• Friday, December 26, 2014

Freedom in the air

Business

Realtors look to revamp sales with midsized flats

Realtors look to revamp sales with midsized flats

The rising middle class can become a beacon of hope for the ailing real estate sector, with increasing demand for affordable medium size apartments. Many middle-income families flocked to the REHAB Winter Fair on its second day, mainly looking for apartments between 900 and 1,400 square feet (sq ft), within a budget of Tk 65 lakh to Tk 1.2 crore. Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) is organising the fair at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre...

Higher allowances proposed for govt employees

The Pay and Service Commission has proposed to increase allowances of government staff, besides their basic salaries. However, dearness allowance (DA) is...

Sales of savings tools soar

Sales of savings instruments more than trebled, year-on-year, to Tk 10,542 crore in July-November this fiscal year, mainly due to a...

Tk 1,000cr through IPOs despite slow markets

Tk 1,000cr through IPOs despite slow markets

Seventeen new securities went public on the Dhaka Stock Exchange in...

Citi stays upbeat on economic growth

Improving political stability will help Bangladesh achieve higher economic growth in the current fiscal year, banking giant Citi said in its annual market update. "The overall growth outlook for 2014-2015 is favourable and the growth recovery has begun with the return of political stability," it said in an analysis on Bangladesh for 2014. The government has set an ambitious 7.3 percent GDP growth target for the current fiscal year, Citi said, adding that Bangladesh needs to raise the total investment to...

Telcos invested Tk 9,800cr last fiscal year

Telcos invested Tk 9,800cr last fiscal year

Four private mobile operators invested around Tk 9,800 crore in fiscal 2013-14 to develop their network for voice and data services, the telecom regulator said. Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi and Airtel made the investments mainly for 3G spectrum and equipment purchases, according to the annual report of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission for 2013-14. The BTRC said...

NBR to ease taxation for cooking oil traders

The National Board of Revenue is set to simplify taxation for soybean and palm oil processors by allowing them to pay value-added tax at one stage instead of three. Once the plan, which is in line with a commerce ministry suggestion, comes into being, the cooking oil processors will pay 15 percent VAT at the import level only, an NBR official said, asking not to be named. The commerce ministry put forward the suggestion as the processors said the existing system...

Yunus spurs businesses in Ctg on social business

Nobel laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus yesterday called upon the businesses of Chittagong to initiate social businesses for the welfare of the people. “Alongside your own business which brings you profit, you can also set up social businesses which will bring welfare for the people of the society,” the pioneer of the social business said. He spoke while addressing a meeting with the top businesspeople in the port city. The Chittagong Social Business Centre Ltd (CSBCL) organised the event at the Chittagong...

Expats eyeing the exits after Russian ruble plunges

The plunge of the ruble hasn't left only Russians shell shocked -- foreign workers from traders to maids are considering bailing out as Moscow turns from an El Dorado into a financial black hole. The phenomenon is not quantifiable nor is there anything to indicate an exodus of expatriates is under way, but many admit to considering whether it is time to leave Russia after the ruble shed a quarter of its value in a couple of days last week. While...

Loader

More

A long history of exploitation in the cotton industry

The fires and building collapses that killed hundreds of garment workers in countries like Bangladesh in recent years serve as a tragic reminder of the millions in developing countries who labour in wretched conditions. These workers, however, are not the garment or cotton industry's first victims. A book published earlier this month -- "Empire of Cotton: A Global History" by Sven Beckert, a history professor at Harvard -- describes in vivid detail how the industrialisation of cotton contributed to slavery,...

US retailers likely to just meet holiday sales forecasts: experts

US consumers have not turned out in force for the final shopping days before Christmas, suggesting that traditional retailers will just meet industry sales forecasts in a season marked by deep discounts and growing encroachment from online rivals led by Amazon.com Inc. Super Saturday - the last pre-Christmas Saturday, which fell on Dec. 20 this year - failed to make up for spotty performance this season. That included a disappointing Black Friday, the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday that...

Reliance signs shipping agreement for ethane imports

Reliance Industries Ltd of India on Wednesday said it had signed a long-term shipping agreement with Japan's Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd (MOL) to transport liquefied ethane that Reliance will import from North America. MOL will supervise the construction of six very large ethane carriers (VLECs) ordered by Reliance and operate and manage the vessels after they are built and delivered, the Indian company said in a statement. The VLECs are being built by Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd and are expected...

JPMorgan fund in talks on taking $200m stake in India's SpiceJet

A fund managed by JPMorgan Chase is in advanced talks to partner with Indian carrier SpiceJet Ltd's co-founder for a planned $200 million investment into the cash-strapped airline, the Economic Times reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the discussions. Ajay Singh, who helped set up the low-cost airline in 2005, is leading a rescue plan for SpiceJet and has met with aviation ministry officials to discuss a revival plan. He is looking to partner some US-based private equity...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Rescue package on the way for realtors

Rescue package on the way for realtors

Housing and Public Works Minister Mosharraf Hossain yesterday pledged to announce an incentive package for the ailing real estate sector shortly. “It is a must to bring dynamism back to the sector,” he said at the inauguration of the REHAB Winter Fair 2014. The real estate sector is passing through a tough time as apartment...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Tax receipts from depositors' interest earnings rise 78pc

Tax receipts from depositors' interest earnings rise 78pc

Tax receipts from the interest earnings of savings and fixed-deposit accountholders in banks rose 78 percent year-on-year in the last fiscal year. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) received Tk 5,115 crore in 2013-14, up from Tk 2,869 crore a year ago. Taxmen attributed the growth to the high rate of interest on deposits and the flow of funds into the banks after people shunned the stockmarket following its 2011 crash. Continued monitoring by the NBR to ensure deduction of advance income tax also contributed to the increased collection, a senior NBR official said seeking anonymity. Such collection of advance tax has, however, created criticism that many people with an annual income below...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
End red tape to boost economy: DCCI

End red tape to boost economy: DCCI

Bureaucratic tangles and other complexities waste 2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, the newly elected president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry said yesterday. "It is good that Bangladesh is maintaining a 6 percent GDP growth. But we should have higher GDP growth, which is being delayed by bureaucratic tangles, a lack of time-befitting policies and other bottlenecks,” said Hossain Khaled, the DCCI leader. Businesses do not want to see any confrontational political activities like shutdowns and blockades in future, he said. “We will work together to accelerate the country's GDP growth and attract both foreign and local investment,” Khaled said at a briefing at DCCI office in Motijheel. He...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
GP to share profits with employees

The Grameenphone management has decided to share 5 percent of the company's profits with its permanent employees, in line with a government instruction given in 2010. The mobile operator's newly appointed chief executive, Rajeev Sethi, announced the decision yesterday at a meeting with Grameenphone Peoples Council, a platform of its employees. The amount to be shared with the employees reached around Tk 378 crore between 2010 and 2012, said Mia Masud, general secretary of the platform. One third of the amount will...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
BoI signs deal with Japan's biggest bank to lure in investment

The Board of Investment, the country's apex investment promotion body, yesterday signed an agreement with Japan's largest bank to rope in investment from the Asian nation. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ will handhold interested parties to explore investment opportunities in Bangladesh. It will conduct market research and road-shows and provide technical assistance and capacity building.   “Our prime minister has asked us to play a big role in promoting investment to Bangladesh,” said Go Watanable, chief executive officer of the bank's operations...

Pay Commission Suggests

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Reimburse income tax for officials

The Pay and Service Commission has recommended giving public servants, who pay income tax, an additional half-month's basic salary at the year's end. The recommendation is part of the report the commission, led by former Bangladesh Bank Governor Mohammad Farashuddin, submitted to Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Sunday. Since fiscal 2010-11, sixth grade government employees and above have been paying a half-month's basic salary as income tax every year. The recommendation means the employees would indirectly be reimbursed the amount they...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Tea prices mark 7th weekly gain on winter demand

Tea prices in Bangladesh rose for the seventh straight week at the weekly auction on Tuesday amid strong demand in the winter season. Bangladeshi tea fetched an average 192.96 taka ($2.4) per kg compared with 192.04 taka at the previous sale, said an executive with National Brokers Ltd. The price for last week's auction was revised from 192.15 taka. About 2.3 million kg was offered at the auction centre in Chittagong, of which 17 percent went unsold. In the previous...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Stocks fall for second day

Stocks declined for the second day yesterday as investors adopted a wait-and-see approach fearing political instability. DSEX, the benchmark index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange, fell 15.06 points or 0.31 percent to close at 4,823.57. DSES, the shariah index of the DSE, went down 4.24 points or 0.37 percent to close at 1,138.69. The market ended flat because of a selling pressure in frequent intervals, IDLC Investments said. Investors also remained cautious amid a fear of political volatility, the investment banker said. Turnover,...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Bharti Airtel to charge for using VoIP services

Bharti Airtel Ltd, India's largest telecommunications carrier by subscribers, will soon start charging users extra money for using services such as Skype as Indian operators look to boost their data network and revenues. According to the company website, internet or data plans that give customers discounted rates will only be valid for internet browsing and will exclude Voice over IP services (VoIP). VoIP services include those such as Skype, Line and Viber that typically let users make free calls through the...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Rubber farmers in India curb tapping, miss chance in tyre boom

Several rubber farmers in India have put away their tapping knives and switched to planting other crops, as ample global supplies and sinking benchmark prices of the tyre-making raw material squeeze their profit margins. But this means local rubber farmers are likely to miss out on an expected boom in tyre demand from rising car use in India, paving the way for cheaper imports and supporting Asian prices that have dropped almost 26 percent this year. "For most Indian farmers it...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Huawei's smartphone sales rise after emulating Xiaomi

Huawei's smartphone sales rise after emulating Xiaomi

China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has taken sales of its low-price Honor brand of smartphones to 20 million from 1 million in just one year, hitting pay dirt with the disruptive online-only strategy it copied from smaller upstart Xiaomi Inc. Given the early signs, Huawei executives hope to emulate the phenomenal growth of Xiaomi,...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Hotel Sayeman of Cox's Bazar celebrates 50th anniversary

Hotel Sayeman of Cox's Bazar celebrates 50th anniversary

Hotel Sayeman in Cox's Bazar launched a 10-storey resort condominium at a programme in the capital on Tuesday on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. The resort—Sayeman Heritage Residence—conceptualised by Mumbai-based architect Eranna Yakbote will soon be completed, officials of the hotel said at the programme at Star Zone at Bashundhara City. Engr Mosharraf Hossain,...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
France strikes record unemployment high

Unemployment in France hit a new record in November, with official statistics published Wednesday showing 3.488 million people claiming jobless benefits. The figures showed a rise of 27,400 people on the jobless queue compared to the previous month, up 0.8 percent from October and 5.8 percent compared to the previous year. Reducing unemployment is one of President Francois Hollande's main pledges, but more than halfway through his five-year term, that has yet to happen. In an interview last month, he said he...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
India eases foreign ownership rules for medical device makers

India has made it easier for foreigners to fully own existing medical device makers in the country, in a bid to boost investment in the $7 billion sector. The government said on Wednesday foreigners wanting to buy 100 percent of device makers no longer need to get prior approval. India has already allowed full foreign ownership of new companies, but the requirement for prior approval for purchases of existing firms has kept down investment in manufacturing. In a statement, the government said...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Uber hits roadblock as CEO charged in Korea

Uber hits roadblock as CEO charged in Korea

South Korean prosecutors brought charges on Wednesday against the founder and CEO of controversial smartphone taxi app Uber for operating an illegal cab service, the latest roadblock for the California-based firm. The charges, which carry a maximum penalty of two years in jail or a 20 million won ($18,150) fine, came with the company...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
China highways bleeding money despite high tolls

China is losing more than $10 billion a year from its expressways, state media reported Wednesday, despite levying hefty tolls on the world's largest highway network. China spent 431 billion yuan ($69 billion) on building, maintaining and operating highways in 2013, but only took in 365 billion yuan from tolls, the China Daily reported, citing the Ministry of Transport. For years the building of roads, high-speed rail lines and other infrastructure projects helped China hit double-digit gross domestic product (GDP) growth....

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Russia pressures exporters to prop up ruble

Russia pressures exporters to prop up ruble

The Russian government has ordered state-controlled exporters to sell part of their foreign currency holdings, a move which could marshal some $50 billion to support the sagging ruble. After touching record lows last week the Russian currency has rebounded, a development which analysts explain by Russian export giants intervening in the market alongside the...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
India hikes insurance investment cap, bypassing lawmakers

India's cabinet on Wednesday approved an executive decree to hike foreign investment in the funds-starved insurance sector, bypassing squabbling lawmakers to push ahead with economic reforms. The ordinance, a rarely used measure, raises the foreign direct investment cap in insurance companies to 49 percent from 26 percent but must be approved by both houses of parliament within six months to take permanent effect. "The ordinance demonstrates the firm determination of the government for reforms," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters in...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
US minimum wage hikes to impact 1,400-plus Wal-Mart stores

US minimum wage hikes to impact 1,400-plus Wal-Mart stores

Minimum wage increases across the United States will prompt Wal-Mart Stores Inc to adjust base salaries at 1,434 stores, impacting about a third of its US locations, according to an internal memo reviewed by Reuters. The memo, which was sent to store managers earlier this month, offers insight into the impact of minimum wage...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Alibaba spends $160m fighting fakes

Alibaba spends $160m fighting fakes

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba says it has spent more than $160m (£103m) fighting fake goods on its websites from the beginning of 2013 to November of this year. The company will add another 200 people next year to the 2,000 workers tackling counterfeit goods on its sites. That is in addition to the 5,400 volunteers...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Takata president to step down after airbag safety recalls

The president of Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata is to step down, amid widespread criticism of how the company handled recent safety crises. Stefan Stocker presided over the firm during a period in which Takata airbags were linked to the deaths of five people. Additionally, concerns that some of Takata's designs may be defective have led to widespread recalls. Since 2008, an estimated 24 million cars have been recalled worldwide. Under certain conditions, Takata airbags can be set off with too much explosive...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
US jobless claims drop for fifth week in a row

New claims for US unemployment insurance fell last week for the fifth week in a row, according to government figures published Wednesday. Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, totaled 280,000 in the week ending December 20, down 9,000 from the previous week, according to US Department of Labor data. Analysts had projected 290,000 claims. The result marked the 14th week in the last 15 in which weekly claims have stood below 300,000. The current count is also the...

Published Date: December 25, 2014
Russian inflation passes 10pc

Russian inflation has climbed into double digits -- hitting 10.4 percent, data released Wednesday showed, indicating that prices could be growing faster than expected due to the depreciating ruble. Consumer prices rose by 0.9 percent last week alone, the state statistics service said, with pronounced jumps in the cost of some types of produce and sugar, which rose by 7.5 percent. Many consumer goods are imported into Russia, meaning the slide in the value of the ruble will eventually feed through...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
CEOs of banks can't be sacked without BB permission

Chief executives of banks can no longer be removed or suspended without approval from Bangladesh Bank, the central bank said yesterday. The order, which comes in the backdrop of recent CEO departures in a number of banks following untenable relations with the boards, will make the chief executives more powerful and accountable, said a central banker. It will provide more job security as the executives will not be obliged to carry out any unlawful instruction from the board to retain their...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
Strict rules of origin stunt exports to Korea

Strict rules of origin stunt exports to Korea

Stricter rules of origin in the South Korean market have made it hard for Bangladeshi manufacturers to increase exports to that country, where Bangladesh enjoys a duty-free access, analysts said at a discussion in Dhaka yesterday. The rules demand higher value addition of Bangladeshi products, meaning the goods should have higher local contents. The observation...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
CSR must be for long-term

Corporate social responsibility must be sustainable for the long-term betterment of society and stakeholders, experts said yesterday. CSR is not all about ethical issues. There are environmental impacts that can affect a society, they added. “Companies practising CSR are doing well. We have to do CSR in a bigger way,” Rokia Afzal Rahman, immediate-past president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said at a dialogue on 'Global practices of CSR: Implications for Bangladesh'. Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of Centre for Policy...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
Brac Bank secures $70m loan to expand SME operations

Dutch development bank FMO has extended $70 million of syndicated loan to Brac Bank, the largest transaction of its kind for any local bank, to expand its small and medium-sized enterprise financing. The five-year loan will enable Brac Bank to provide trade finance support to SME entrepreneurs and, along the way, create new employment and spur economic development in urban, suburban and rural areas. “The funding from this syndicated facility has a high development impact,” Nanno Kleiterp, chief executive officer of...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
BGMEA shuns 445 members

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association yesterday cancelled memberships of 445 companies for various acts of non-compliance. The expulsions take the association's membership count to 4,222, it said in a statement. Of the companies that were ousted, 341 were from the Dhaka region and the rest from Chittagong. Memberships were cancelled on charges of outstanding annual membership fees and miscellaneous acts of non-compliance.

Published Date: December 24, 2014
Travel agents to get commission on fuel surcharge

Travel agents will now get commission on fuel surcharge from airlines in addition to the existing 7 percent commission on ticket sales. The commission on fuel surcharge may be calculated separately or together with the ticket fare. The Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, as requested by the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab), has issued a notice. Referring to a resolution of International Air Transport Association, Caab in a letter to the 25 foreign operators and Biman Bangladesh said travel agents...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
78pc workers lose ability to work after accidents: survey

Workplace injuries bring paramount miseries to the lives of workers, as 78 percent workers lose their ability to work after accidents, a recent survey found.   A total of 80 percent of the workers surveyed were suffering from spinal cord injuries, according to the survey conducted by Safety and Rights Society, a local nongovernment organisation that works to improve workplace safety in Bangladesh. The empirical study was carried to measure the socio-economic impacts of severe workplace injuries in Bangladesh. The study...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
Make New Mooring terminal operational soon: port users

Stakeholders and users of Chittagong port yesterday demanded the New Mooring Container Terminal to be made fully operational soon to increase the port's efficiency and capacity. They made the call at the ninth meeting of Chittagong port advisory committee at the Chittagong Port Training Institute in Chittagong. Every previous meeting of the committee set a time frame by which the terminal was supposed to make operational; but nothing happened so far, said Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, former first vice president of BGMEA. A...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
Work on Dhaka-Ctg dual gauge railroads in full steam

The government yesterday gave the go-ahead to the construction of the Akhaura-Laksham portion of the dual gauge Dhaka-Chittagong railway, expected to transform the country into the transhipment hub for Nepal, Bhutan and the seven sister states of India. “The Dhaka-Chittagong railway will soon become the main corridor of the Trans-Asian Railway,” Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters after the meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Once the railway is up and...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
Stocks fall in thin trade

A day after experiencing a slight recovery, stocks declined yesterday due to thin participation of investors. DSEX, the benchmark index of Dhaka Stock Exchange, dropped 29.83 points or 0.61 percent before closing the day at 4,838.63 points. The shariah index—DSES—slid to 1,142.93 points after declining 5.93 points or 0.51 percent. The investors continued pursuing a meticulous strategy due to lack of a perfect confirmation of a rise ahead of the yearend, IDLC Investments said in its regular analysis. “Besides, investors remained focused more...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
Business interest piqued by prospect of US, Cuba trade

US businesses are lining up to take advantage of the enormous investment potential of Cuba, all but untouched for more than half-a-century by American capitalism. Last week, President Barack Obama announced a breakthrough in US relations with Cuba, reviving diplomatic ties and making some commercial transactions easier. No sooner was the historic announcement made, than the American business community began assessing Cuba's untapped markets. Emilio Morales, president of the Miami-based Havana Consulting Group, described a "tsunami" of interest among investors, particularly in...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
US airlines confront cheap oil's flip side: costly hedges

US airlines confront cheap oil's flip side: costly hedges

Some major US airlines including Delta and Southwest are rushing to finance losing bets on oil and revamp fuel hedges as tumbling crude prices leave them with billions of dollars in losses, according to people familiar with the hedging schemes. In theory, airlines are among the top beneficiaries of a six-month slump that halved...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
China's shadow banking adapts and grows as rules tighten

New players in China's shadow banking sector are growing rapidly despite attempts to clamp down on opaque lending, taking advantage of a regulatory anomaly to prosper but also raising the risks of a build-up of debt in the slowing economy. Authorities have sought to rein in the riskiest elements of less-regulated lending after a series of defaults, including a 4 billion yuan ($640 million) credit product backed by Evergrowing Bank in September, because of the danger such debts could pose...

Published Date: December 24, 2014
Arab Opec sources see oil back above $70

Arab Opec producers expect global oil prices to rebound to between $70 and $80 a barrel by the end of next year as a global economic recovery revives demand, Opec delegates said this week in the first indication of where the group expects oil markets to stabilise in the medium term. The delegates, some of which are from core Gulf Opec producing countries, said they may not see - and some may not even welcome now - a return to...

eDaily Star
eDaily Star