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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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Top Bank Executives Ordered to Address Currency Exchange Scandal

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The Bangladesh Bank has issued orders to the top executives of nine commercial banks, instructing them to transfer officials allegedly involved in foreign currency exchange irregularities at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport. In a Thursday meeting, Deputy Governor Kazi Sayedur Rahman cautioned CEOs against the recurrence of such incidents, urging heightened oversight and security measures at airport booths.

Bangladeshi expatriate workers and travelers typically convert foreign currencies to Taka at bank booths and money exchangers upon returning to Bangladesh. However, some officials were found to be involved in exchanging foreign currencies directly without issuing proper vouchers or with fake vouchers, a practice considered money laundering.

The implicated banks include state-run Sonali, Janata, Agrani, and Probashi Kallyan, along with five private banks: Pubali, Jamuna, City, Mutual Trust, and Standard. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) verified the allegations following a formal complaint, conducting a raid and investigation at Shahjalal Airport on Monday.

ACC officials discovered that foreign currency arriving at Shahjalal Airport, meant to be deposited through the banking channel, was being manipulated by unscrupulous officials. Some were purchasing dollars and selling them in the open market without proper documentation, and in certain cases, currencies were being smuggled abroad.

In-bound passengers frequently exchange US dollars, euros, riyals, ringgits, pounds, and dinars at the airport, according to ACC officials. The central bank’s directive aims to curb malpractices and ensure the proper handling of foreign currency transactions at the airport.

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Cenbank Grants Approval to 8 Additional CA Firms for Auditing

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Following a thorough assessment of appeals from various audit firms in alignment with the enlistment policy, Bangladesh Bank (BB) has opted to augment the existing roster by incorporating eight additional chartered accountant (CA) firms.

With this recent inclusion, a total of 39 audit firms now meet the criteria for auditing banks and finance companies, according to a circular issued by BB today.

This circular has been disseminated by Bangladesh Bank, exercising its authority as stipulated under section-39(1) of the Bank Company Act, 1991 (Amended up to 2023) and section-37(1) of the Finance Company Act, 2023.

As per the circular, a single firm is permitted to audit a maximum of six banks and finance companies within a financial year.

The enlisted audit firms (Chartered Accountants) are: Qasem & Co; Wahab & Co; ACNABIN; Ahmed Zaker & Co; Ahsan Manzur & Co; Anil Salam Idris & Co; Arun & Company; Aziz Halim Khair Choudhury; Basu Banerjee Nath & Co; Chowdhury Bhattacharjee & Co; Das Chowdhury Dutta & Co; Dewan Nazrul Islam & Co; G Kibria & Co; Hoda Vasi Chowdhury & Co; Hoque Bhattacharjee Das & Co; Howladar Yunus & Co; Hussain Farhad & Co; Islam Aftab Kamrul & Co; Islam Jahid & Co; K M Alam & Co; Kazi Zahir Khan & Co; Khan Wahab Shafique Rahman & Co; M J Abedin & Co; M M Rahman & Co; M Z Islam & Co; MABS & J Partners; Mahamud Sabuj & Co; Mahfel Huq & Co; Malek Siddiqui Wali; Masih Muhith Haque & Co; MRH Dey & Co; Nurul Faruk Hasan & Co; Pinaki & Company; Rahman Rahman Huq (KPMG); S. K. Barua & Co; Shafiq Basak & Co; Snehasish Mahmud & Co; Syful Shamsul Alam & Co; Zoha Zaman Kabir Rashid & Co.

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Cenbank Unveils Roadmap to Slash Default Loans Below 8% by 2026

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The Bangladesh Bank has unveiled a roadmap aiming to reduce default loans to below 8% by June 2026. As of September last year, default loans in the banking sector amounted to Tk1.55 lakh crore, approximately 10% of the total outstanding, according to Bangladesh Bank data.

he new roadmap is in line with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions as part of a $4.7 billion loan package. It emphasizes the pivotal role of shareholder directors and managing directors in the recovery process. Furthermore, the central bank has modified the loan write-off policy, allowing banks to write off loans in two years instead of the previous three, potentially reducing default loans by 2.76%, equivalent to Tk43,300 crore.

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