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Muhith again defends license for new banks

Business Report

Finance Minister AMA Muhith.

Ignoring advice from economists and leaders of banking sector Finance Minister AMA Muhith last week again defended the decision to allow opening of two new banks, saying lenders not doing well would automatically merge to keep the number of banks not going up.
“I am not worried about it… There is no cause for concern,” he told reporters at his secretariat office when asked whether the opening of new banks would create a risk for the banking sector.
Muhith said banking services were yet to reach many people and the expansion required more banks. So he is working to allow several new banks when the sector is already overcrowded and scandal plugged from irregularities and other mismanagement of loan portfolios.
Farmers Bank is on the verge of collapse as it is failing to repay inter-bank loans. Its management is now undergoing overhauling as the chairman, managing director and several directors were forced to resign.
NBBC Bank is also closer to brink while several other banks are also quite sick and failing to meet statutory deposit obligations and repay big clients. It is time to stop indiscipline and improve quality of governance, not allowing new banks, observers said. But the government has decided to allow few more banks in the private sector purely on political consideration ignoring waenings.   
In Bangladesh, there are 57 banks at present, many with their financial condition and governance in dire straits.
The performance of the nine banks that started operations in 2013 is not good.
Of them, Farmers Bank and NRB Commercial Bank saw massive changes in their board, including in the posts of chairmen.
Farmers Bank Chairman Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, also a former home minister, was forced to resign.
Against this backdrop, the BB is going to provide licences to set up three new banks under the finance ministry’s directive. Muhith was also asked about the recent changes in the boards of a number of private banks.
The minister, without mentioning any name, said a business group has been borrowing heavily from the market and buying other banks. The government is looking into it.
In recent times S Alam Group has taken control of a good number of private banks by way of purchasing shares, including that of Islami Bank Bangladesh.

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Business Report

Finance Minister AMA Muhith.

Ignoring advice from economists and leaders of banking sector Finance Minister AMA Muhith last week again defended the decision to allow opening of two new banks, saying lenders not doing well would automatically merge to keep the number of banks not going up.
“I am not worried about it… There is no cause for concern,” he told reporters at his secretariat office when asked whether the opening of new banks would create a risk for the banking sector.
Muhith said banking services were yet to reach many people and the expansion required more banks. So he is working to allow several new banks when the sector is already overcrowded and scandal plugged from irregularities and other mismanagement of loan portfolios.
Farmers Bank is on the verge of collapse as it is failing to repay inter-bank loans. Its management is now undergoing overhauling as the chairman, managing director and several directors were forced to resign.
NBBC Bank is also closer to brink while several other banks are also quite sick and failing to meet statutory deposit obligations and repay big clients. It is time to stop indiscipline and improve quality of governance, not allowing new banks, observers said. But the government has decided to allow few more banks in the private sector purely on political consideration ignoring waenings.   
In Bangladesh, there are 57 banks at present, many with their financial condition and governance in dire straits.
The performance of the nine banks that started operations in 2013 is not good.
Of them, Farmers Bank and NRB Commercial Bank saw massive changes in their board, including in the posts of chairmen.
Farmers Bank Chairman Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, also a former home minister, was forced to resign.
Against this backdrop, the BB is going to provide licences to set up three new banks under the finance ministry’s directive. Muhith was also asked about the recent changes in the boards of a number of private banks.
The minister, without mentioning any name, said a business group has been borrowing heavily from the market and buying other banks. The government is looking into it.
In recent times S Alam Group has taken control of a good number of private banks by way of purchasing shares, including that of Islami Bank Bangladesh.


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Swiss Technology University and Yunus Centre to collaborate

Business Report

The President of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne  (EPFL) Professor Martin Vetterrli and Professor Muhammad Yunus discussing collaboration between their institutions on technology applications to solve concrete problems.

Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus gave a public lecture at the prestigious Swiss University École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) opening the formal launching of the Yunus Social Business Centre (YSBC) at the university.
EPFL is a university specializes in natural sciences and engineering funded by federal government. Nearly five hundred participants including President of the university, faculty members and students attended the lecture defying cold rainy weather. More were waiting outside. About 100 copies of Yunus’s book ‘A World of Three Zeroes’ were given as prizes to students.
Professor Yunus emphasized that all technology must define their social mission before they are designed. The idea of technology for technology’s sake or solely for the sake of making money should be changed into a purpose driven one. Social gatekeepers must keep a watchful eye on them and time bound permission to apply them to justify their positive social impact.
Professor Martin Vetterli, President of the university had a meeting with Professor Yunus earlier discussed joint collaboration on all technology applications. Yunus Centre will undertake field trials of all technologies developed by EPFL through social business applications. The university also agreed to make PhD students of EPFL to apply their technology to solve concrete social problems, said a press release.

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Business Report

The President of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne  (EPFL) Professor Martin Vetterrli and Professor Muhammad Yunus discussing collaboration between their institutions on technology applications to solve concrete problems.

Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus gave a public lecture at the prestigious Swiss University École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) opening the formal launching of the Yunus Social Business Centre (YSBC) at the university.
EPFL is a university specializes in natural sciences and engineering funded by federal government. Nearly five hundred participants including President of the university, faculty members and students attended the lecture defying cold rainy weather. More were waiting outside. About 100 copies of Yunus’s book ‘A World of Three Zeroes’ were given as prizes to students.
Professor Yunus emphasized that all technology must define their social mission before they are designed. The idea of technology for technology’s sake or solely for the sake of making money should be changed into a purpose driven one. Social gatekeepers must keep a watchful eye on them and time bound permission to apply them to justify their positive social impact.
Professor Martin Vetterli, President of the university had a meeting with Professor Yunus earlier discussed joint collaboration on all technology applications. Yunus Centre will undertake field trials of all technologies developed by EPFL through social business applications. The university also agreed to make PhD students of EPFL to apply their technology to solve concrete social problems, said a press release.


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Brexit breakthrough made to face setback again

Business Report

Brexit talks saw a breakthrough last week as EU leaders threw British Prime Minister Theresa May a lifeline in Brexit talks agreeing at a Brussels summit to start preparations for the next stage of negotiations.
EU President Donald Tusk said reports the talks were in deadlock were “exaggerated”, hailing a speech May made in Florence last month for breaking the impasse.
As expected, the other 27 leaders agreed there had been insufficient progress on the divorce talks to officially move on to the future relationship, delaying the decision to a December summit.
But they took just 90 seconds to approve the start of internal preparations for post-Brexit trade and a transition deal, work that Tusk said would take Britain’s proposals on future relations into account.
But May faced another deadlock this week when she suffered a damaging parliamentary defeat over Brexit, after her own MPs rebelled to demand parliament have the final say on the divorce deal with Brussels.
Members of May’s Conservative party joined with opposition lawmakers to inflict the government’s first defeat over the flagship EU (Withdrawal) Bill, sparking huge cheers in the House of Commons.
Ministers had sought to buy off the rebels with a last-minute promise of a parliamentary vote on the separation agreement, but their leader, former attorney general Dominic Grieve, warned: “It’s too late.”
His amendment demanding a statutory vote on the deal before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019 was passed by 309 votes to 305. The Brexit ministry said it was “disappointed”.
Meanwhile “scoping work has already broadly started” to move to the second phase as French presidency sources said when the new setback emerged. May has struggled to contain divisions in her government since losing her parliamentary majority in a June election, and appealed to European leaders over dinner Thursday to help her make headway in the Brexit talks.
In a move that risks being seen as a snub to the EU’s gesture, however, she repeated yesterday that a detailed agreement on one of the biggest sticking points — the financial settlement — must wait.
European capitals are demanding detailed written commitments on finance before consenting to the start of trade talks, fearing that Britain’s departure in 2019 will blow a hole in the bloc’s budget.
Like Tusk, German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck an optimistic note, saying after Thursday’s dinner that she could see “zero indications that we will not succeed” in reaching a Brexit deal.
However, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that agreement on a financial settlement was “a long way off”.
The slow progress of the negotiations has stoked fears Britain could leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal in place, risking economic and legal chaos.
As well as the financial settlement, the EU wants progress on the rights of three million European citizens living in Britain and the issue of the Irish border.

Comment

Business Report

Brexit talks saw a breakthrough last week as EU leaders threw British Prime Minister Theresa May a lifeline in Brexit talks agreeing at a Brussels summit to start preparations for the next stage of negotiations.
EU President Donald Tusk said reports the talks were in deadlock were “exaggerated”, hailing a speech May made in Florence last month for breaking the impasse.
As expected, the other 27 leaders agreed there had been insufficient progress on the divorce talks to officially move on to the future relationship, delaying the decision to a December summit.
But they took just 90 seconds to approve the start of internal preparations for post-Brexit trade and a transition deal, work that Tusk said would take Britain’s proposals on future relations into account.
But May faced another deadlock this week when she suffered a damaging parliamentary defeat over Brexit, after her own MPs rebelled to demand parliament have the final say on the divorce deal with Brussels.
Members of May’s Conservative party joined with opposition lawmakers to inflict the government’s first defeat over the flagship EU (Withdrawal) Bill, sparking huge cheers in the House of Commons.
Ministers had sought to buy off the rebels with a last-minute promise of a parliamentary vote on the separation agreement, but their leader, former attorney general Dominic Grieve, warned: “It’s too late.”
His amendment demanding a statutory vote on the deal before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019 was passed by 309 votes to 305. The Brexit ministry said it was “disappointed”.
Meanwhile “scoping work has already broadly started” to move to the second phase as French presidency sources said when the new setback emerged. May has struggled to contain divisions in her government since losing her parliamentary majority in a June election, and appealed to European leaders over dinner Thursday to help her make headway in the Brexit talks.
In a move that risks being seen as a snub to the EU’s gesture, however, she repeated yesterday that a detailed agreement on one of the biggest sticking points — the financial settlement — must wait.
European capitals are demanding detailed written commitments on finance before consenting to the start of trade talks, fearing that Britain’s departure in 2019 will blow a hole in the bloc’s budget.
Like Tusk, German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck an optimistic note, saying after Thursday’s dinner that she could see “zero indications that we will not succeed” in reaching a Brexit deal.
However, French President Emmanuel Macron warned that agreement on a financial settlement was “a long way off”.
The slow progress of the negotiations has stoked fears Britain could leave the EU in March 2019 without a deal in place, risking economic and legal chaos.
As well as the financial settlement, the EU wants progress on the rights of three million European citizens living in Britain and the issue of the Irish border.


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Philippine bank accuses BB of heist ‘cover-up’

AFP, Manila

A Philippine bank on Tuesday accused Bangladesh’s central bank of a “massive cover-up” over an $81-million cyber-heist last year, as it rejected allegations it was mostly to blame.
Unidentified hackers shifted $81 million in February last year from the Bangladesh central bank’s account with the US Federal Reserve in New York to a Manila branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC).
The money was quickly withdrawn and laundered through Manila casinos.
With only a small amount of the stolen money recovered and frustration building in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s Finance Minister AMA Muhith said over the weekend he wanted to “wipe out” RCBC.
RCBC on Tuesday said Muhith’s remarks were “extremely irresponsible”. “Last year’s theft of $81 million of Bangladesh’s Central Bank’s (BB) funds was an inside job and BB is engaging in a massive cover-up by maligning RCBC and refusing to divulge its findings,” the bank said in a statement on Tuesday. “BB should stop making RCBC its scapegoat.”
The Philippines last year imposed a record $21-million fine on RCBC after a “special examination” of the bank and its role in the audacious cyber heist.
Philippine authorities have filed money laundering charges against the RCBC branch manager. On Tuesday RCBC said an “inside job” at Bangladesh Bank made the heist possible. “If it was stolen by your own people, why ask us? We are actually a victim of BB’s negligence,” RCBC said.
Asked about the allegation of an inside job, Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Razee Hassan insisted RCBC was at fault for releasing the stolen money.
“(RCBC) did not do due diligence. Their central bank did not fine them without any reason,” he told AFP.

Comment

AFP, Manila

A Philippine bank on Tuesday accused Bangladesh’s central bank of a “massive cover-up” over an $81-million cyber-heist last year, as it rejected allegations it was mostly to blame.
Unidentified hackers shifted $81 million in February last year from the Bangladesh central bank’s account with the US Federal Reserve in New York to a Manila branch of the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC).
The money was quickly withdrawn and laundered through Manila casinos.
With only a small amount of the stolen money recovered and frustration building in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s Finance Minister AMA Muhith said over the weekend he wanted to “wipe out” RCBC.
RCBC on Tuesday said Muhith’s remarks were “extremely irresponsible”. “Last year’s theft of $81 million of Bangladesh’s Central Bank’s (BB) funds was an inside job and BB is engaging in a massive cover-up by maligning RCBC and refusing to divulge its findings,” the bank said in a statement on Tuesday. “BB should stop making RCBC its scapegoat.”
The Philippines last year imposed a record $21-million fine on RCBC after a “special examination” of the bank and its role in the audacious cyber heist.
Philippine authorities have filed money laundering charges against the RCBC branch manager. On Tuesday RCBC said an “inside job” at Bangladesh Bank made the heist possible. “If it was stolen by your own people, why ask us? We are actually a victim of BB’s negligence,” RCBC said.
Asked about the allegation of an inside job, Bangladesh Bank deputy governor Razee Hassan insisted RCBC was at fault for releasing the stolen money.
“(RCBC) did not do due diligence. Their central bank did not fine them without any reason,” he told AFP.


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BRAC Bank receives Women’s Market Champion Award

Business Report

BRAC Bank Ltd received Women’s Market Champion Award from Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA). It has received the in recognition of its launch of the comprehensive women’s banking product suite, TARA.
Selim R. F. Hussain, Managing Director & CEO of BRAC Bank received the award at GBA Annual Summit in London on November 15. Bilquis Jahan, Head of Human Resources, and Zara Jabeen Mahbub, Head of Communications and other senior officials of BRAC Bank were present at the event.
Hussain said on this occasion that the award is not merely a product; it is a solution helping realize the potential women clients. BRAC Bank is committed to facilitating and empowering women. This international recognition by GBA is another step forward for the bank on its journey to becoming the best Bank in Bangladesh.
BRAC Bank is the only member bank of GBA from Bangladesh. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in New York, the GBA works for knowledge sharing, capacity building and research for promotion of women’s banking across the globe, said a press release.

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Business Report

BRAC Bank Ltd received Women’s Market Champion Award from Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA). It has received the in recognition of its launch of the comprehensive women’s banking product suite, TARA.
Selim R. F. Hussain, Managing Director & CEO of BRAC Bank received the award at GBA Annual Summit in London on November 15. Bilquis Jahan, Head of Human Resources, and Zara Jabeen Mahbub, Head of Communications and other senior officials of BRAC Bank were present at the event.
Hussain said on this occasion that the award is not merely a product; it is a solution helping realize the potential women clients. BRAC Bank is committed to facilitating and empowering women. This international recognition by GBA is another step forward for the bank on its journey to becoming the best Bank in Bangladesh.
BRAC Bank is the only member bank of GBA from Bangladesh. Founded in 2000 and headquartered in New York, the GBA works for knowledge sharing, capacity building and research for promotion of women’s banking across the globe, said a press release.


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SJIBL inaugurates new branch at Dashgharia

Business Report

Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited (SJIBL) inaugurated a new branch at Dashgharia, Noakhali on December 12. Additional Managing Director M. Shahidul Islam formally inaugurated the Branch as Chief Guest.
Among others Deputy Managing Director of the Bank Md. Shahjahan Shiraj, Head of Business Development & Marketing Division Mohammed Ashfaqul Hoque, Head of Public Relations Division Md. Shamsuddoha, Chairman of Porkut Union Parishad Bahar Alam Munshi, local industrialist and businessmen were also present.
M. Shahidul Islam said, the banking sector is playing a significant role for the overall economic growth of the country and Shahjalal Islami Bank Ltd. has achieved the client’s credibility due to use of contemporary and modern technology.
He also said the bank intends to make more invest in Noakhali district for socio-economic  development. He also said, the Bank will finance SME sector for the development in Chatkhil area.

Comment

Business Report

Shahjalal Islami Bank Limited (SJIBL) inaugurated a new branch at Dashgharia, Noakhali on December 12. Additional Managing Director M. Shahidul Islam formally inaugurated the Branch as Chief Guest.
Among others Deputy Managing Director of the Bank Md. Shahjahan Shiraj, Head of Business Development & Marketing Division Mohammed Ashfaqul Hoque, Head of Public Relations Division Md. Shamsuddoha, Chairman of Porkut Union Parishad Bahar Alam Munshi, local industrialist and businessmen were also present.
M. Shahidul Islam said, the banking sector is playing a significant role for the overall economic growth of the country and Shahjalal Islami Bank Ltd. has achieved the client’s credibility due to use of contemporary and modern technology.
He also said the bank intends to make more invest in Noakhali district for socio-economic  development. He also said, the Bank will finance SME sector for the development in Chatkhil area.


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Oil tops $65, first time since 2015

Reuters, London

Oil rose above $65 a barrel for the first time since mid-2015 on Tuesday as an unplanned shutdown of the UK’s biggest North Sea oil pipeline supported a market already tightened by Opec-led production cuts.
The Forties oil pipeline helps set global oil prices. It was scheduled to pump 406,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December, but was shut down on Monday after cracks were found in what traders believe is the first unplanned outage for some years.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up by 90 cents at $65.59 at 0915 GMT, after breaking above $65 for the first time since June 2015 and trading as high as $65.70. US crude rose 49 cents to $58.48.
“Such a reaction indicates that supply disruptions can no longer be ignored in tight markets,” said Hussein Sayed, analyst at FXTM.

Comment

Reuters, London

Oil rose above $65 a barrel for the first time since mid-2015 on Tuesday as an unplanned shutdown of the UK’s biggest North Sea oil pipeline supported a market already tightened by Opec-led production cuts.
The Forties oil pipeline helps set global oil prices. It was scheduled to pump 406,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December, but was shut down on Monday after cracks were found in what traders believe is the first unplanned outage for some years.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up by 90 cents at $65.59 at 0915 GMT, after breaking above $65 for the first time since June 2015 and trading as high as $65.70. US crude rose 49 cents to $58.48.
“Such a reaction indicates that supply disruptions can no longer be ignored in tight markets,” said Hussein Sayed, analyst at FXTM.


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