Important Business News Extracts September 24 2016
Negative NPL-ROA ties concern policy-makers
The negative relationship between classified loans and profitability has been a major concern for the policymakers in the banking industry of Bangladesh, according to a study conducted by the central bank. The study recommended that the authorities of commercial banks should adopt proper policy to improve the efficiency of liquidity management. “The negative relationship between non-performing loans (NPLs) and return on assets (ROA) has been a major concern for the policymakers in the banking industry of Bangladesh since NPLs in the banking sector have increased in the last three years during the post-2011 period,” the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said in the study report.
The state-owned Basic Bank has requested the government’s finance authority to expedite bond issuance to help it out through replenishing its capital shortfall of BDT 26.0 billion as per requirement of the Basel-III provision. In a letter to the ministry of finance (MoF) the bank’s managing director, Khondoker Md Iqbal, made the request and forwarded a sample of the proposed ‘Basic Bank Recapitalization Bond’, officials said. The problem-ridden bank was given bailout facilities earlier also. In total, it had received from the government BDT 23.9 billion to meet its capital shortage, including BDT 12.0 billion given to it in December last for recapitalization. As per his proposal sent to the ministry recently, the government, as the owner of the bank, will issue 26 bonds valued at BDT 1.0 billion each. Against the bonds the bank will issue general shares worth BDT 26.0 billion. The maturity period of the bonds will be 10 to 20 years, with their ownership being non-transferable.
Government may review decision on NBFIs’ access to its funds
The government may review its decision on access of non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs) to funds belonging to government, semi-government and autonomous bodies, said a high official. He, however, ruled out any immediate change in the list that the finance ministry had issued last year allowing 13 NBFIs to receive such funds and leaving out the rest 19. “It was a big decision from the high-ups of the government. There is no chance of changing it right at the moment. But we’ll review it before the expiry of the circular (containing the list) so that we can make change (in the list) later, if necessary,” Bank and Financial Institutions Division secretary Md Eunusur Rahman told the FE. The Bangladesh Leasing and Finance Companies Association (BLFCA) has been critical of the circular since its issuance in August, 2015 calling it a ‘discriminatory policy’.
Three listed Financial Institutions exempted from quarterly reports
The securities regulator has exempted three listed financial institutions (FIs) from submission of quarterly financial statements up to December this year to facilitate them preparing for complying with a provision of uniform income year (January-December) for all the companies, officials said. The companies – Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB), Delta Brac Housing Finance Corporation and MIDAS Finance – sought the exemption so that they could prepare for complying with the provision of uniform income year in accordance with the Finance Act, 2015 (Act No. 10 of 2015) and Finance Act, 2016 (Act No. 28 of 2016).
Malaysia opens job market for Bangladesh workers in three sectors
Malaysia has opened its job market for Bangladeshi workers in three sectors namely manufacturing, construction and agriculture, said a senior official at the expatriates’ welfare ministry. “Malaysia has informed the Bangladesh embassy recently about resumption of manpower recruitment from Bangladesh,” said joint secretary of the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Abdur Rouf. He said the country has agreed to recruit Bangladeshi manpower in three sectors — manufacturing, construction and agriculture. But the country is yet to send any demand of workers to Dhaka in this connection. He said workers will be sent through private recruitment companies. They have sent a list of 745 recruitment agencies to Malaysia. Employers will send demands of workers to the recruiting agencies online. When asked, Mr Rouf said if employers bear key expenses like levy, the migration cost of a worker might be around BDT 50,000 to secure job in the Southeast Asian country.
The volume of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country’s export processing zones (EPZs) exceeded the target by USU 66.4 million in last fiscal year (FY), 2015-16. The EPZs under Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) attracted FDI amounting to USD 404.4 million against the target of USD 338.0 million in last fiscal. It was around one-fifth of the country’s total FDI, amounting to USD 2015.20 million, according to an official statement of BEPZA. The statement also mentioned BEPZA’s contribution to the country’s economy with its eight EPZs that consist 2307.3 acres of land.
Economic Zone investors to get duty exemption on imports
Economic Zones developers and investors in Bangladesh will get full exemption from customs, regulatory and supplementary duties and value-added tax on imports of materials locally unavailable. The government recently offered a set of incentive packages for them to encourage more investments – both foreign and local. The Internal Resources Division issued separate gazette notifications to the effect of the benefits. The facilities have been offered for the EZs administered under the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority Act 2010, officials said. However, the National Board of Revenue has tagged several conditions against the benefits including that the EZ developers and investors will have to be registered for VAT. All the goods imported under this notification have to be approved and certified by the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) where the name of the product to be imported and description and quantity of the goods have to be certified by the BEZA. However, the investors or developers cannot avail the benefits if the materials like construction materials are available in Bangladesh. They will also not be given the benefit if the goods imported are not directly linked with development and construction of the EZs.
Garment factory remediation works: JICA fund interest rate set at 6.0%, French, German funds at 7.0%
The government has set the interest rate for loans from a BDT 276-crore JICA fund for remediation work of garment factories at 6%, down 4% points from the rate it imposed on previous such funds amid demands for the cut from the garment sector. It also set interest rate at 7% for two funds of France and Germany worth around BDT 7.2 million, the agreements for which are yet to be signed, for the remediation work of the risky garment units. The finance ministry in a letter on Wednesday gave directives to Bangladesh Bank, setting the rates of interest. The governments of Bangladesh and Japan signed an agreement on December 13, 2015 to use the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s fund amounting to BDT 2.8 billion to strengthen the safety measures of the RMG sector. The JICA has already released the first instalment of around BDT 380.0 million on March 30 from the fund but the money is yet to be disbursed to any of the RMG factories.
The number of 3G mobile internet connections rose 60.0% year-on-year to 28.8 million in fiscal 2015-16, according to a draft report of the telecom regulator. As of June, 59.7 million SIMs had internet connections, and of them, 48.28% were enjoying the fastest data service. Total active SIMs at that time were 131.4 million. Industry insiders said it is a success of the operators. Due to higher investments in 3G rollout, people were able to experience the fastest data service, they said. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission will publish the report soon, said an official. Average data consumption per user has seen significant growth over time, fuelled by an access to a wide range of digital lifestyle solutions, social media and other applications, he added.
Shipping industry in limbo due to global business downturn
The prolonged downturn in global shipping business and some local problems are threatening the country’s infant shipping industry that entrepreneurs once considered a highly potential sector. According to the Bangladesh Ocean-Going Ship Owners Association (BOGSOA), the number of local ocean-going merchant ships has now dwindled to 27 from 72 in 2014, a 62 per cent decline in two years. Industry insiders said many of the Bangladesh flag- carrier owners have sold out their vessels finding it difficult to survive with the fall of time charter (TC) rate to almost one-eighth. TC is for a fixed period instead of a certain number of voyages or trips. Time charter rate generally does not include loading and unloading costs in the charter rate. According to the industry insiders, the TC rate of a bulk carrier of 100,000-tonne capacity has now dropped to around 5,000 US dollars a day whereas it was around USD 40,000 in 2007 or 2008. “The present TC is not even enough to meet the operational expenses, let alone profit,” said BOGSOA president Azam J Chowdhury.
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