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Bangladesh Receives $338m ADB Loan to Boost Local Vaccine Production

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is set to provide Bangladesh with $338 million in support of domestic vaccine production, aiming to safeguard against a range of diseases. This announcement was made during a meeting between ADB Country Director Edimon Ginting and Planning Minister MA Mannan in Dhaka.

The initiative is part of the Bangladeshi government’s effort to develop a draft project to manufacture vaccines locally, thereby enhancing protection against diseases like COVID-19 and dengue, as well as preparing for potential future health challenges. The ADB’s funding offer consists of a $338 million loan, with half of it carrying a low-interest rate and the remaining portion subject to regular interest.

The ADB is urging the government to expedite the approval of this important project. The Planning Minister assured that diligent efforts would be made to secure swift approval. The ADB Country Director shared that the past fiscal year saw substantial progress in terms of the working environment, disbursement, project implementation, and loan approval in Bangladesh.

The project’s total cost is approximately $351 million. It aims to reduce Bangladesh’s dependence on vaccine imports and bolster domestic production capabilities. The ADB Country Director highlighted that beyond the period of Least Developed Country (LDC) status, Bangladesh may face challenges in procuring vaccines at lower rates and instead may need to purchase them at market prices. To enhance the country’s capacity for vaccine production, this project has been initiated with the aim of swift approval.

Moreover, the ADB has committed $3.5 billion in financing to Bangladesh for the current fiscal year, with approximately $2 billion being concessional and the remaining $1.5 billion being regular funding.

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Cenbank Prolongs Import Payment Terms for Raw Materials Until Dec 2024

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The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has announced an extension for the payment period against imports of industrial raw materials from 180 to 360 days, a measure now set to remain in place until December 2024. This policy, initially scheduled to end in June of this year, has been prolonged to facilitate trade transactions, according to a BB circular issued today.

“To support trade transactions, it has been decided to extend the policy support until December 31, 2024. The extended usance period will not apply to imports under EDF loans, as previously stipulated. All other relevant instructions remain unchanged,” the circular stated.

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Banks in Industrial Areas to Open June 14-16 for Eid Payments

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To ensure timely payment of salaries and bonuses to garment industry workers before Eid-ul-Azha, the branches of banks in key industrial areas will remain open on a limited basis on June 14, 15, and 16.

The Bangladesh Bank (BB) issued a notification stating that bank branches in Dhaka metropolitan, Ashulia, Tongi, Gazipur, Savar, Bhaluka, and Narayanganj will operate on these days to facilitate financial transactions for garment sector employees.

Typically, Friday and Saturday (June 14 and 15) are weekly holidays, and Sunday (June 16) will be closed for Eid. Despite these closures, the BB has mandated that banks in industrial regions stay open to manage the disbursement of wages and bonuses and facilitate the sale of export bills.

Additionally, bank branches in Chattogram metropolitan and industrial areas will also be open to support garment workers’ payments and the processing of export bills.

The BB has instructed banks to coordinate with local authorities to ensure adequate security at the branches during this period.

Eid-ul-Azha, one of the most significant religious festivals for Muslims, will be celebrated in Bangladesh on June 17.

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Cenbank Mandates Real-Time Reporting of Willful Defaulters

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The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has issued new instructions to banks to submit data on willful defaulters to the Credit Information Bureau (CIB) database. This directive was issued on Tuesday, requiring immediate compliance from commercial banks and non-banking financial institutions (NBFIs).

In a circular released by the CIB of the central bank, banks have been instructed to report their June data in real-time starting July 1. The circular has been sent to top executives of banks for prompt execution.

This move follows an earlier initiative by the BB, outlined in a circular on March 12, aimed at identifying willful defaulters within the banking sector. The central bank also detailed actions to be taken against such defaulters.

According to the circular, any client who takes a loan anonymously and misuses it will be classified as a willful defaulter. Banks were directed to establish a ‘willful defaulter identification unit’ by April 9 to facilitate this identification process.

The circular further stipulates penalties for non-compliance. Banks that violate these conditions will face fines ranging from Tk 50 lakhs to Tk 1 crore. Continued violations will incur additional fines of Tk 1 lakh per day.

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