• Thursday, November 27, 2014

Business

AK Khan Co to develop special economic zone

AK Khan Company will build a 200-acre special economic zone in Narsingdi, the first under the private sector. The work for the SEZ will start in January, and once completed, the zone will create about one lakh jobs. The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority yesterday handed over the pre-qualification licence to the local conglomerate at a programme at its office in the capital. AK Khan Company will lease out plots to foreign investors, said Salahuddin Kasem Khan, managing director of AK Khan Company, adding that the main objective of the SEZ is to create jobs in the country.  Foreign investors are put off from coming to Bangladesh due to the complications faced in securing land and head to Myanmar or Vietnam instead. “With the SEZ, such complications will be eliminated. Investors will not face any hassles -- all they have to do is lease the plots from us.” AK Khan acquired the 200-acre land in the central district of Narsingdi, 50km north-east of Dhaka, over a period of 7-8 years. Hi-tech industrial units will get privilege at the SEZ, while the textile industries will be discouraged, Khan said. The priority sectors are: information technology, electronics, telecommunication, health, digital machines, agro-based industries and plastic, he...

Drug prices to rise as NBR taxes total commission

The prices of certain drugs may rise in the new year after the National Board of Revenue imposed value-added tax on...

Most rickshaw-pullers in Dhaka use mobile to send money home: study

Three out of four rickshaw-pullers in the Dhaka city send money to their village homes through mobile banking services which they...

Atiur receives Gusi Peace Prize

Atiur receives Gusi Peace Prize

Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman received the Gusi Peace Prize 2014...

ADB to boost funds for Bangladesh

The Asian Development Bank has signalled that it would increase its development assistance to Bangladesh. ADB Vice President Wencai Zhang spoke to Finance Minister AMA Muhith at a meeting in Dhaka yesterday. Muhith later told reporters that the ADB vice president informed him that their commitment to Bangladesh reached $1 billion last fiscal year and now the bank intends to increase it to $1.5 billion.   Bangladesh requested Zhang to raise the amount to $2 billion and Zhang responded positively, Muhith told reporters....

Higher economic growth demands larger FDI

Bangladesh needs to accelerate GDP growth to over 8 percent and maintain the present remittance growth to become a middle-income country by 2021, the International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh said in the editorial of its news bulletin yesterday. Bangladesh's economy has maintained a healthy 6 percent-plus growth rate in the past decade despite global shocks. Sustained growth has generated higher demand for improved infrastructure including uninterrupted power supply, better transport and telecommunication services, all of which require increased private investment, it...

Security is top concern for home buyers: Lamudi

A house-hunter's decision on where to live is driven by security concerns, trumping over other factors like location and affordability, according to a new report on Bangladesh's property market. The observations came from a research from global property website Lamudi, which released its first annual report recently. The report, Real Estate in the Emerging Markets, provides a comprehensive overview of the property sector in 16 emerging countries, including Bangladesh, it said in a statement yesterday. The report is based on a series...

US new home sales rise in October

US new home sales rose modestly in October, with inventories on the market continuing to creep higher as the housing market recovery lags, government data released Wednesday showed. Sales of new single-family homes rose 0.7 percent from September to an annual rate of 458,000, the highest pace of the year, the Commerce Department reported. But that modest growth came from a lowered base after the department revised down the September pace to 455,000 from 467,000. The readings for July and August...

Merchant bankers pledge to work for market growth

Bangladesh Merchant Bankers Association (BMBA) will not take any decision that puts a negative impact on the stockmarket, it said. “We will not make any decision that may impede positive growth of the capital market,” Tanjil Chowdhury, president of BMBA, said at a press briefing in Dhaka yesterday. The BMBA has recently submitted a set of proposals to Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission to facilitate merchant bankers in recovering default margin loans. “The association always works to promote and protect the interests...

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Alibaba founder pledges more investment in India

Alibaba founder pledges more investment in India

Alibaba founder Jack Ma, China's wealthiest man, said Wednesday he plans to invest more funds in India and believes the Internet can transform the country's future. Ma, whose Alibaba controls 80 percent of e-commerce in China, was speaking to a business audience on his first visit to India, two months after his record initial-public-share...

Samsung sells units and announces $2b share buyback

Samsung announced Wednesday the $1.7 billion sale of stakes in four affiliates and a $2.0 billion share buyback as the South Korean giant steps up restructuring efforts ahead of a generational ownership succession. The sale of its petrochemical and defence units to the Hanwha conglomerate, which has major petrochemical holdings, is expected to be finalised in the first half of next year, Samsung Group said in a statement. The deal involves Samsung Electronics and other group affiliates selling their combined stakes...

ADB ready to work with new China-led bank, says president

The head of the Asian Development Bank said Wednesday he is ready to work with China on a new infrastructure investment lender proposed by Beijing, despite fears it could undermine his institution. The Manila-based ADB is too large and established to be threatened by the proposed lender, Takehiko Nakao told a foreign correspondents forum in the Philippines. "If the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) is established, we are very happy to have the appropriate collaboration," Nakao said, adding the banks could...

BlackBerry courts iPhone users with cash

Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry is wooing Apple customers with a cash offer for trade-ins of iPhones for its new square-screened, keyboard-equipped Passport. The promotion was announced late Monday and will be available starting next month until February 13, in Canada and the United States. Customers who trade in their iPhones could receive up to $400 cash back depending on the model and condition of their trade-in, plus a $150 gift card. This marks the first time that BlackBerry has gone head-to-head with...

Germany agrees law on quota for women board members

Germany agrees law on quota for women board members

Germany's biggest companies will have to fill 30 percent of supervisory board positions with women candidates from 2016 under a law agreed late Tuesday by the country's ruling parties. Enterprises that fail to find suitable female candidates for their board of directors will have to leave them vacant under a so-called "empty chair sanction". "I'm...

Opec looks for help to tackle oil supply glut

Opec needs non-cartel members to help address an oil supply glut that is set to grow next year, Iran's oil minister said here Wednesday. "All the experts in the markets believe that we have an oversupply on the market and next year we will have more oversupply," Iran's Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh told reporters. But Zanganeh said it was not solely up to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to tackle the oversupply which is sending crude prices crashing...

India-Pakistan friction threatens regional trade at Saarc summit

India-Pakistan friction threatens regional trade at Saarc summit

Hostilities between rivals India and Pakistan yesterday threatened to scupper efforts by South Asian leaders to boost trade among almost a quarter of the world's people, throwing into doubt any prospect of a regional customs union. India and Pakistan have fought three wars, and just last month exchanges of fire across the border in...

A well-functioning free trade area to give a boost to South Asia

A well-functioning free trade area to give a boost to South Asia

There is great excitement for the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit being held in Kathmandu. A big question is whether there will be faster progress towards greater regional trade, which could boost economic growth and spread prosperity across South Asia. South Asian leaders have long advocated for an economic union in South Asia. An essential condition for such a union is the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta). Though Safta came into effect in 2006 to promote mutual trade and economic cooperation, considerable work remains before South Asia's 1.67 billion consumers can enjoy the benefits of free trade. Under Safta, all countries are allowed to maintain...

WTO postpones trade deal by a day after last-minute objection

The World Trade Organization postponed adoption of the first global trade reform in its 19-year history on Wednesday, delaying by a day after a last-minute objection from Argentina, diplomats said. "It's not a big drama," WTO chief spokesman Keith Rockwell told reporters. Diplomats said they expected the meeting to go ahead on Thursday and the reform package to be adopted. But, after repeated pitfalls, nobody could rule out the deal tripping up. The WTO has lurched from one disappointment to another over...

Juncker unveils giant 315b euro plan to 'kickstart' Europe

Juncker unveils giant 315b euro plan to 'kickstart' Europe

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a huge 315-billion euro investment plan Wednesday to "kickstart" the stalling economy, saying it would show the world that Europe is back in business. The eagerly awaited plan, the keystone of Juncker's five-year mandate, involves the EU setting up a 21 billion euro ($26 billion) fund with the...

Bangladesh to pursue regional connectivity: Muhith

Bangladesh wants to go ahead with sub-regional connectivity even if it does not come to fruition in the ongoing Saarc summit in Nepal. The issue is now resting on the response of the new Indian government, Finance Minister AMA Muhith told reporters after a meeting with Wencai Zhang, a vice-president of the Asian Development Bank, in Dhaka yesterday. “As I said, the change of government in India requires a fresh start in this area. I think we will wait for action...

Europe feels sting in the tail of Russia sanctions

At a technology fair in Moscow last month, European executives faced the new reality of doing business in Russia since the West imposed sanctions: the number of companies at the international showcase had shrunk by half from a year ago. "The impact on business couldn't be clearer. Fewer stands, fewer companies," said Mark Bultinck, a sales executive for Belgian digital screen maker Barco, which had a booth at the annual expo for the audiovisual industry. The impact of the sanctions was...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Non-bank borrowing escalates

Non-bank borrowing escalates

The government's non-bank borrowing soared in the first quarter of the current fiscal year because of the country's utter failure to make the most of the availability of cheap foreign funds due to its poor record in project implementation. As a result, the government's debt servicing cost would rise in fiscal 2014-15, warned the...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Mongla silo nearly done

Mongla silo nearly done

The construction of the food grain silo at Mongla is nearing completion, creating hopes of job opportunities and higher economic activities among locals of the decaying seaport town and its adjacent rural areas. Already 65 percent of the construction work for the 50,000-tonne grain silo, the largest in the southwest region, has been completed,...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Sweden pledges Tk 1,659cr in aid for Bangladesh

Sweden pledges Tk 1,659cr in aid for Bangladesh

Sweden will give Bangladesh 1.6 billion Swedish krona, or Tk 1,659 crore, in development assistance in the next seven years. The move is part of the Nordic country's development strategy for Bangladesh for 2014-2020, announced yesterday at an event at the capital's Amari Hotel. The aim of the strategy is to: alleviate poverty; strengthen democracy,...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
IGW cartel proposal goes to Hasina

The telecom ministry has recently sent to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the proposal of a group of international gateways (IGWs) for installing a "common switch" meant for controlling the entire cache of overseas calls. IGW Operators Forum, comprising 17 gateways of the total 29 in the market, plans to introduce the system. The switch will be led by seven gateways and may allow for a murky window for collecting unspecified fees, said operators who did not join the forum. They also...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Muhith comes down hard on businessmen

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday came down hard on businessmen for their constant requests for lowering of interest rates for the sake of investment. The same people refuse to reduce the interest rates when they become bank directors themselves, he said in parliament yesterday. “It is necessary to stop this contradiction.” Businessmen should stop extreme profiteering, Muhith said. Also at the session, Muhith refused to give answers to two questions -- one from an independent MP and another from Jatiya Party MP --...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
MCCI elects new president

MCCI elects new president

Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of Apex Footwear, has been elected president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry for 2015, the MCCI said in a statement yesterday. Anis A Khan, managing director and chief executive of Mutual Trust Bank, has been re-elected as vice-president. Manzur has investments in Apex Tannery, Apex Pharma, Apex Investments and joint-venture companies that include Blue Ocean Footwear, Grey Advertising Bangladesh and Quantum Consumer Solutions. He sits on the board of Pioneer Insurance, Guardian Life Insurance, International Publications and Western Marine Shipyard, according to the statement. Manzur is also the current president of Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh. Prior to joining MTB, Anis A Khan...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Mobile operators to face fresh audits next year

The telecom regulator will open fresh audits into mobile phone operators by next year, its chief said yesterday. Seven international firms have submitted their offers to conduct the audits in association with local audit companies, said Sunil Kanti Bose, chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. “The appointment process is going on and will be completed by next year. The audits will start soon after,” he said. The regulator had earlier appointed several audit firms to audit top two operators -- Grameenphone and...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Social business summit starts in Mexico

The Global Social Business Summit began in Mexico City yesterday aiming to create and spread a movement in Latin America and the rest of the world riding on the business theory of Bangladeshi anti-poverty activist Muhammad Yunus. The motto of this year's summit is shaping social business to shape the world of 2020. This year's gathering, the sixth edition, will be a four-day programme that began with a research conference in the Mexican capital. On Wednesday, a meeting of young challengers...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Banks, tax offices to remain open on Saturday

Banks and tax offices will remain open on Saturday to help people pay taxes and submit income tax returns within the November 30 deadline, Bangladesh Bank and National Board of Revenue said yesterday. All main branches of private and state-run banks at the district and division levels will remain open on the day, the central bank said in a notice. Tax offices at the field level will also receive tax returns from 9am to 5pm, the NBR said in another notice. The...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Pizza Hut, KFC team up with Visa to offer 15pc discounts

Pizza Hut, KFC team up with Visa to offer 15pc discounts

International restaurant chains Pizza Hut and KFC yesterday introduced a 15 percent discount for Visa cardholders on combo meals at all their outlets. The offer, which will be valid for three months, will encourage consumers to use their Visa cards and enjoy the convenience of electronic payments, said Akku Chowdhury, managing director of Transcom...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Emirates offers special fares for Bangladeshis

Emirates has announced special fares for both business and economy-class travel from Bangladesh to all of the company's 37 European and 10 American destinations, the airline said in a statement yesterday. The offer applies to travel between December 5, 2014 and March 31, 2015, it said. The offer is valid for purchase of tickets between November 25 and December 4, 2014 from any travel agency in Bangladesh or online at www.emirates.com/bd. Tickets can also be purchased from Emirates offices in...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Apparel summit begins on Dec 7

The garment makers' platform will host Dhaka Apparel Summit next month, as part of its mission to hit the $50 billion mark in clothing exports by the 50th anniversary of the country's independence in 2021. In fiscal 2013-14, Bangladesh exported garment products worth $24.5 billion. “We will need to grab an additional 3 percent share of the global garment trade to reach the $50 billion mark in the next seven years,” said Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Pran official among top 100 global marketing leaders

Pran official among top 100 global marketing leaders

AKM Moinul Islam Moin, head of marketing (confectionery) of Pran, has been recognised as one of the top 100 most talented global marketing leaders by the World Marketing Congress. The World Marketing Congress 2014 was held in Mumbai recently, chaired by SP Shukla, president for group strategy, defence sector and chief brand officer, of...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
In Modi's India, green shoots of reform from Rajasthan

In Modi's India, green shoots of reform from Rajasthan

The reformist government that many Indians and free-market flag-bearers had hoped would emerge after this year's election isn't in New Delhi -- at least not yet. It's a dusty day's drive to the southwest. Rajasthan, derided as a poverty-stricken laggard, has taken the lead on structural reforms that, their backers argue, could also help...

Published Date: November 26, 2014
Consumer spending helps Germany skirt recession in Q3

Higher household and government spending enabled Germany, Europe's biggest economy, to avoid a recession in the third quarter, official data showed on Tuesday. Increased exports also provided a boost, while falling investment acted as a drag on recovery, the federal statistics office Destatis said in a statement. Confirming a preliminary estimate released earlier this month, the statisticians calculated that gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 0.1 percent in the period from July to September. In the preceding three months, the economy had...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
BB sells dollars to five banks as demand picks up

After a gap of two and a half years, Bangladesh Bank yesterday sold greenbacks of $45 million to five banks, as demand for the foreign currency has gone up for a pick-up in imports. BB last sold greenbacks, of around $10 million, to a single bank on June 20, 2012, after which it has been purchasing the currency -- $11 billion so far -- in an effort to keep the exchange rate stable. The economy has started to pick up over...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
Tazreen victims to get compensation

Victims and families of the Tazreen Fashions fire will receive a package under the same system developed to compensate Rana Plaza victims, as one retailer has just agreed to pay, a full two years after the incident. "We are extremely pleased to be able to announce that we and IndustriALL have reached an outline agreement with C&A on the principles of a compensation process,” said Ineke Zeldenrust from rights group Clean Clothes Campaign. Dutch retail giant C&A used to source...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
Compensate victims immediately: HRW

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based human rights advocacy organisation, yesterday urged global clothing brands tied to Tazreen Fashions including the American giants Wal-Mart, Sears and Disney to extend fair compensation to the victims immediately. “These global brands should no longer dodge their duty to help these people,” Brad Adams, executive director of HRW's Asian division, said. Only two of the 16 firms linked to the ill-fated factory are believed to have paid any meaningful amount of compensation to the victims. Five...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
Robi profit drops

Robi profit drops

Mobile operator Robi's net profit fell 9 percent year-on-year to Tk 130 crore in the July-September quarter, its officials said yesterday. The slump was due to amortisation charge arising from large capital investment to support license acquisition and countrywide 3G network rollout. However, net profit in the quarter was 14.6 percent higher than in the previous quarter, due to increased income from data business through 3G. Supun Weerasinghe, managing director and chief executive officer of the third largest operator, said: “We have been seeing good growth in data services since the start of the year as we expand our 3.5G network across the country. We are investing significantly towards expanding our 3.5G...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
No immediate plan for sovereign bonds

JP Morgan, the biggest US bank, seeks to be an adviser for Bangladesh on its first sovereign bonds to raise funds from the international market. High officials from JP Morgan met Finance Minister AMA Muhith at his secretariat office yesterday and made the offer. “It is high time that bonds are issued, as money can be raised with an interest rate ranging between 4 and 5 percent,” Muhith told reporters, quoting JP Morgan representatives. But Muhith told the JP Morgan team that...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
Dream big and beyond

Dream big and beyond

Fresh out of university, every graduate dreams about landing the perfect position in a good organisation. But how many actually aspire to become the acme in an institution, especially in the case of a multinational? The numbers would be few. Like many others, Shehzad Munim did not dream of reaching the top most position...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
Green Delta launches health insurance with Malaysia

Green Delta Insurance Company has launched an insurance scheme, GD Health, to offer medical and health services in Malaysia. The country's non-life insurance company joined hands with Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC), an agency of the Malaysian health ministry, to provide services to GD Health policyholders. Policyholders can get healthcare and medical services at affordable costs in Malaysian hospitals that are linked with MHTC, officials said. “We always pioneer in innovative insurance products for the country's people and GD Health is a...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
US seeks to revive trade with India after WTO row

The United States is eager to increase trade with India, a US official said Monday, after the two countries settled a bitter row over food subsidies and President Barack Obama announced he would visit in January. US Trade Representative Michael Froman was speaking in New Delhi before the first round of trade talks for four years between the world's largest economy and the emerging giant. "The future of our partnership remains ours to define. We believe in the promise of India,"...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
Stock regulator, NBR must work together for better monitoring

The stockmarket regulator should work together with the National Board of Revenue to analyse the financial strength of companies that fabricate higher profits with asset re-evaluation. The NBR can also support the monitoring by providing relevant tax data to Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC). The BSEC can then apprehend such companies that seek listings with false financial data, said AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former finance adviser to caretaker government. He spoke at a roundtable on the prospects of the stockmarket, organised...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
German business confidence stabilises in November

Business confidence in Germany appears to be stabilising after long months of decline, with the Ifo business climate index rising in November for the first time in seven months, data showed on Monday. In an encouraging sign for Europe's biggest economy, and therefore the eurozone as a whole, the closely watched barometer beat expectations and rose to 104.7 points in November from 103.2 points in October, the Ifo think-tank said in a statement. "The downturn in the German economy has ground...

Published Date: November 25, 2014
Marico chief due in Dhaka today

Marico chief due in Dhaka today

Harsh C Mariwala, chairman of Marico, is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka today, the company said in a statement yesterday. He will sit for a business meeting with the management of Marico Bangladesh and its board, and is expected to stay in the capital for 24 hours. Marico markets brands like Parachute, Parachute Advansed, Saffola, Setwet, Nihar, Livon and Hair Code. The company does a business of $781 million worldwide with 20 percent in profits over the past five years. Over the last three decades, Mariwala's leadership made Marico into a leading consumer-products company in the beauty and wellness sphere, according to the statement.

Published Date: November 24, 2014
Stand by start-ups with policy support: analysts

Stand by start-ups with policy support: analysts

Friendly policies, tax breaks and a change in the educational curriculum and people's mindset are crucial to promoting start-ups in Bangladesh, young entrepreneurs said yesterday. "There needs to be a fundamental shift in terms of how the academic structure is designed for the new world," said Mustafizur Rahman Khan, founder and chief executive of...

Published Date: November 24, 2014
BB honours top remitters

BB honours top remitters

Bangladesh Bank yesterday honoured 24 non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) for sending the highest amount of remittances last year, in a bid to encourage the expatriates to send money home through legal channels.    Of them, 20 are individual remitters, while the rest invested in bonds. The NRBs, who send money through illegal channels such as hundi,...

Published Date: November 24, 2014
Still suffering

Still suffering

They never knew the dark of the grisly night could be a portent of another dark episode of their lives waiting ahead. The night air heavy with smoke and heat, and the loud, terrified screams of the many people trapped inside the blazing Tazreen Fashions building -- were just the beginning of a drawn-out struggle. At least 112 employees of the ill-fated factory, owned by Tuba Group, died from the fire at Nishchintapur in Savar, exactly two years ago. Many were left injured. Anju Ara was among those lucky to survive. But, she does not feel like that anymore, as she suffered serious injuries, received no compensation, and is now left without...