In a move to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has granted BRAC Bank Limited a $50 million loan. This investment aims to safeguard employment opportunities and enhance foreign exchange liquidity within BRAC Bank. The funding will specifically support the working capital and trade finance needs of the bank’s SME clients involved in importing and exporting.
This financial support from IFC, coupled with a similar loan provided to Prime Bank earlier this year, serves as a positive signal to the market. It is expected to attract additional international investors who can contribute to fulfilling the foreign exchange financing requirements of local banks and SMEs, as stated by IFC.
This funding falls under IFC’s $8 billion global COVID-19 fast-track financing facility, designed to aid companies during the ongoing public health crisis. The investment is part of the Working Capital Solutions (WCS) program within the COVID-19 response envelope, which allocates $2 billion globally to emerging-market banks. These funds enable such banks to assist struggling firms.
Furthermore, the International Development Association’s Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility will also support this project. It aligns with IFC’s WCS program and provides assistance to the banking sector.
BRAC Bank, as Bangladesh’s third-largest private bank and the sole SME-focused bank in the country, is acutely aware of the challenges faced by its SME and corporate clients due to the disruptive impact of COVID-19. The scarcity of foreign exchange has further hindered their regular trading operations, as noted by Selim R. F. Hussain, the Managing Director and CEO of BRAC Bank.
The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a global economic slowdown, compounded by various factors such as geopolitical events. Recognizing the decline in foreign exchange reserves within export-driven economies like Bangladesh, IFC has been steadfast in supporting the banking sector, said Joon Young Park, IFC’s Portfolio Manager for South Asia. The organization intends to continue its support for key banking partners in Bangladesh, especially those with significant SME portfolios like BRAC Bank, with whom IFC has maintained equity and debt commitments for nearly two decades.
Since 2010, IFC has invested over $3.6 billion to foster the growth of Bangladesh’s private sector, thus generating employment opportunities for its citizens. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, IFC has already provided more than $360 million in working capital solutions and liquidity support to banks and companies in Bangladesh.
Martin Holtmann, IFC Country Manager for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, acknowledged the challenging market conditions that businesses in Bangladesh have faced over the past three years. By extending support to BRAC Bank, IFC aims to contribute to the country’s recovery and foster a resilient post-pandemic economic landscape.
UK Inflation Crisis Threatens Lives and Widens Wealth-Health Gap, Study Warns
The United Kingdom finds itself ensnared in an inflation-driven cost-of-living crisis, a predicament that, according to a recent study in the open-access journal BMJ Public Health, could have dire consequences, including premature deaths and an alarming exacerbation of wealth-related health disparities.
The study, underpinned by meticulous modeling, presents a grim prognosis. It anticipates that the percentage of individuals meeting an untimely demise (before the age of 75) will surge by an unsettling 6.5% owing to the prolonged period of elevated price levels. What’s particularly disconcerting is the disproportionate impact on the most economically disadvantaged households. The research predicts that these vulnerable segments of society will witness a fourfold increase in mortality rates compared to their more affluent counterparts. This grim disparity is exacerbated by the fact that the less privileged must allocate a larger share of their income to grapple with soaring energy costs.
The study’s focus was on the impact of inflation on mortality rates in Scotland during the years 2022-3. It took into account scenarios with and without potential mitigating measures, such as government interventions aimed at alleviating household financial burdens.
Analyzing the collected data, the researchers constructed models to explore the potential ramifications on life expectancy and socioeconomic inequalities for the entire United Kingdom if varying degrees of mitigation were enacted. The unmitigated scenario paints a bleak picture, projecting a 5% increase in mortality rates in the least deprived areas and a staggering 23% surge in the most deprived areas. However, with the implementation of mitigation measures, these figures diminish to 2% and 8%, respectively, albeit still contributing to an overall increase of approximately 6.5% in mortality rates.
This grim outlook extends to overall life expectancy, which is expected to decline in all scenarios. The study underscores a crucial point: the economy’s performance directly impacts public health. It highlights the detrimental consequences of inflation and reductions in real-term income, underlining the stark disparities in how these challenges affect different segments of the population.
In a sobering conclusion, the researchers emphasize that public policy responses, as currently formulated, are insufficient to safeguard public health and prevent the deepening chasm of inequality. The situation remains grim, despite a slight unexpected slowdown in UK inflation to 6.7% in August, though it still maintains its position as the highest among G7 nations. This inflation surge is attributed to a combination of factors, including the enduring impact of coronavirus lockdowns, Brexit, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Amazon Commits $4 Billion Investment in AI Firm Anthropic
Amazon has announced a substantial investment of up to $4 billion in the artificial intelligence company Anthropic. This move signifies Amazon’s entry into the fiercely competitive AI arena, which has thus far been dominated by major players like Microsoft, Google, and OpenAI.
Amazon’s CEO, Andy Jassy, expressed admiration for Anthropic’s team and foundational AI models, emphasizing the potential to enhance various customer experiences in both the short and long term through deeper collaboration.
Emirates and SriLankan Airlines Forge Interline Agreement for Seamless Travel Connectivity
Emirates and SriLankan Airlines have recently entered into a reciprocal interline agreement, aiming to enhance connectivity and convenience for passengers of both carriers. This strategic partnership facilitates seamless travel experiences, allowing passengers to access additional destinations on each other’s networks via Colombo and Dubai, all while utilizing a single ticket and enjoying the ease of baggage transfers.
For Emirates passengers, this interline collaboration provides access to a network of 15 regional destinations operated by SriLankan Airlines through Colombo. This expanded network includes new Indian destinations such as Madurai and Tiruchirapally, along with Gan Island in the Maldives. Furthermore, travelers can explore Far East and South Asian destinations, including Cochin, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Malé, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Guangzhou, Seoul, and Tokyo, as detailed in a press release.
SriLankan Airlines’ customers will also reap the benefits of this partnership, gaining access to Emirates’ extensive global network. They can conveniently connect to 15 cities across the Middle East, Africa, Russia, and the United States, all operated by Emirates beyond Dubai. Notable destinations include Bahrain, Amman, Dammam, Medina, Cairo, Muscat, Nairobi, Moscow, Tel Aviv, as well as several key U.S. cities like New York JFK, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and Houston.
Travelers can already book their itineraries through various channels, including emirates.com, srilankan.com, and preferred online and offline travel agencies. In addition, Emirates has expanded its service to Dhaka, now offering 21 weekly flights and convenient connections to nearly 140 destinations spanning six continents.
- UK Inflation Crisis Threatens Lives and Widens Wealth-Health Gap, Study Warns
- Asian Stock Markets Slump as Investors Brace for Prolonged Rate Hikes
- Amazon Commits $4 Billion Investment in AI Firm Anthropic
- Bourse Performed Mixed
- Bangladesh Aims to Enhance Bilateral Ties with South Korea in Trade and Investment
- Govt Mandates Nov 30 Deadline for Tax Return Submissions
- DMP Assures US Visa Policy Won’t Affect Bangladesh Police
- BSEC Commissioner Urges Investment in Stock Market for Financial Growth
- Evercare Hospital Provides Free Treatment for Children’s Heart Perforation
- Stock Market Bleeds as Index, Turnover Falls
- Toll Rates Confirmed for Upcoming Bangabandhu Tunnel Inauguration
- Vietnam’s National Assembly President Attends Forum in Dhaka for Economic Collaboration with Bangladesh
- Emirates and SriLankan Airlines Forge Interline Agreement for Seamless Travel Connectivity
- Baseless Rumors Circulate Against BSEC Chairman to affect the Stock Market
- PM Reiterates Commitment to Fair Elections in Bangladesh