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Global Entrepreneurs Can Now Trade in Commodity Exchanges

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Chairman of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), Professor Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam, has announced swift intentions to establish a commodity exchange in Bangladesh, allowing not only local businesses but also entrepreneurs from South Africa and other nations to engage in trade. This significant initiative was revealed during the “Rise of Bengal Tiger: Bangladesh Trade and Business Summit” held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, August 23rd.

The summit, jointly organized by BSEC and the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), marks a strategic collaboration aiming to bolster investment prospects. The event commenced on Wednesday morning at 10:00 am local time in Johannesburg, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gracing the occasion as the chief guest.

In a notable revelation during the “Rise of Bengal Tiger: Bangladesh Trade and Business Summit” in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Chairman of the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), Professor Shibli Rubayat-Ul-Islam, highlighted the historic stance of Bangladesh’s founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, at the United Nations in 1974. The founder of the nation had advocated for unbiased representation, marking a pivotal step towards ending apartheid.

Over the past 15 years, bilateral trade between Bangladesh and South Africa has surged, reflecting growing economic ties between the two countries. However, despite this progress, there remains substantial room for further enhancement.

Professor Shibli Rubaiyat-ul-Islam emphasized that Bangladesh’s pivotal role in trade stems from its burgeoning population and increasing purchasing power. The country’s reduced production costs owing to abundant electricity supply offer an advantageous edge. The country’s stock market also hosts a multitude of promising companies, fostering a conducive environment for long-term investment. This scenario presents lucrative opportunities for South African businesses seeking expansion through these ventures.

Noteworthy attendees at the event included Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; Sihle Zikalala, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure of South Africa; Salman F Rahman, Private Industry and Investment Advisor to the Prime Minister; and Noor-e-Helal Saifur Rahman, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to South Africa. The presence of these prominent figures underscored the significance of the summit in strengthening bilateral trade relations.

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Dhaka, New Delhi Forge Vision for Digital and Green Partnership: PM Sheikh Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced today (June 22) that Bangladesh and India have agreed on a shared vision for a digital and green partnership aimed at ensuring a sustainable future for both nations.

In a joint statement before the media following her meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, Hasina said, “Both countries endorsed the ‘Vision Statement’ to guide us toward a peaceful and prosperous future. We agreed to have a shared vision for ‘Digital Partnership’ and ‘Green Partnership for a Sustainable Future.'”

The bilateral discussions covered a broad range of topics, including water sharing from common rivers, security, and trade. Hasina emphasized the importance of India as Bangladesh’s major neighbor, trusted friend, and regional partner, highlighting the deep historical ties since Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971.

“Our relations with India are ever-growing at a fast pace,” Hasina noted. “Today, our two sides had very productive meetings where we discussed politics and security, trade and connectivity, the sharing of water from common rivers, power and energy, and regional and multilateral cooperation, among other issues of mutual interest.”

The Prime Minister added, “We agreed to collaborate with each other for the betterment of our people and countries.” She outlined a future course of action aimed at ensuring a smart Bangladesh by 2041 and a Viksit Bharat (Developed India) by 2047.

Hasina mentioned that several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were concluded and renewed, with announcements made for future collaboration. She noted that recent years have seen sustained high-level engagements between the two countries, including visits by the Indian president and prime minister to Bangladesh in 2021 to celebrate significant milestones in Bangladesh’s history.

Reflecting on her own diplomatic engagements, Hasina recalled her last bilateral visit to India in September 2022 and her attendance at the G20 Summit in New Delhi in September 2023 as the leader of ‘Guest Country’ Bangladesh. “I am now visiting New Delhi for an unprecedented second time in the same month, June 2024,” she remarked.

Earlier this month, on June 9, Hasina attended the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his new cabinet alongside other world leaders, further underscoring the close engagement between the two nations.

During her current visit, Hasina will also meet with the Vice President and the President of India. She expressed optimism that these meetings will provide deeper insights into enhancing bilateral cooperation.

“This is my first bilateral visit to any country after Bangladesh’s 12th Parliamentary Elections and the formation of the new government in January 2024,” Hasina noted, thanking the Indian government for their warm hospitality.

In her concluding remarks, Hasina paid homage to the Indian heroes who sacrificed their lives during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971, expressing gratitude for India’s contribution to Bangladesh’s independence. She also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Bangladesh at his earliest convenience.

 

 

 

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Govt Aims for Complete Financial Inclusion and Digital Access by 2041

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The government is committed to achieving complete financial inclusion and fostering a fully inclusive society, ensuring universal access to digital resources by 2041, as part of its vision for a Smart Bangladesh.

An official document presented in Parliament outlines the plan to ensure 100% financial inclusion for all societal groups to build a smart society. The document also envisions the creation of Climate and Disaster-Resilient Smart Villages and Smart Cities, providing equitable access to civic amenities for both urban and rural populations.

The government emphasizes promoting digital access for individuals of all ages, religions, physical abilities, and social classes. It highlights the importance of fostering a digitally tolerant, fair, and inclusive society that embraces diversity.

A key objective is to rank within the top 20 of the Global Cyber Security Index. Last year, Bangladesh advanced 27 places in the National Cyber Security Index (NCSI), prepared by the Estonia-based e-Governance Academy Foundation, rising to 36th position from 85th in December 2020. The NCSI evaluates nations on cyberattack preparedness, cyber events, criminal activity, and major crisis management efforts.

Currently, Greece holds the top spot on the NCSI with a score of 97.10, while the United States and the United Kingdom rank 18th and 19th, respectively. Among Asian countries, Singapore ranks 16th, Japan 34th, Sri Lanka 69th, and Pakistan 70th.

The government is also taking steps to promote a culturally rich society through active participation in economic and governmental activities. Initiatives have been launched to make the languages of Bangladesh’s ethnic groups and the Bengali language more technology-friendly.

One such initiative is the development of ‘Sathik,’ the first Bengali spell checker for AI-based misspelling detection and accurate word suggestion. Additionally, ‘Janamat,’ a Bengali sentiment analysis software, has been created to analyze daily news and public opinion on social media.

A smart universal keyboard for writing all languages, including minority languages, has been developed, along with a conversion software to prevent the breaking of Bengali words across different platforms.

In honor of International Mother Language Day 2024 and in memory of language martyrs, three AI-based Bengali language software—Bangla Text to Speech ‘Uchcharan,’ Bengali Speech to Text ‘Katha,’ and Bengali OCR ‘Barna’—along with a new Bengali font ‘Purno,’ have been introduced.

These initiatives reflect the government’s commitment to leveraging technology for inclusive development and cultural preservation as part of its vision for a Smart Bangladesh by 2041.

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NBR loses hope of receiving returns from 40% of TIN-holders!

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As the gap widens between the number of Bangladeshis with Tax Identification Number (TIN) and those who have actually submitted returns, the country’s revenue authority seems to have accepted the fact that around 40% of TIN-holders may not file their returns this fiscal year.

Currently, there are 1.4 crore TIN-holders in the country, but a significant number of them – about 67 lakh – have not submitted tax returns as of 31 May, according to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) data.

A senior official from the NBR’s income tax department, wishing not to be named, told the news reporter, “We believe that around 40 lakh TIN-holders will not submit their returns.”

The official said, “Two months ago, we submitted a report to NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, explaining the reasons for the decline in return submissions.”

The NBR appears uncertain about how to address these non-compliant TIN-holders. When asked, the official said no decision has yet been made regarding them.

“Once a TIN is registered, it cannot be cancelled arbitrarily. The provision for suspending someone’s TIN due to a lack of income in the 2023-24 budget has had limited impact,” he added.

The income tax department’s report, reviewed by the news reporter, identifies various reasons for many TIN-holders not submitting tax returns. It suggests that out of 67 lakh people with TIN who did not file returns, 54 lakh likely refrained due to these reasons.

Those who obtained TIN solely for purposes for which TIN is mandatory such as land sales and specific services are unlikely to submit their returns. Similarly, marginal traders who acquired a mandatory TIN for trade licence but whose businesses have since ceased are also unlikely to file returns.

Additionally, factors contributing to non-submission include death, extended periods of no taxable income, lack of awareness, situations where there is no requirement to show proof of submission of returns, and the extension of tax-free income limits which exempt many taxpayers from their tax obligations.

Besides, permanent departure from Bangladesh, closure or dissolution of companies, taxpayers residing abroad, issuance of duplicate TINs to the same individual, and insufficient information in the TIN database were also identified as major factors.

Taxpayers can submit their returns at any time during the fiscal year. The NBR extended the return submission deadline to 31 January this year.

Those who do not meet this deadline may still submit their returns later, either by paying a fine or by applying for an extension.

An analysis of the NBR report reveals that approximately 10 lakh TIN-holders have acquired new TINs and are required to file their returns in the upcoming fiscal 2024-25.

About 5.28 lakh obtained TINs due to requirements related to land sales. Additionally, 3.75 lakh were compelled to obtain TINs for services from various offices.

Approximately 3 lakh individuals did not file returns due to lack of awareness, and over 2.5 lakh belong to the marginal trader category who obtained TINs for trade licences but whose businesses went bust later.

There are around 2.5 lakh TIN-holders who are deceased, and more than 2 lakh people with TIN with no taxable income also did not file returns.

Over 2 lakh individuals who purchased savings instruments up to Tk2 lakh did not submit returns.

Returns for more than 11 lakh TIN-holders are unavailable due to various other reasons mentioned above.

Approximately 1.37 lakh companies registered with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC) have not submitted returns.

Experts recommend removing TINs from the NBR database for individuals who will not be able to submit tax returns due to logical reasons.

Dr Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute (PRI), told the news reporter, “TINs belonging to individuals unlikely to file tax returns, such as those deceased or with other logical reasons, should be excluded from the NBR database.”

Additionally, for individuals without taxable income but who are required to file returns, there should be a straightforward and efficient filing process, he said.

Highlighting the need for a legal solution, Mansur said, “In other countries, although cancellation of TINs is challenging, automated management systems facilitate streamlined processes through established procedures. However, achieving similar efficiency is considerably difficult in our country.”

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