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Ease for Banks as Trade Rate Drops




The interbank exchange rate of USD and average dollar buying rates by banks started to decline just a week after the public and private banks took up some special measures in coordination with the central bank.

According to the central bank, banks traded dollars among themselves at a maximum of Tk105.50 on Sunday. The price was at Tk106.75 just the previous day.

Bankers said the crisis in the dollar market had eased up slightly, but they wanted to observe for a few more months to say anything concrete.

On 12 September, banks started charging Tk99 for export proceeds while paying Tk108 for remittances. Besides, they adopted the weighted average for the past five days to determine the dollar rate instead of imposing day-to-day buying and selling rates.

Several sources of the Bangladesh Foreign Exchange Dealers’ Association (Bafeda) and the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh Limited (ABB) said streamlining the interbank dollar exchange had been a remarkable achievement in the last week.

Before the dollar market became unstable, the central bank used to set a dollar rate at which banks would trade the greenback among themselves. Even in the wake of the dollar crunch, the central bank did not update enough the interbank dollar market for the first five months – allowing remittances to remain the key source for banks to procure US dollars.

Foreign exchange dealers and bankers said the interbank exchange has eased up the market pressure to some extent.

According to the Bangladesh Bank, banks traded $16 million on 12 September at Tk106.15. The price rose slightly to Tk106.90 the next day as the trading stood at $35 million.

On 18 September, the dollar stood at Tk105.50, down Tk1.25 from the previous day. The authorities said dollar trading by banks per day also rose in the meantime.

Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute, said allowing multiple rates for US dollars is a wrong decision that cannot last for a long time.

He proposed following the interbank exchange rate as the uniform dollar price. “To encourage the export, exporters could be offered Tk1 less than this rate. At the same time, the central bank should increase the monitoring.”

The differences in dollar buying rates between different banks are decreasing slowly, which the banks celebrate as the second achievement of export proceeds and remittance rate fixing.

Data from the foreign exchange dealers’ association show the average dollar price was at Tk103.43 on 12 September. On that day, banks bought dollars at a minimum of Tk98 to a maximum of Tk110.18. The gap was more than Tk12.

After a week on Monday, the average stood at Tk102.56. The minimum and maximum dollar buying rates by banks were Tk98.65 and Tk107.92 as the gap narrowed to Tk9.

Commenting that it is not possible to comment on the market stability in such a short period of time, Association of Bankers, Bangladesh Limited Chairman Selim RF Hussain said that stability does not necessarily imply higher or lower dollar rates. Rather it means the rate remains stable for a period of time.

“Our market will take time to be stable,” he said.

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‘BD can attract more investment if they assure less corruption than other markers’




If Bangladesh can assure US citizens and investors that corruption is less prevalent here than in other markets, it will likely attract more investment, said US Ambassador Peter Haas.

“Corruption is a parasite that feeds on the resources of a society and drains it of its strength. It can devastate every level of business and government,” the ambassador said during the “Call to Action Against Corruption Summit” held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on Tuesday (21 March).

He said the United States is committed to working with Bangladesh to eliminate corruption, to enable Bangladeshi citizens to enjoy lives of dignity and inviting more international trade and foreign investment.

“We support initiatives that help Bangladeshi businesses meet international standards and regulations, making them more competitive in the global market.”

By promoting ethical business practices, a more level playing field can be created for businesses of all sizes and encourage more foreign investment, said Peter Haas.

Bangladesh has many advantages that potential investors would find attractive, he said, adding, “But as American business leaders tell me: multi-national firms have options on where they invest.”

He said those will choose whichever country has the lowest levels of corruption, the fewest bureaucratic obstacles, the greatest respect for rule of law, and the best logistics infrastructure for their business.

So, if Bangladesh can attract more investment only by assuring citizens and investors that corruption is less prevalent here than in other markets, he said.

The US Agency for International Development, USAID, has partnered with Bangladesh’s Registrar of Joint Stock Companies to launch an online registration process for new businesses. This makes registering new businesses more transparent, faster, and more affordable.

The USAID has also worked with the Bangladesh National Board of Revenue to establish Authorized Economic Operators. This has empowered the private sector, instead of the government, to release shipments at ports.

As a result, the process has become more transparent and raised the level of trust between the private sector and the government.

The US Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) works with the Private Public Partnership Authority Bangladesh to conduct workshops to improve the legal and business environment of Bangladesh.

The CLDP also works with Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) to improve municipal governance by improving fiscal transparency. Under this program, the CLDP brought a DNCC delegation, including the mayor, to Miami in January.

The US Department of Justice trains investigators and attorneys in the Anti-Corruption Commission on such topics as how to investigate and prosecute money laundering, how to use electronic evidence, and how to investigate financial crimes.

It has also fostered a relationship between Bangladesh’s Financial Intelligence Unit and the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre.

The United States is committed to holding corrupt officials accountable for their actions. This can take various forms, said US Ambassador Peter Haas.

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PM Sheikh Hasina urges to ensure sustainable export growth & explore new markets



Hasina PM

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked all concerned to find a way out to ensure sustainable export growth and explore new global markets for Bangladeshi goods in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The Prime Minister made the call while speaking at the 11th meeting of the National Committee on Export, at her official residence Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Monday (20 March).

PM said, “Steps will have to be taken to achieve sustainable export growth after analysing situation steamed from the global economic recession due to the war in Ukraine,” she told the 11th meeting regarding export at her official Ganabhaban residence here.

The prime minister also urged all concerned to diversify the export items and explore new markets for those alongside revitalising the local markets.

“A new scope has been created globally to explore new markets for Bangladeshi items due to enhanced demands for goods because of the war in Ukraine. We have to grasp the markets,” she added.

The premier also called for formulating a new export policy for another 4 or 5 years by revising, changing and improving the existing one going to expire by 2024.

She said the new export policy should be adopted by analyzing the ongoing global economic recession, sanctions, counter-sanctions for the war and the challenges and scopes possibly to be created in Bangladesh after the graduation from the LDC by 2026.

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Dhaka’s Air Still ‘unhealthy’ amid slight shower




Dhaka’s air quality continued to be in the ‘unhealthy’ zone this morning (March 20, 2023).

With an air quality index (AQI) score of 133 at 9 am, Dhaka ranked 15 on the list of cities worldwide with the worst air quality.

An AQI between 101 and 150 is considered ‘unhealthy’, particularly for sensitive groups.

Iraq’s Baghdad, Pakistan’s Lahore and South Korea’s Incheon occupied the first three spots in the list, with AQI scores of 259, 257 and 194, respectively. An AQI between 201 and 300 is said to be ‘very unhealthy’, while a reading of 301+ is considered ‘hazardous’, posing serious health risks to residents.

In Bangladesh, the AQI is based on five criteria pollutants — Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5), NO2, CO, SO2 and Ozone. Dhaka has long been grappling with air pollution issues. Its air quality usually turns unhealthy in winter and improves during the monsoon.

Air pollution consistently ranks among the top risk factors for death and disability worldwide.

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