• Friday, December 19, 2014

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Switching between mobile networks possible in 3 years

Switching between mobile networks possible in 3 years

Mobile operators said they will be able to let users switch from one operator to another without changing their numbers within two to three years. Bangladesh Telecommu-nication Regulatory Commi-ssion is now taking opinions of stakeholders, including subscribers and operators, to introduce the service -- mobile number portability (MNP). More than 70 countries have MNP, which increases competition among operators in terms of service quality, said Md Sarwar Alam, BTRC secretary and spokesperson. The process of taking the opinions on whether the service would be viable for Bangladesh, when it should be introduced and how it will benefit users started a month ago and will run till tomorrow, he said. TIM Nurul Kabir, secretary general of Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (AMTOB), said they will support the regulator in introducing the service. But, he said, the process will face a huge challenge as complexities will arise out of the SIM tax issue or multiple interconnection exchanges...

Enthusiasm over tourism fair in Chittagong

Enthusiasm over tourism fair in Chittagong

Chittagong will be built into a tourism city and a commercial...

Omera Petroleum to enter LPG market in March

Omera Petroleum to enter LPG market in March

Omera Petroleum is set to supply liquefied petroleum gas to households...

Micromax launches smartphone with Google

Micromax launches smartphone with Google

Indian handset vendor Micromax Informatics yesterday launched the Android One smartphone...

Canadian charity contributes $20,000 to Rana Plaza families

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund, a Canadian charity, yesterday said it contributed $20,000 toward compensation for victims and families affected by the 2013 Rana Plaza tragedy. "In announcing this contribution to the Rana Plaza Trust Fund, we are calling once again on retailers and clothing brands to fulfill their obligations to compensate victims and families," Ken Neumann, United Steelworkers (USW) National Director, said in a statement. "North American retailers and international clothing brands have collectively failed to provide the full $40 million...

Fortis opens first cardiac centre in Bangladesh

India's Fortis Escorts Heart Institute opened its Bangladesh unit yesterday, aiming to provide cost-effective cardiac care service. Fortis will manage and operate the 42-bed centre set up by AFC Health Ltd, a concern of Bangladesh-based Active Fine Chemicals, at Sonadanga in Khulna at a cost of around Tk 30 crore. The 23,000-square-foot centre will offer diagnostic services such as angiography to detect heart diseases as well as varied treatment options, including artificial pacemaker, coronary artery bypass, valve replacement and periphery...

Stocks back to the black

Stocks returned to the black yesterday, breaking a five-day losing streak, although turnover declined 18.7 percent from the previous day. DSEX, the benchmark index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange, finished the week at 4,856.41 points, after increasing 18.49 points, or 0.38 percent. The shariah index—DSES—also rose 6.95 points or 0.61 percent before closing at 1,144.83 points. The index moved sharply higher in the early trading hours after moving down all weeklong, said LankaBangla Securities. “Stocks have restored some ground but remained mostly positive....

CSE revises trading charges

The Chittagong Stock Exchange has revised trading charges in line with the Dhaka bourse. The port city bourse withdrew share transaction charges, commonly known as hawla, and increased the commission on trade to 0.03 percent from 0.02 percent earlier. “This will supersede all previous decisions in respect of contract charges and commission,” the CSE said in a posting on its website yesterday. Earlier on Wednesday, the Dhaka Stock Exchange revised its stock trading charges, following the introduction of a lot-free share transaction...

Once an investor-darling, Niko is now up for sale

Stuck with massive liabilities and no way to grow production in its core area, Niko Resources Ltd, once an investor-darling with shares trading in triple digits, has put itself up for sale. Analysts have watched Niko's share price plummet in a years-long-fall from more $100 per share in 2010 to close at 28¢ on Wednesday, when the company said it had hired investment bank Jefferies LLC to look for "strategic alternatives" including its "outright sale." "It's very disappointing what's happened to...

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Modi moves in to speed up $300b stuck projects

Modi moves in to speed up $300b stuck projects

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken direct control of a project-monitoring body to fast-track investments worth almost $300 billion and revive manufacturing in the country, two officials with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Pro-business Modi has faced criticism in recent weeks that his ambition to spur investment and re-energise the economy...

Is China's economy really the largest in the world?

For the first time in more than 140 years, the US has lost the title of the world's largest economy - it has been stolen by China, according to the IMF. But how reliable are the statistics underpinning this claim? The BBC's economics editor, Robert Peston, explains lower down why China matters to all of us. The Chinese economy is now worth $17.6tn, slightly higher than the $17.4tn the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates for the US. So for the first...

China's JD.com to sell Gap clothing, vying with Alibaba to woo Western brands

China's JD.com Inc has partnered Gap Inc to sell the US clothing retailer's apparel online in China, as the Beijing-based e-commerce company goes head to head with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to woo big foreign fashion names. Alibaba and JD.com, China's No. 1 and 2 e-commerce companies respectively, are vying to ink deals with some of the world's most recognized brands, which offer big boosts in both sales and image at home and overseas. By announcing its partnership with JD.com in...

Putin: What ruble crisis?

President Vladimir Putin assured Russians on Thursday that the economy would rebound after the ruble's dramatic slide this year but offered no remedy for a deepening financial crisis. In an assured performance at a three-hour news conference, Putin blamed the economic problems on external factors and said the crisis over Ukraine was caused by the West, which he accused of building a "virtual" Berlin Wall to contain Russia. Putin even cracked jokes at times, despite pressure to fix an economy that...

Oldest urea plant faces closure

The country's first urea plant in Fenchuganj may face closure soon, as the state-run unit does not have enough funds to bear the cost of repairing one of its transformers that went out of order on July 30. The possibility of resuming production at the unit is thin, as the technology of the Natural Gas Fertiliser Factory (NGFF) established in 1961 is also too backdated, said the plant's Managing Director Iskandar Ali. The 450 staff of the unit run by Bangladesh...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Smartphone sales soar on low-cost brands

Smartphone sales soar on low-cost brands

Sales of smartphones more than tripled year-on-year to 1.6 million units in July-September, led by low-cost devices. The number is a 128.6 percent rise from the April-June quarter when 700,000 units were sold, according to CyberMedia Research (CMR), a market research firm based in India. Sales of feature phones that lack advanced functionality of a smartphone also rose in the third quarter -- 6.4 million units were sold with 106.5 percent growth over the second quarter. On average, the country's handset market grew 108 percent in July-September compared to the previous quarter. About 7.9 million handsets of both types were sold in the third quarter with a 16 percent rise year-on-year. Bangladesh continues to...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
BB appoints new chief economist

BB appoints new chief economist

Biru Paksha Paul has joined Bangladesh Bank as its chief economist, the central bank said in a statement yesterday. Paul is an associate professor of economics at the State University of New York at Cortland. He completed his master's in economics from Dhaka University in 1987, and later completed MBA in finance from the...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Shrimp farmers staring at losses

Shrimp farmers and processors have sunk into hard times after a slump in demand and depreciation of major importers' currencies. Industry operators said many buyers have pushed back the shipment of their orders, while a section of them are even seeking discounts. As a result, the stockpiles are rising at the processors' end. “It is a very bad situation. Prices are falling fast, while sales are down. The business has been dormant for the past two months,” said Khan Habibur Rahman,...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
DSE revises stock trading charges

The Dhaka Stock Exchange yesterday revised its charges on stock trading in the backdrop of a jump in the number of trades following the introduction of a lot-free share transaction system last week. There will be no 'hawla' charge from today, in line with the modification, but investors will have to pay 'laga' charges at a rate of 0.03 percent on total turnover instead of a 0.02 percent rate. The 'hawla' charge refers to the fees on the completion of a...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Stocks in free fall

Stocks declined for the fifth day yesterday as investors remained reluctant to inject fresh funds into the market. DSEX, the benchmark index of Dhaka Stock Exchange, edged 40.73 points down, or 0.83 percent, to finish the day at 4,837.93. DSES, the shariah index of the prime bourse, dropped 9.46 points, or 0.82 percent, to close at 1,137.88.    “The market outlook remained hazy to investors,” LankaBangla Securities said. Among other major updates on the financial sector, the central bank asked bankers on Monday...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Myanmar: Following Bangladesh's blueprint in garment sector

Myanmar: Following Bangladesh's blueprint in garment sector

Myanmar has set out an ambitious plan to emulate Bangladesh's runaway success in the garment sector, as it looks to become one of the major apparel suppliers itself, said a minister of the Southeast Asian nation. “In our country, the garment industry is booming. We hope we will be a hub for sourcing garment...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
DU, Katalyst team up in agriculture journalism

DU, Katalyst team up in agriculture journalism

A specialised course on agriculture journalism will be introduced at Dhaka University, assisted by the agriculture development project, Katalyst. Prof Md Kamal Uddin, treasurer of DU, and Marcus Ehman, general manager of Katalyst, signed a memorandum of understanding at a ceremony at the vice chancellor's office yesterday. “The inclusion of agriculture journalism in journalism education...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
EU's Juncker solicits 'hard cash' for investment plan

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker urged leaders on Wednesday to contribute generously to a new EU investment plan but member states seem determined to wait for now. EU leaders meet Thursday in Brussels to greenlight the broad outline of Juncker's 315 billion euro investment plan, intended to kick-start growth in Europe by financing a wide array of projects. The plan is based on 21 billion euros ($26 billion) in seed money from the EU budget and the bloc's European Investment Bank,...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Holcim gets new chief executive

Holcim gets new chief executive

Sumanta Pandit has been appointed chief executive officer of Holcim Cement (Bangladesh), the company said in a statement. Pandit joins Holcim from Emirates Cement, a subsidiary of Ultratech India, for which he served as country manager in Bangladesh. Pandit has 22 years of international exposure in the industry and brings with him considerable regional and international experience. He holds an honour's degree in civil engineering from the University of Mumbai.

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Regent adds fifth weekly flight to Malaysia

Regent Airways has launched additional flights to the Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur on Tuesdays, starting Dec 23, 2014. This is the fifth weekly flight to Malaysia, the airline said in a statement yesterday. During winter, scheduled flights will depart Dhaka at 23:20 local time and reach Kuala Lumpur at 05:20; and the return flight will be at 06:20 to reach Dhaka at 08:20 in the morning, it said. With this addition, Regent will have flights on all days of the week...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
EU shines light on dirty money with central registers

The European Union has agreed rules to stamp out tax evasion and stop dirty money from criminal gangs or terrorism finance being channelled through anonymous companies. EU states and the European Parliament struck the agreement on Tuesday evening to update the bloc's anti-money laundering rules, a statement from parliament's economic affairs committee said on Wednesday. The aim is to stop anonymous or shell companies being used to finance terrorism, launder money from criminal activity or evade taxes. Central registers would be set...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Bosses put Italy's corruption bill at 300b euros

Italy would be 300 billion euros better off if it had acted decisively against corruption at the time of a major scandal two decades ago, according to an eye-opening new report from the country's business bosses. Employers organisation Confindustria said the failure to implement effective measures to stamp out endemic bribery and kickbacks in public and business life has acted as a costly restraint on growth without which the economy could be nearly a fifth bigger than it now is. In...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Ruble crisis could shake Putin's grip on power

Ruble crisis could shake Putin's grip on power

1Russia failed to halt the collapse of the ruble on Tuesday, leaving President Vladimir Putin facing a full-blown currency crisis that could weaken his iron grip on power. A 6.5 percentage point interest rate rise to 17 percent overnight failed to prevent the currency hitting record lows in a "perfect storm" of low oil...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Philips expands in medical devices with $1.2b Volcano deal

Philips has agreed to acquire US-based medical device maker Volcano Corp for $1.2 billion including debt, its largest healthcare acquisition in seven years and a bid to cash in on an aging population's need for more complex treatments. Philips said the acquisition of Volcano -- which makes equipment that allows doctors treating heart disease to see inside patients' veins and measure blood flow -- would lead to synergies in research and development and in sales. The deal is expected to...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Saudi to continue 'massive' spending despite oil price fall

Saudi Arabia will continue massive public spending despite a 50 percent drop in the price of oil which provides the bulk of the kingdom's revenue, the finance minister said Wednesday. Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf commented after completing the 2015 budget, which will be presented to cabinet "in the near future", the official Saudi Press Agency said. Financial analysts expect the budget to be approved as early as next Monday. The kingdom is the largest economy in the Arab world, and OPEC's biggest...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Disasters cost $113b damage in 2014: Swiss Re

Extreme weather and other natural and man-made disasters caused $113 billion in economic losses in 2014, reinsurer Swiss Re said Wednesday. This is 16 percent less than the $135 billion in losses recorded in 2013 and significantly below the average annual figure of $188 billion for the previous 10 years. Insurers covered $34 billion of the damage, down 24 percent from $45 billion in 2013, the company said. About 11,000 people lost their lives from disaster events, down from more than 27,000...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
SpiceJet grounded; parent says can't afford rescue

The parent of SpiceJet Ltd said it can't afford to bail out the cash-strapped budget carrier that was forced to ground its entire fleet on Wednesday after creditor oil firms refused to refuel the aircraft. The loss-making airline, majority-owned by billionaire media tycoon Kalanithi Maran's Sun Group, has a fleet of around 22 Boeing Co planes but owes nearly $100 million to a raft of creditors including state-owned oil companies. This week it asked the Indian government for help to...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
ADB trims growth forecasts for developing Asia

The Asian Development Bank slightly trimmed its growth forecast for developing Asia for this year and next, but said sliding prices for oil should help economies in the region push through with growth reforms. In its update to the 2014 outlook, ADB said on Wednesday developing Asia was now expected to grow 6.1 percent this year, a tad below its 6.2 percent forecast in September. Growth in 2015 was seen at 6.2 percent, from 6.4 percent previously. "While growth in the...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Emirates sees big shift in travel to Europe

Emirates sees big shift in travel to Europe

One can easily see Bangladesh's footprints in Milan, known as a top fashion destination. Bangladesh is also visible on the clothing racks of Milan's leading fashion stores. Bangladeshi migrants are also a common sight on the streets of Milan, mostly seen selling goods on the roadside shops. This is another reason why travel to Milan...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
How to finance Asia's vast infrastructure needs?

If Asia's emerging markets are to avoid the middle-income trap, they need to create foundations for the next phase of growth: they need to invest in infrastructure. In the early stages of development, moving a worker from the land to a factory quadruples their value-added contribution to the economy on average. Much of Asia's extraordinary growth to date has been underwritten by this one-off transition, but the windfall gains of rapid industrialisation are starting to decline and if the region...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Malindo starts flights to Nepal

Malindo Air aims to have a fleet of 100 aircraft in the next 10 years and will extend passenger services to South and East Asia, particularly Southern China in 2015. To date, Malindo Air has 11 ATR72-600 and seven Boeing 737s. The carrier would also introduce strategies to increase ancillary income throughout 2015, said Chandran Rama Murthy, Malindo's chief executive. "While we are very much focused on expanding ATR operations this year, we are looking to enhance our capacity and route network...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
Japan banks to bulk up India presence on improving ties

Japan banks to bulk up India presence on improving ties

Faced with a shrinking economy and tepid loan demand at home, Japan's largest banks are looking to bolster their presence in India, enthused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reform agenda and improving ties between the two countries. While some European and US lenders are sitting on the fence after being bruised by the country's...

Published Date: December 18, 2014
British supermarket price wars rage before Christmas

British supermarkets are slashing prices ahead of Christmas, spurred by competition from German-owned discounters, benefitting customers of all tastes. Sales events dubbed "Black Friday", "Cyber Monday" and "Manic Monday" -- imported from the United States -- surged in popularity across Britain this year as retailers fight for market share both online and in stores. These provided fresh price battles between British supermarkets as they seek to halt the advance of German discounters Lidl and Aldi and win back belt-tightening consumers. As a...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Jubok clients still in the dark after eight years

Eight years have gone by, but about 3 lakh clients fleeced by Jubok still have no idea if they are getting back the funds they deposited in good faith with the rogue multi-level marketing firm. In the last five years, the government has formed two commissions and one inter-ministerial committee for that end and yet, there is no concrete solution in sight. Formed in 1994, Jubok lured in funds by promising abnormal returns. After getting wind of its duplicitous activities, the...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Dream of owning a home to come true for govt staff

The Pay and Service Commission is set to recommend a special package enabling all government servants to have flats, in an effort to fulfil the common man's wish of owning a home. The 17-member commission is likely to submit the 250-page report to Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Thursday. Currently, the government staff can take out a maximum of Tk 1.2 lakh in home loans.  With the commission's new recommendation, they will be able to access low-cost loans according to their elevated...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Cox's Bazar hotels eye brisk business amid political calm

Cox's Bazar hotels eye brisk business amid political calm

The hospitality industry in Cox's Bazar is expecting a brisk business this tourism season as thousands of tourists are flocking to the bayside city, thanks to the political calm in the country. Hoteliers may recover the losses they suffered just a year ago due to violent political activities ahead of the national polls in...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
India's Fortis opens cardiac care unit in Khulna tomorrow

India's Fortis opens cardiac care unit in Khulna tomorrow

India's Fortis Escorts Heart Institute will start its journey in Bangladesh tomorrow, with an aim to provide cardiac care to around 1,000 patients a month at 'reasonable' fees. AFC Health Ltd, a concern of Bangladesh-based Active Fine Chemicals, has set up a 42-bed cardiac care centre in Khulna with an investment of around Tk 30 crore. Fortis will manage and operate the hospital. “The centre will provide early diagnosis and prompt treatment as it is equipped with latest technology and equipment and has a team of noted cardiac specialists,” said SM Saifur Rahman, managing director of AFC Health. The hospital will offer diagnostic services such as angiography to detect heart diseases as...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Cheap oil, weak euro boost German investor sentiment

Investor sentiment in Germany rose sharply again in December driven by a weak euro and plunging oil prices, a survey found on Tuesday, underlining a sunnier outlook for Europe's top economy. The widely watched investor confidence index calculated by the ZEW economic institute jumped by 23.4 points in December, after increasing for the first time this year in November, ZEW said in a statement. It said there was abundant evidence that faith in Germany among financial market experts was being restored. "This...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
India moves closer to GST implementation

India's plans to rationalise state and central indirect taxes into a harmonised goods and service tax (GST) took a step closer to reality after New Delhi struck a deal with recalcitrant states, two government sources told Reuters. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley brokered a compromise on Monday evening that would pave the way for a key constitutional amendment to be tabled in the current parliamentary session that runs to Dec. 23. "Developments have been positive," said one of the finance ministry officials...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Ford India to recall EcoSport cars

Ford Motor Co's India unit on Tuesday said it will recall 20,752 EcoSport cars in the country to correct concerns about fuel and vapour line corrosion in the long-term. Ford India said in a statement it will inspect variants of its EcoSport sports utility vehicle made at the company's Chennai plant between Jan. 2013 and Sept. 2014. The company will also check the vehicles for reorienting wiring harness related to the correct deployment of side airbags, Ford said.

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Eurozone business activity lifts slightly in December

Business activity in the eurozone accelerated slightly in December, a key survey showed Tuesday, but not enough to lift wider economic worries with powerhouse Germany sluggish and France in a slowdown. Markit Economics said its Composite Purchasing Managers Output Index (PMI) for the 18-country zone that uses the single currency rose marginally to 51.7 points in December from 51.1 points in November. The still-weak figure will do little to calm worries that the lack of activity in the eurozone is becoming...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Tourism fair begins in Ctg tomorrow

A three-day international tourism fair -- Chittagong Travel Mart-2014 -- will begin at the Peninsula hotel in the port city tomorrow. Nineteen firms, including airlines, tour operators, hotels, resorts, amusement parks and other related organisations, will exhibit their products and services at the fair, according to a statement. Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon will inaugurate the show, to be organised by The Bangladesh Monitor, a travel journal. Mahbubul Alam, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Uber targeted by Belgium tax probe

Belgian authorities ordered a probe Tuesday into the tax affairs of Web-based taxi app Uber in the latest legal challenge the fast-growing company faces around the world amid fierce resistance from cab drivers. Uber, which operates in about 250 cities in 50 countries, has become an object of scorn from traditional taxi companies fighting for survival against the rise of the Silicon Valley challenger, founded in 2009. With Belgian taxi operators already up in arms, tax auditors will probe whether Uber...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
World set to end year in brittle economic state

World set to end year in brittle economic state

The global economy is ending the year in a fragile state with factory activity shrinking in China, euro zone business growth remaining weak, and emerging market giant Russia in a spiralling currency crisis. "These are uncertain times again and there is a risk of another global downturn," said Stephen Webster, chief European economist at...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Top four UK lenders pass stress tests

Britain's four biggest lenders have passed the Bank of England's stress tests, which are designed to show their ability to withstand a new economic crisis, the central bank announced Tuesday. Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), are strong enough to cope with a painful downturn that would see house prices plunge by 35 percent, inflation surge and unemployment soar, the BoE said in a statement outlining its first public stress test on the sector. However,...

Published Date: December 17, 2014
Plunging oil to spark more global tensions

The oil market faces an uncertain outlook in 2015 as tumbling prices resulting from global oversupply stoke geopolitical tensions in key producers of crude, analysts say. Oil prices have lost around half their value since June, punished by abundant supplies, a stronger dollar and weak demand in the faltering world economy. Losses accelerated in late November when the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) -- which pumps out one-third of the world's oil -- decided against cutting its output despite the...

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