Seven errant banks seek exoneration from penalty
Seven commercial banks have appealed to the central bank’s board of directors to waive the financial penalty imposed on them for violating the rules relating to share-market investment. According to the officials, their petitions may be included in the agenda for the board meeting scheduled to be held next month. Earlier this month, the central bank imposed fines on the banks for violating the rules of the existing Banking Companies Act and the central bank’s instructions on share-market investment. Three state-owned commercial banks (SoCBs) along with four private commercial banks (PCBs) are on the list of the banks meted out pecuniary penalty — BDT 1.7 million each. Under the revised provisions, the banks are now allowed to submit their reports on fresh investment in the capital market to the BB on a weekly basis, mentioning daily transactions separately.
BB boss hopeful of recovering entire amount
Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir has said that the entire amount of stolen reserve money of the central bank will be recovered after conclusion of the judicial case in this connection. He came up with the remarks on Wednesday after attending a discussion programme at the Club Road in Barisal. The BB chief said, “It’s possible to recover the complete amount of the remaining stolen reserve money after completion of the judicial case.” Hackers in February last year stole USD 101 million from BB’s account with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Money amounting to USD 20 million was later channeled to Sri Lanka and USD 81 million to the Philippines. The New York-based Federal Reserve Bank blocked the remaining transactions – amounting to USD 850 million.
BD financial market needs credible benchmark
Bangladesh’s financial market runs sans effective benchmark called ‘Dhaka Interbank Offered Rate (DIBOR)’, leaving parties to quote rates in contracts and other financial instruments impromptu. Such ratings without a formal reference rate for the financial market are not always acceptable to foreign parties, and local stakeholders also get into difficulties in financial dealings, sources said. Though DIBOR initiative was launched at least eight years back, it remained a forgotten name as it couldn’t make any headway in terms of its acceptance and popularizing. As a result, the country’s financial market has no functional benchmark rates for contracts or future products. Many suffer for this vacuum and many use Treasury bond or bill rates as reference in financial dealings. People having stakes on the financial market said a credible benchmark has immense contribution to make to the stability of the financial system and mitigating financial risks. People familiar with the matter at its implementing agency and others told the FE that this is very much needed as the financial market has been expanding with its new and innovative products.
New DMD for Al-Arafah Islami Bank
Mohammed Zubair Wafa has recently joined Al-Arafah Islami Bank as deputy managing director, the bank said in a press release yesteday. He worked in different positions at Bangladesh Shilpa Bank, American Express Bank and Commercial Bank of Dubai. Wafa is experienced in both credit and marketing areas which will add value to the new organisation.
Q1 sees rise in ADP implementation rate
The first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year (FY18) has witnessed an increase in the implementation rate of Annual Development Programme (ADP). Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the rate was found to be 10.21 per cent with an overall expenditure of Taka 167.55 billion. He stated this while briefing the journalists emerging from the ECNEC meeting at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka on Tuesday, a BSS report said. The ADP implementation progress during the first quarter of the last fiscal year (FY17) was nine per cent with an overall expenditure to the tune of Tk 107.89 billion.
Move to explore new manpower markets
A research firm has been appointed by the government to carry out a survey on labour markets in 52 countries, including 20 new ones, across the world. The revelation came on Wednesday during a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry held at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban with its Chairman Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun in the chair. According to a handout, the meeting was told that the government has been trying relentlessly to explore new labour markets side by side safeguarding the existing ones. As part of the efforts, it was also informed, a separate labour market research cell has already been set up in the ministry.
NBR asks 37 companies to pay BDT 6.9 billion in unpaid VAT
The large taxpayers unit (value-added tax) of National Board of Revenue has issued demand notices to 37 public and private companies, asking them to pay BDT 6.9 billion in VAT and source VAT which was earlier ‘evaded’ by the entities. The LTU issued the primary demand notices in September for the ‘evaded’ amount which was detected through auditing and scrutinizing the documents including VAT returns submitted by the companies and through other intelligence and investigation activities. Of the amount, state-owned Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited alone evaded BDT 3.8 billion in VAT. The LTU also asked three mobile operators — Grameenphone, Robi and Banglalink — to pay BDT 72.5 million, BDT 75.8 million and BDT 83.5 million respectively which the operators did not submit as VAT on floor space and establishment rent. Earlier, the VAT office had demanded another BDT 830.0 million in VAT from the operators on the same ground.
Steel millers oppose bid to hike power tariff
Leaders of trade bodies of rod and steel industries on Wednesday demanded that the government do not increase the power tariff for the sector to save them from losses. Bangladesh Auto Re-Rolling & Steel Mills Association, Bangladesh Steel Mill Owners Association and Bangladesh Re-rolling Mills Association made the demand at a joint press conference at the Jatiya Press Club in the capital. They also urged the government to stop importing MS (mild steel) rods from abroad and providing them duty-free facilities. Bangladesh Auto Re-Rolling & Steel Mills Association (BARSMA) General Secretary M Shahiullah read out a written statement at the press conference. Shahiullah said the steel industry faces a serious crisis due to the electricity problems. Electricity cost is the highest in steel rod production after the raw materials.
Akij to remit $20m to buy Malaysian firms
Akij Jute Mills is all set to become the seventh Bangladeshi company to invest abroad after the government yesterday gave it the green light to remit $20 million to buy a Malaysian company along with its subsidiary for $80 million. The approval came at a meeting of the cabinet committee on economic affairs chaired by Finance Minister AMA Muhith, capping off a year-long suspense for Akij Jute Mills, a concern of Akij Group. “This is a milestone for Bangladeshi enterprises,” Sheikh Bashir Uddin, managing director of Akij Group, told The Daily Star over telephone. Akij will acquire Robin Resources and its subsidiary Robina Flooring — both of which manufacture reconstituted wood products and export to about 60 countries, generating $8-9 million in profit a year, according to the investment proposal. It will remit the $20 million from its export retention quota (ERQ). As of June 22, the company has more than $25 million of foreign currency under its ERQ.
Govt to import another 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice
The government is set to import 2.5 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice under a state-to-state arrangement and competitive bidding as part of its aggressive push to boost stocks. The cabinet committee on purchase yesterday approved the proposal for import of 1.5 lakh tonnes of rice for $465 per tonne from Thailand through government arrangement. The committee also approved another proposal for importing 1 lakh tonnes of rice through open tender for Tk 43,440 to Tk 44,330 per tonne. The rice will be delivered in 38 lots to 38 government silos across the country. When converted to dollar, the per tonne price of rice, including freight to silo, would come to $523 to $534. As per food ministry calculation, one dollar equals Tk 83. In recent months, the government has moved to import rice through competitive bidding, which tends to be lower than the price obtained under government-to-government arrangements.
E-procurement begins a new phase
The World Bank has renewed its partnership with Bangladesh on establishing transparency and accountability in public purchases and improving the overall government procurement management in the country. The Washington-based lender is providing $55 million for the $60 million Digitising Implementation Monitoring and Public Procurement Project. Under the project, the government plans to go for paperless tendering by this year, said a senior official of the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division. Finance Minister AMA Muhith inaugurated the five-year project at a ceremony at the Radisson Blu Water Garden in Dhaka yesterday in presence of AHM Mustafa Kamal, planning minister, MA Mannan, state minister for finance and planning, and Qimiao Fan, country director of the WB Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, annual expenditure on public procurement amounted to over $7 billion in recent years, representing 70 percent of the annual development programme.
BTRC formulating integrated service quality regulation
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has formed a committee to formulate an integrated regulation on service quality for all kinds of telecom service providers to ensure better satisfaction of end users. Currently there are about 500 service providers such as mobile phone, internet service, Wi-Max and landphone operators who are directly connecting a telecom service to users. The telecom regulator says there are over 14 crore registered connections availing the services. The BTRC earlier formulated a service quality guideline for mobile operators, who are yet to accept it. The new regulation will concentrate on every service, meaning there will be specific quality requirements, said a top official, who is also a member of the committee. The Quality of Service Regulations of BTRC 2017 will also contain provisions for punitive measures.
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