Important Business News Extracts – September 10, 2017
Consumer loans see steep rise
Consumer financing by the banking sector saw a significant rise during the last year thanks to falling lending rates and rising purchasing power of the country’s middle-class. Consumer credit rose 28.22% year-on-year to BDT 369.83 billion in 2016 from BDT 288.43 billion a year ago, according to the Bangladesh Bank. The segment accounted for 5.49% of the total outstanding loan in the banking sector. The total outstanding loan was BDT 6,739 billion in 2016. The sector posted only 12.0% increase in consumer lending from BDT 256.2 billion in 2014 to BDT 288.43 billion in 2015. Of the total outstanding loans, the segment accounted for 4.93% in 2015 and 4.95% in 2014.
The eight state-run banks held 54.07% or BDT 400.99 billion of the total defaulted loans in the country’s banking sector as of June 30, 2017 as the banks disbursed large amounts of loans to their clients violating rules, Bangladesh Bank officials said. The amount of the total defaulted loans in the banking sector stood at BDT 741.5 billion as of June 30, 2017. According to the BB data, the amount of defaulted loans in the banking sector increased by BDT 119.8 billion to BDT 741.4 billion as of June 30, 2017 from BDT 621.7 billion as of December 31, 2016. The BB data showed that the amount of defaulted loans in Sonali Bank stood at BDT 114.2 billion, that in Janata Bank at BDT 53.4 billion and that in Agrani Bank at BDT 49.0 billion as of June 30, 2017. The amount of non-performing loans in Rupali Bank stood at BDT 47.6 billion, that in BASIC Bank at BDT 73.9 billion, that in BDBL at BDT 7.6 billion, that in BKB at BDT 54.6 billion and that in RAKUB at BDT 11.9 billion as of June, 2017, the data showed.
Local as well as foreign entrepreneurs can get low-cost credit from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in a scheme of the Bangladesh Bank designed to boost foreign direct investment in the country. The central bank has already formed a fund worth about Tk 457 crore, which is equivalent to 7,033 million yen, for this purpose and invited all banks last week to participate in the programme. Entrepreneurs can take loans for a maximum of 10 years from the fund at 7 to 10 percent interest, according to BB officials. Only manufacturing firms are eligible for loans from the fund and they stand to get loans worth between Tk 1 crore and Tk 50 crore. If the factory is located in an economic zone, the nationality of the owner is irrelevant in getting the loan, meaning both Bangladeshi and Japanese investors can get credit from the fund, according to Jica guideline. If any Bangladeshi or foreign entrepreneur sets up a joint venture with a Japanese firm outside of the economic zones they would be eligible for the loan as well. Also, if any Japanese investor sets up factories outside of an economic zone they would qualify for the loan. As per another eligibility criterion, Bangladeshi companies outside of the economic zones but with substantial amount of deals with Japanese firms will qualify for the credit.
The inflow of remittances rebounded in August as the country received USD 1,418.58 million in the month, which is the highest after June last year, reports BSS. As part of its move to plug the informal channels, he said, the central bank has already put some mobile banking operators under close supervision as it has identified some mobile accounts used for sending home remittances illegally. There has been a falling trend in the inflow of remittances since fiscal year 2014-15 but the situation witnessed a change at the beginning of fiscal year 2017-18 as the expatriates sent home USD 1,418.58 million in August, up by USD 234.97 million from the corresponding month in the previous fiscal 2016-17 (FY17), according to the BB data. According to BB, the country received a total of USD 15,316.91 million in FY15, USD 14,931.15 million in FY16 and USD 12,769 million in FY17.
Interest rate on deposits rises for the first time in 2.5 years
The interest rates on deposit crept up in July, breaking a downtrend of two and a half years on the back of a rising private sector credit demand. The weighted average interest rate on deposits stood at 4.89% in July, up from 4.84% in June, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank. The interest rate had been on a descent since January 2015 — when lenders provided 7.26% — thanks to a slashing spree of state banks and the new ones. Private sector credit growth hit 16.94% in July — the highest in five years and well above the 16.2% target set by the central bank for the first half of 2017-18. The opening of letters of credit grew 30% year-on-year to USD 5 billion in July. Particularly, the LC opening value for food grains trebled to USD 334.0 million in the first month of the fiscal year from a year earlier, central bank data shows.
Bangladesh sent a record 750,000 migrant workers abroad last year but it is a mystery that remittance inflow in the last fiscal declined by 14.47 per cent to $12.769 million, the lowest in six years. Experts say it is time to train workers before sending them abroad, as most Bangladeshi migrant workers leave the country as ‘unskilled’ labourers and earn less than their peers. For Bangladesh, remittance is the second largest source of foreign exchange earnings after ready-made garment exports. In fact, it has contributed substantially to the building up of the country’s foreign exchange reserves. But the recent declining trend in remittance inflow has left the government worried. Bangladesh Bank (BB) expressed concerned over the declining trend of the inward remittances. The central bank’s data show that migrant workers sent home $12.77 billion during the last fiscal year, which was down by 14.47 per cent year-on-year.
Johora Bebe has joined Meghna Bank Limited as additional managing director, the bank said in a press statement recently. Prior to joining in the bank, she was the deputy managing director of ONE Bank Limited. She started her banking career as senior officer in Agrani Bank in 1983. She also worked in IFIC Bank, the statement added.
The government has taken an initiative to formulate a new Income Tax law scrapping the decade-old Income Tax Ordinance, 1984 and excluding the scope to bring any changes to income tax-related matters through Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO), reports UNB. According to the National Board of Revenue (NBR), currently the government can bring changes to any tax-related matters through SRO. In the proposed law, this scope would be omitted totally. “However, such a scope can be used during emergency period or national disasters,” a senior NBR official told the news agency. Imposition of new tax must be passed by parliament as per the proposed law, he said, adding that the proposed income tax law would be drafted in Bangla in line with a previous directive of the High Court.
Petrochemical, energy projects in Moheskhali likely soon
A substantial private investment of US$ 1.5 billion is underway to establish petrochemical refinery, petroleum storage, LPG terminal and power plants in Bangladesh. Local company Super Petrochemical Private Limited (SPPL) jointly with a South Korean conglomerate is set to invest in the petrochemical and energy sector projects on more than 300 acres of land at Moheskhali in Cox’s Bazar. Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) signs a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the SPPL in this regard today (Sunday). The joint investment projects will be implemented in the area of Economic Zone-3 (EZ-3) being developed on over 1,500 acres of land in Moheskhali under Dholghata and south Dholghata mouja. A business conglomerate of petrochemical sector, SK Gas South Korea, is exploring the opportunities to come under the joint initiatives with SPPL and make the investment in the EZ, said Md Mustafizur Rahman, director of SPPL.
With only one day to go before the end of the Supreme Court’s six-month deadline on starting the demolition of BGMEA’s building in the capital, the association yesterday said it was seeking another year to tear down the 15-storey structure. “Following the court verdict, we sought to rent a house in Dhaka,” said Siddiqur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). “But we did not find a structure where nearly 300 employees can be accommodated and a huge number of activities run smoothly,” he told a press briefing at the BGMEA office. On March 12, the SC ordered to start the demolition within six months, meaning by September 12. BGMEA sought the one-year extension on August 23. Meanwhile, it continues to use the building as its office. It is constructing a new one in Uttara.
BTRC’s revenue collection for 2016-17 declined about 10.79% year-on-year to BDT 37.5 billion, a six-year low, apparently for a decrease in earnings under its revenue sharing policy with mobile and international gateway operators. Despite missing its annual target by BDT 3.1 billion, Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) got BDT 3.7 billion in the form of two mobile operators’ merger fee, something it did not have in its calculations. The telecom regulator’s main chunk of annual collections comes from the revenue sharing policy — mobile operators share 5.5% of their gross revenue with the BTRC, while international gateway operators 40.0% of what they earn from international calls. Under the policy, BTRC collected BDT 24.6 billion in the just concluded fiscal year whereas it was BDT 33.6 billion the year before, according to its annual report. In fiscal 2015-16, the BTRC’s revenue slumped to BDT 42.1 billion although it had targeted to collect BDT 67.0 billion.
The domestic demand for freshwater prawns, grown mainly to cater to the export market, is rising on the back of growing consumption by urbanites, said sector insiders. “This trend is likely to continue rising due to the growing middle and affluent classes in urban Bangladesh,” said the Food and Agriculture Organisation in a report titled Shrimp Market Focus: Bangladesh. Grown mainly in the southwest division of Khulna for the export market, freshwater prawn’s demand rose locally in the wake of a slump in its prices in the global market in recent years.
Illegal handset imports cost Bangladesh Tk 800cr a year
Bangladesh is losing Tk 800 crore in lost revenues every year because of illegal imports of mobile phones, said Muyeedur Rahman, head of mobile at Samsung Mobile Bangladesh. “One in every four Samsung branded cellphone in Bangladesh is brought in through illegal channels.” Last year, the company imported about 20 lakh handsets, including 15 lakh smart devices, at Tk 1,897 crore, according to Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers Association. The country imported 3.12 crore mobile phones last year, up 11 percent over the previous year, at Tk 8,000 crore, the association’s data showed. About 50 lakh pieces of mobile handsets are brought in to the country through illegal channels a year, according to a recent report of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). The BTRC has recently taken an initiative to stop illegal imports by launching a database of the National Equipment Identity Register to store information of all legally-imported devices.
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