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Nationwide Pension Scheme to Commence on Thursday

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The Government has recently announced the issuance of the ‘Universal Pension Scheme Regulations 2023’. On the upcoming Thursday (August 17), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the Pension Scheme. The preparations for the launch of this scheme have been undertaken by the Ministry of Finance, covering the districts of Ganabhaban, Gopalganj, Bagerhat, Rangpur, and the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Bangladesh.

As revealed, the Ministry of Finance’s Department of Economic Affairs released the ‘Universal Pension Scheme Regulations 2023’ on Monday (August 13). Under this initiative, individuals joining the scheme at the age of 18 will be entitled to maximum benefits. Currently, the government has introduced four types of pension schemes on an emergency basis. These are: Progoti, Probash, Shurokkha and Samata. Among these categories, the Probash category holds the highest potential for Bangladeshi expatriates to accumulate the most funds. Expatriate Bangladeshis will have the opportunity to deposit up to a maximum of 10,000 Bangladeshi Taka per month to avail pension benefits. The regulations define the eligibility criteria, contribution amounts, and the amount of pension to be received monthly upon the completion of the stipulated period.

Sources indicate that the Pension Scheme includes various categories tailored to different groups. The Emigrant Probash Scheme is designed for expatriates, the Shurokkha Scheme for private sector employees, the Security Scheme for those engaged in informal sectors or self-employment, and the Samata  Scheme for low-income individuals. On Thursday, the website named ‘UPension’ will also be launched, allowing individuals to enroll in the pension scheme from that day onwards through the online platform.

As per the regulations, any Bangladeshi citizen holding a national identity card aged between 18 and 50 can become a part of the Pension Scheme. Additionally, individuals over 50 years of age can also join any type of pension scheme based on specific considerations. However, the exact details of the pension scheme for individuals above 50 are yet to be finalized.

For expatriate Bangladeshis who lack a national identity card (NID), they can register based on their passport information. However, it is essential for them to submit their NID to the government within a reasonable timeframe. Those already benefiting from the Social Safety Net program will also be eligible for the pension scheme. In such cases, they will need to forego the benefits they currently receive under the Social Safety Net program.

Bangladeshi citizens residing within the country or abroad will have the option to apply for the National Pension Scheme through an online form provided by the relevant authority. In contrast, they will need to provide a Unique Identification Number (UID) as part of the application process. The application form will require the applicant’s mobile number and, for non-residents, an automated email will facilitate the submission of their UID number, current exchange rate, and date of monthly contribution.

Determining Pension Amount Based on Contribution:

Under the Probash Scheme:

পেনশন

Expatriate Bangladeshis opting to contribute a monthly installment of 5,000 Taka for 10 years will receive a pension of 7,651  Taka per month. For a similar contribution over 42 years, the monthly pension amount will reach 1 lakh 72 thousand 327 Taka.

By depositing 10,000 Taka monthly for 10 years, individuals can obtain a monthly pension of 15,302 Taka. Similarly, contributing the same amount for 42 years will yield a monthly pension of 3 lakh 44 thousand 655 Taka.

Under the Pragati Scheme:

পেনশন

Private sector employees will be eligible for the Pragati Scheme. By depositing a minimum monthly installment of 2,000 Taka for 10 years, they will qualify for a monthly pension of 3,060 Taka. A 10-year contribution of 5,000 Taka will yield a pension of 7,651 Taka.

For those contributing a monthly installment of 2,000 Taka for 42 years, the monthly pension will amount to 68,931 Taka. Similarly, if the monthly contribution of 5,000 Taka is made until retirement (42 years), the pension will be 1 lakh 72 thousand 327 Taka per month.

Under the Shurokkha Scheme:

পেনশন

Individuals employed in the informal sector will fall under the Shurokkha Scheme. By contributing 1,000 Taka per month for 10 years, they will be eligible for a monthly pension of 1,530 Taka. Similarly, a 42-year contribution of 1,000 Taka per month will yield a monthly pension of 34,465 Taka.

Under this scheme, a maximum monthly contribution of 5,000 Taka is allowed. By contributing this amount for 10 years, an individual will receive a monthly pension of 7,651 Taka. Likewise, a 42-year contribution of 5,000 Taka per month will result in a monthly pension of 1 lakh 72 thousand 327 Taka.

Samata  Scheme:

পেনশন

Under the Samata Scheme, marginalized communities living below the poverty line will be included. Their monthly contribution will be 1,000 Taka. However, the government will contribute 500 Taka on their behalf. In other words, those falling under this scheme will need to deposit 500 Taka. By contributing for 10 years, they will receive a monthly pension of 1,530 Taka. Similarly, a contribution over 42 years will result in a monthly pension of 34,465 Taka.

According to the Pension Scheme regulations, pension contributions must be made to the designated bank account of the National Pension Authority. Contributions can be made through online banking, credit cards, debit cards, mobile financial service providers (MFS), and any branch of the specified bank.

If the contribution is not made within the stipulated time, a grace period of one month without any penalties will be allowed. If the delay extends beyond one month, a penalty will be imposed at a rate of 1% per day. An option to make advance contributions for upcoming months is also available. Contributions can be made on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis.

Contributors can utilize 50% of the accumulated amount, along with interest, to cover medical expenses, home construction, renovations, and their child’s wedding expenses. This amount can be repaid in 24 installments.

This scheme is designed to address the needs of the economically disadvantaged sections of society, ensuring their financial security and offering a pathway to a stable future. The diverse options for contribution and utilization make this pension initiative a comprehensive endeavor that caters to the specific requirements of different individuals and families.

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Container rate surge enters longest stretch since the pandemic

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The spot rate for shipping goods in containers to Europe from Asia rose for a ninth straight week, the longest stretch of rising prices since the pandemic disrupted global supply chains in 2021.

The rate for a 40-foot container to Genoa, Italy, from China hit $7,029 over the past week, the highest level since September 2022, according to the Drewry World Container Index released Thursday. The cost to Rotterdam increased to $6,867. Both rates have essentially doubled since April.

For the busy trade route from Shanghai to Los Angeles, the rate rose for a seventh straight week, to $6,441.

While not all freight is moving at such elevated prices, the spot market for containers reflects the supply of available space on ships and the demand from importers. That balance has tightened during the past six months as vessels avoid the Red Sea, where Houthi rebels have attacked commercial traffic, including a bulk commodity carrier that sunk earlier this week.

Most container lines are taking the longer route around southern Africa, creating disruptions similar to those two or three years ago. Ryan Petersen, founder and chief executive officer of Flexport Inc., said “we’re right back almost to where we were during the peak Covid situation.” He’s seeing spot rates even higher than the numbers Drewry just reported.

“Right now, if you want to ship a container from China to here in the UK it will cost you about $10,000 unless you have a contract,” Petersen said during a Bloomberg Television interview in London on Thursday. “And by the way, most of those contracts that were signed at lower prices are not being honoured and they’re adding surcharges to them.”

Petersen said it’s hard to predict how long shipping prices will keep climbing, noting that carriers spent some of their record-high profits made during the pandemic on new vessels that are entering service through 2026, which should help ease the latest capacity crunch.

But he also said uncertainty about delivery reliability later this year is worrying some companies and motivating them to order now rather than wait. Among the threats is a dockworker strike at ports along the US East and Gulf coasts, which Petersen said might send container rates above their pandemic highs if cargo bound for those gateways is significantly disrupted.

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PM Sheikh Hasina Urges UAE Investors to Tap into Bangladesh’s Special Economic Zones

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PM Sheikh Hasina Urges UAE Investors to Tap into Bangladesh's Special Economic Zones

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called on United Arab Emirates (UAE) investors to invest in Bangladesh’s special economic zones. The request was made during a meeting with UAE Ambassador Abdulla Ali Abdulla Khaseif Alhmoudi at her official residence, Ganabhaban, this morning.

According to the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, Md Nayeemul Islam Khan, the UAE ambassador assured the prime minister that his country would issue visas for Bangladeshi workers, ensuring they have jobs waiting for them in the UAE. The envoy emphasized the importance of preventing illegal migration from Bangladesh, a concern both countries agreed to address more diligently.

The UAE ambassador also mentioned that several UAE ministers are planning to visit Bangladesh soon to explore new avenues for strengthening bilateral relations. “We already have a very extensive and deep tie, but we are eager to take it to a new height,” Alhmoudi stated.

Alhmoudi highlighted that approximately 20,000 Bangladeshis travel to the UAE each month, with the UAE embassy issuing around 1,000 visas daily—500 directly and 500 through agents. He extended an invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit the UAE, noting that UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum are eagerly waiting to welcome her.

In response to Sheikh Hasina’s appeal for UAE investment in Bangladesh’s special economic zones, Alhmoudi said that the visiting UAE ministers would discuss the matter further. The envoy also sought cooperation from the prime minister to expedite UAE investments in Bangladesh, including in the container terminal sector. Sheikh Hasina assured him that her government is accelerating processes across all sectors.

Additionally, Alhmoudi mentioned that a UAE company is in the final stages of negotiating prices to provide an Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) to Bangladesh’s civil aviation sector. The prime minister delegated the task to PMO Secretary Mohammad Salahuddin.

For security reasons, the US, EU member states, and other countries now require detailed passenger information from airlines before travel, known as Advance Passenger Information (API).

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Bata Shoe Reveals Impressive EPS Surge in Q1

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One of the listed companies, Bata Shoe Bangladesh Limited discloses its financial reports for the first quarter, (January – March 24).

The company’s earnings per share (EPS) was Tk 13.42 paisa in Q1 of the current financial year (January – March 24). EPS was Tk 9.96 (restated) paisa during the same period last year. As of March 31, 2024, at the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year, the company’s net asset value (NAV) per share stood at Tk 251.35.

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