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BGMEA to set up own inspection and remediation agency

Business Report
 
Garments manufacturing and exporters of the country are planning to set up their  own inspection and remediation agency to slowly reduce dependence on foreign bodies such as Accord and Alliance now doing the job for standardisation of local garment factories.
They have proposed the formation of the agency similar to the two — north America backed Accord and European buyers run Alliance to develop local capacity and ultimately to get rid of them over next few years. 
According to BGMEA sources once registered under the relevant laws, the body to be called ‘Shonman’ (respect), would be run under the guidance of an ombudsman chosen by the Prime Minister’s Office.
However, the platform will also have a steering committee comprising representatives from organisations such as the BGMEA, the BKMEA, the ILO, brands, trade unions and the commerce and labour ministries.
All decisions would be be based on consensus and neither the government nor the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) would have veto power.
“We have not finalised everything yet. But terms and conditions are ready,” said BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman.
He said the BGMEA executive board would sit with the government after Eid-ul-Azha. He said he would disclose details very soon.
As per the draft, the steering committee would appoint a chief operating officer and a chief technical officer and form a review panel to deal with pending decisions.
The implementation board of the existing Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) of the government would be responsible for dealing with technical taskforces, case handlers and fire, electrical and safety engineers.
In the first phase from January to June 2018, the RCC management board would list factories under the National Action Plan, Accord and Alliance, which will achieve 85 percent of their remediation targets by December this year. Afterwards, from June 2018 to June 2020, signatory buyers would be requested to assist ‘Shonman’ with third party audit fees so that independent verification of existing factories can continue.
New factories registering after December this year would have to pay for their inspections based upon the square footage of their facility.
The RCC financial management board would liaise with the BGMEA, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufac-turers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for funds.
However, there may be an additional need to ask for contributions or participation of wider stakeholders if deemed necessary by the steering committee, the proposal said.
From 2021, ‘Shonman’ would become fully self-financing.
In case of a dispute, the Ministry of Labour and Employment would have the final say, after views of all parties are taken into consideration, states the proposal.
One of the parties concerned will have to file a petition with the steering committee to resolve disputes. The committee would have to come to a conclusion through majority vote within a maximum of 21 days.
The parties concerned can appeal with the steering committee for a final, binding arbitration.
Arbitrations will be governed by the country’s laws and administered by the Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre.
Thorough, credible safety inspections of new factories and routine monitoring of old ones shall be carried out by skilled personnel selected by and acting under the direction of the implementation board.
The safety inspectors would be available to provide inputs for the RCC legislative review to support capacity building of the labour ministry.
The BGMEA came up with the ‘Shonman’ proposal soon after the Accord, the inspection and remediation platform of more than 200 retailers and brands, mostly European, disclosed plans to extend its stay in Bangladesh for three more years.
The Accord is a legally binding platform formed in May 2013 after the Rana Plaza building collapse with five-year tenure for inspection and remediation of factories. Its tenure expires in June next year. Garment owners have opposed the extension.
The Accord and the Alliance, a platform of the North American retailers and brands, have been working in Bangladesh to strengthen workplace safety in the garment sector through remediation of fire, electrical and structural loopholes.

Comment

Business Report
 
Garments manufacturing and exporters of the country are planning to set up their  own inspection and remediation agency to slowly reduce dependence on foreign bodies such as Accord and Alliance now doing the job for standardisation of local garment factories.
They have proposed the formation of the agency similar to the two — north America backed Accord and European buyers run Alliance to develop local capacity and ultimately to get rid of them over next few years. 
According to BGMEA sources once registered under the relevant laws, the body to be called ‘Shonman’ (respect), would be run under the guidance of an ombudsman chosen by the Prime Minister’s Office.
However, the platform will also have a steering committee comprising representatives from organisations such as the BGMEA, the BKMEA, the ILO, brands, trade unions and the commerce and labour ministries.
All decisions would be be based on consensus and neither the government nor the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) would have veto power.
“We have not finalised everything yet. But terms and conditions are ready,” said BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman.
He said the BGMEA executive board would sit with the government after Eid-ul-Azha. He said he would disclose details very soon.
As per the draft, the steering committee would appoint a chief operating officer and a chief technical officer and form a review panel to deal with pending decisions.
The implementation board of the existing Remediation Coordination Cell (RCC) of the government would be responsible for dealing with technical taskforces, case handlers and fire, electrical and safety engineers.
In the first phase from January to June 2018, the RCC management board would list factories under the National Action Plan, Accord and Alliance, which will achieve 85 percent of their remediation targets by December this year. Afterwards, from June 2018 to June 2020, signatory buyers would be requested to assist ‘Shonman’ with third party audit fees so that independent verification of existing factories can continue.
New factories registering after December this year would have to pay for their inspections based upon the square footage of their facility.
The RCC financial management board would liaise with the BGMEA, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufac-turers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for funds.
However, there may be an additional need to ask for contributions or participation of wider stakeholders if deemed necessary by the steering committee, the proposal said.
From 2021, ‘Shonman’ would become fully self-financing.
In case of a dispute, the Ministry of Labour and Employment would have the final say, after views of all parties are taken into consideration, states the proposal.
One of the parties concerned will have to file a petition with the steering committee to resolve disputes. The committee would have to come to a conclusion through majority vote within a maximum of 21 days.
The parties concerned can appeal with the steering committee for a final, binding arbitration.
Arbitrations will be governed by the country’s laws and administered by the Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre.
Thorough, credible safety inspections of new factories and routine monitoring of old ones shall be carried out by skilled personnel selected by and acting under the direction of the implementation board.
The safety inspectors would be available to provide inputs for the RCC legislative review to support capacity building of the labour ministry.
The BGMEA came up with the ‘Shonman’ proposal soon after the Accord, the inspection and remediation platform of more than 200 retailers and brands, mostly European, disclosed plans to extend its stay in Bangladesh for three more years.
The Accord is a legally binding platform formed in May 2013 after the Rana Plaza building collapse with five-year tenure for inspection and remediation of factories. Its tenure expires in June next year. Garment owners have opposed the extension.
The Accord and the Alliance, a platform of the North American retailers and brands, have been working in Bangladesh to strengthen workplace safety in the garment sector through remediation of fire, electrical and structural loopholes.

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FLOODS AFFECT CROPS OF 2 LAKH HECTARES

Aman plantation worst hit
Business Report
 
Floods now visiting Bangladesh for the third time from early this month have so far destroyed crops on 2 lakh hectares of land containing transplanted Aman in 23 districts, posing a threat to the livelihoods of hundreds of paddy farmers. 
The onrush of water from upstream has also inundated vegetables on 20,000 hectares of land, as per statistics made available by officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) last week. The crop loss may stand bigger if floods continue and water does not recede soon. 
Aman makes the second biggest rice crop after boro, which accounted for 38 percent of the annual production of 3.47 crore tones of rice last year. The DAE officials said only a part of the transplanted aman could be saved if the water recedes within two to three days of the inundation.
Meanwhile food scarcity looms large in the country as the stocks in the government godowns is very low and the government has decided to import 20 lakh tones of food grains, in addition to 12 lakhds already under the process. Such situation never happened in last two decades.  
If the water stays longer, the crops are likely to be affected. But the vegetables cannot be recovered. 
The water level in the Brahmaputra is likely to become steady soon hours while that in the Jamuna and Padma still showed rising. 
Water levelin the Surma-Kushiyara is expected to fall. But water level in rivers in Dinajpur, Thakurgaon and Lalmonirhat declined while it rose in those in districts such as Rangpur and Sirajganj. Besides 23 districts risks are high for flooding in some other districts.

Comment

Business Report
 
Floods now visiting Bangladesh for the third time from early this month have so far destroyed crops on 2 lakh hectares of land containing transplanted Aman in 23 districts, posing a threat to the livelihoods of hundreds of paddy farmers. 
The onrush of water from upstream has also inundated vegetables on 20,000 hectares of land, as per statistics made available by officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) last week. The crop loss may stand bigger if floods continue and water does not recede soon. 
Aman makes the second biggest rice crop after boro, which accounted for 38 percent of the annual production of 3.47 crore tones of rice last year. The DAE officials said only a part of the transplanted aman could be saved if the water recedes within two to three days of the inundation.
Meanwhile food scarcity looms large in the country as the stocks in the government godowns is very low and the government has decided to import 20 lakh tones of food grains, in addition to 12 lakhds already under the process. Such situation never happened in last two decades.  
If the water stays longer, the crops are likely to be affected. But the vegetables cannot be recovered. 
The water level in the Brahmaputra is likely to become steady soon hours while that in the Jamuna and Padma still showed rising. 
Water levelin the Surma-Kushiyara is expected to fall. But water level in rivers in Dinajpur, Thakurgaon and Lalmonirhat declined while it rose in those in districts such as Rangpur and Sirajganj. Besides 23 districts risks are high for flooding in some other districts.

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Imports surging as economy grow faster

Business Report
 
Imports are surging as economy is growing faster – that is what Bangladesh Bank data shows. It said imports grew by 9 percent year-on-year in fiscal 2016-17 as the demand for capital machinery, industrial raw materials and food grain at home soared.
More than $47 billion worth of goods were brought in to the country during last fiscal year, the central bank said compared to the year before. 
Bankers said lots of machineries, from spinning to textile, re-rolling mills, auto rice mills, paper mills and power plants, were imported.
In 2016-17, the import of capital machinery soared 37.39 percent from a year earlier to about $4.85 billion, propelled by expansionary activities in power and energy, garment, pharmaceuticals, telecom, food-processing and packaging sectors.
Industrial raw material imports rose 3.52 percent year-on-year to $16.22 billion.
As per a senior BB official the import of intermediate goods such as coal, hard coke, clinker and scrap vessels also increased in addition to raw materials for the garment and textile sectors. “It’s a good sign for the economy that the import of machineries and raw materials is on the rise,” he said. 
A senior treasury official of Prime Bank said industrial activities are rising and the growth in import indicates that production, development and employment will increase in the days to come.
The import of petroleum products based on the settlement of letters of credit increased 3.3 percent to $2.52 billion in 2016-17. Food grains — rice and wheat — imports grew about 3 percent from a year earlier to $1.15 billion.
Rice import has increased significantly in recent months, he said and accelerate as flood has destroyed much crops in the field. 
He said the central bank has taken a number of steps in the last couple of months of 2016-17 to increase rice import to boost stock and stabilise the price level of the staple so that inflationary pressures can be contained.
The efforts paid off as food inflation in July declined 0.56 percentage points to 
6.95 percent — the lowest in three months.

Comment

Business Report
 
Imports are surging as economy is growing faster – that is what Bangladesh Bank data shows. It said imports grew by 9 percent year-on-year in fiscal 2016-17 as the demand for capital machinery, industrial raw materials and food grain at home soared.
More than $47 billion worth of goods were brought in to the country during last fiscal year, the central bank said compared to the year before. 
Bankers said lots of machineries, from spinning to textile, re-rolling mills, auto rice mills, paper mills and power plants, were imported.
In 2016-17, the import of capital machinery soared 37.39 percent from a year earlier to about $4.85 billion, propelled by expansionary activities in power and energy, garment, pharmaceuticals, telecom, food-processing and packaging sectors.
Industrial raw material imports rose 3.52 percent year-on-year to $16.22 billion.
As per a senior BB official the import of intermediate goods such as coal, hard coke, clinker and scrap vessels also increased in addition to raw materials for the garment and textile sectors. “It’s a good sign for the economy that the import of machineries and raw materials is on the rise,” he said. 
A senior treasury official of Prime Bank said industrial activities are rising and the growth in import indicates that production, development and employment will increase in the days to come.
The import of petroleum products based on the settlement of letters of credit increased 3.3 percent to $2.52 billion in 2016-17. Food grains — rice and wheat — imports grew about 3 percent from a year earlier to $1.15 billion.
Rice import has increased significantly in recent months, he said and accelerate as flood has destroyed much crops in the field. 
He said the central bank has taken a number of steps in the last couple of months of 2016-17 to increase rice import to boost stock and stabilise the price level of the staple so that inflationary pressures can be contained.
The efforts paid off as food inflation in July declined 0.56 percentage points to 
6.95 percent — the lowest in three months.

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EBL to become global in Southeast Asia

Business Report
 
Eastern Bank Limited or EBL, which was born from the ashes of the then collapsed BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International) in 1992, is going forward to become a regional bank of East-Southeast Asia, a top official said.
After achieving success on opening three representative offices in China, Myanmar and Hong Kong, the bank is now working on spreading its wings to neighbouring India, the second Bangladeshi private bank to do so.
The local bank will open one branch in Kolkata and another in Guwahati, for which EBL has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Kolkata office to assist in getting the required licence from the Reserve Bank of India, said Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director and CEO.
Also, the bank has a plan to convert its representative office in Hong Kong into a full-fledged branch. Presently, EBL has 82 branches.
AB Bank opened its first full-fledged overseas branch in Mumbai in 1996, while state-owned Sonali Bank has a branch in Kolkata. Another state-run lender, Janata Bank has two branches in the United Arab Emirates.

Comment

Business Report
 
Eastern Bank Limited or EBL, which was born from the ashes of the then collapsed BCCI (Bank of Credit and Commerce International) in 1992, is going forward to become a regional bank of East-Southeast Asia, a top official said.
After achieving success on opening three representative offices in China, Myanmar and Hong Kong, the bank is now working on spreading its wings to neighbouring India, the second Bangladeshi private bank to do so.
The local bank will open one branch in Kolkata and another in Guwahati, for which EBL has hired PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Kolkata office to assist in getting the required licence from the Reserve Bank of India, said Ali Reza Iftekhar, managing director and CEO.
Also, the bank has a plan to convert its representative office in Hong Kong into a full-fledged branch. Presently, EBL has 82 branches.
AB Bank opened its first full-fledged overseas branch in Mumbai in 1996, while state-owned Sonali Bank has a branch in Kolkata. Another state-run lender, Janata Bank has two branches in the United Arab Emirates.

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China warns of retaliation as Trump launches trade probe

AFP, Beijing
 
Trade tensions between the United States and China heated up on Tuesday as Beijing warned that it “will not sit idle” if a US probe into its intellectual property practices leads to sanctions.
President Donald Trump’s decision to order the investigation comes on top of strains between the two nations over how to handle Beijing’s ally North Korea.
Trump on Monday signed a memorandum directing US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether Chinese policies hurt American investors or companies — with retaliatory measures a possible outcome.
“We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access. We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs,” Trump said. “Washington will turn a blind eye no longer,” Trump said, vowing to safeguard copyrights, patents and other intellectual property that are “vital to our security and to our prosperity”.
The president said the US would no longer tolerate Beijing’s “theft” of US industrial secrets, long a concern of major foreign corporations seeking a share of the huge Chinese market. “We will engage in a thorough investigation and, if needed, take action to preserve the future of US industry,” Lighthizer said. China’s commerce ministry issued a statement voicing “serious concern” and warning that any US trade protectionism “will definitely harm bilateral trade relations”.
“If the US side take actions that impair the mutual trade relations, disregarding the facts and disrespecting multilateral trade rules, China will not sit idle,” the statement said.
The ministry said the country “is definitely going to adopt all appropriate measures to vigorously defend the lawful rights and interest of China.”

Comment

AFP, Beijing
 
Trade tensions between the United States and China heated up on Tuesday as Beijing warned that it “will not sit idle” if a US probe into its intellectual property practices leads to sanctions.
President Donald Trump’s decision to order the investigation comes on top of strains between the two nations over how to handle Beijing’s ally North Korea.
Trump on Monday signed a memorandum directing US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether Chinese policies hurt American investors or companies — with retaliatory measures a possible outcome.
“We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access. We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs,” Trump said. “Washington will turn a blind eye no longer,” Trump said, vowing to safeguard copyrights, patents and other intellectual property that are “vital to our security and to our prosperity”.
The president said the US would no longer tolerate Beijing’s “theft” of US industrial secrets, long a concern of major foreign corporations seeking a share of the huge Chinese market. “We will engage in a thorough investigation and, if needed, take action to preserve the future of US industry,” Lighthizer said. China’s commerce ministry issued a statement voicing “serious concern” and warning that any US trade protectionism “will definitely harm bilateral trade relations”.
“If the US side take actions that impair the mutual trade relations, disregarding the facts and disrespecting multilateral trade rules, China will not sit idle,” the statement said.
The ministry said the country “is definitely going to adopt all appropriate measures to vigorously defend the lawful rights and interest of China.”

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BRAC Bank signs deal with Shanta Asset Management 

Business Report
 
BRAC Bank Limited and Shanta Asset Management Limited signed a Custodial Agreement for the mutual fund “Shanta First Income Unit Fund”. Under this agreement, BRAC Bank will be providing custodial services to Shanta Asset Management for operating the mutual fund.
Tareq Refat Ullah Khan, Head of Corporate Banking, BRAC Bank and Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Shanta Asset Management signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. 
Md. Sekander-E-Azam, Head of Cash Management & Custodial Services, BRAC Bank,  Quazi Asaduzzaman, Head of Fund Operations, Shanta Asset Management, were also present in the  event with other officials of both the organizations.

Comment

Business Report
 
BRAC Bank Limited and Shanta Asset Management Limited signed a Custodial Agreement for the mutual fund “Shanta First Income Unit Fund”. Under this agreement, BRAC Bank will be providing custodial services to Shanta Asset Management for operating the mutual fund.
Tareq Refat Ullah Khan, Head of Corporate Banking, BRAC Bank and Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Khan, Chief Executive Officer, Shanta Asset Management signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. 
Md. Sekander-E-Azam, Head of Cash Management & Custodial Services, BRAC Bank,  Quazi Asaduzzaman, Head of Fund Operations, Shanta Asset Management, were also present in the  event with other officials of both the organizations.

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MTB signs deal with Sonali Life Insurance
Business Report
 
Mutual Trust Bank Limited (MTB) has signed an agreement with Sonali Life Insurance Company Ltd (SLICL). Under this agreement, policy holders of Sonali Life Insurance Company can deposit their premium using customized deposit slip at any MTB branch. 
Sonali Life Insurance Company will become fully integrated and online with MTB, with all deposit transactions and notifications occurring in real time. Simultaneously, policy holders can find the real time deposit information through MTB’s web-based banking service, as well as SLICL’s web based services.
Sonali Life Insurance Company policy holders who are under the privilege card program will also be issued with a co-branded debit card through which they will be eligible to earn substantial discounts at more than 200 retail outlets. They will also receive maturity payments directly into their accounts, besides using the card for normal banking transactions.
 Ajit Chandra Aich, CEO, Sonali Life Insurance Company (SLICL) and Syed Rafiqul Haq, Deputy Managing Director & Chief Business Officer (CBO), Mutual Trust Bank MTB) signed the agreement.
Mostafa Golam Quddus, Chairman, Rupali Insurance Company, Sheikh Mohammad Danial, Director, Mir Rashed Bin Aman, DMD and CFO from Sonali Life Insurance and Mohammad Anwar Hossain, Head of Card Division, Irfan Islam, Head of Cash Management & Privilege Banking from Mutual Trust Bank were also present, said a press release.

Comment

Business Report
 
Mutual Trust Bank Limited (MTB) has signed an agreement with Sonali Life Insurance Company Ltd (SLICL). Under this agreement, policy holders of Sonali Life Insurance Company can deposit their premium using customized deposit slip at any MTB branch. 
Sonali Life Insurance Company will become fully integrated and online with MTB, with all deposit transactions and notifications occurring in real time. Simultaneously, policy holders can find the real time deposit information through MTB’s web-based banking service, as well as SLICL’s web based services.
Sonali Life Insurance Company policy holders who are under the privilege card program will also be issued with a co-branded debit card through which they will be eligible to earn substantial discounts at more than 200 retail outlets. They will also receive maturity payments directly into their accounts, besides using the card for normal banking transactions.
 Ajit Chandra Aich, CEO, Sonali Life Insurance Company (SLICL) and Syed Rafiqul Haq, Deputy Managing Director & Chief Business Officer (CBO), Mutual Trust Bank MTB) signed the agreement.
Mostafa Golam Quddus, Chairman, Rupali Insurance Company, Sheikh Mohammad Danial, Director, Mir Rashed Bin Aman, DMD and CFO from Sonali Life Insurance and Mohammad Anwar Hossain, Head of Card Division, Irfan Islam, Head of Cash Management & Privilege Banking from Mutual Trust Bank were also present, said a press release.

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EC meeting of Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited held

The 719th meeting of the Executive Committee (EC) of Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited held recently at the Board Room of Head Office of the Bank. The meeting was presided over by Mr. Akkas Uddin Mollah, Director of the Bank. The members of the Committee discussed various issues relating to investment in different sectors. Among others Directors Engineer Md. Towhidur Rahman, Mr. Mohammed Younus, Mr. Khandaker Sakib Ahmed, Managing Director Mr. Farman R Chowdhury, Additional Managing Director Mr. M. Shahidul Islam, Deputy Managing Directors Mr. M. Akhter Hossain and Mr. Abdul Aziz were present in the meeting.

Comment

The 719th meeting of the Executive Committee (EC) of Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited held recently at the Board Room of Head Office of the Bank. The meeting was presided over by Mr. Akkas Uddin Mollah, Director of the Bank. The members of the Committee discussed various issues relating to investment in different sectors. Among others Directors Engineer Md. Towhidur Rahman, Mr. Mohammed Younus, Mr. Khandaker Sakib Ahmed, Managing Director Mr. Farman R Chowdhury, Additional Managing Director Mr. M. Shahidul Islam, Deputy Managing Directors Mr. M. Akhter Hossain and Mr. Abdul Aziz were present in the meeting.


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