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Bangladesh Records $1.93bn November Remittance Amid Dollar Woes

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In the farewell month of November, Bangladesh received remittances totaling $1.93 billion, equivalent to 193 crore dollars in local currency (approximately 21,181 crore 75 lakh taka at the exchange rate of 109.75 taka per dollar). This information was disclosed in the recent update from the Bangladesh Bank.

The instability in the dollar market within the country has been a longstanding issue, and the crisis is escalating. Due to the shortage of foreign currency, strict measures have been imposed on imports. The government and the central bank are working to resolve the crisis, resorting to supplying dollars from reserves. However, these efforts have yet to yield a significant improvement in the situation.

Despite a stable supply of dollars for sale from reserves to stabilize the market, various bill payments from reserves are dwindling. The dollar sale has resulted in a reduction of reserves by more than $6 billion in the first five months of the fiscal year 2023-24 (July-November). The net reserves have fallen to $25 billion, and according to BPMEA-6, a further decrease to $19 billion is noted.

Amidst these challenges, there was hope for an increase in remittances to mitigate the dollar crisis. However, November witnessed remittances amounting to $1.93 billion, which is nearly five crore dollars less than the previous month, October. Comparatively, it is more than 33 crore dollars higher than in November of the previous year.

According to the recent Bangladesh Bank report, the November remittances arrived through state-owned banks, totaling 14 crore 42 lakh 60 thousand dollars, through a particular bank, reaching five crore 31 lakh 80 thousand dollars, through private commercial banks, amounting to 172 crore 66 lakh 80 thousand dollars, and through foreign banks, totaling 59 crore 20 thousand dollars. Seven banks, including Rupali Bank, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank (RAKUB), Islami Bank, Social Islami Bank, Habib Bank, National Bank of Pakistan, and State Bank of India, did not receive any remittance during this period.

Bangladesh faced challenges in remittance inflow during the fiscal year 2022-23, with the pandemic-induced closure of hundi channels contributing to a significant decline. However, in the first five months of the current fiscal year (2023-24), expatriates have sent the highest remittance through official banking channels, amounting to 216.1 crore dollars.

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BGMEA, MAQI Technology Group Join Forces to Transform Bangladesh’s RMG Industry

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In a strategic move to enhance the capabilities and competitiveness of Bangladesh’s ready-made garment (RMG) industry, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has forged a partnership with MAQI Technology Group Co Ltd. The collaboration announced at a ceremony held at Radisson Blu in Dhaka, focuses on integrating cutting-edge technology, advanced machinery, and skill development for RMG workers.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan, attending the event as the chief guest, emphasized the significance of the partnership in elevating the skills and expertise of RMG workers in operating advanced machines. The goal is to empower these workers with the latest skills essential for excelling in garment sewing.

The partnership aims to provide comprehensive training programs, establish modern lab facilities equipped with Euromac’s state-of-the-art machines and technology. These facilities will serve as platforms where aspiring sewing workers can refine their craft under the guidance of experienced instructors.

Euromac, a key player in providing advanced machines, will extend technical support to both BGMEA and the BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology (BUFT). This collaboration aims to develop the skills and knowledge of industry workers and BUFT students, enabling them to thrive in the dynamic landscape of garment manufacturing.

Faruque Hassan underscored the industry’s commitment to leveraging technology, skills, and innovation to diversify products and capture higher-value segments in the global fashion market. He highlighted the pivotal role of technology and skills development in ensuring the industry’s relevance and sustainability amid evolving market dynamics. The partnership reflects a forward-looking approach to position Bangladesh’s RMG industry at the forefront of technological advancement and global competitiveness.

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Nepal-Bangladesh Power Sale Agreement Hits Impasse Over Tariff Negotiations

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In a setback to the anticipated power trade between Nepal and Bangladesh, negotiations have hit a roadblock as Bangladesh pushes for a reduction in the prices quoted by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

The Kathmandu Post, citing sources from NEA officials and Nepal’s energy ministry, reported that Bangladesh is aiming to lower the quoted price through negotiations, leading to a temporary halt in the inaugural power trade between the two neighboring countries until a tariff agreement is reached.

An NEA official revealed, “After Nepal maintained that the quoted price was reasonable, the Bangladeshi side expressed the desire to engage in discussions with higher authorities.”

A recent delegation led by NEA’s executive director, Kul Man Ghising, visited Bangladesh in an attempt to resolve the disagreement. The exact tariff proposed by Nepal has not been disclosed, but NEA sources suggest it’s around 7 cents per unit.

“I heard that the Bangladeshi side aimed to negotiate the rate down to 5 cents per unit,” said an energy ministry official anonymously to The Kathmandu Post.

Previously, NEA’s Deputy Managing Director, Pradeep Kumar Thike, drew a comparison between Nepal’s proposed price and an Indian company’s payment for a medium-term power purchase agreement last year.

Despite the rate dispute leading to the delegation’s return to Nepal, NEA officials remain optimistic about reaching a consensus in future talks. Managing Director Pradeep Kumar stated, “They are ready to buy, and we are ready to sell. The talks have been positive, and we are hopeful for a final agreement in the upcoming meeting.”

The joint statement issued on February 22 emphasized both parties’ intent to expedite a power sale agreement, facilitating Nepal’s electricity export during the upcoming rainy season. NEA’s proposal aims to export 40MW of power from June 15 to November 15, with the agreement set for a five-year duration, utilizing cross-border transmission lines.

India has also agreed in principle to support the export of 40MW power from Nepal to Bangladesh. The three nations anticipate signing a tripartite deal upon reaching a tariff agreement, marking Nepal’s first-ever power export to Bangladesh. The tripartite agreement was initially planned during the energy secretary-level joint steering committee meeting in May last year, involving NEA, Bangladesh Power Development Board, and NVVN.

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World Bank MD Pledges Strong Support for Bangladesh’s Economic Vision

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Anna Bjerde World Bank

Anna Bjerde, World Bank Managing Director for Operations, concluded her inaugural visit to Bangladesh, reaffirming the bank’s robust commitment to assisting the country in achieving its goal of attaining upper-middle-income status by 2031. Emphasizing the urgent need for profound macroeconomic and financial sector reforms to sustain inclusive growth, Bjerde conveyed this message during meetings with Bangladesh’s leadership.

In a press release, the World Bank highlighted the significance of Bangladesh’s economic growth and development, considering it an inspiration for many countries. Bjerde urged swift and bold reforms in monetary and fiscal policies to ensure macroeconomic stability, mitigate financial sector risks, and sustain inclusive growth amid global uncertainties.

During her visit, Bjerde met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, commending the country’s development achievements. She expressed gratitude to the prime minister for providing shelter to displaced Rohingya people and pledged ongoing support for addressing their needs until their safe and voluntary return, along with those of the host community.

Discussions between the World Bank and the Bangladesh government include a financing program exceeding $650 million for two new projects addressing the needs of both displaced Rohingya and host communities in the Chattogram division. Nearly half of the financing is allocated for displaced Rohingya people, entirely on grant terms.

Bjerde emphasized the pride in the longstanding partnership with Bangladesh, contributing to lifting millions out of poverty. The commitment involves continued support for job creation, private sector development, investment attraction, climate resilience, and crisis preparedness while ensuring inclusivity.

Throughout her visit, Bjerde engaged with the finance minister, Bangladesh Bank governor, senior government officials, private sector representatives, civil society leaders, and women entrepreneurs to discuss Bangladesh’s development priorities. The World Bank Vice President for the South Asia Region, Martin Raiser, accompanied her.

Since Bangladesh’s independence, the World Bank has committed approximately $41 billion in International Development Association financing, making it the world’s largest ongoing IDA program. The World Bank remains Bangladesh’s largest development partner.

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