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May Remittance Declined due to Hundi

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In May, Bangladesh experienced a significant decline in remittance inflows, with a drop of 10.27% compared to the same period last year. The primary reason behind this decrease was the higher exchange rate of the dollar in the open market, which tempted expatriates towards hundi, an informal cross-border money-transfer method.

As per data from the Bangladesh Bank, expatriates sent $1.69 billion through the formal banking channel in May, a decline from $1.88 billion recorded in the corresponding month of the previous year.

Bankers attribute the shortage of dollars within the country’s banking system as the driving force behind many businessmen resorting to hundi to collect dollars from foreign sources. Currently, expats receive Tk108.50 plus a 2.5% incentive when sending remittances through the formal banking channel. However, the cash dollar rate in the open market ranges between Tk111-13, while it reaches Tk115-16 in foreign markets.

A senior official at the central bank acknowledges that numerous prominent businesses have opted to collect dollars from foreign sources through hundi, bypassing the official market. This practice has consequently led to a decrease in the inflow of dollars through the formal banking channel.

Overall, the drop in remittance inflows during May highlights the influence of higher dollar rates and the allure of hundi on expatriates, resulting in a diversion from the formal banking system for money transfers.

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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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Cenbank Dissolves National Bank Board Again

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On Sunday (May 5), the Bangladesh Bank (BB) once again dissolved the board of directors of the National Bank.

In a letter addressed to the managing director of the National Bank, the central bank announced the cancellation of the existing board of directors.

Furthermore, the banking regulator established a new board of directors and appointed Khalilur Rahman, the bank’s sponsor director, as the new chairman, according to the BB’s communication.

Mezbaul Haque, spokesperson for the Bangladesh Bank, commented on the development, stating that the action was taken to bolster the bank’s board of directors.

This move comes after a similar action in 2023 when the central bank ordered the dissolution of the National Bank’s board and formed a new one.

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