News of Bangladesh

BMCCI seeks comprehensive info policy for branding Bangladesh abroad

DHAKA, Jan 23, 2019  – Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud today said policy reforms, policy simplification, need-based policy formulation and reduced outdated policies are necessary for the conducive business environment.

“We need to work on reducing trade gap with other countries. But, first of all, we need to enhance our capacity,” he said while meeting with the Board of Directors of Bangladesh-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI) led by its President Syed Moazzam Hossain at his secretariat office in the city, said a press release.

He said ready-made garment (RMG) is the biggest export earner of the country, but Bangladesh needs to encourage diversification of products in line with finding other potential export items.

He suggested to frame out a sector-specific policy demand.

Moazzam Hossain proposed for a comprehensive information policy which can play a catalytic role in disseminating information among the people.

He also urged the minister to take necessary initiatives for branding Bangladesh.

BMCCI Vice Presidents Raquib Mohammad Fakhrul (Rocky), and Syed Almas Kabir, Secretary General Shabbir Ahmed Khan, Directors M Showkat Ali, Syed Moinuddin Ahmed, Jamilur Rahman and Secretary Hasanur Rahman Chowdhury were also present.

Source: BSS, The Asian Age,UNB, New Nation

Japan wants FTA with Bangladesh

Says Kamal

Star Business Report

Japan has expressed its interest to sign a free trade agreement with Bangladesh, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said yesterday.

Hiroyasu Izumi, Japanese ambassador to Bangladesh, showed the willingness when he met with the minister at his secretariat office on Wednesday, according to a statement of the ministry.

“Japan is a very trusted friend of Bangladesh and doesn’t have any political agenda. So, it is very easy to work with Japan,” he said.

Kamal said Japan is assisting Bangladesh in various mega projects. The Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is being expanded with Japanese assistance. He said the way Bangladesh’s economy is growing, more than 80 lakh international passengers will use the airport annually.

In the statement, Izumi said the Japan International Cooperation Agency is Bangladesh’s biggest development partner and the assistance it provides is Japanese taxpayers’ money. “It is the reflection of love from the people of Japan,” he said.

Japan is giving 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion) in loan to Bangladesh in six projects, including the metro rail one, the envoy said. “The level of loan will increase in future through state-level visits between the two countries.”

The minister requested the ambassador to increase the foreign investment in Bangladesh – to which Izumi responded positively.

Source: The Daily Star

Govt to build 590MW plant in Anwara

Star Business Report

A consortium of Bangladesh and Japan is going to set up a 590-megawatt gas-based power plant at Anwara in Chattogram.

The cabinet committee on purchase approved a Power Division’s proposal for the plant at a meeting at the secretariat yesterday, with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.

The government will purchase power at Tk 2 to Tk 5.50 a kilowatt-hour unit for 22 years depending on the type of gas used in production.

The flow of foreign direct investment to the country would increase with the participation of the Japanese company in the project, Kamal told reporters after the meeting.

Dhaka-based industrial group United Enterprises & Co Ltd and Japanese companies Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc and Sojitz Corporation will operate the plant on a build-own-operate basis.

According to the proposal, if power is produced using local gas, the government will buy electricity from the consortium at $0.0368 (Tk 2.9493) per unit. The tariff will be $0.0680 (Tk 5.4435) if re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) is used.

If the plant uses gas, the government will pay about Tk 28,371 crore for 22 years and Tk 52,362 crore for the same period in case of RLNG usage.

The committee also gave its consent to another proposal to import 14.20 lakh tonnes of petroleum products from January to June this year at an estimated cost of Tk 6,772 crore.

Some 11.90 lakh tonnes of diesel will be imported with per barrel premium of $2.95. One lakh tonnes of jet fuel with a premium of $3.95 per barrel would be brought in.

For imports of 30,000 tonnes of octane, the premium will be $5.50 a barrel. It would be $29.75 per tonne for 1 lakh tonnes of furnace oil.

The petroleum products will be imported from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Kuwait and the Philippines under state-to-state arrangements, Nasima Begum, additional secretary of the cabinet division, told reporters.

The committee gave a nod to another proposal of the Power Division to buy 150,575 prepaid metres and related equipment for Cumilla and Mymensingh zone at Tk 137.75 crore. China-based company Shenziang Star Instrument Ltd got the job.

It also approved a proposal to award a Tk 101.98 crore component of the Elenga-Jamalpur national highway widening project to Wahid Construction Ltd.

Source: The Daily Star

Export source tax cut effective from Jan 1: NBR

Star Business Report

Banks will have to deduct 0.25 percent source tax on exports of apparel and other items, except for jute goods, with effect from the first day of January, said the National Board of Revenue (NBR) recently.

The tax collector made the disclosure in a clarification issued to Bangladesh Bank and managing directors of banks on January 17. Earlier this month, the NBR slashed source or withholding tax on export proceeds, except for jute goods, to 0.25 percent from 0.60 percent. The notification created confusion among bankers as the date when this would come into effect was not mentioned.

“We have issued the clarification to all banks to remove confusion,” said a senior official of the NBR.

For fiscal 2018-19, the NBR imposed 1 percent source tax on export of garments and other export items other than jute goods. It reduced the rate to 0.60 percent in September 2018 in the face of demand from garment exporters.

Source: The Daily Star

Wilmar, Adani sign deal with govt to invest $350m2

Star Business Report            

Singapore-based Wilmar and India’s Adani Group will invest $400 million in a joint venture to establish an industrial park in the Mirsarai economic zone to produce agro-based foods and allied products.

Some 11 industrial units will be set up on 100 acres of land, the lease agreement for which was signed yesterday among Wilmar, Adani Group and Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority.

The development comes after Wilmar International, a leading agribusiness group in Asia, sought land from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her visit to Singapore in March last year.

The industrial park, which will go into operation within next three years, will create about 3,500 jobs.

It will also have a waste refinery plant adopting sophisticated technology, logistic yard and warehouse.

The investment will enhance competitiveness of local manufacturers and help consumers to get quality products, said Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of BEZA.

Both local and foreign investors are showing keen interest on the economic zones, he said, adding that BEZA has established a land bank that will be able to provide land for investors.

Utility services like water, gas and power will be provided as the government ramps up its efforts to woo investors.

Mohammad Aiyub Ali, executive member of BEZA, and Inam Ahmed from the joint venture, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.

Source: The Daily Star

Big Korean firms to invest in Bangladesh: Kamal

Star Business Report

The Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (Koica) president has assured Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal that large Korean companies including Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo, LG will invest in Bangladesh.

The assurance came at a meeting yesterday between Koica President Lee Mi-kyung and Kamal at his office on the planning ministry premises.

The Koica president will present the attractive investment environment in Bangladesh to investors in his country upon his return, the finance minister told reporters after the meeting.

Mi-kyung though expressed his unhappiness about the traffic jam in Dhaka city, according to Kamal.

However, it would be manageable as Korea faced such congestions in the past, he said, adding that the Korean government has assured assistance to Bangladesh in tackling the traffic jam.

Source: The Daily Star

FM’s call to generate revenue

Widening the tax base is crucial

Muhammad Nurul Huda

One can justifiably expect a lot from our newly inducted finance minister, for he is a chartered accountant by training, a seasoned politician with the experience of holding important public offices, and a successful businessman—a combination that makes him well suited for his new job. He has lost no time in outlining his priorities as finance minister, and one of those is raising tax revenue to meet public expenditure. While speaking to officials, he underscored the importance of expanding the tax base and recruitment of adequate personnel for generating more revenue.

A pertinent question is, shall we stick to the old-fashioned fiscal theory that income tax rates must be increased to provide higher revenues to the state? The modern fiscal theory that is pursued by many developed countries is to increase revenue not by increasing income tax rates, but by increasing income and expanding the tax base. In other words, tax revenues must be made self-generating. Viewed in this light, the new finance minister’s direction to broaden the tax base is a step in the right direction.

It is perhaps relevant to recall that the method of eradicating inequalities by giddy levels of taxation involves levelling down. The modern fiscal method aims at levelling up and uses rapid economic growth as an instrument for reduction of economic inequalities. A steeply progressive corporate and personal income tax system often results in large-scale tax evasion and economic stagnation. This was the experience of post-World War II Germany.

Faced with mounting public expenditure, the German government made tax reduction the first step in its fiscal policy. The lowering of the tax rates benefitted the small taxpayers as well as large enterprises. Generous tax exemptions were given to individuals and firms who saved and invested funds in capital goods and housing.

In our situation, we have to admit that ensuring social justice should be the most important goal of taxation. The problem that we face is reconciling the objective of social justice with the need for providing fiscal stimulus to promote economic goals. In other words, the ideology of taxation is broadly based on the considerations of raising revenue and bringing about certain economic and social results.

It is a truism that taxes, like water, have a tendency to find the lowest level. In the final analysis, almost all taxes hit the common man. Therefore, while levying taxes, we would do well to ensure that the tax is equitable and fair for the different classes of society. The convenience of the taxpayers needs to be ensured by not making the taxes complicated and cumbersome. The government has to economise and levy only the minimum tax which is necessary for the national good. Simultaneously, the laws imposing taxes must be clearly and precisely worded so that the common man can understand exactly what burden is he expected to bear.

The objective of the nation’s basic economic policy should be to foster and lead continued growth in desired directions. In this context, private investment assumes a crucial role; and private saving has an even greater role to play since a considerable part of public investment itself is financed through a draft on private savings. Therefore, a central objective of the tax policy in Bangladesh must be to promote the highest possible rate of private saving in the country.

A distinctive feature of an economy that fosters enterprise and promotes savings and investment is a reasonably low tax structure. There is no doubt that rewards have to be shared but first they have to be earned; wealth must be distributed but first it has to be created. Only good management, hard work and initiative on the part of the people can accomplish the end. The government’s function should be to offer incentives and create a climate in which these qualities are encouraged, cultivated and brought to mellow fruitfulness.

In China, there has been a policy to implement tax cuts for small and micro-level enterprises with a view to mainly supporting employment. Policymakers there are of the view that developing and strengthening small companies can contribute to economic stability and greater income and employment generation. To a large extent, this is expected to expand the tax base, conserve tax resources and ultimately help with mass employment, corporate profits and fiscal revenues.

On the issue of tax cuts, the view that tax rates in Bangladesh cannot be reduced because of the widespread tax evasion is comparable with the observation that one should not go into water until one has learnt to swim.

Tax evasion is reprehensible because it is social injustice by the evader to his fellow citizens. Arbitrary or excessive taxation is equally reprehensible because it is social injustice by the government to the people. Tax evasion aggravates arbitrary taxation; and arbitrary taxation aggravates tax evasion. To break this vicious cycle, we must at once take initiatives to check tax evasion and stop arbitrary taxation.

DITF 2019

Source: The Daily Star

Koica to help Bangladesh draw investors

Star Online Report

Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) president today assured Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal that he will present the prospect of conducive environment of investment in Bangladesh to Korean giants like Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo and LG.

Koica President Lee Mi-kyung today held a meeting with the finance minister at his office at the planning ministry, reports our staff correspondent.

After the meeting, the finance minister told reporters that the Koica president after returning to South Korea will present the attractive environment for investment prevailing in Bangladesh to the investors in his country.

“The Koica president expressed his unhappiness over the traffic jam in Dhaka city,” Mustafa Kamal said, adding “However, he said the traffic is manageable as Korea faced such traffic congestion in the past”.

In this regard, the South Korean government has assured to assist Bangladesh in tackling traffic jam, the minister also said.

Koica President Lee Mi-kyung, while talking to the reporters, also praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for providing shelter to the forcibly displaced Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Source: The Daily Star

Adani Wilmar to invest $400m in Mirsarai Economic2 Zone

FE Report | Published:  January 21, 2019 10:33:16

– Mirsarai Economic Zone/ Illustration

Adani Wilmar Limited, a joint venture of India and Singapore-based two companies, is set to invest US $400 million in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City in Chattogram region to establish agro-based factories, officials said.

It will manufacture import-substitute food items in 11 industrial units on 100 acres of land and create 3,550 employments, they said.

“This is a quality foreign investment,” Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Paban Chowdhury told the FE.

He said Wilmar International Limited officials showed their interest to invest in Bangladesh during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Singapore in March 2018.

After visiting the Mirsarai Economic Zone (EZ), the Wilmar officials expressed their satisfaction with the geographical location of the economic zone and other facilities being provided by the BEZA, he mentioned.

“They are now investing for 100 acres of land, though they wanted only 50 acres at the initial stage,” he said.

Foreign investment by global conglomerates like Adani Wilmar is a testimony of favourable business climate in Bangladesh, said the BEZA chief.

“The extent of foreign investment will continue to grow in coming years,” he added.

According to the investment proposal, this is Adani Wilmar’s largest investment in Bangladesh so far.

Adani Wilmar Bangladesh Ltd. will develop the land by itself at the Mirsarai Economic Zone, which is a part of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City spreading in Chattogram’s Mrisarai, Sitakundu and Feni’s Sonagazi upazilas on 30,000 acres of land.

Source: The Financial Express

China grants $72.57m loan for economic development

Published:  January 20, 2019 18:00:03 | Updated:  January 20, 2019 18:18:19

China will provide grant assistance of approximately $72.57 million or RMB 500 million to Bangladesh under an agreement on economic and technical cooperation between Bangladesh and China.

The grant shall be utilised for the welfare projects such as disaster management, bridge construction and so on. Detailed matters will be stipulated in separate agreements to be signed between the two sides.

The Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Monowar Ahmed and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Zhang Zuo signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides at the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area on Sunday.

After signing of the agreement, ERD Secretary Monowar Ahmed said that for Bangladesh the economic ties with China are of greater significance as China is now the largest trading partner of Bangladesh.

He also requested the Chinese Ambassador to expedite the process for signing the other financial agreements which are in the pipeline.

Chinese Ambassador said the friendship between the two countries is a long lasting one and China always attaches greater importance to the development assistance of Bangladesh.

“In future, China will continue to offer its best to support and bolster Bangladesh’s economy and development,” said Zhang Zuo adding that they would jointly push forward the construction of 9th, 10th and 11th friendship bridges in Bangladesh.

The other important completed projects with Chinese grant assistance include – construction of an international standard conference centre; and Eighth Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridges; agricultural equipments; hybrid rice technology cooperation; medical equipment; dredger, scanner for customs.

Besides, some important on-going grant projects are construction of China-Bangladesh Friendship Exhibition Centre at Purbachal; Burn Unit of Chittagong Medical College; rescue equipments for fire service and flood management planning, reports BSS.

SOurce: Financial Express

Govt to consider cash incentive for RMG accessories: Mannan

GAPEXPO-2019 ends, 13 cos win awards

FE Report |  January 21, 2019 00:00:00

Bangladesh Garments Accessories & Packaging Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGAPMEA) on Sunday awarded 13 companies for their contribution to the local garment industry and export trade.

Planning Minister MA Mannan, as the chief guest, handed over the gold, silver and bronze trophies to the winners under four categories – small, medium, large and direct export – at the concluding ceremony of a four-day GAPEXPO-2019.

BGAPMEA organised the event at the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) in the city.

Bangladesh Bank Deputy Governor Ahmed Jamal and National Board of Revenue (NBR) Member (Customs, Export, Bond & IT) Sultan Md Iqbal attended the function as special guests, with BGAPMEA President Md Abdul Kader Khan in the chair.

The minister assured the fast growing local garment accessories and packaging industry of providing all policy support and said the government would consider the possibility of offering cash incentives to the subsector.

He said the government is interested to provide cash incentives to the export-oriented industries, but it will assess the economic value of the idea first and scrutinise whether it is equitable comparing to other sectors or not.

The BGAPMEA president said the country’s garment accessories and packaging industry has been exporting various products after meeting the local demand.

The subsector would contribute around US$ 12 billion to the country’s $50 billion export target set for the readymade garment (RMG) industry by 2021, he said.

Mentioning that the corporate tax for the export-oriented industries reduced to 12 per cent from 35 per cent, Mr Khan urged the government to provide the garment accessories and packaging subsector with similar facility.

Citing Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, he said the country’s RMG industry has seen a growth of 15.65 per cent in the first six months of the current fiscal year (2018-2019) while the accessories and packaging industry grew at 8.5 per cent.

The award winners under small category were Trims International (gold), Grace Accessories (silver) and Poly Corr Packaging (bronze).

Siam Computerised Elastic Ltd (gold), KDS Poly Industries (silver), and Sans Packaging and Accessories Industries Ltd (bronze) were the winners under medium category.

The awards of large category went to Montrims Ltd (gold), KDS Accessories Ltd (silver) and Eltafil Accessories Ltd (bronze).

Montrims Ltd (gold), Simtex Industries Ltd (silver) and Al-Muslim Accessories were awarded for their excellence in direct export.

Besides, a special award was given to Nur A Nazneen Khan of Green House Ltd under the category of women entrepreneur in BGAPMEA.

ahb_mcj2009@yahoo.com

Largest private economic zone to be ready this year

Ahsan Habib

The country’s largest private economic zone, Sirajganj Economic Zone Ltd (SEZL), may open for entrepreneurs within this year.

“We expect that we will be able to allot the plots of the zone within December this year or the first half of next year at maximum,” said the zone’s director, Sheikh Monowar Hossain.

The zone is expected to create employment opportunities for five lakh people and bring in over $2 billion in investments. Its architectural layout designates space for 400 industries.

Hossain said the SEZL spent Tk 350 crore to acquire 1,035.93 acres of land, which was now being readied and levelled with sand.

Its physical infrastructure is also being developed, one being through the ongoing construction of a jetty.

Other facilities include dormitories and housing of five-star or equivalent standards for workers, one-stop administrative and logistic amenities, health and day care centres and technical institutions.

The zone will have its own means of sourcing water and will generate steam through a dedicated plant. It will very soon start setting up a 300-MW power plant for uninterrupted electricity supply while availing natural gas from the government.

The SEZL will dispose of its industrial waste through a common effluent treatment plant (CETP) characterised by zero discharge.

The construction of these facilities will start gradually after work on the power plant begins, said the zone’s general manager, Md Shahidur Rahman.

He said the economic zone has already caught the attention of some foreign investors from China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and the US, while some local investors also expressed interest to set up factories, mostly textile.

Entrepreneurs can purchase industrial plots or take lease of the land as well as ready factories. Prices are yet to be fixed, Rahman added.

The zone’s development cost, minus the power and steam plants and the CETP, is projected to be about Tk 2,800 crore. It is being borne by a consortium of nine companies and two businesspersons, Mohammad Kamruzzaman and Ehsan Habib.

The companies are Knit Asia, Rising Holdings, Mahmud Fashion, Ratul Knitwear, SM Holdings, Paragon Feed, Textown, Manami Fashions and Change Bangladesh.

They got the final licence from the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) on October 4, 2018.

“It’s a dream project towards the northern part of Bangladesh,” said Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of the Beza.

It is exceptional in the sense that the private sector has been provided the opportunity by the government to prove their mettle in setting up a large economic zone, he said.

“I believe it will ramp up the rural economy of northern Bangladesh,” he added.

Apart from road and rail connectivity, the zone has access to waterways for it lies on the banks of the river Jamuna. Sirajganj is the gateway to northern Bangladesh.

Chowdhury said the connectivity would be a big advantage for the zone’s entrepreneurs. He, however, cited a challenge: the rehabilitation of people whose land had been acquired.

Monowar Hossain said they were working to this end, creating an ideal village where land, housing and other facilities like urban areas would be provided. “So, it will not be a problem at all,” he said.

Source: The Daily Star

Govt curbs hiring project officials in top grades thru outsourcing

Jasim Uddin Haroon | Published:  January 20, 2019 09:26:58 | Updated:  January 20, 2019 10:20:56

Picture used for illustrative purpose only — Collected

A government order has imposed restrictions on appointing people to higher-grade jobs in the projects through outsourcing.

The ministry of finance (MoF) issued new outsourcing guidelines on January 01, clearing the way for recruiting of people only in the lower grades, from the 16th to the 20th.

The new guidelines, which have replaced the 2008 version, are applicable to all government and foreign-aided development and non-development projects.

Finance officials familiar with the matter said under the new guidelines, the five grades at the lower level, which mostly consist of peons, messengers, cooks, drivers, lift maintenance people are eligible for the recruitment through outsourcing firms.

They said several hundred higher-grade technical posts are filled by outsourcing.

“Many project directors expressed their reservations about the new order, saying many of them are at the final stage of hiring staffers,” said a Finance Ministry official.

Many have circulated newspaper advertisements for appointing higher-grade people like the assistant engineers for the projects, he said.

He, however, said if they fail to recruit through outsourcing then they have the only option of direct method of hiring.

The projects used to hire directly, but experience shows that most of the recruited staffers get their jobs regularised through Court orders as soon as their contracts expire.

In the meantime, the Finance Ministry is likely to revise the guidelines, considering the importance of the development projects.

This kind of higher-grade employment usually takes place in the Local Government Engineering Department, Roads and Highways Department, bridges division, Water Development Board, etc.

Even the posts of sixth-grade people were filled through outsourcing.

The government had issued the guidelines in 2008 for outsourcing for the both development and non-development projects in order to reduce the government burden in terms of paying salaries and pensions.

“We favour outsourcing as firms provide the people and they have no chance of filing cases claiming absorption into the revenue budget,” said the official.

Officials at the ministry and development projects said there should have been an inter-ministerial meeting before issuing the guidelines.

The Finance Ministry is now collecting data relating to the existing number of such higher-grade employees and their annual demand for the recruitment.

“We’ve written to all divisions asking them to provide data on how many people are usually appointed in the project through outsourcing,” the official said.

jasimharoon@yahoo.com

Source: Financial Express

Japan wants to invest in Bangladesh’s

IT sector

Published:  January 15, 2019 15:33:55 | Updated:  January 15, 2019 22:10:23

Visiting Minister in charge of Economic Revitalisation of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday said his country will continue to support Bangladesh in key development arenas, showing interest to invest in the IT sector of Bangladesh.

Toshimitsu Motegi came up with the assurance when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office in Dhaka city on Tuesday.

PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.

The Japanese minister said Japan has been a great partner since the independence of Bangladesh and the bilateral relations are complementary to each other.

He congratulated Sheikh Hasina on assuming office as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third consecutive term through a participatory election. “It was a participatory election,” the Press Secretary quoted the Japanese minister as saying.

Motegi expressed his conviction that the relations between Bangladesh and Japan will be stronger during the current tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Welcoming the Japanese minister in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina recalled Japan’s contributions to Bangladesh’s economic development.

Describing Japan as an old friend of Bangladesh, she said Japan is providing support to various development sectors, particularly constructing the Rupsha Bridge, metro rail and other projects.

Terming Japan a development model for Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said her government wants to develop every village into a township with urban facilities.

The Prime Minister said Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman founded the relations with Japan.

Sheikh Hasina proposed Japan to provide support to the training programmes in IT parks and deep-sea fishing, UNB reported.

She urged hiring of trained homecare nurses from Bangladesh and the Japanese minister responded positively.

Sheikh Hasina reiterated her government’s steadfast stance against terrorism, saying Bangladesh has adopted ‘zero tolerance’ to terrorism and militancy.

The Japanese minister shared the experience with the Prime Minister on his visit to Bangabandhu Museum, saying he was overwhelmed seeing different memories and documents on the life of the Father of the Nation.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, PM’s International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi and Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman were present.

Source: Financial Express

Govt to allow LNG import in pvt sector

Importers to fix prices

M Azizur Rahman | Published:  January 16, 2019 10:03:00 | Updated:  January 16, 2019 10:30:11

The government would soon open the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the private sector, enabling them to sell the fuel to clients of their choice.

“The private sector would be able to import LNG, regasify and sell it to consumers under a specific policy to be formulated soon,” said state minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid.

The price of LNG or regasified LNG would be determined by the private importers themselves, he told the FE.

A lawmaker for three straight terms since 2008, Mr Hamid has been serving as a state minister holding the same portfolio for two consecutive terms since 2014.

Elaborating his government’s plan, Mr Hamid said the private sector would be allowed to build LNG import terminal, if necessary, to facilitate business.

They would also be allowed to supply their regasified LNG through state-run national gas grid against payment of wheeling charges, he added.

The demand for natural gas in industries and power plants is mounting in line with the steady growth of gross domestic product (GDP).

The GDP was more than 6.0 per cent in the past one decade and it crossed 7.0 per cent during the past three financial years.

Bangladesh started importing LNG since April 24, 2018, with the arrival of US giant Excelerate Energy’s “Excellence” with 136,000 cubic metres of lean LNG from Qatar at Moheshkhali Island terminal.

The Petrobangla, however, started imports from Qatar’s RasGas regularly since September 09 after successfully feeding regasified LNG to consumers from August 18.

Currently, some 300 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of regasified LNG is being supplied to the national grid to feed consumers based in Chattogram city.

The volume would go up soon, said Mr Hamid.

Bangladesh will need to import around 30 million tonnes of LNG per year to meet the growing local demand by 2041 as domestic gas reserves are depleting fast.

This was disclosed by a report prepared by Copenhagen-based research firm Ramboll in association with Geological Survey of Denmark and EQMS Consulting Limited.

The regasified LNG would be used to feed sectors like industries, power and fertiliser plants, it said.

The country’s existing gas reserves of around 12 trillion cubic feet will run out by 2038 if no new exploration and discovery takes place, said the report.

Bangladesh aspires to become a developed country by 2041 after achieving all necessary economic growth.

Bangladesh’s current natural gas production from domestic fields is hovering around 2,750 mmcfd against the demand of around 4,000 mmcfd, according to Petrobangla.

This deficit has to be met by imports, the report said.

By 2041, the demand for natural gas would be around 8,000 mmcfd, according to the state-run corporation.

To ensure the country’s future energy security, Mr Hamid said, the government would continue to import petroleum products, especially diesel and furnace oil, for the next several years.

Furnace oil- and diesel-fired power plants would continue operations until big coal or LNG-fuelled base load power plants come on line, he added.

Source: Financial Express

Govt cuts source tax to 0. 25pc for all exporters

Published:  January 15, 2019 20:56:09 | Updated:  January 16, 2019 10:15:50

The government has once again slashed tax at source to 0.25 per cent from the existing 0.60 per cent for exporting goods to give some relief mainly to the RMG exporters following the recent hike in the wages of garment workers.

The Internal Resources Division has issued a statutory regulatory order (SRO) signed by its Senior Secretary and National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan to this end. The new measure came into effect on January 1 last.

Following the issuance of the SRO under clause 44(4) of the Income Tax Ordinance 1985, the new rate will be applicable for all the export items, excluding jute goods, reports UNB.

From now on, exporters will have to pay Tk 0.25 instead of Tk 0.60 as tax at source for exporting goods worth Tk 100.

On September 5, 2018, the government reduced the rate from 1.0 per cent to 0.60 percent following demand from businessmen.

A senior NBR official, preferring not to be quoted, said the cut in the tax rate for exporters, especially the RMG ones, came as they accepted the government’s proposal to increase the wages of their workers.

“Although we’re apprehending a significant fall in the revenue collection from this sector, we’ve reduced the rate as the garment owners demanded so to raise the wages of their workers. The government is always sincere about workers’ welfare,” he said.

The official also mentioned that the new rate will improve the compatibility of Bangladeshi products in the world market.

The government on Sunday announced a revised pay structure for the garment sector following directives from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The wages of garment workers under grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 out of total seven grades were adjusted freshly.

The minimum wage under the 6th grade has been increased to Tk 8,420 from Tk 8,405 which was Tk 5,678 in 2013 while that under the 5th grade to Tk 8,875 from Tk 8,855 which was Tk 6,042 in 2013.

A 4th grade worker will now get Tk 9,347 instead of Tk 9,245 as minimum wage against Tk 6,420 in 2013 while 3rd grade one will get Tk 9,845 instead of Tk 9,590 which was Tk 6,805 in 2013.

The minimum wage under the 2nd grade has been increased to Tk 15,416 from Tk 14,630 which was Tk 10,900 in 2013 while that under 1st grade to Tk 18,257 from Tk 17,510 which was Tk 13,000 in 2013.

On November 26 last, the government published a gazette notification fixing Tk 8,000 as the minimum wage of garment workers.

Source: Financial Express

BMCCI seeks comprehensive info policy for branding Bangladesh abroad

DHAKA, Jan 23, 2019  – Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud today said policy reforms, policy simplification, need-based policy formulation and reduced outdated policies are necessary for the conducive business environment.

“We need to work on reducing trade gap with other countries. But, first of all, we need to enhance our capacity,” he said while meeting with the Board of Directors of Bangladesh-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI) led by its President Syed Moazzam Hossain at his secretariat office in the city, said a press release.

He said ready-made garment (RMG) is the biggest export earner of the country, but Bangladesh needs to encourage diversification of products in line with finding other potential export items.

He suggested to frame out a sector-specific policy demand.

Moazzam Hossain proposed for a comprehensive information policy which can play a catalytic role in disseminating information among the people.

He also urged the minister to take necessary initiatives for branding Bangladesh.

BMCCI Vice Presidents Raquib Mohammad Fakhrul (Rocky), and Syed Almas Kabir, Secretary General Shabbir Ahmed Khan, Directors M Showkat Ali, Syed Moinuddin Ahmed, Jamilur Rahman and Secretary Hasanur Rahman Chowdhury were also present.

Source: BSS, The Asian Age,UNB, New Nation

Govt to build 590MW plant in Anwara

Star Business Report

A consortium of Bangladesh and Japan is going to set up a 590-megawatt gas-based power plant at Anwara in Chattogram.

The cabinet committee on purchase approved a Power Division’s proposal for the plant at a meeting at the secretariat yesterday, with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the chair.

The government will purchase power at Tk 2 to Tk 5.50 a kilowatt-hour unit for 22 years depending on the type of gas used in production.

The flow of foreign direct investment to the country would increase with the participation of the Japanese company in the project, Kamal told reporters after the meeting.

Dhaka-based industrial group United Enterprises & Co Ltd and Japanese companies Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc and Sojitz Corporation will operate the plant on a build-own-operate basis.

According to the proposal, if power is produced using local gas, the government will buy electricity from the consortium at $0.0368 (Tk 2.9493) per unit. The tariff will be $0.0680 (Tk 5.4435) if re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) is used.

If the plant uses gas, the government will pay about Tk 28,371 crore for 22 years and Tk 52,362 crore for the same period in case of RLNG usage.

The committee also gave its consent to another proposal to import 14.20 lakh tonnes of petroleum products from January to June this year at an estimated cost of Tk 6,772 crore.

Some 11.90 lakh tonnes of diesel will be imported with per barrel premium of $2.95. One lakh tonnes of jet fuel with a premium of $3.95 per barrel would be brought in.

For imports of 30,000 tonnes of octane, the premium will be $5.50 a barrel. It would be $29.75 per tonne for 1 lakh tonnes of furnace oil.

The petroleum products will be imported from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Kuwait and the Philippines under state-to-state arrangements, Nasima Begum, additional secretary of the cabinet division, told reporters.

The committee gave a nod to another proposal of the Power Division to buy 150,575 prepaid metres and related equipment for Cumilla and Mymensingh zone at Tk 137.75 crore. China-based company Shenziang Star Instrument Ltd got the job.

It also approved a proposal to award a Tk 101.98 crore component of the Elenga-Jamalpur national highway widening project to Wahid Construction Ltd.

Source: The Daily Star

Export source tax cut effective from Jan 1: NBR

Star Business Report

Banks will have to deduct 0.25 percent source tax on exports of apparel and other items, except for jute goods, with effect from the first day of January, said the National Board of Revenue (NBR) recently.

The tax collector made the disclosure in a clarification issued to Bangladesh Bank and managing directors of banks on January 17. Earlier this month, the NBR slashed source or withholding tax on export proceeds, except for jute goods, to 0.25 percent from 0.60 percent. The notification created confusion among bankers as the date when this would come into effect was not mentioned.

“We have issued the clarification to all banks to remove confusion,” said a senior official of the NBR.

For fiscal 2018-19, the NBR imposed 1 percent source tax on export of garments and other export items other than jute goods. It reduced the rate to 0.60 percent in September 2018 in the face of demand from garment exporters.

Source: The Daily Star

Wilmar, Adani sign deal with govt to invest $350m2

Star Business Report            

Singapore-based Wilmar and India’s Adani Group will invest $400 million in a joint venture to establish an industrial park in the Mirsarai economic zone to produce agro-based foods and allied products.

Some 11 industrial units will be set up on 100 acres of land, the lease agreement for which was signed yesterday among Wilmar, Adani Group and Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority.

The development comes after Wilmar International, a leading agribusiness group in Asia, sought land from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her visit to Singapore in March last year.

The industrial park, which will go into operation within next three years, will create about 3,500 jobs.

It will also have a waste refinery plant adopting sophisticated technology, logistic yard and warehouse.

The investment will enhance competitiveness of local manufacturers and help consumers to get quality products, said Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of BEZA.

Both local and foreign investors are showing keen interest on the economic zones, he said, adding that BEZA has established a land bank that will be able to provide land for investors.

Utility services like water, gas and power will be provided as the government ramps up its efforts to woo investors.

Mohammad Aiyub Ali, executive member of BEZA, and Inam Ahmed from the joint venture, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.

Source: The Daily Star

Big Korean firms to invest in Bangladesh: Kamal

Star Business Report

The Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (Koica) president has assured Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal that large Korean companies including Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo, LG will invest in Bangladesh.

The assurance came at a meeting yesterday between Koica President Lee Mi-kyung and Kamal at his office on the planning ministry premises.

The Koica president will present the attractive investment environment in Bangladesh to investors in his country upon his return, the finance minister told reporters after the meeting.

Mi-kyung though expressed his unhappiness about the traffic jam in Dhaka city, according to Kamal.

However, it would be manageable as Korea faced such congestions in the past, he said, adding that the Korean government has assured assistance to Bangladesh in tackling the traffic jam.

Source: The Daily Star

FM’s call to generate revenue

Widening the tax base is crucial

Muhammad Nurul Huda

One can justifiably expect a lot from our newly inducted finance minister, for he is a chartered accountant by training, a seasoned politician with the experience of holding important public offices, and a successful businessman—a combination that makes him well suited for his new job. He has lost no time in outlining his priorities as finance minister, and one of those is raising tax revenue to meet public expenditure. While speaking to officials, he underscored the importance of expanding the tax base and recruitment of adequate personnel for generating more revenue.

A pertinent question is, shall we stick to the old-fashioned fiscal theory that income tax rates must be increased to provide higher revenues to the state? The modern fiscal theory that is pursued by many developed countries is to increase revenue not by increasing income tax rates, but by increasing income and expanding the tax base. In other words, tax revenues must be made self-generating. Viewed in this light, the new finance minister’s direction to broaden the tax base is a step in the right direction.

It is perhaps relevant to recall that the method of eradicating inequalities by giddy levels of taxation involves levelling down. The modern fiscal method aims at levelling up and uses rapid economic growth as an instrument for reduction of economic inequalities. A steeply progressive corporate and personal income tax system often results in large-scale tax evasion and economic stagnation. This was the experience of post-World War II Germany.

Faced with mounting public expenditure, the German government made tax reduction the first step in its fiscal policy. The lowering of the tax rates benefitted the small taxpayers as well as large enterprises. Generous tax exemptions were given to individuals and firms who saved and invested funds in capital goods and housing.

In our situation, we have to admit that ensuring social justice should be the most important goal of taxation. The problem that we face is reconciling the objective of social justice with the need for providing fiscal stimulus to promote economic goals. In other words, the ideology of taxation is broadly based on the considerations of raising revenue and bringing about certain economic and social results.

It is a truism that taxes, like water, have a tendency to find the lowest level. In the final analysis, almost all taxes hit the common man. Therefore, while levying taxes, we would do well to ensure that the tax is equitable and fair for the different classes of society. The convenience of the taxpayers needs to be ensured by not making the taxes complicated and cumbersome. The government has to economise and levy only the minimum tax which is necessary for the national good. Simultaneously, the laws imposing taxes must be clearly and precisely worded so that the common man can understand exactly what burden is he expected to bear.

The objective of the nation’s basic economic policy should be to foster and lead continued growth in desired directions. In this context, private investment assumes a crucial role; and private saving has an even greater role to play since a considerable part of public investment itself is financed through a draft on private savings. Therefore, a central objective of the tax policy in Bangladesh must be to promote the highest possible rate of private saving in the country.

A distinctive feature of an economy that fosters enterprise and promotes savings and investment is a reasonably low tax structure. There is no doubt that rewards have to be shared but first they have to be earned; wealth must be distributed but first it has to be created. Only good management, hard work and initiative on the part of the people can accomplish the end. The government’s function should be to offer incentives and create a climate in which these qualities are encouraged, cultivated and brought to mellow fruitfulness.

In China, there has been a policy to implement tax cuts for small and micro-level enterprises with a view to mainly supporting employment. Policymakers there are of the view that developing and strengthening small companies can contribute to economic stability and greater income and employment generation. To a large extent, this is expected to expand the tax base, conserve tax resources and ultimately help with mass employment, corporate profits and fiscal revenues.

On the issue of tax cuts, the view that tax rates in Bangladesh cannot be reduced because of the widespread tax evasion is comparable with the observation that one should not go into water until one has learnt to swim.

Tax evasion is reprehensible because it is social injustice by the evader to his fellow citizens. Arbitrary or excessive taxation is equally reprehensible because it is social injustice by the government to the people. Tax evasion aggravates arbitrary taxation; and arbitrary taxation aggravates tax evasion. To break this vicious cycle, we must at once take initiatives to check tax evasion and stop arbitrary taxation.

DITF 2019

Source: The Daily Star

Koica to help Bangladesh draw investors

Star Online Report

Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) president today assured Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal that he will present the prospect of conducive environment of investment in Bangladesh to Korean giants like Samsung, Hyundai, Daewoo and LG.

Koica President Lee Mi-kyung today held a meeting with the finance minister at his office at the planning ministry, reports our staff correspondent.

After the meeting, the finance minister told reporters that the Koica president after returning to South Korea will present the attractive environment for investment prevailing in Bangladesh to the investors in his country.

“The Koica president expressed his unhappiness over the traffic jam in Dhaka city,” Mustafa Kamal said, adding “However, he said the traffic is manageable as Korea faced such traffic congestion in the past”.

In this regard, the South Korean government has assured to assist Bangladesh in tackling traffic jam, the minister also said.

Koica President Lee Mi-kyung, while talking to the reporters, also praised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for providing shelter to the forcibly displaced Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

Source: The Daily Star

Adani Wilmar to invest $400m in Mirsarai Economic2 Zone

FE Report | Published:  January 21, 2019 10:33:16

– Mirsarai Economic Zone/ Illustration

Adani Wilmar Limited, a joint venture of India and Singapore-based two companies, is set to invest US $400 million in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City in Chattogram region to establish agro-based factories, officials said.

It will manufacture import-substitute food items in 11 industrial units on 100 acres of land and create 3,550 employments, they said.

“This is a quality foreign investment,” Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Paban Chowdhury told the FE.

He said Wilmar International Limited officials showed their interest to invest in Bangladesh during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Singapore in March 2018.

After visiting the Mirsarai Economic Zone (EZ), the Wilmar officials expressed their satisfaction with the geographical location of the economic zone and other facilities being provided by the BEZA, he mentioned.

“They are now investing for 100 acres of land, though they wanted only 50 acres at the initial stage,” he said.

Foreign investment by global conglomerates like Adani Wilmar is a testimony of favourable business climate in Bangladesh, said the BEZA chief.

“The extent of foreign investment will continue to grow in coming years,” he added.

According to the investment proposal, this is Adani Wilmar’s largest investment in Bangladesh so far.

Adani Wilmar Bangladesh Ltd. will develop the land by itself at the Mirsarai Economic Zone, which is a part of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City spreading in Chattogram’s Mrisarai, Sitakundu and Feni’s Sonagazi upazilas on 30,000 acres of land.

Source: The Financial Express

China grants $72.57m loan for economic development

Published:  January 20, 2019 18:00:03 | Updated:  January 20, 2019 18:18:19

China will provide grant assistance of approximately $72.57 million or RMB 500 million to Bangladesh under an agreement on economic and technical cooperation between Bangladesh and China.

The grant shall be utilised for the welfare projects such as disaster management, bridge construction and so on. Detailed matters will be stipulated in separate agreements to be signed between the two sides.

The Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Monowar Ahmed and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Zhang Zuo signed the agreement on behalf of their respective sides at the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area on Sunday.

After signing of the agreement, ERD Secretary Monowar Ahmed said that for Bangladesh the economic ties with China are of greater significance as China is now the largest trading partner of Bangladesh.

He also requested the Chinese Ambassador to expedite the process for signing the other financial agreements which are in the pipeline.

Chinese Ambassador said the friendship between the two countries is a long lasting one and China always attaches greater importance to the development assistance of Bangladesh.

“In future, China will continue to offer its best to support and bolster Bangladesh’s economy and development,” said Zhang Zuo adding that they would jointly push forward the construction of 9th, 10th and 11th friendship bridges in Bangladesh.

The other important completed projects with Chinese grant assistance include – construction of an international standard conference centre; and Eighth Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridges; agricultural equipments; hybrid rice technology cooperation; medical equipment; dredger, scanner for customs.

Besides, some important on-going grant projects are construction of China-Bangladesh Friendship Exhibition Centre at Purbachal; Burn Unit of Chittagong Medical College; rescue equipments for fire service and flood management planning, reports BSS.

SOurce: Financial Express

Govt to consider cash incentive for RMG accessories: Mannan

GAPEXPO-2019 ends, 13 cos win awards

FE Report |  January 21, 2019 00:00:00

Bangladesh Garments Accessories & Packaging Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BGAPMEA) on Sunday awarded 13 companies for their contribution to the local garment industry and export trade.

Planning Minister MA Mannan, as the chief guest, handed over the gold, silver and bronze trophies to the winners under four categories – small, medium, large and direct export – at the concluding ceremony of a four-day GAPEXPO-2019.

BGAPMEA organised the event at the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) in the city.

Bangladesh Bank Deputy Governor Ahmed Jamal and National Board of Revenue (NBR) Member (Customs, Export, Bond & IT) Sultan Md Iqbal attended the function as special guests, with BGAPMEA President Md Abdul Kader Khan in the chair.

The minister assured the fast growing local garment accessories and packaging industry of providing all policy support and said the government would consider the possibility of offering cash incentives to the subsector.

He said the government is interested to provide cash incentives to the export-oriented industries, but it will assess the economic value of the idea first and scrutinise whether it is equitable comparing to other sectors or not.

The BGAPMEA president said the country’s garment accessories and packaging industry has been exporting various products after meeting the local demand.

The subsector would contribute around US$ 12 billion to the country’s $50 billion export target set for the readymade garment (RMG) industry by 2021, he said.

Mentioning that the corporate tax for the export-oriented industries reduced to 12 per cent from 35 per cent, Mr Khan urged the government to provide the garment accessories and packaging subsector with similar facility.

Citing Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, he said the country’s RMG industry has seen a growth of 15.65 per cent in the first six months of the current fiscal year (2018-2019) while the accessories and packaging industry grew at 8.5 per cent.

The award winners under small category were Trims International (gold), Grace Accessories (silver) and Poly Corr Packaging (bronze).

Siam Computerised Elastic Ltd (gold), KDS Poly Industries (silver), and Sans Packaging and Accessories Industries Ltd (bronze) were the winners under medium category.

The awards of large category went to Montrims Ltd (gold), KDS Accessories Ltd (silver) and Eltafil Accessories Ltd (bronze).

Montrims Ltd (gold), Simtex Industries Ltd (silver) and Al-Muslim Accessories were awarded for their excellence in direct export.

Besides, a special award was given to Nur A Nazneen Khan of Green House Ltd under the category of women entrepreneur in BGAPMEA.

ahb_mcj2009@yahoo.com

Largest private economic zone to be ready this year

Ahsan Habib

The country’s largest private economic zone, Sirajganj Economic Zone Ltd (SEZL), may open for entrepreneurs within this year.

“We expect that we will be able to allot the plots of the zone within December this year or the first half of next year at maximum,” said the zone’s director, Sheikh Monowar Hossain.

The zone is expected to create employment opportunities for five lakh people and bring in over $2 billion in investments. Its architectural layout designates space for 400 industries.

Hossain said the SEZL spent Tk 350 crore to acquire 1,035.93 acres of land, which was now being readied and levelled with sand.

Its physical infrastructure is also being developed, one being through the ongoing construction of a jetty.

Other facilities include dormitories and housing of five-star or equivalent standards for workers, one-stop administrative and logistic amenities, health and day care centres and technical institutions.

The zone will have its own means of sourcing water and will generate steam through a dedicated plant. It will very soon start setting up a 300-MW power plant for uninterrupted electricity supply while availing natural gas from the government.

The SEZL will dispose of its industrial waste through a common effluent treatment plant (CETP) characterised by zero discharge.

The construction of these facilities will start gradually after work on the power plant begins, said the zone’s general manager, Md Shahidur Rahman.

He said the economic zone has already caught the attention of some foreign investors from China, South Korea, Japan, Italy and the US, while some local investors also expressed interest to set up factories, mostly textile.

Entrepreneurs can purchase industrial plots or take lease of the land as well as ready factories. Prices are yet to be fixed, Rahman added.

The zone’s development cost, minus the power and steam plants and the CETP, is projected to be about Tk 2,800 crore. It is being borne by a consortium of nine companies and two businesspersons, Mohammad Kamruzzaman and Ehsan Habib.

The companies are Knit Asia, Rising Holdings, Mahmud Fashion, Ratul Knitwear, SM Holdings, Paragon Feed, Textown, Manami Fashions and Change Bangladesh.

They got the final licence from the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) on October 4, 2018.

“It’s a dream project towards the northern part of Bangladesh,” said Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of the Beza.

It is exceptional in the sense that the private sector has been provided the opportunity by the government to prove their mettle in setting up a large economic zone, he said.

“I believe it will ramp up the rural economy of northern Bangladesh,” he added.

Apart from road and rail connectivity, the zone has access to waterways for it lies on the banks of the river Jamuna. Sirajganj is the gateway to northern Bangladesh.

Chowdhury said the connectivity would be a big advantage for the zone’s entrepreneurs. He, however, cited a challenge: the rehabilitation of people whose land had been acquired.

Monowar Hossain said they were working to this end, creating an ideal village where land, housing and other facilities like urban areas would be provided. “So, it will not be a problem at all,” he said.

Source: The Daily Star

Govt curbs hiring project officials in top grades thru outsourcing

Jasim Uddin Haroon | Published:  January 20, 2019 09:26:58 | Updated:  January 20, 2019 10:20:56

Picture used for illustrative purpose only — Collected

A government order has imposed restrictions on appointing people to higher-grade jobs in the projects through outsourcing.

The ministry of finance (MoF) issued new outsourcing guidelines on January 01, clearing the way for recruiting of people only in the lower grades, from the 16th to the 20th.

The new guidelines, which have replaced the 2008 version, are applicable to all government and foreign-aided development and non-development projects.

Finance officials familiar with the matter said under the new guidelines, the five grades at the lower level, which mostly consist of peons, messengers, cooks, drivers, lift maintenance people are eligible for the recruitment through outsourcing firms.

They said several hundred higher-grade technical posts are filled by outsourcing.

“Many project directors expressed their reservations about the new order, saying many of them are at the final stage of hiring staffers,” said a Finance Ministry official.

Many have circulated newspaper advertisements for appointing higher-grade people like the assistant engineers for the projects, he said.

He, however, said if they fail to recruit through outsourcing then they have the only option of direct method of hiring.

The projects used to hire directly, but experience shows that most of the recruited staffers get their jobs regularised through Court orders as soon as their contracts expire.

In the meantime, the Finance Ministry is likely to revise the guidelines, considering the importance of the development projects.

This kind of higher-grade employment usually takes place in the Local Government Engineering Department, Roads and Highways Department, bridges division, Water Development Board, etc.

Even the posts of sixth-grade people were filled through outsourcing.

The government had issued the guidelines in 2008 for outsourcing for the both development and non-development projects in order to reduce the government burden in terms of paying salaries and pensions.

“We favour outsourcing as firms provide the people and they have no chance of filing cases claiming absorption into the revenue budget,” said the official.

Officials at the ministry and development projects said there should have been an inter-ministerial meeting before issuing the guidelines.

The Finance Ministry is now collecting data relating to the existing number of such higher-grade employees and their annual demand for the recruitment.

“We’ve written to all divisions asking them to provide data on how many people are usually appointed in the project through outsourcing,” the official said.

jasimharoon@yahoo.com

Source: Financial Express

Japan wants to invest in Bangladesh’s

IT sector

Published:  January 15, 2019 15:33:55 | Updated:  January 15, 2019 22:10:23

Visiting Minister in charge of Economic Revitalisation of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday said his country will continue to support Bangladesh in key development arenas, showing interest to invest in the IT sector of Bangladesh.

Toshimitsu Motegi came up with the assurance when he met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office in Dhaka city on Tuesday.

PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.

The Japanese minister said Japan has been a great partner since the independence of Bangladesh and the bilateral relations are complementary to each other.

He congratulated Sheikh Hasina on assuming office as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the third consecutive term through a participatory election. “It was a participatory election,” the Press Secretary quoted the Japanese minister as saying.

Motegi expressed his conviction that the relations between Bangladesh and Japan will be stronger during the current tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Welcoming the Japanese minister in Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina recalled Japan’s contributions to Bangladesh’s economic development.

Describing Japan as an old friend of Bangladesh, she said Japan is providing support to various development sectors, particularly constructing the Rupsha Bridge, metro rail and other projects.

Terming Japan a development model for Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina said her government wants to develop every village into a township with urban facilities.

The Prime Minister said Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman founded the relations with Japan.

Sheikh Hasina proposed Japan to provide support to the training programmes in IT parks and deep-sea fishing, UNB reported.

She urged hiring of trained homecare nurses from Bangladesh and the Japanese minister responded positively.

Sheikh Hasina reiterated her government’s steadfast stance against terrorism, saying Bangladesh has adopted ‘zero tolerance’ to terrorism and militancy.

The Japanese minister shared the experience with the Prime Minister on his visit to Bangabandhu Museum, saying he was overwhelmed seeing different memories and documents on the life of the Father of the Nation.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, PM’s International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi and Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman were present.

Source: Financial Express

Govt to allow LNG import in pvt sector

Importers to fix prices

M Azizur Rahman | Published:  January 16, 2019 10:03:00 | Updated:  January 16, 2019 10:30:11

The government would soon open the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the private sector, enabling them to sell the fuel to clients of their choice.

“The private sector would be able to import LNG, regasify and sell it to consumers under a specific policy to be formulated soon,” said state minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid.

The price of LNG or regasified LNG would be determined by the private importers themselves, he told the FE.

A lawmaker for three straight terms since 2008, Mr Hamid has been serving as a state minister holding the same portfolio for two consecutive terms since 2014.

Elaborating his government’s plan, Mr Hamid said the private sector would be allowed to build LNG import terminal, if necessary, to facilitate business.

They would also be allowed to supply their regasified LNG through state-run national gas grid against payment of wheeling charges, he added.

The demand for natural gas in industries and power plants is mounting in line with the steady growth of gross domestic product (GDP).

The GDP was more than 6.0 per cent in the past one decade and it crossed 7.0 per cent during the past three financial years.

Bangladesh started importing LNG since April 24, 2018, with the arrival of US giant Excelerate Energy’s “Excellence” with 136,000 cubic metres of lean LNG from Qatar at Moheshkhali Island terminal.

The Petrobangla, however, started imports from Qatar’s RasGas regularly since September 09 after successfully feeding regasified LNG to consumers from August 18.

Currently, some 300 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of regasified LNG is being supplied to the national grid to feed consumers based in Chattogram city.

The volume would go up soon, said Mr Hamid.

Bangladesh will need to import around 30 million tonnes of LNG per year to meet the growing local demand by 2041 as domestic gas reserves are depleting fast.

This was disclosed by a report prepared by Copenhagen-based research firm Ramboll in association with Geological Survey of Denmark and EQMS Consulting Limited.

The regasified LNG would be used to feed sectors like industries, power and fertiliser plants, it said.

The country’s existing gas reserves of around 12 trillion cubic feet will run out by 2038 if no new exploration and discovery takes place, said the report.

Bangladesh aspires to become a developed country by 2041 after achieving all necessary economic growth.

Bangladesh’s current natural gas production from domestic fields is hovering around 2,750 mmcfd against the demand of around 4,000 mmcfd, according to Petrobangla.

This deficit has to be met by imports, the report said.

By 2041, the demand for natural gas would be around 8,000 mmcfd, according to the state-run corporation.

To ensure the country’s future energy security, Mr Hamid said, the government would continue to import petroleum products, especially diesel and furnace oil, for the next several years.

Furnace oil- and diesel-fired power plants would continue operations until big coal or LNG-fuelled base load power plants come on line, he added.

Source: Financial Express

Govt cuts source tax to 0. 25pc for all exporters

Published:  January 15, 2019 20:56:09 | Updated:  January 16, 2019 10:15:50

The government has once again slashed tax at source to 0.25 per cent from the existing 0.60 per cent for exporting goods to give some relief mainly to the RMG exporters following the recent hike in the wages of garment workers.

The Internal Resources Division has issued a statutory regulatory order (SRO) signed by its Senior Secretary and National Board of Revenue (NBR) Chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan to this end. The new measure came into effect on January 1 last.

Following the issuance of the SRO under clause 44(4) of the Income Tax Ordinance 1985, the new rate will be applicable for all the export items, excluding jute goods, reports UNB.

From now on, exporters will have to pay Tk 0.25 instead of Tk 0.60 as tax at source for exporting goods worth Tk 100.

On September 5, 2018, the government reduced the rate from 1.0 per cent to 0.60 percent following demand from businessmen.

A senior NBR official, preferring not to be quoted, said the cut in the tax rate for exporters, especially the RMG ones, came as they accepted the government’s proposal to increase the wages of their workers.

“Although we’re apprehending a significant fall in the revenue collection from this sector, we’ve reduced the rate as the garment owners demanded so to raise the wages of their workers. The government is always sincere about workers’ welfare,” he said.

The official also mentioned that the new rate will improve the compatibility of Bangladeshi products in the world market.

The government on Sunday announced a revised pay structure for the garment sector following directives from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The wages of garment workers under grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 out of total seven grades were adjusted freshly.

The minimum wage under the 6th grade has been increased to Tk 8,420 from Tk 8,405 which was Tk 5,678 in 2013 while that under the 5th grade to Tk 8,875 from Tk 8,855 which was Tk 6,042 in 2013.

A 4th grade worker will now get Tk 9,347 instead of Tk 9,245 as minimum wage against Tk 6,420 in 2013 while 3rd grade one will get Tk 9,845 instead of Tk 9,590 which was Tk 6,805 in 2013.

The minimum wage under the 2nd grade has been increased to Tk 15,416 from Tk 14,630 which was Tk 10,900 in 2013 while that under 1st grade to Tk 18,257 from Tk 17,510 which was Tk 13,000 in 2013.

On November 26 last, the government published a gazette notification fixing Tk 8,000 as the minimum wage of garment workers.

Source: Financial Express