Bangladesh's poverty rate rises to 30pc amid pandemic
As the country is set to embrace a ‘hard’ lockdown from tomorrow (Wednesday), the World Bank (WB) on Monday released the Bangladesh Development Update (BDU) highlighting the impact of the Covid-19 on the labour market, including loss of jobs and rise in poverty.
In a survey, the Washington based-lender found that one in five economically active individuals had experienced either a job loss (5.0 per cent) or a prolonged absence from work (14 per cent) since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis.
Vegetable prices jump in capital
The prices of vegetables shot up on the kitchen markets in the capital city on Thursday, the second day of Ramadan, the fasting month for the Muslims, as a supply shortage of the items took place due to fresh restrictions on business, transport and public movement to contain the COVID-19 infection.
The prices of most of the vegetables increased by Tk 20-40 a kilogram in the last two days and the prices of aubergine and cucumber hit Tk 100 a kg in the city markets.
The two items along with some other items usually witness higher demand in the fasting month.
Traders said that the prices of almost all the vegetables went up in the city’s wholesale market as a very few number of vegetable-laden trucks entered the Dhaka city due to the restrictions.
‘The supply of vegetables almost halved at the Karwan Bazar kitchen market in the city in the last two days as regional traders and suppliers are buying vegetables in less quantities from different districts in the country in fear of losses amid the restrictions.’ Md Yousuf, a wholesaler, told New Age on Thursday.
He said that the prices of vegetables increased on both wholesale and the retail markets due to the supply shortage.
‘We cannot buy required quantities of vegetables from the wholesale market even after paying additional prices due to a supply shortage,’ said Mintu Sheikh, a retailer at the Mohammadpur kitchen market.
The price of all vegetables except papaya and tomato increased by Tk 10-30 a kilogram on Thursday in the city markets and most of the items were traded for Tk 70-80 a kg.
Aubergine sold for Tk 80-100 a kg, papaya for Tk 40-45 a kg, bitter gourd for Tk 60-70 a kg, bottle gourd for Tk 50-60 apiece, cucumber for Tk 80-100 a kg, string beans for Tk 70 a kg, okra for Tk 60-70 a kg, pointed gourd for Tk 60 a kg and tomato for Tk 30-40a kg.
Potato was selling for Tk 25 a kg while green chilli was selling for Tk 60 70 a kg on the day.
Customs houses asked not to allow unauthorised officials to use Asycuda
The National Board of Revenue has asked customs houses to refrain from allowing the unauthorised revenue officers (ROs) and assistant revenue officers (AROs) to conduct customs assessment using the Asycuda World System.
The revenue board on Sunday issued a set of directives to the customs houses in this connection after detecting irregularities in customs assessment by a section of ROs and AROs using the system.
Expressing deep concern over the irregularities, the customs wing of the NBR said that the customs houses were supposed to assign a RO or ARO in the system for a specific bill of entry to conduct the customs assessment of imported goods and ensure duty collection from the assignments.
Only assigned RO or ARO is responsible to conduct the customs assessment of the bill of entry using the system, it said.
But it has been found that other revenue officials, except the assigned one, have been performing the responsibilities without any reason, it added.
The practice creates room and risk of duty evasion, according to the directive.
No customs houses have brought the practice to the attention of the revenue board although the system was introduced in 2013, it said.
As per directives, customs houses should not allow unauthorised revenue officials to conduct customs assessment without any valid reason.
It also set a specific process on reassignment of ROs and AROs to carry out the customs assessment to ensure transparency in the Asycuda World system and check duty evasion.
Unapproved reassignment may cause loss of revenue due to illegal nexus between officials and importers, officials said.
They said that customs officials would be able to reassign the responsibility following a specific process.
The officials concerned will have to take prior written approval from the assistant or deputy commissioner of the customs house, explaining the reason for reassignment, they said.
The reassignment process, however, will have to be included in the Inspection Act or information page of Asycuda world system, according to the directive.
Reassignment not having prior approval or without a solid reason will be considered as misconduct, it said.
Assessment officer, approval officer and supervising officer will be held responsible personally and officially if the government loses revenue due to reassignment, it added.
First SME IPO gets BSEC nod
The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday allowed Nialco Alloys Limited to raise Tk 7.5 crore to be listed on the SME platform of the country’s stock exchanges.
Nialco Alloys will be the first company to be listed on the small and medium enterprise board of the stock exchanges.
The BSEC made the decision at a commission meeting presided over by its chairman Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam, a BSEC press release said.
In accordance with BSEC (Qualified Investor Offer by Small Capital Companies) Rules, 2018, Nialco will issue 75 lakh shares at Tk 10 each to eligible investors through qualified investor offer, it said.
The company will utilise the proceeds in land development, purchasing machinery and meeting IPO expenses.
The regulator also decided that individual investor who has investment of Tk 1 crore in the market will be considered as a QI.
As per financial statements as of September 30, 2020, Nialco Alloys’ net asset value per share (NAV without revaluation reserve) and earnings per share were Tk 12.43 and Tk 0.91 respectively.
The company will not be allowed to declare bonus dividend in three years after commencing trading on the SME board.
MTB Capital Limited is the issue manager of the IPO.
The BSEC on Thursday issued an order, exempting Midland Bank from complying with a provision of its public issue rules.
Earlier, the bank decided to raise Tk 70 crore through an IPO. The bank sought the exemption before applying for the IPO to the commission.
According to the order, 35 lakh out of the total 7 crore shares to be allotted by offering to the employees of Midland Bank must be considered as part of its IPO.
The employees of the bank may subscribe their portion of shares during the period of general public subscription and subscribed shares must be kept lock-in for two years from the date of issuance of prospectus or close of subscription, whichever comes later, it said.
BSEC approves green bond for first time in Bangladesh
Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) has allowed a non-governmental organisation to raise Tk 1.0 billion from the capital market by issuing green bonds for the first time in Bangladesh.
The regulator took the decision at a meeting on Wednesday, reports bdnews24.com.
The NGO, SAJIDA Foundation that focuses on improving health outcomes of the poor, aims to use the funds raised through the Green Zero-Coupon Bond to increase the outreach of its microfinance programme as well as ensure environmental development.
The price of each unit of the bond has been set at Tk 1 million, with a maturity period of two years.
The bonds will be non-convertible, unsecured and redeemable, meaning that these cannot be converted into shares.
No collateral is required to issue the bond and the money will be refunded with interest at the end of the two-year term.
Public financial institutions, mutual funds, insurance companies, listed banks, cooperative banks, regional rural banks, organisations, trusts and autonomous corporations can buy these bonds.
Sena Kalyan Insurance is the trustee of the bond while Standard Chartered Bank is the lead arranger.
In the global capital market, green bonds, just like other debt instruments, require investors to pay interest at the end of the term.
Typically, the company issuing the bonds must also fulfil certain commitments to ensure environmental development.
There are very few cases in the world where the company gets special benefits for this. However, in the interest of environmental development, investors are usually satisfied with the lower returns or interest on these bonds than on ordinary bonds of the same quality.
Asked about the matter, BSEC spokesperson Rezaul Karim said SAJIDA Foundation would spend the money generated from the green bonds on agriculture, sanitation and solar projects.
“In other parts of the world, interest rates on green bonds are lower. That is not possible in Bangladesh right now as the interest rate on savings certificates is much higher here. If the interest rate was low, it would be difficult to raise funds from it.”