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“PM visits to India have been very successful and fruitful”

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Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud on Friday said the visit of PM Sheikh Hasina to India has been very successful and fruitful.

“The biggest achievement of the visit is the opportunity to export Bangladesh’s garment products to third countries free of duty using India’s territory. For which Bangladesh has been trying for many years,” said Hasan, also joint general secretary of Bangladesh Awami League.

Expressing his gratitude to the Prime Minister for achieving a lot for Bangladesh through a successful visit to India, Hasan said that the BNP had talked many things about this visit to India, but it should remain silent now as the visit has been successful.

The minister said these as chief guest while addressing Bangladesh Journalists’ Welfare Trust cheque distribution ceremony at S Rahman Hall of Chattogram Press Club (CPC) on Friday noon.

Chattogram Union of Journalists (CUJ) President Mohammad Ali presided over the function while Managing Director of Bangladesh Journalist Welfare Trust Subhash Chandra Badal, CPC President Ali Abbas, Member of Bangladesh Journalist Welfare Trust Kalim Sarwar, Vice President of BFUJ Shahidul Alam, General Secretary of CPC Chowdhury Farid and General Secretary of CUJ Shamsul Islam, among others, addressed the function.

The minister said whatever Bangladesh got from India was achieved by Awami League and incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina while Khaleda Zia had forgotten to talk about the proper sharing of Ganges water when she visited the neighbouring country.

He said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made an agreement in 1974 and “the enclaves were supposed to be handed over to us under the treaty.”

“Our relationship with India is based on equity. Our government has taken everything from India. In 1974, the Enclave Agreement was signed. No one could bring that enclave under our control except the AL government,” he added.

The AL government under the supervision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had realized the enclaves after many decades of the agreement and the size of the country Bangladesh has increased, he said.

“In fact, our relations with India are excellent, this has been elevated to new heights under the leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter Janonetri Sheikh Hasina and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The relation is to create the opportunity to export the products of Bangladesh duty-free to third countries by using the land area of India,” the information minister said.

Terming Journalist Welfare Trust a place of hope for journalists across the country, the minister said if a journalist dies, his family is given a one-time Tk 300,000.

“If a journalist is sick, he is given Tk fifty thousand to two lakh. No country in this sub-continent, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, provided such support to journalists during the Corona period,” he added.

A total of 4,000 journalists have been supported by the government through the Journalist Welfare Trust so far, he added.

Hasan said Bangabandhu’s daughter has established the Bangladesh Journalist Welfare Trust considering the demand for journalists.

“Later, the Prime Minister said, I don’t know how long I will stay in power, I want to make a permanent arrangement for the journalist community. Accordingly, the Journalist Welfare Trust law was passed by parliament. The government gives grants every year. An opportunity to accept donations from well-wishers is also kept here,” he said.

Hasan Mahmud said, “We never consider anyone’s party or opinion in the distribution of welfare trust checks.”

“I belong to the party, I am the minister of the party government, but when I am performing the duties of the state, I try to see everyone with two eyes equally, so that everyone gets the support of the state. Those who stand in front of the Press Club and raise their voices against us, we have also helped them from the Trust,” the broadcasting minister said.

He said, “Sometimes we see that there is an attempt to spread confusion in Bangladesh by taking advantage of the situation in the world.”

“Some newspapers and electronic media are trying to create confusion among people by hiding the world situation and exaggerating the situation in Bangladesh. This is nothing new. Even when we started the construction of Padma Bridge, they had also spread confusion,” he added.

Hasan requested the journalist leaders across the country, including Dhaka-Chattogram, and every media house to arrange group insurance for journalists as per the Wage Board.

Later, the information minister handed over cheques of assistance to 36 journalists of Chattogram.

 

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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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Cenbank Raises Dollar Price to Tk 117

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The Bangladesh Bank has adjusted the dollar price to Tk117 from Tk110 by introducing the crawling peg exchange rate mechanism.

Under this new approach, the bank will buy and sell dollars with Tk117 as the mid rate.

This decision was reached during a meeting of the monetary policy committee on Wednesday, May 8th.

Additionally, the committee has opted to discontinue the SMART lending rate mechanism, allowing banks to set their lending rates based on dollar demand and supply, according to a circular issued after the meeting.

The crawling peg system permits a currency with a fixed exchange rate to fluctuate within a specified band of rates, combining features of both fixed and floating exchange rate regimes.

On May 5th, Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder announced the adoption of a market-based interest rate and the implementation of a crawling peg system to stabilize the foreign exchange rate.

He stated that the central bank is collaborating with prominent economists and bankers to devise a contractionary monetary policy aimed at curbing inflation and restoring macroeconomic stability.

Earlier, on April 2nd, the World Bank stressed the importance of a crawling peg mechanism aligned with market-clearing exchange rates to narrow the gap between formal and informal exchange rates, as outlined in the latest Bangladesh Development Update report.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advocated for a market-based dollar rate. In January 2023, the IMF attached several conditions to a $4.7 billion loan facility over a three-and-a-half-year period. Bangladesh has received two installments of the loan by fulfilling nearly all conditions, except for the reserve requirement.

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