The central bank warned the non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) against irregularities over lending and concealing information in reporting their financial affairs. The fresh warning came at a meeting of the chief executive officers (CEOs) and managing directors (MDs) of NBFIs with Bangladesh Bank (BB) Governor Fazle Kabir in the central bank headquarters in Dhaka Wednesday. The NBFIs may avail policy supports of the BB for adjustment of their capital market overexposures the way commercial banks did it without selling any shares to the market. The meeting in principle decided to provide such facilities to the NBFIs like banks. Interested NBFIs will have to submit their applications to the BB with approval from their board of directors, if they are interested to avail such policy backing. Under the existing policy, the NBFIs are allowed to adjust their overexposures through restructuring the exposure components and enhancing the capital of their subsidiaries with some internal adjustments. A total of 13 out of 56 commercial banks have already availed such policy supports fort bringing down their capital market investments within 25 per cent of their total capital in line with the Banking Companies (Amended) Act 2013. Currently, 33 NBFIs are running their business across the country.
The central bank approves loan restructuring proposal from Virgo Pharmaceuticals
Backtracking on its earlier stance Bangladesh Bank has given consent to a loan-freezing proposal by Virgo Pharmaceuticals, an influential borrower of Rupali Bank. As per the proposal, Virgo Pharmaceuticals sought an eight-year suspension on the repayment of its loan of BDT 3.0 billion. The company requested the central bank to keep its loan account frozen until 2022 with no new interest on the credit and start paying off the loan instalments from 2023 on quarterly basis until the full payment is made in 2030. Although completely unacceptable as per banking norms, Virgo Pharmaceuticals’ proposal went further demanding more loans. It went so far as to ask the bank even to reduce the interest rate to 8.50% from the existing 9%. Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir had turned down the loan reschedule proposal last month on the grounds that such long time suspension would put the repayment into a great deal of uncertainty. Moreover, such advantage never goes with banking practice and norms. But soon after the proposal had been rejected, Bangladesh Bank had to face a lot of pressure from influential people to reconsider its decision, said a senior executive of the central bank asking for anonymity. Mysteriously the board of Rupali Bank approved the proposals of this influential borrower and sent it to Bangladesh Bank for final approval in June this year. At first Bangladesh Bank was surprised by the proposal and ignored it. But after a few days an influential lobbyist put heavy pressure on the officials concerned at the Banking Regulation and Policy Department (BRPD) of the central bank, said the senior executive.
World Bank Group member International Financial Corporation (IFC) has reconsidered the issue of the billion dollar “Taka bond”, within a year of its proposal, reports bdnews24.com. The IFC had proposed the issue of a bond, similar to the Rupee bond set up for India, at the World Bank-IMF Spring Meeting in Washington, DC last April. The proposal was greeted favourably at the conference by Bangladesh’s Finance Minister AMA Muhith. The Bangladeshi government then formally gave final approval to the issue of the bonds at the World Bank – IMF Annual Meeting in Peru last October. The IFC informed Bangladesh it had reconsidered the proposal at the World Bank-IMF Annual Meeting in Washington, DC this October.
NBFIs get scope to adjust excess capital market exposure
The country’s non-bank financial institutions will be allowed to convert their excess capital market exposure to subsidiaries into equity. The decision came at a meeting Bangladesh Bank held yesterday with top managers of non-bank financial institutions at the central bank headquarters. The move aims to bring down FIs share market exposure within a limit of 25% of their equity. Recently, banks have been allowed to convert their loans to subsidiaries, which are calculated as capital market exposure, into equity to help them adjust with excess exposure. At the meeting, top managers of FIs have sought the same facility as some Fis failed to adjust their excess exposure to capital market within June this year set by Bangladesh Bank, said Mafizuddin Sarker, managing director of BD Finance. Mafizuddin, also president of the Association for Non-Bank Financial Institutions, told reporters soon after the meeting that the central bank assured them of issuing a circular soon in this regard. He said Bangladesh Bank will define a new time frame to adjust the excess loans or convert them into equity. SK Sur Chowdhury, deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank said, BB will allow FIs to convert their loans into equity on a case-by-case basis after getting application from them. Earlier, the investment was not monitored strictly, but recently, the central bank has taken a tough stance on the capital market exposure.
The securities’ regulator has asked the state-run Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) to explain its ‘position’ regarding management of ICB Unit Fund, as the corporation is found not ‘registered’ as a fund manager. The regulatory move came to bring the fund’s operation under the existing rules and Act for the ‘interest’ of unit holders. The ICB Unit is the country’s largest ever open-end mutual fund (MF) having a size of above Tk 37.25 billion, according to audited financial statement as of June 30, 2015. The fund has been disbursing lucrative dividends since starting its operation in 1981. The sources close to BSEC officials said, both the securities rules and ICB Act have the provision of managing MFs by the any company or statutory body registered with the securities regulator as an asset management company Limited (AMC).
Bangladesh moves up 2 notches in doing business ranking
Bangladesh has advanced two notches to 176th, among 190 countries, from the revised 178th position of previous year’s ranking in the World Bank Group’s latest ranking on ease of doing business. The WB on Tuesday released its flagship report titled ‘Doing Business-2017: Equal Opportunity for All’. The multilateral lending agency revised the rank for Bangladesh for last year from the original position at 174th among 189 countries in doing business report published in October 2015. Bangladesh’s improvement in ranking for this year happened mainly because of change in methodology and indicators of measuring the ease of doing business. Bangladesh did not bring mentionable reforms making doing business easier rather it made paying taxes more complicated for companies by increasing the time it takes to prepare value-added tax and corporate income tax returns, the report said. The country’s overall doing score, also called distance to frontier score, increased slightly to 40.84 from last year’s revised score of 40.68, out of 100, in ease of doing business ranking. The distance to frontier score tells about the gap between an economy’s performance and global best practices. The country was also ranked 7th, ahead of Afghanistan which was ranked 183rd, among the eight South Asian countries. Bhutan was ranked first in the region and 73rd globally.
Starting a new business becomes costlier and paying tax becomes more difficult in Bangladesh. The World Bank Doing Business Index 2017, released on Wednesday across the world, has identified these things reflecting the fact that Bangladesh is still far behind on ease of doing business. The global ranking puts the country on 176th among 190 countries, showing that Bangladesh has advanced two steps over last year’s comparable ranking (178th). Nevertheless, the country is the seventh among eight countries in South Asia in the index. The report mentioned that the country earlier made paying taxes less costly for companies by reducing the corporate income tax rate. But now the country made paying taxes more complicated for companies by increasing the time it takes to prepare VAT and corporate income tax returns.
Bangladsh holds potential to be Asia’s manufacturing hub
Bangladesh has an opportunity to become Asia’s manufacturing hub as the country is maintaining high export growth and has a skilled workforce with competitive wages. The number of workers in the garment sector alone is 4.4 million at present; the number will be higher with the rise of other sectors like leather and leather goods, said industry insiders. “Bangladesh’s competitive advantage is its young workforce. The business sector should pay proper living wages to the workers,” managing director of Picard Bangladesh, a leading leather goods exporter. There are 78.6 million people in the workforce, including all sectors like garments, agriculture, manufacturing and the services sectors. Following compliance in the production and business cycles is not in the interest of the foreign buyers, it is needed for Bangladesh, Islam said at a roundtable — positioning Bangladesh as Asia’s manufacturing hub: the future challenges in compliance and capacity building for the RMG and leather sector. The senior vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said in 2015, the global garment business was worth $445 billion and Bangladesh’s export was worth $26 billion. In the same year, China exported apparel items worth $175 billion, Vietnam $22 billion, India $18 billion, Turkey $15 billion, Indonesia $7 billion, Cambodia $6 billion and the US $6 billion.
Beximco to set up 30MW solar power plant in Panchagarh
Beximco plans to set up a 30-megwatt solar power plant in the northern district of Panchagarh through a joint venture with a Chinese company. The cabinet committee on purchase yesterday approved a proposal for power purchase from the joint venture at a rate of Tk 11.12 a unit under a 20-year contract. Beximco Power Co Ltd and Jiangsu Zhongtian Technology of China will set up the solar power plant at Tentulia in Panchagarh. The company with its own fund will procure the land and set up the transmission line and sub-station. During the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bangladesh and China signed 13 agreements, some of them in the private sector where investments amount to $13.6 billion. Among the deals, Beximco Group will produce 2,180MW, of which 1,980MW would come from coal-fired plants and 200MW from a solar power plant. Beximco and its Chinese partners will invest a total of $3.2 billion to produce the power. The cabinet committee approved another proposal where Bangladesh’s Green Housing and Energy and China’s CETC International will purchase solar power at Tk 10 a unit for 20 years. The joint venture will also set up a 5MW solar power plant in Lalmonirhat.
Sales in e-commerce to rise eight times by 2020: sector leaders
The e-commerce market will expand by eight times by 2020 if a friendly policy framework is in place. At present, annual sales in e-commerce are worth about Tk 1,000 crore, and the industry operators are expecting the market to balloon to Tk 8,000 crore (about $1 billion) in four years. To unlock that potential, the government will have to pass a modern policy, he said, adding that e-CAB has drafted in a guideline and will forward it to the relevant authorities shortly.
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