Banks break barriers, begin long-term project funding
Country’s banks, at long last, have started making available funds to long-term projects. The same was hardly available in local financial sector earlier, sources said and billed it as a breakthrough. Big borrowers used to look beyond the border for such long-term funding and procure loans from overseas sources. Local banks until recently used to argue that they procured funds on short-term basis and hence would not be able to provide loans for long terms. However, the World Bank has provided a fund worth USD 300 million to the central bank under a project titled ‘Financial Sector Support Project (FSSP)’ to hand out the money for such funding required for boosting industrial production with new equipment. The Bangladesh Bank also injected more at a rate of 12% to make the fund a bigger one. So far, 43 projects, mostly in textile and readymade garment sectors, have got such credits amounting to over USD 100 million.
BB to launch ‘interoperability’ of digital finance by June next
The central bank will launch an “interoperability” system by June next to facilitate transactions between core banking solutions and mobile financial services, a top Bangladesh Bank official said Thursday. Speaking at a roundtable, Bangladesh Bank Executive Director Subhankar Saha said the mechanism under which cash can be transacted from banks to mobile financial service providers would also be operational in a limited number of banks by December this year. This will help distribute cash of the government-run social safety net programmes across the country.
BB finds actual imports’ mismatch with orders
The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has found a serious mismatch between actual imports and import orders of capital machinery and machinery for miscellaneous industries in the first two months of the current fiscal year (FY). The issue came into the spotlight after releasing revised sector-wise comparative statement of import letters of credit (LCs) at early this month, according to officials. The actual imports of capital machinery in terms of LCs settlement dropped by 39.78% to USD 825.02 million during the July-August period of the FY 2017-18 from USD 1.37 billion in the same period of the FY 17 while opening of capital machinery LCs, generally known as import orders, increased by 47.92% to USD 941.14 million from USD 636.27 million, according to the revised statement, issued by the Foreign Exchange Operation Department of the central bank. On the other hand, capital machinery imports jumped by 37.88% to USD 1.89 billion during the period under review as against USD 1.37 billion in the July-August period of the previous fiscal while opening of capital machinery LCs rose by nearly 190% to USD 1.84 billion from USD 636.27 million, according to the original statement, issued by the same department of the BB.
Rising NPLs’ possible financial feedback impacts worrisome
Swelling non-performing loans in Bangladesh, among other regional countries, is worrisome for their potential macro-financial “feedback” effects like economic growth and employment slowdowns. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) made such observations following surveys that found the NPLs on such problematic rise, both by amount and share of total credits, in Bangladesh and India in South Asia and some other countries on the regional plane. Feedback effect on financial indicators, such as NPLs, could affect macroeconomic conditions and in turn affect macroeconomic indicators like employment and gross domestic product (GDP). Asian Economic Integration Report (AEIR) 2017, a report of the Manila-based Asian development-financier, released few days back, noted that NPL has been on the upturn in such proportion particularly since 2010. The AEIR also cited regional countries like China, Indonesia and Mongolia where such idle loans marked such increase disproportionately.
Sales of savings tools rising fast
Net sales of savings certificates increased 8.91% year-on-year to BDT 126.9 billion in the first quarter of the fiscal year as people continue to park their funds in the instrument to enjoy high returns. Banks are offering hardly 7.0% interest rate on fixed deposits nowadays whereas the rates offered by the national savings certificates are between 11.04% and 11.76%. Net sales of savings tools in fiscal 2016-17 hit an all-time high of BDT 523.2 billion — more than 2.5 times higher than the government’s target of BDT 196.1 billion. The trend would continue this year if the government does not slash the rates on savings certificates, said a senior Bangladesh Bank official. Higher borrowing through the savings instruments are pushing the government’s interest liability up. If the government borrows from the banking system, it would cost them between 2.98% and 8.07% only.
Brac Bank’s profit surges 50pc
Brac Bank’s profit after tax surged 50 percent year-on-year to Tk 397.3 crore in the first nine months this year. The hefty profit was backed by project financing in the infrastructure sector, said Selim RF Hussain, managing director and CEO of the bank. He was disclosing the bank’s financial performance in the third quarter of 2017 at the bank’s headquarters in the capital yesterday. Brac Bank made a profit after tax of Tk 155.2 crore in July-September, up 70 percent compared to that in the same period of the previous year. The bank’s consolidated earnings per share (EPS) rose to Tk 1.76 in the third quarter from Tk 1.03 in the same period a year ago.
Q1 foreign aid flow surges by 71.0%
Foreign aid flow into Bangladesh picked up significantly by 71% in the first quarter (Q1) this fiscal, largely with a Japanese funding splurge, officials said. Economic Relations Division (ERD) officials said development partners disbursed USD 857.10 million in concessional aid in July-September period of the fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 and Japan alone contributed USD 305.78 million. In the corresponding period of the last financial year, 2016-17, Japan had handed out USD 500.95 million worth of loans and grants. The government considers Japan’s record-highest contribution to the total aid flow a breakthrough after the Gulshan terrorist attack in July last year that left seven Japanese citizens dead among others.
‘Super rice’ in sight
The idea came from the concern that the traditional research, which results in just one percent rise in the yearly yield, would not be enough to meet the ever-growing demand. So the plan was to convert rice into a photosynthesis-efficient plant, which would produce substantially more grains using the sunlight. Nine years into the initiation of an ambitious rice plant engineering project, a group of scientists have recently declared a major breakthrough in improving photosynthesis for the cereal. They said this would change the plant architecture of rice once for all, make it more energy-efficient and thereby, increase the yield of the world’s third most consumed grain, after maize and wheat, by 50 percent. It would eventually help meet the food needs of billions of people around the world, including Bangladesh. During photosynthesis, plants take carbon dioxide, water, and light, and turn them into sugar and oxygen. The sugar is then used by the plants for food, and the oxygen is released into the atmosphere. Rice uses the C3 photosynthetic pathway, which in hot and dry environments is much less efficient than the C4 pathway used by other plants such as maize, sugarcane and sorghum. Scientists thought that if rice could “switch” to use C4 photosynthesis, its productivity would increase by 50 percent.
BD to bring further 500MW power from India
Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said that India will supply another 500MW power to neighbouring Bangladesh through the Bheramara-Bherampur inter-connection by July next year. According to him, discussions are underway to finalise the 765 KV power transmission line from Assam to the eastern part of India through Bangladesh (Bornagar-Parbatipur-Katihar) through which a portion of the power will be supplied to this country. He said, “This line would be extremely useful as it would serve to bring in excess hydropower, not only from the North Eastern part of India but more importantly from Bhutan and the sub-region.” The Indian envoy was speaking Thursday at the inauguration of the 19th Power Bangladesh and Allied Expos (Solar Bangladesh, Real Estate Expo, Construction Expo, Water Bangladesh, and Safety & Security Expo) at the International Convention City, Bashundhara.
Padma bridge project cost soars further
The cost of a small component of the Padma bridge project has increased 20 percent mainly due to price escalation of construction materials caused by delays in implementation. Some Tk 1,097.40 crore was earmarked as expenditure for the Janjira Approach Road and Selected Bridge End Facilities of the Padma bridge project in 2013. It has now been increased to Tk 1,319 crore. The go-ahead to the additional expenditure was given on Wednesday. The cabinet committee on purchase had earlier directed the Bridges Division to submit a detailed proposal with specifics such as where the cost has been increasing and the causes of delay. According to the Bridges Division, the costs increased Tk 324 crore. Since some works were cut and the cost decreased by Tk 102 crore, additional funds of Tk 221.60 were sought.
China EximBank to fund Padma Bridge rail link project
The Export-Import Bank of China is going to fund the rail connection in Bangladesh’s largest infrastructure project till date, the Padma Bridge. The bank will likely send the government a draft of the loan agreement in the first week of November. An agreement will be inked in either late November or early December after scrutinising the draft, sources in the Railway Ministry and Economic Relation Division (ERD) said. Once in operation, it will only take about three and a half hours to travel to Khulna from Dhaka. Padma Bridge rail link project Director Engineer Golam Fakhruddin Ahmed Chowdhury said the contractor had already started working on it. “The good news is, the complexities over Chinese funding have been resolved but a final agreement is yet to be signed,” he said. “We hope to receive positive news either at the end of November or in the first week of December. Which means Chinese EximBank will sign the agreement.” Fakhruddin said the project’s main work had not started yet. “Land acquisition is at the last stage. The full-fledged work will start after the agreement’s signing.” Railway Minister Mujibul Haque said the government had undertaken the rail link project to revolutionise communication in the south-western districts.
BJMC plans to build jute industrial villages
Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) plans to develop jute industrial villages on its unused lands for the diversification of products made from the natural fibre. Last week, the jute and textiles ministry gave go-ahead to BJMC to establish the villages, officials said. “We will take steps. We will try to complete all the procedures as soon as possible to develop such villages,” said Mahmudul Hassan, chairman of BJMC, which has 25 state-run mills in operation. The ministry gave its consent based on a feasibility report submitted by a panel headed by Md Rezaul Quader, joint secretary (jute) of the ministry. The panel found that 16 districts account for the majority of jute production, each producing more than 2 lakh bales of the natural fibre in 2016-17. The highest amount of jute is grown in Faridpur, followed by Rajbari, Magura, Jamalpur and Kushtia, according to the report that analysed data of the Department of Agricultural Extension.
Industry experts contest BBS survey result on telecom
About 92.50 percent of the people in Bangladesh are using mobile phones, indicating the breakneck speed at which the country is nearing the Digital Bangladesh goals. Some 95.90 percent of the people in urban areas are using mobile phones and 91.20 percent in rural areas, according to the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2016, which was published last week by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. However, only 7.74 percent of Bangladesh’s 16.3 crore-strong population have email accounts — the most basic way of exchanging messages between people digitally. The figures have drawn the ire of experts and policymakers, who say the statistics do not reflect the reality given the digital transformation that took place in the country over the last few years.
Frozen food sector to get allocation of ammonia gas
The government has agreed in principle to allocate ammonia gas to frozen foods exporters as the sector has been facing an acute shortage of the item due to a syndicate of a section of exporters. Country’s frozen fish exporters have been facing difficulties since the last week of August as the biggest supplier of the ammonia gas, Jamuna Fertilizer Company, stopped its delivery and a supply shortage took place at the market. Cashing in on the situation, a quarter increased the prices of the gas delivered by Shahjalal Fertilizer Company Limited that cast a negative impact on the production of frozen fish across the country, the sector people said. The Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association sent a letter to industries minister Amir Hossain Amu, seeking allocation of ammonia gas in favour of the trade body as the price of the item increased to Tk 30,000-35,000 a cylinder (50 kilograms) from the company rate of Tk 1,632 a cylinder. Ammonia gas is essential for processing frozen fish as factory authorities cannot run cooling system without the gas. Against the backdrop, the industries minister asked Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation to resolve the crisis.
India sees highest visitors from Bangladesh
India’s issuance of visas to the people of Bangladesh has marked a sharp rise in recent months as the two neighbouring countries are considering people-to-people contacts as the biggest strength to bolster ties. Bangladeshi people constitute the largest number of visitors to India and Indian High Commission in Dhaka issued 976,000 visas in 2016 and India expect this to grow to about 1.4 million visas in 2017, a diplomat told UNB on Wednesday. According to Press Information Bureau of India, the percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during September 2017 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh 29.65 per cent, while 10.24 per cent from the USA followed by UK (7.04 per cent) Sri Lanka (3.98 per cent), Australia (3.50 per cent), Malaysia (3.32 per cent), Germany (2.57 per cent), Japan (2.50 per cent), China (2.46 per cent), Canada (2.40 per cent), Nepal (2.30 per cent), France (1.86 per cent), Singapore (1.77 per cent), South Korea (1.40 per cent) and Afghanistan (1.21 per cent). The number of FTAs in September was 723,000 as compared to FTAs of 608,000 in September, 2016 and 543,000 in September 2015. According to the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, the High Commission’s visa section issued 750,000 visas in 2015, 933,000 visas in 2016 and 1.02 million visas by September 2017.
Freelancers benefited little from Xoom launch
Country’s freelancers are benefitted little from the launch of cross-border payment service Xoom, a service of PayPal, as Xoom does not allow any sort of transactions against goods or services. The service only allows transfer of fund from the US to Bangladesh and only friends and family members can get the scope as Xoom does not assure or take any kind of responsibility for transaction against services or goods, freelancers said. Before the launching ceremony of the service on October 19, state minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak had announced that the much awaited PayPal service was going to be launched in the country on the day. The government has time and again claimed that the PayPal’s Xoom service would increase the business opportunities for freelancers as it would be easy for them to bring money from the US to Bangladesh.
Local and Global Stock Indices
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Commodity||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)*||$53.90||↑ 1.26||↑ 2.39%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)*||$60.44||↑ 1.14||↑ 1.92%|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days
|USD 1||BDT 81.90|
|GBP 1||BDT 107.52|
|EUR 1||BDT 95.07|
|INR 1||BDT 1.26|
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