Surging global prices likely to push up wheat import cost
The cost of wheat import is likely to be higher notably this fiscal year due to an upward trend in the international prices of the food grain. The latest ‘Cereal Supply and Demand Brief’ by FAO forecasts 14 million tonnes of lesser global wheat production this fiscal year which now stands at almost 722 million tonnes, the smallest crop since 2013. However, FAO forecast over expected low output of the staple is being imitated in the market as prices surged by 21-22 per cent in last six months. Now wheat is being traded at $232-$240 a tonne in the global market. It was between $190 and $198 a tonne in March-April this year. Wheat imports by Bangladesh, however, hit a record 5.9 million tonnes worth US$ 1.2 billion in the last fiscal year. Local output declined to 1.3 million tonnes in the fiscal year 2017 and the same is projected at 1.1 million tonnes this fiscal, Department of Agriculture Extension data revealed. Prices of flour (loose), however, remained static in the domestic market, but the cost of packaged flour increased by 1.5-3.3 per cent in last six months, according to the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh. Annual demand for wheat is above 7.0 million tonnes in the country. And the demand has been rising by 6.0-8.0 per cent on a year-on-year basis. The government has a programme to import 0.5 million tonnes of wheat in FY’18. In the first two months of the current FY, the government imported 0.094 million tonnes and the private sector 1.06 million tonnes.
Imports witness 16pc growth in July
A whopping 274 per cent rise in fuel oil import enhanced country’s overall imports growth by nearly 16 per cent or US$ 640.40 million in July. The settlement of letters of credit (LCs), generally known as actual import, in terms of value, rose to $4.69 billion in July, the first month of the FY 2018-19 from $ 4.05 billion in the same period of the FY 18, according to the central bank’s latest statistics. The overall imports increased significantly during the period under review due to higher imports of petroleum products,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE on Monday. Import of petroleum products soared by 274.27 per cent to $492.96 million in July of the FY 19 from $131.71 million in the same period of the previous fiscal. The government allows installation of 10 oil-fired power plants under ‘fast-track’ programme to generate 1,768 megawatt (MW) electricity. On the other hand, import of capital machinery-industrial equipment used for production -was down by 16.36 per cent to $408.68 million during the period under review as against $488.65 million a year ago. Food grain imports, particularly of rice and wheat, increased by 21.50 per cent to $156.37 million in July from $128.71 million in the same period of the previous fiscal. Import of consumer goods fell by 2.54 per cent to $515.48 million in the first month of FY 19 from $528.93 million in the same period of the FY 18.
Meeting challenges of sustainable power generation
Dwindling domestic gas supply. Ensuring primary fuel supply to achieve the targeted electricity generation mix as envisaged under the Power Supply Master Plan (PSMP) 2016 and the Perspective Plan will be the most important challenge in the face of dwindling domestic gas supply. The growing shortage of natural gas for Bangladesh has become a burning issue. Petrobangla estimated in 2010 that the widening gap between demand and supply would be 7.0 to 9.0 TCF by FY2029 and according to the most recent data the current gas reserve will likely to be depleted in less than 10 years. What’s more worrying is that if the gas demand continues to grow at the current pace (7.0 per cent per annum) the current reserve will be completely depleted by 2023. On the bright side, Bangladesh has sizable unexplored and undiscovered gas resource. Available data indicates that Bangladesh has at least 8.4 TCF of gas resources out of which if 50 per cent becomes available for power, it will support around 2500MW highly efficient combined cycle power plants over their 30-years lifetime. Now, given our target to become an upper middle-income and high-income country by 2031 and 2041 respectively, and the required power generation needed to achieve such goals, the path to higher economic growth appears daunting indeed. Mobilising the US$50 billion from domestic and foreign investors could be the biggest challenge we have in the coming years to accomplish such rapid growth and structural transformation.
Thailand keen to invest in Bangladesh
Thailand entrepreneurs expressed their interest to invest in the potential sectors of Bangladesh. They came up with the interest when a 14-member Thai business delegation, led by deputy executive director of the International Institute for Trade and Development (ITD). The bilateral trade with Thailand could not yet reach to a satisfactory level. Thailand can invest in potential sectors of this country by taking the lucrative offers, like tax holiday, duty free benefits for export and corporate tax exemption. Bangladesh is an attractive destination for the Thai investors, Thai government has also emphasised to take the bilateral trade relations into a new height.
Record export of ceramics
The country’s ceramic ware exports set a new record in fiscal year (FY) 2017-18, thanks to the growing global demand for local products. local exporters shipped ceramics worth $52 million in FY ’18, a 33 per cent rise over FY ’17. They exported ceramics worth above $11 million in the July-August period of the current FY-more than 80 per cent of its target, according to the Export Promotion Bureau. Around 50 per cent of ceramics is exported to the US. Bangladeshi ceramic products are also transported to Canada, the European Union (EU) and other countries. According to the BCMEA, 65 ceramic manufacturers are currently producing tableware, tiles and sanitary ware. More than 0.5 million people are now employed in the sector having a market size of Tk 290 billion.
BSEC extends tenure for ten more years
The securities regulator has extended the tenure of the existing closed-end mutual funds (MFs) for another term of ten years. In this regard, the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) has issued a directive scrapping its previous directive regarding conversion or liquidation of closed-end MFs on completion of tenure of ten years. The three options which were discussed at that meeting were liquidation of closed-end MFs as per rules, conversion of the funds into open-end ones and extension of tenure once for ten years, according to a meeting participant. Finally, the securities regulator on Sunday took the decision of extending the tenure of closed-end MFs for another term of ten years. BSEC directive regarding conversion or liquidation of closed-end MFs remained valid as the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the directive. Following the verdict of the Appellate Division, two closed-end MFs managed by AIMS of Bangladesh were liquidated, while seven other closed-end MFs, managed by ICB, were converted into open-end ones. Presently, there are 37 closed-end MFs listed with the country’s stock exchanges.
High return keeps NSC sales above Tk 5,000cr in July
Government’s borrowing from the sales of national savings certificates remained buoyant in the first month of the fiscal year 2018-2019 in line with the trend of the last fiscal year as the rate of return from the instruments remained high. As per the data of the Directorate of National Savings, government’s borrowing from the NSCs stood at Tk 5,035 crore in July of the FY19. Government’s net borrowing from the savings certificates was Tk 46,530.30 crore in the fiscal year 2017-2018 against its initial target that was revised upward to Tk 44,000 crore. The net sale of NSCs was Tk 5,053 crore in July of the last fiscal year. Deposit rates in the banks hover around 3 to 8 per cent for different period of time, as per central bank data. The rates offered by the NSCs are between 11.04 per cent and 11.76 per cent, helping the government to lure investments to the tools. The government in the budget for 2018-2019 announced that it would collect Tk 29,197 crore through the sales of national savings certificates and other non-bank sources. Borrowing from the NSCs was Tk 33,688.60 crore in the fiscal 2015-2016 and Tk 52,417.48 crore in fiscal 2016-2017. Government’s outstanding NSC sales increased to Tk 2,42,2.26 crore at the end of June this fiscal year from Tk 1,96,289.76 crore as of June last year.
Local and Global Stock Indices *
|Index Name||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|DSEX|| 5443.80743 ||↓9.89||↓0.63%|
World Commodities *
|Commodity||Close Value||Value Change||Percentage Change|
|Crude Oil (WTI)||$ 68.61||↓0.30||↓0.44%|
|Crude Oil (Brent)||$ 77.58||↓0.47||↓0.60%|
Major Currencies Exchange Rates Movement in Last Seven Days *
|USD 1||BDT 83.8615|
|GBP 1||BDT 110.3533|
|EUR 1||BDT 98.0760|
|INR 1||BDT 1.1573|
*CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES ARE TAKEN FROM BLOOMBERG.