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CIID says 4 Organizations forged documents, Tk 382cr smuggled

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Customs Intelligence & Investigation Directorate (CIID) has found that 4 organizations have smuggled Tk 382 crore out of the country by forging goods export permits, an official said on Tuesday (14th March).

The organizations did not return their foreign exchange earned from the exported products, Mohammad Fakhrul Alam, Director General of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID), told a news conference to the media in Dhaka.

According to the CIID sources, 4 organizations are Sabiha Saiki Fashion, Asia Trading Corporation, Emu Trading Corporation, and Ilham Trading Corporation.

These organizations have exported various products including t-shirts, tops, ladies’ dresses, trousers, kids accessories, bags, polo shirts, jackets, pants, and hoodies to the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Singapore, Qatar, UK, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

The Directorate General (DG) said that after receiving complaints involving exports of goods by forging documents evidence of money laundering was found in the investigation.

Referring to the information found in the investigation, he said that Sabiha Saiki Fashion exported 86 consignments of goods at different times.

The exchange value of the products exported by them is Tk18.45 crore. On scrutiny of the documents of the consignments of the goods, it was found that the Export Permits (EXPs) issued by them were in the names of different companies.

A permit cannot be used for more than one export shipment. As a result, these EXPs are not functional. There is no opportunity to bring foreign currency back to the country in a legal way, Alam said.

The DG said the investigation revealed that in addition to Sabiha Saiki Fashion, 4 other organizations have committed similar fraud for exporting products.

“4 organizations have committed such fraud in shipments of 1,780 products using the same tactics. Against these shipments, 18,265 tonnes of goods have been exported, the declared value of which is around Tk 382 crores,” Alam added.

Sabiha Saiki Fashion exported Tk 21 crore, Asia Trading Corporation Tk 282 crore, Emu Trading Corporation Tk 62 crore, and Ilham Corporation Tk 17 crore.

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Bangladesh’s Reserves Surge by 37 Crore Dollars

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In a week, Bangladesh’s foreign currency reserves have increased by an impressive USD 37.69 million, according to the latest data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) based on the reserve accounting method. The country’s foreign currency reserve now stands at USD 20.57 billion (BPM6), a significant surge of USD 2 thousand 57 crore 31 lakh 80 thousand.

Simultaneously, the total reserves, including foreign currency and those held in various funds, have reached USD 25.76 billion, marking a notable increase of USD 576 crore 51 lakh 90 thousand.

These statistics were revealed in the weekly selected economic indicators by the Bangladesh Bank on Thursday, February 29.

The report indicates a decrease in reserves by USD 63 crore 5 lakh 10 thousand within a month. At the beginning of February, the reserves amounted to USD 1 thousand 994 crore 26 lakh 70 thousand (BPM6).

However, after accounting for the inflow of dollars from the International Monetary Fund, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and South Korean loans, the reserves surpassed the USD 20 billion mark. The Asian Clearing Union and other import payments further impacted the reserves, bringing them below the USD 20 billion threshold.

In August 2021, the country witnessed a historic high in foreign currency reserves, reaching USD 48 billion. Since then, the central bank has sold approximately USD 29 billion to alleviate the dollar crisis.

Bank officials suggest that with the commencement of the new government’s journey in January, there is an optimistic outlook for the gradual resolution of the dollar crisis. This positive development is expected to alleviate the pressure on reserves. Despite the current rate of USD 122-123 per dollar, some individuals are still facing difficulties in obtaining the desired dollars.

Banking authorities anticipate that as the government’s initiatives gain momentum, there will be a gradual improvement in the dollar crisis, resulting in reduced pressure on reserves.

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Bus Operators Struggle as Dhaka Metro Gains Popularity

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Dhaka’s ambitious Metro Rail service, connecting Uttara to Motijheel, has significantly disrupted the traditional public transport ecosystem, particularly affecting bus services along the Mirpur-Agargaon-Farmgate-Paltan route. The introduction of this modern transit option has resulted in a substantial decrease in bus ridership, with operators reporting a 30-40% decline in the number of buses on this route.

Transport proprietors anticipate a further decrease in bus numbers as the warmer months approach, predicting that the allure of the metro’s air-conditioned comfort will attract even more commuters away from buses. The waning appeal of buses, once a primary choice for Dhaka’s commuters, is particularly noticeable during peak metro operational hours, despite a visible reduction in traffic congestion.

The potential extension of metro rail service hours beyond the current 7:10 am to 8:40 pm timeframe threatens to intensify the financial strain on bus operations, prompting owners to contemplate rerouting their fleets or selling them off. Md Shahjahan, Managing Director of Shikhor Paribahan, highlighted the scale of the downturn, stating, “From a daily tally of 500-600 buses, we’ve plummeted to just 300-400 buses on the Mirpur-Agargaon-Farmgate-Paltan route.”

Shikhor Paribahan, previously operating up to 90 buses daily, has seen its fleet reduce to 60-65. Similarly, Bikalpa Auto Service has halved its operations, from 40-50 buses to merely 20-25, according to Managing Director Mahbubur Rahman. This trend has left employees like Aminul Islam, a bus helper for Shikhor Paribahan, concerned about their livelihoods as passenger numbers dwindle.

While CNG-run autorickshaws and bike ride-sharing services have also felt the competitive pressure from the metro rail, their income reductions have been less severe. However, for commuters like Ashraful Alam, the metro’s efficiency outweighs any cost savings offered by buses, with the metro rail dramatically reducing his travel time to Motijheel.

Abu Raihan Md Saleh, Joint Commissioner (Traffic North) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), acknowledged the positive impact of the metro rail on traffic flow and discipline along the Mirpur-Motijheel route. He added that traffic movement has become faster on the Uttara-Airport-Mohakhali route due to metro rail services and the opening of the Elevated Expressway, despite congestion persisting in other parts of the city.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s phased inauguration of the metro rail’s sections – the Uttara-Agargaon segment in December 2022 and the Agargaon-Motijheel section in November 2023 – has ushered in a new era of commuting in Dhaka. With extended operational hours implemented since January 2024, the metro offers a 30-minute commute from Uttara to Motijheel, providing a compelling alternative to traditional bus travel amid Dhaka’s notorious traffic congestion.

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IEBA, WEC Sign MoU to Drive Ethnosport Growth in Bangladesh

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The World Ethnosport Confederation (WEC) and the International Ethnosport Bangladesh Association (IEBA) have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to foster the promotion and expansion of ethnosports and games within the country.

Necmeddin Bilal Erdoğan, the president of the Confederation, signed the MoU on behalf of the World Ethnosport Confederation, while Md Al Mamun, the founder and general secretary of the Association, signed on behalf of the International Ethnosport Bangladesh Association.

Md Al Mamun, the Founder and General Secretary of the International Ethnosport Bangladesh Association, recently attended the 6th Ethnosport Forum in Antalya, Türkiye. The invitation came from the President of the World Ethnosport Confederation, Nekmettin Bilal Erdogan, and the Minister of Youth and Sports of Türkiye, Osman Aşkın Bak.

The signing of the MoU took place during this forum, as stated in a media release on Wednesday.

The event gathered delegations from 75 countries, including Youth and Sports Minister of Türkiye Osman Aşkın Bak, Youth and Sports Minister of Azerbaijan Farid Gayibov, Sports Minister of Russia Oleg Vasilyevich Matytsin, Sports Minister of Uzbekistan Adkham Ikramov, Culture, Information, Sports, and Youth Policy Minister of Kyrgyzstan Maksutov Altynbek Askarovich, and Sports, Youth, and National Services Minister of Namibia Agnes Basilla Tjongarero.

During the forum, Russian Sports Minister Oleg Vasilyevich Matytsin proposed hosting the next 7th Ethnosport Forum in Russia. World Ethnosport Confederation President Necmettin Bilal Erdoğan agreed to this proposal and extended an invitation to all attendees for the 7th Ethnosport Forum in Russia.

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