The Dhaka Stock Exchange's bear run since February is nothing unusual, said Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal yesterday, going so far as to blame the media for playing up the downward trend.
On January 24, the DSEX, the benchmark index of the DSE, hit a peak of 5,950 points and on April 16 its trough of 5,249.
“The market may rise and fall in the short-term but it is not in a bad condition as the journalists wrote,” Kamal told reporters after a meeting with the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission at its headquarters in Dhaka.
In November 2016, the DSEX was at 4,500 points, which soared past 5,900 in January this year. Now, it is down to 5,300 again, he said.
“The stockmarket behaves like this everywhere,” Kamal said, citing the cases of the bourses in Japan, the US and India.
The DSE's market capitalisation, index and turnover are proportional to the state of the economy, he said.
“The price-earnings ratio of the market is at a very good stage now. It is now under 15, which was 70-80 earlier. The ratio indicates market is very much safe.”
He went on to urge the media not to frighten the general investors.
“Bangladesh's stockmarket is different from other countries'. In all the countries, stock investors come to the market after acquiring knowledge. Such financially literate investors are very little in our market.”
If the general investors were informed, such a powerful commission was not needed, the finance minister said. “We have passed many acts for the sake of investors' protection. We want investors to come to the market as their participation makes us possible to create more jobs.”
The capital market would be the best source for long-term financing for industrialisation purposes, he said.
“We don't want to see long-term loans being given out by banks with short-term deposits of savers. But incidents like in 1996 and 2010 are preventing people from turning to the stockmarket for long-term funds.”
When asked about the absence of solid companies in the capital market, he said: “We can't bring anyone by creating pressure.” When a good company comes to the market it gets lumped with bad companies.
“So, they don't want to come to the stockmarket. We will take initiative on this issue definitely,” he added.
Md Ashadul Islam, secretary of the banking division, and M Khairul Hossain, chairman of the BSEC, were present at the meeting.
“There is no reason to lack in confidence on the market,” Hossain said.
“There were some issues like making tax identification number compulsory for investors and the government's treatment of Grameenphone but these are not big issues to see such a fall in the index.”
The National Board of Revenue has recently said it has not made opening TIN mandatory for stock investors, allaying the fears of general investors.