Rates of interest on T-bills, bonds on the decline
Rates of interest on the government treasury bills and bonds decreased significantly in recent months as most of the scheduled banks rushed to invest their excess liquidity in the government tools amid a slow credit demand from the industrial sector due to a sluggish business situation in the country. Bangladesh Bank data showed that the rates of interest on all types of T-bills and bonds dropped in recent months as most of the banks, with the aim of investing their idle fund in the instruments, submitted bids in excess of many times the looked-for amount at the central bank’s auction for the government tools. But, the government is now accepting a limited amount of bids in line with its borrowing demand, much to the frustration of the banks. According to the latest BB data, the net government borrowing from the banking sector remained negative in the first quarter of the current fiscal year (2016-17) as it repaid more than the amount it borrowed from the banks in the period.
Nat’l savings tools rake in whopping BDT 116.5 billion in Q1
Net investment in the national savings certificates and bonds increased by 76.2% in the first quarter of this current fiscal year (2016-17) compared with that in the corresponding period of FY16 thanks to low bank rates for deposit products. According to the latest Directorate of National Savings data, the net investment in the savings instruments increased to BDT 116.5 billion in the July-September period of FY17 compared with that of BDT 66.1 billion during the same period of FY16. A DNS official told New Age on Thursday that despite the rate cut by the government for the savings tools on May 23 last year, clients’ rush for the tools continued as the interest rate for the savings certificates and bonds was still much higher than that of the banks’ deposit products. The government borrowing from the NSCs would cross the annual target within the first half of FY17 if the existing investment trend continues, he said. In the budget for FY17, the government set an annual borrowing target of BDT 196.1 billion from the NSCs.
The government has initiated a move to update the relevant rules to allow investment of gratuity funds in national savings certificates (NSCs). Internal Resources Division (IRD) of the Ministry of Finance recently formed a body and asked it to submit a report in a month along with recommendations on how the savings instruments could be used in best possible ways as per the government’s policy. Representatives from the National Savings Directorate (NSD), IRD, Finance Division, National Board of Revenue (NBR) and Postal Department were included in the committee. It would also recommend possible means of scrutinizing possibilities of investing gratuity fund and withdrawal of interest, and making popular the savings bonds abroad. One member of the committee said the existing savings rules prohibit investment of gratuity fund in savings instruments. Earlier, some companies and commercial banks invested their gratuity funds in the national savings instruments but did not get any profit despite several attempts. The IRD has found different companies have invested gratuity funds worth BDT 2.7 billion in the savings certificates.
Bangladesh’s national poverty declined to 23.2% in 2016 from 31.5% in 2010, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in its latest survey said. The national statistical body in its quarterly estimates (April-June) from the ongoing Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) showed that the rate of poverty reduced by 8.3% over a period of last six years. The HIES also revealed that the country’s extreme poverty has fallen to 12.9% in 2016 from 17.6% in 2010. The BBS said the trend shows that Bangladesh is apparently continuing its impressive progress in poverty reduction. The government said the country was very much on track to reduce the poverty into “zero trajectory” by 2030 as targeted in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Member of General Economics Division (GED) Prof Shamsul Alam told the FE that the poverty eradication trend in Bangladesh is impressive as it is on track to achieve SDG target of “zero poverty” by 2030. According to the HIES data, Bangladesh’s poverty has reduced at a fast rate during the period between 2000 and 2005 as the country cut hunger by 8.9% points.
The gas crisis in the Konabari-Gazipur industrial belt will come to an end within a week as a local company is repairing the ruptured gas pipeline at Elenga point in Tangail. “The supply of gas through the repaired gas pipeline will resume within one week. The local company has almost completed its work,” said Mir Moshiur Rahman, acting managing director of state-owned Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company. Risal Mahmud, managing director of Pipeline Engineering and Associates Ltd (PEAL), which was assigned the repair work, said the gas pipeline will be ready for supplying gas by today. The pipeline leakage has severely affected gas supply to the industrial area, which is dominated by large export oriented factories, he said. Titas Gas stopped the gas supply from the ruptured pipeline on October 3 and supplied gas via an existing abandoned 12-inch pipeline. However, the gas pressure was insufficient and hampered production at these factories, Mahmud added. Titas appointed PEAL to repair the pipeline within 20 days, he said. PEAL began work on October 19.
BIDA reviewing all FDI laws to increase competitiveness
The newly formed Bangladesh Investment Development Authority is reviewing the rules and regulations related to foreign direct investment in a bid to make FDI regulations more competitive, its executive chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said on Thursday. ‘We are revisiting anything and everything related to FDI… we will make FDI regulations most competitive in the world,’ he said at the monthly luncheon of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Bangladesh at a city hotel. Mentioning Bangladesh’s advancement of two steps into 176th position in the ease of doing-business environment, which was published by World Bank on Wednesday, he said BIDA’s goal is to bring Bangladesh’s position below 100. Aminul urged credible companies with good track records to come in the capital market to ensure discipline in corporate sector.
Government starts works to select design for new oil refinery
The government has finally started works to select a suitable design for construction of the proposed 3.0-million tonnes per year-capacity crude oil refinery at a cost of around BDT 89.5 billion (USD 1.2 billion), officials said. State-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has drafted a front-end engineering design (FEED) for the new refinery with help from Indian firm Engineers India Limited (EIL), a senior BPC official told the FE. The EIL has been acting as a project management consultant (PMC), as appointed by the BPC, to install the second unit of BPC’s wholly-owned subsidiary Eastern Refinery Limited (ERL). The contract value with the Indian firm is worth BDT 1.1 billion. Once the design is approved, the BPC would ink an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with the French firm for construction of the refinery in port city Chittagong, he said.
BTRC to review 2G guidelines to allow tech neutrality
The telecom regulator has initiated a move to review the 2G service guidelines in a bid to allow technology neutrality for 900MHz and 1800MHz band of spectrum. The decision was taken last week at a regular meeting of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, which was presided over by BTRC chairman Shahjahan Mahmood. Technology neutrality, long demanded by the mobile phone companies, is a permission to use any band of spectrum for any type of telecom services, both voice and data. The spectrum allocation in the country is service specific as 900MHz and 1800MHz band are assigned only for 2G services and 2100MHz band for 3G services. The 2100 MHz, however, is also allowed for 4G services but it [the services] will require separate guidelines which are yet to be formulated. BTRC officials said if technology neutrality is allowed, the country’s mobile operators can start 4G services with 1800MHz and that will be cost effective for the operators. They said mobile phone companies like Grameenphone and Robi are already sending to the commission queries about the 4G service guidelines. Allowing technology neutrality, however, can affect the prospect of 700MHz band, currently specified for 4G services, in the short run as the operators might not be willing to buy that spectrum, they said.
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