rescheduled amount, a loan of BDT 300.0 billion were regularized taking the advantage of relaxed policy while BDT 522.4 billion in compliance with the rescheduling policy. Bangladesh Bank observed that the recovery of rescheduled loans under the relaxed policy was unsatisfactory. In this perspective, banks have been asked to take necessary measures to strengthen recovery process. At the same time the central bank forwarded the observation report to its inspection department to investigate into the loans that were rescheduled taking the policy advantage. Earlier, BB relaxed its loan rescheduling policy in December 2013 to support businesses to overcome shock caused by political turmoil. Though the policy advantage expired on June 2014, the central bank continued to allow rescheduling under its relaxed policy till December that year in the face of pressure from business people. Moreover in January 2015, it introduced another formula for large loan restructuring which expired in June that year. Only default loans worth over BDT 5.0 billion were enrolled with the special package.
Bangladesh Bank doesn’t favor shipbuilding fund on inflation fear
Bangladesh Bank (BB) is not favor of creating the proposed BDT 50.0 billion fund for the country’s shipbuilding industry as it fears the allocation will fuel inflation. Recently, Banking Regulation and Policy Department of the central bank has given its opinion on the proposed fund to the Banking and financial institutions division (BFID) under finance ministry. Earlier, the division had sought opinion from the central bank on the feasibility of forming such fund. The Association of Export Oriented Shipbuilding Industries of Bangladesh has long been demanding the creation a 20-year re-financing fund at 5.0% rate of interest. Such fund may be created from the government’s budget and from the BB’s own source. But any kind of loan provided by the BB expands reserve money, which affects inflation, according to the BB opinion letter signed by Abu Farah Md. Naser, general manager of Banking Regulation and Policy Department of central bank. The letter noted that providing a long term fund from the BB is not consistent with its latest monetary policy. It is less likely to increase inflation in the economy if such fund is provided from the government source. The country could earn BDT 20.0 billion annually from exporting ships if the sector gets bank loan on easier terms, according to sector insiders. At present, the industry employs more than 100,000 people and its value addition exceeds 40.0%.
Transactions through mobile financial service (MFS) dropped 4.0 per cent to about Tk 574.5 billion in the third quarter (July to September) of this year as compared to Tk. 598.42 billion of the previous quarter, according to latest statistics of Bangladesh Bank. Industry insiders attributed the decline to seasonal effects like post-Eid transaction phenomenon and market saturation. Major MFS operators echoed the same view, saying the festival periods are usually accompanied by a fluctuating period in mobile financial transactions. However, the year 2016 witnessed an erratic growth trend in the services as it declined 1.05 per cent in February, followed by a fall of 0.18 per cent in April, before falling for two months in the last quarter. The transactions witnessed a sharp fall of 23.8 per cent in July and 4.29 per cent in September. This is also for the first time in almost three years that MFS witnessed two monthly declines in a single quarter. Since starting of its journey in 2013, bkash has been expanding its network up to the grassroots level and their services are currently made available from around 35,000 merchant shops across the country. According to BB figures, daily average turnover through MFS decreased from Tk. 7.7 billion against 4.15 million transactions in June this year to about Tk. 6.5 billion against 3.9 million transactions in September. A total of 18 banks are currently providing MFS services in Bangladesh through 641,110 agents as in September this year.
It is no secret that the country’s banking sector faces a disconcerting situation. Much of the blame for this untidy state of affairs, now prevailing in the sector, goes to the state-owned banks. The sector regulator, the Bangladesh Bank (BB) in this case, the government, the sponsor-directors of a good number of private banks and the top management of both private and public sector banks, all have their contributions to the mess in the sector. The Anti-corruption Commission (ACC), which has lately been filing cases against many former and serving bankers and rounding up a number of them, has tried to provide a few solutions to the banking sector problems in its Annual Report for 2015. The Commission handed over the report the other day to the President of the Republic. The ACC has put forward three major recommendations that, it felt, might help improve the situation in the banking sector. The recommendations are: (a) formation of the boards of directors of banks with a greater number of professionals; (b) introduction of right kind of oversight mechanism and (c) materialisation of structural reforms, if necessary. The third recommendation would come first for implementation if anyone is really interested in putting into effect the remaining two.
Some life-insurance firms are not investing in government securities despite their legal obligation to buy the same. People familiar with the development said the insurers are “violating” the rules possibly because of low yields from government bills and bonds. Such non-compliance by the insurers may affect the policyholders’ interests at maturity, the sources at the insurance regulator told the FE Tuesday. They said the life firms have a shortfall of Tk 14 billion, as of 2015, in terms of their investment in government securities. Against this backdrop, the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) has called to its headquarters the officials of six such life firms to hear from them on the matter today (Wednesday). The firms are Fareast Islami Life, Padma Islami, Golden Life, Prime Islami, Soanali Life and BAIRA Life. Documents of the regulator show that their investment in the securities ranges between less than 1.0 per cent and 25 per cent. According to the government rules issued in 2004, the life firms have to invest 30 per cent of their funds in government securities (treasury bills and bonds). They have to invest 30 per cent in mutual funds out of the remains 70 per cent of the fund. Some 30 per cent can be invested in ordinary shares of the listed companies and 2.5 per cent in IPOs/and pre-IPOs. The insurance firms are allowed to invest 20 per cent in property, according to the government rules. They can invest 50 per cent of the 70 per cent in time deposits (FDR) and 10 per cent in mortgages. Some insiders in the insurance industry said the yields from government treasury bills and bonds had been on the decline in recent years-going down by 2.0-3.0 per cent on average in recent months.
Mutual Trust Bank celebrated its 17th founding anniversary at a ceremony held at the bank’s corporate head office at the MTB Centre at Gulshan in Dhaka recently. MTB chairman MA Rouf, vice-chairman Md Hedayetullah and Bangladesh’s first finance secretary Matiul Islam cut a cake on the occasion.
First Security Islami Bank Limited celebrated its 17th anniversary at a ceremony held at the FSIBL head office in Dhaka on Tuesday. The bank is providing Shariah-based modern banking services to clients since its inception. The bank has 155 branches, 122 ATM network throughout the country and providing online banking, internet banking, SMS banking, mobile banking, agent banking and school banking services.
The latest official statistics put the economic growth rate of Bangladesh at 7.11 per cent in the last fiscal.
The government count revealed Tuesday that the economy broke out of a 6.0 per cent ‘growth trap’ rolling over the past decade. Besides, the country’s per-capita income (Gross National Income-GNI) also increased to US$1,465 in the financial year (FY) 2015-16 from $1,316 in the previous fiscal, FY2015, the government statistics showed. Earlier, the BBS in the last quarter of the past FY2016 had released a preliminary GDP growth estimation at 7.05 per cent. In the last national budget for FY16, the government had set a target of GDP growth at 7.0 per cent. According to BBS’s final calculations, the country’s GDP growth was led by the industrial sector as it expanded at 11.09 per cent rate in the last fiscal. In the previous FY2015, the growth of the industrial sector was recorded at 9.67 per cent. Besides, the growth in the agriculture section was recorded at 2.79 per cent, a 0.54 percentage point lower than the previous FY. The growth in the service sector was recorded at 6.25 per cent, a 0.45 percentage point lower than 5.80 per cent in the FY2015, the planning minister told the media. Bangladesh’s economy had fallen into a ‘6.0 per cent growth trap’ since FY2004 as it could not cross the six-per cent trajectory in last one decade. In FY2004, the country’s GDP expanded at 6.2 per cent from 5.26 per cent in the previous FY2003. Thereafter, it had maintained over 6.0 per cent growth, but below 7.0 per cent, almost every year over the last one decade. The government in the current FY2017 has set a target of 7.5 per cent GDP growth.
The government received US$501 million concessional foreign aid in the first quarter (Q1) of the current financial year (FY) 2016-17, almost similar amount during the same period of last FY2015-16. In July-September of the last FY2016, the multi-lateral and bilateral donors disbursed $502.24 million foreign assistance. The development partners including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Japanese JICA, the UK’s DFID and the Islamic Development Bank disburse concessional aid every year for development of Bangladesh. Meanwhile, the development partners made a commitment of $12.03 billion loans and grants during the July-September period of the current FY2017, thanks to Russia for its single $11.38 billion loan commitment for the nuclear power plant. In the corresponding period of last FY2016, the commitment of foreign assistance was only $52.83 million, which was entirely grant, the data showed. During the first quarter of the past FY2016, the development partners had not disbursed any loan, which made the aid inflow account of the government poor. Out of the $12.03 billion aid commitments, the donors confirmed $12.0 billion as loan while the rest $27.88 million as grant. The ERD data Tuesday showed the government repaid $232.14 million interest and principals for its total outstanding loans in Q1 of the current FY2017. In the same period of last FY2016, some $237.70 million interest and principals of the outstanding loan was repaid, the statistics showed. Meanwhile, the government received a total of $3.45 billion foreign assistance in the last FY2016.
Muhith for massive reforms for attaining far higher goals
Setting his sights high on a robust 7.3 per cent GDP growth this passing fiscal year, Finance Minister AMA Muhith Tuesday underscored massive reforms for attaining far higher national goals. Speaking at a meeting with a delegation of Awami League leaders from the United Kingdom and Europe units at his secretariat office, he said the country’s economic growth now reached nearly 7.0 per cent and “I don’t see any difficulties in raising it to 8.0 to 9.0 per cent”. The gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the fiscal year 2015-16 in a final calculation climbed to 7.11 per cent, higher than the previous projection at 7.05 per cent. Focusing on macroeconomic scenarios he said the spending in the first three months of the current fiscal year was good and many of the ministries and divisions exceeded their targets. Pointing at a major reform needed to give a further boost to the efforts for attaining higher national goals.
The One House One Farm project, which aims to lift people out of the poverty trap by 2020, has been revised for the third time and its fund increased by Tk 4,848 crore. The project, which will be completed by 2020, has been assigned Tk 8,010 crore at yesterday’s meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council. The project was taken up in 2009 at a cost of Tk 1,197 crore. Later in 2013, its allocation was revised upwards to Tk 3,162 crore. About one lakh beggars of the country will be brought under the project and given financial assistance, which necessitated a revision of costs. The project also aims to include those who have already come out of extreme poverty, aiming to improve their current financial condition. Besides, the number of the beneficiaries from the project will also be increased. The project will continue until the three crore people are lifted out of poverty level. HIn four to five years there will be no people in extreme poverty in Bangladesh. The beneficiaries of these projects will become members of Palli Sanchay Bank in phases. One House One Farm project and Palli Sanchay Bank will work in tandem.
ECNEC approves 10 projects including revised ‘One House One Farm’ project
The executive committee of the National Economic Council on Tuesday approved the 3rd revision of the ‘One House One Farm’ project raising its cost by Tk 6,813.27 crore, aiming to reduce the country’s poverty rate to 10 per cent by the year 2020. The approval came from the 10th ECNEC meeting of the current fiscal year held at the Prime Minister’s Office with prime minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Briefing reporters after the meeting at the NEC-2 in the city, planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said a total of 10 projects were approved today with an estimated cost of Tk 9,443.64 crore and thee entire fund will come from the national exchequer. The Rural Development and Cooperatives Division under the Ministry of LGRD will implement the 3rd Revision of the ‘One House One Farm’ project by June 2020 with an estimated cost of Tk 8010.27 crore. The project will be implemented at 40950 wards under 4550 unions in 490 upazilas of 64 districts of the country.
BTRC to hold public hearing on telecom companies’ service quality on Nov 22
The telecom regulator has decided to hold a public hearing on November 22 in a bid to get the subscribers’ perspective on various service quality benchmark of mobile phone companies. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission officials said initially the hearing was scheduled for second week of October but as some commission high-ups were abroad on official duty at that time, the hearing was postponed. They said the commission move came after the regulator received huge complaints from the subscribers about the complexities and loopholes of different internet service-packs and call rate offers. ‘The main talking point at the public hearing will be quality of internet and voice service along with the customer care experiences of the subscribers of different operators,’ a senior BTRC official told New Age. He said after finalizing the venue, BTRC will publish advertisement to make the subscribers aware about the hearing. Earlier in February, BTRC held a public hearing about the proposed merger of mobile operators Robi and Airtel. In January 2014, BTRC issued its first QoS directive following a trend of increasing call drop, poor network coverage and unsatisfactory customer care support. According to a report presented at 17th South Asian Regulators’ Council, it was showed that the country had achieved half of the targets it had set to ensure the quality of service for mobile phone subscribers in the country.
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