Friday, April 28, 2017 BUSINESS

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Govt plans to cut internet rates at users’ level

Business Report
 
The telecom ministry is planning to cut internet rates at users end and working on 
a plan for reducing Vat and other tax to bring down the cost under the next fiscal budget of 2017-18. It aims at making the service cheaper.  
State minister for telecom Tarana Halim told the media on Wednesday last in the city saying Bangladesh is the third lowest in the world in terms of internet pricing at end users’ level. The government is now trying to offer it at the lowest country.
She said the ministry is sending a letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith requesting him to cut some of the taxes for internet in the next budget.
“In order to bring down the internet prices, a reduction in the government’s revenue sources, including VAT and other taxes, from the sector will be proposed,” she said making the point to reporters. 
Currently, the end users have to pay 15 percent VAT, 5 percent supplementary duty 
and 1 percent surcharge on their internet usage. The ministry is also exploring if a better revenue sharing model can be worked out for the mobile operators.
At present, mobile operators have to share 5.5 percent of their gross revenue with the telecom regulator. They also have to forward 1 percent of their gross revenue to the social obligation fund.
The telecom division will go for cuts either on the VAT and other taxes on internet usage or the mobile operators’ revenue sharing percentage. “We are trying to get an outcome within the next six months,” she said. 
The telecom and gateway operators also have been asked to share their total costs for providing internet service to consumers within two days. Meanwhile, the minister has also asked mobile operators to stop their current practice of offering data packages at discounted rates or free of charge to those who occasionally use internet on their phones.
Rather, the regular mobile internet users should be rewarded with lower rates, she opined. 
“Our main target is to reduce the cost of mobile internet usage as a huge number of users are accessing the internet through their handheld devices.”
As of February, the country’s total active internet connections stand at 12.96 crore. 
Of the number, 5.93 crore are mobile internet connections, according to a report of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

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Business Report
 
The telecom ministry is planning to cut internet rates at users end and working on 
a plan for reducing Vat and other tax to bring down the cost under the next fiscal budget of 2017-18. It aims at making the service cheaper.  
State minister for telecom Tarana Halim told the media on Wednesday last in the city saying Bangladesh is the third lowest in the world in terms of internet pricing at end users’ level. The government is now trying to offer it at the lowest country.
She said the ministry is sending a letter to Finance Minister AMA Muhith requesting him to cut some of the taxes for internet in the next budget.
“In order to bring down the internet prices, a reduction in the government’s revenue sources, including VAT and other taxes, from the sector will be proposed,” she said making the point to reporters. 
Currently, the end users have to pay 15 percent VAT, 5 percent supplementary duty 
and 1 percent surcharge on their internet usage. The ministry is also exploring if a better revenue sharing model can be worked out for the mobile operators.
At present, mobile operators have to share 5.5 percent of their gross revenue with the telecom regulator. They also have to forward 1 percent of their gross revenue to the social obligation fund.
The telecom division will go for cuts either on the VAT and other taxes on internet usage or the mobile operators’ revenue sharing percentage. “We are trying to get an outcome within the next six months,” she said. 
The telecom and gateway operators also have been asked to share their total costs for providing internet service to consumers within two days. Meanwhile, the minister has also asked mobile operators to stop their current practice of offering data packages at discounted rates or free of charge to those who occasionally use internet on their phones.
Rather, the regular mobile internet users should be rewarded with lower rates, she opined. 
“Our main target is to reduce the cost of mobile internet usage as a huge number of users are accessing the internet through their handheld devices.”
As of February, the country’s total active internet connections stand at 12.96 crore. 
Of the number, 5.93 crore are mobile internet connections, according to a report of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission.

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PROF. YUNUS PRESIDES

AGFUND Advisory Council decides to set up 14 banks for the poor

Business Report
 
The third advisory council meeting of Arab-Gulf Fund for Development (AGFUND) held at UN headquarters in Geneva on April 19 decided to set up 14 banks for poor people and businessmen in central and west African countries. 
Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who is also an advisor to the Arab fund presided over the meeting attended by international experts in micro-finance and CEOs of AGFUND Banks already operating in some Arab countries. 
The council advises on strategic planning on development issues. This year it discussed past achievements and future plans.  Queen Sofia of Spain attended the meeting as a Special Guest along with Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali, the recently retired President of the Islamic Development Bank with other board members of AGFUND Prize committee.
One of the decisions include establishing eight banks in West African countries and six in central African countries in next five years with AGFUND funding. The Fund has already established nine banks in nine Arab countries. 
Needless to say these banks were established by AGFUND at the encouragement and support from Professor Yunus. They have maintained near 99 percent repayment record and majority of borrowers are women. These banks strictly follow the Grameen model and operate as social business.
AGFUND plans to disburse one billion US dollars in loans through the existing and upcoming banks by 2021. Its involvement in microfinance was initiated by Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud encouraged by Professor Muhammad Yunus. Advisory Council in the meeting also declared to increase the award money from half million US dollars to one million from next year.
AGFUND celebrated the 18th annual award ceremony of its International Prize for Pioneering Human Development Projects on this occasion. Queen Sofia and Professor Muhammad Yunus co-chaired the Prize committee meeting.
On the sidelines of this meeting Professor Yunus had also a separate meeting with Dr Bandar Hajjar, new President of the Islamic Development Bank. The AGFUND Prize awards are given to those who have designed and conducted noteworthy human development initiatives with the most marginal on a specific theme of global or topical interest. 

Comment

Business Report
 
The third advisory council meeting of Arab-Gulf Fund for Development (AGFUND) held at UN headquarters in Geneva on April 19 decided to set up 14 banks for poor people and businessmen in central and west African countries. 
Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, who is also an advisor to the Arab fund presided over the meeting attended by international experts in micro-finance and CEOs of AGFUND Banks already operating in some Arab countries. 
The council advises on strategic planning on development issues. This year it discussed past achievements and future plans.  Queen Sofia of Spain attended the meeting as a Special Guest along with Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali, the recently retired President of the Islamic Development Bank with other board members of AGFUND Prize committee.
One of the decisions include establishing eight banks in West African countries and six in central African countries in next five years with AGFUND funding. The Fund has already established nine banks in nine Arab countries. 
Needless to say these banks were established by AGFUND at the encouragement and support from Professor Yunus. They have maintained near 99 percent repayment record and majority of borrowers are women. These banks strictly follow the Grameen model and operate as social business.
AGFUND plans to disburse one billion US dollars in loans through the existing and upcoming banks by 2021. Its involvement in microfinance was initiated by Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud encouraged by Professor Muhammad Yunus. Advisory Council in the meeting also declared to increase the award money from half million US dollars to one million from next year.
AGFUND celebrated the 18th annual award ceremony of its International Prize for Pioneering Human Development Projects on this occasion. Queen Sofia and Professor Muhammad Yunus co-chaired the Prize committee meeting.
On the sidelines of this meeting Professor Yunus had also a separate meeting with Dr Bandar Hajjar, new President of the Islamic Development Bank. The AGFUND Prize awards are given to those who have designed and conducted noteworthy human development initiatives with the most marginal on a specific theme of global or topical interest. 

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BRAC Bank signs custodial agreement with Peninsula Asset Management Company 

Business Report
 
BRAC Bank Limited and Peninsula Asset Management Company Limited signed a Custodial Agreement for handling of the mutual fund “Peninsula Sadharan Bima Corporation Unit Fund One”. Under this agreement, BRAC Bank will be providing custodial services to mutual fund of the Peninsula Asset Management Company. 
Tareq Refat Ullah Khan, Head of Corporate Banking, BRAC Bank, and Mr. Firoz Kabir, Chief Executive Officer, Peninsula Asset Management Company, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. 
Md. Sekander-E-Azam, Head of Cash Management & Custodial Services, BRAC Bank Limited, Md. Tofazzal Hossain, Asst. Manager-Compliance, Peninsula Asset Management Company were also present at the function along with other senior officials of both the organizations, said a press release.

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Business Report
 
BRAC Bank Limited and Peninsula Asset Management Company Limited signed a Custodial Agreement for handling of the mutual fund “Peninsula Sadharan Bima Corporation Unit Fund One”. Under this agreement, BRAC Bank will be providing custodial services to mutual fund of the Peninsula Asset Management Company. 
Tareq Refat Ullah Khan, Head of Corporate Banking, BRAC Bank, and Mr. Firoz Kabir, Chief Executive Officer, Peninsula Asset Management Company, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. 
Md. Sekander-E-Azam, Head of Cash Management & Custodial Services, BRAC Bank Limited, Md. Tofazzal Hossain, Asst. Manager-Compliance, Peninsula Asset Management Company were also present at the function along with other senior officials of both the organizations, said a press release.

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Govt plans to avoid Sovereign Wealth Fund 

Business Report
 
Finance Minister AMA Muhith indicated that the government may not go ahead with its plans to set up a $10 billion sovereign wealth fund in the end as it seems to be a  sharp change of mind after years of talking of the idea. .
The cabinet in February this year gave the go-ahead for the setting up of the fund with money from the record foreign currency reserves, which would be used for government investment in long-term projects in the power, energy and infrastructure projects.
Muhith told the media in Washington on Sunday about it in the sidelines of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. 
The government may also discard its plan to issue a $1 billion offshore taka-linked bond which was also set to be launched with assistance from the International Finance Corporation of World Bank Group. The proceeds from the bond issuance were supposed to be invested in private infrastructure and public private partnership projects.
“We are now thinking that it will not be a sovereign bond. It will be different kind of bond. We will do it, but we will not call it a bond. Let’s see, he said.
He said the government will now seek ways to raise funds through state-run non-banking institution Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund, which has been quite active in recent years.

Comment

Business Report
 
Finance Minister AMA Muhith indicated that the government may not go ahead with its plans to set up a $10 billion sovereign wealth fund in the end as it seems to be a  sharp change of mind after years of talking of the idea. .
The cabinet in February this year gave the go-ahead for the setting up of the fund with money from the record foreign currency reserves, which would be used for government investment in long-term projects in the power, energy and infrastructure projects.
Muhith told the media in Washington on Sunday about it in the sidelines of the World Bank-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. 
The government may also discard its plan to issue a $1 billion offshore taka-linked bond which was also set to be launched with assistance from the International Finance Corporation of World Bank Group. The proceeds from the bond issuance were supposed to be invested in private infrastructure and public private partnership projects.
“We are now thinking that it will not be a sovereign bond. It will be different kind of bond. We will do it, but we will not call it a bond. Let’s see, he said.
He said the government will now seek ways to raise funds through state-run non-banking institution Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund, which has been quite active in recent years.

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Patenga container terminal at to be ready by 2019
Business Report
 
The Patenga container terminal, — a 600 meter long berthing jetty and planned to 
reduce pressure on Chittagong port is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, media report said quoting the chairman of the Chittagong Port Authority last week. 
Expansion of the port has become urgent to handle the steady growth of cargo— exports and imports — at a time when the port is becoming the regional shipping hub with presence of India goods for transit.   
CPA Chairman M Khaled Iqbal said a new jetty is a must to cope with the ever increasing growth in cargo handling and container vessel traffic. HE was speaking at a meeting with journalists on the eve of 130th Chittagong Port Day.
The Chittagong port has been experiencing 16 to 17 percent growth in cargo and container traffic in the last few years. “If the new jetty is not ready by 2019, this growth rate would come down and that would have the ultimate cascading effect on overall external trade and the economy as a whole. 
So a number of projects have been undertaken in the last one year to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the port, he said adding emphasis is being given on the Patenga terminal, which would have three jetties, yards and rail link, as the other three big projects — Karnaphuli container terminal, Laldia multipurpose terminal and Bay terminal – will have and can be partially completed before 2021.
The CPA has requested the government to construct the terminal through the direct procurement method for timely completion. The existing 13 jetties of general cargo berth area would be reconstructed as the Karnaphuli container terminal. The contracts for the Tk 2 billion-project are likely to be awarded by 2018.

Comment

Business Report
 
The Patenga container terminal, — a 600 meter long berthing jetty and planned to 
reduce pressure on Chittagong port is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, media report said quoting the chairman of the Chittagong Port Authority last week. 
Expansion of the port has become urgent to handle the steady growth of cargo— exports and imports — at a time when the port is becoming the regional shipping hub with presence of India goods for transit.   
CPA Chairman M Khaled Iqbal said a new jetty is a must to cope with the ever increasing growth in cargo handling and container vessel traffic. HE was speaking at a meeting with journalists on the eve of 130th Chittagong Port Day.
The Chittagong port has been experiencing 16 to 17 percent growth in cargo and container traffic in the last few years. “If the new jetty is not ready by 2019, this growth rate would come down and that would have the ultimate cascading effect on overall external trade and the economy as a whole. 
So a number of projects have been undertaken in the last one year to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the port, he said adding emphasis is being given on the Patenga terminal, which would have three jetties, yards and rail link, as the other three big projects — Karnaphuli container terminal, Laldia multipurpose terminal and Bay terminal – will have and can be partially completed before 2021.
The CPA has requested the government to construct the terminal through the direct procurement method for timely completion. The existing 13 jetties of general cargo berth area would be reconstructed as the Karnaphuli container terminal. The contracts for the Tk 2 billion-project are likely to be awarded by 2018.

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Rajshahi Zone of Islami Bank held training programme 

Business Report
 
The training program of Rural Development Scheme (RDS) of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited of Rajshahi Zone was held at a local hotel on April 23 with its chairman Arastoo Khan as chief guest. 
Professor Syed Ahsanul Alam, Vice Chairman addressed the program as special guest. Presided over by Md. Abdul Hamid Miah, Managing Director and CEO of the bank, it was also addressed by bank’s Deputy Managing Directors Md. Mahbub-ul-Alam, Mohammed Munirul Mawla, and Abu Reza Md. Yeahia.
Md. Faizul Kabir, Executive Vice President and Head of Rajshahi Zone of the Bank also spoke on the occasion. Md. Abu Sayem, Asst. Trainer (animal husbandry) of Youth Training Center, Chapai Nawabganj presented the key note paper on Livestock Development. 
Ms. Bilkis Babor, Laila Begum, Shakila Begum, Shova Rani and Champa Rani shared their experience, among others on the occasion. Senior executives of the bank and selected four hundred RDS clients of 19 branches attended the training, said a press release.

Comment

Business Report
 
The training program of Rural Development Scheme (RDS) of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited of Rajshahi Zone was held at a local hotel on April 23 with its chairman Arastoo Khan as chief guest. 
Professor Syed Ahsanul Alam, Vice Chairman addressed the program as special guest. Presided over by Md. Abdul Hamid Miah, Managing Director and CEO of the bank, it was also addressed by bank’s Deputy Managing Directors Md. Mahbub-ul-Alam, Mohammed Munirul Mawla, and Abu Reza Md. Yeahia.
Md. Faizul Kabir, Executive Vice President and Head of Rajshahi Zone of the Bank also spoke on the occasion. Md. Abu Sayem, Asst. Trainer (animal husbandry) of Youth Training Center, Chapai Nawabganj presented the key note paper on Livestock Development. 
Ms. Bilkis Babor, Laila Begum, Shakila Begum, Shova Rani and Champa Rani shared their experience, among others on the occasion. Senior executives of the bank and selected four hundred RDS clients of 19 branches attended the training, said a press release.

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EBL declares 20pc Cash and 5pc Stock Dividend

Business Report
 
The 25th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Eastern Bank Limited (EBL) shareholders was held on April 27 at Spectra Convention Centre Limited (SCCL), Gulshan-1 in the city.
M. Ghaziul Haque, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the bank presided over the meeting, attended by EBL Directors as well as Managing Director and CEO Ali Reza Iftekhar and Company Secretary Safiar Rahman among others. 
The meeting declared 20 percent cash and 5 percent stock dividend for shareholders for the year ended on 31 December 2016.

Comment

Business Report
 
The 25th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Eastern Bank Limited (EBL) shareholders was held on April 27 at Spectra Convention Centre Limited (SCCL), Gulshan-1 in the city.
M. Ghaziul Haque, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the bank presided over the meeting, attended by EBL Directors as well as Managing Director and CEO Ali Reza Iftekhar and Company Secretary Safiar Rahman among others. 
The meeting declared 20 percent cash and 5 percent stock dividend for shareholders for the year ended on 31 December 2016.

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