Stocks extend gaining streak

Country's both the bourses-- Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) and Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE)-- today witnessed an upward trend like earlier as investors continued their buying spree on large-cap issues amid optimism. DSEX, the key index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), went up by 76.42 points or 1.36 per cent to settle at 5,692.06. Two other indices also closed higher. The DS30 index, comprising blue chips, advanced 25.59 points to finish at 2,033.45 and the DSE Shariah Index (DSES) rose 18.56 points to close at 1,250.98. Turnover, the crucial indicator of the market, increased to Taka 8177.66 million on the country's premier bourse which was Taka 7106.26 million at the previous session of the week. Of the 401 issues traded, 259 advanced, 98 declined and 44 remained unchanged on the DSE trading floor. The Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) also edged higher with the CSE All Share Price Index - CASPI- rising 180.73 points to settle at 16232.13 and the Selective Categories Index - CSCX- gaining 1 08.92 points to close at 9773.42. Of the issues traded, 70 declined, 142 advanced and 19 issues remained unchanged on the CSE trading floor. The port city's bourse traded 1.27 crore shares and mutual fund units with turnover value worth Taka 38.43 crore. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

US-Bangla to start Jeddah flight from August

US-Bangla Airlines, country's largest private carrier, is going to launch daily flights from Dhaka to Jeddah, one of the popular destinations in the Middle East region, from August 2024. The airline has decided to operate flights to Saudi Arabia's second largest city, Jeddah, in view of the demand of expatriate Bangladeshis. This destination is also the gateway for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities - Mecca and Medina. The carrier is planning to operate Dhaka-Jeddah flights with the wide-body jet Airbus A330-300 which has 436-passenger capacity, a press release said here today. Currently, the US-Bangla fleet has a total of 24 aircraft, including two Airbus A330-300. US-Bangla currently operates flights to Dubai, Sharjah, Muscat, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Male, Bangkok, Guangzhou, Kolkata and Chennai. Besides international routes, US-Bangla is operating domestic flights especially from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar, Chattogram, Sylhet, Saidpur, Jashore and Rajshahi. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

CPD for strengthening transparency in budget delivery process

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) has laid emphasis on strengthening transparency, participation and oversight in the budget delivery process. The think-tank urged the government to make scope for the local level citizens to be involved in budget delivery and monitoring process including selection of participants in social protection programmes and implementation of public investment projects to reduce leakages and corruption. CPD today made the observation at a dialogue on "New Government, National Budget and Citizens' Aspirations" at a hotel in the city. CPD in association with Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh organised the dialogue. Deputy Leader of the opposition in the national parliament and former minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, former planning minister MA Mannan, Executive Director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) Rasheda K Choudhury and CPD Distinguished fellow Dr Mustafizur Rahman, among others, spoke on the occasion. Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, a distinguished fello w of the CPD, delivered the keynote speech with CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun in the chair. Anisul Islam Mahmud thanked CPD for organising the dialogue and said this kind of dialogue can keep a good role in the budget preparation process. MA Mannan, now the chairman of the standing committee on planning ministry, said the government is giving different allowances for the welfare of common people. "The government is providing different allowances which have a huge impact. So, the government should expand the areas of this allowance in the upcoming budget," he added. Debapriya urged the government to allocate more funds for social protection, education and health. He also urged allocating funds for ensuring decent employment and labour rights for all. He recommended the government increase allocation for education (to over three percent of the GDP) and for health (over two percent of the GDP). He also recommended increasing the allocation for social protection programmes (to over thre e percent of GDP). Take away the pension fund out of the total social security allocation and distribute it to the actual social safety items for disadvantaged communities, he said. "Create an accurate database of disadvantaged communities for better integration and to mitigate the 'exclusion and inclusion error' regarding the social security programmes delivery and sector-specific allocation," he added. Debapriya emphasised technical and vocational skill development as per the global standard by considering the 27.4 percent NEET (not in employment, education or training) youth population. Regarding subsidies, he suggested enhancing it to sectors such as agriculture, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), food security programmes and other sectors such as health and education (where the out-of-pocket expenditure is very high) to ease the inflationary pressure. Dr Bhattacharya, however, also urged the government to ensure strong leadership and coordination among the government agencies, while dev ising and implementing policy decisions. He recommended ensuring disaggregated budget reporting using real time data at the national parliament under the Public Money and Budget Management Act 2009. He also urged the government to ensure regular monthly meetings of the critical parliamentary committees related to public finance management such as Standing Committee on Ministry of Finance, Standing Committee on Ministry of Planning, Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Estimates and Committee on Public Undertakings with opportunities for public hearings involving relevant stakeholders and citizens groups as well as briefings by amici curiae. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

ICT is going to be main saviour of economy: Salman

Noting that the ICT sector is going to be the main saviour of the country's economy in the future, Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman today advocated for continuing the various tax facilities policy apart from support that the sector is currently enjoying for further flourish of this sector. "I'm cent percent agreed with the ICT entrepreneurs that the existing tax facilities should remain. I still think that the sector is still at the premature stage and it won't be wise to withdraw the existing tax facilities that the sector is currently enjoying. Rather, we've to think of giving more incentives, otherwise challenges will come," he said. Salman was speaking as the chief guest at a roundtable titled "Investment Climate for Smart Bangladesh" held at a city hotel. State Minister for Posts, Telecommunications and ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak and Parliamentary Standing Committee Chairman on the same Ministry Kazi Nabil Ahmed spoke as special guests chaired by Ve nture Capital and Private Equity Association of Bangladesh (VCPEAB) president Shameem Ahsan. The VCPEAB organized the roundtable. Ferdous Ahmed, MP and Zara Jabeen Mahbub, MP also spoke as guests of honour. Agreeing with the various demands of the entrepreneurs of the ICT sector, Salman said he would discuss with the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister regarding the various issues surrounding the industry. Criticizing slightly the National Board of Revenue (NBR) for imposing more burden on the existing regular taxpayers, the Adviser suggested that the revenue board should focus more on bringing in the untaxed people to the tax net. "Unless the tax collection system is digitalized fully or major reforms are not brought, then the tax to GDP ratio will not increase," he added. Mentioning that data is going to be the main asset in the coming days, the Adviser urged the relevant stakeholders and entrepreneurs to give more emphasis on AI, data sign, big data management, chip designing, cyber sec urity and establishing a huge data centre. State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak said that the country's IT and ICT sector witnessed massive successes over the last 15 years under the farsighted vision of Prime Minister's ICT Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Ahmed and courageous leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He urged the PM's Private Industry and Investment adviser to talk with the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister about the rational demands of continuing tax facilities in the ICT sector. The State Minister suggested that the higher educational institutions and universities should change their curriculum in line with the changing global context in the ICT sector. He opined that the existing tax exemption facilities in the ICT sector should continue in the next year while there could be discussions on how to facilitate the sector considering the changing context of FY26, FY31 and FY41. Palak opined that if the ICT sector receives government's policy support for the next 10 years, th en the ICT and the IT enabled services would be the major export-oriented sector in the country. Kazi Nabil Ahmed, MP said that there is a need to make more energetic and skilled Human Resources to make each and every sector of the country technology-based. "We've to make a knowledge-based economy to build Smart Bangladesh," he said, adding that the government and the private sector should leapfrog the initiatives in this sector to make the Smart Bangladesh vision visible. The ICT policies mainly focuses on data protection and cyber security along with ease of doing ICT business by streamlining tax incentives, including 100 percent CIT exemption for the ICT/software industry, 10 percent export subsidies, VAT exemption on local bills during production. Additionally, initiatives to attract foreign investment include 100 percent tax exemption for income from software development, 2 percent duty on ICT related hardware imports etc. The ICT industry emphasizes achieving a $50 billion ICT GDP by 2041 , which entails increasing the sector's contribution to the National GDP from less than 1 percent to 2-3 percent by 2041. In his presentation, Shaheem Ahsan said withdrawal of incentives and policy support would directly impact local and foreign investment, worsen unemployment and brain drain situation, put pressure on currency reserve, increase risk of data sovereignty and national cyber security and increase the cost of automation towards SMART transition. DCCI president Ashraf Ahmed, CCCI president Omar Hazzaz, CSE chairman Asif Ibrahim, UGC member Dr Md Sazzad Hossain, FBCCI senior Vice President Md Amin Helaly, Policy Exchange Bangladesh Chairman Dr M Masrur Reaz, Founder and CEO of Bdjobs Ltd Fahim Mashroor, Policy Adviser of CRI Imran Ahmed, Vice President of VCPEAB Mohammad Zahirul Islam spoke, among others, on the occasion. The leaders in the IT industry also have asked for the tax exemption to be extended for 03 years. They believe keeping this exemption is crucial as removing same w ill diminish profitability and reduce reinvestment capabilities for IT /ITES companies, resulting in slower industry growth and diminished export potential. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

‘VOCTA’ demands formulation of consumer-friendly budget

Voluntary Consumers Training and Awareness Society (VOCTA) today urged the government to take effective steps to formulate a consumer-friendly budget with special emphasis on inflation control, employment and income growth. The organization's Executive director Md. Khalilur Rahaman Sajal made the suggestion on behalf of VOCTA, an organization of consumer rights protection movement, at a press conference held at Abdus Salam Hall of Jatiya Press Club today. In continuation of the pre-budget proposals of 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 financial years, a 19-point recommendation was presented to make the upcoming budget of Fiscal Year 2024-2025 more people-oriented. The recommendations included reducing the price of goods to keep it under the purchasing capacity of the consumers, keeping the import duties and taxes on daily commodities including rice, pulses, sugar and edible oil at a tolerate level and increasing the duty-tax on luxury goods. Strengthening the monitoring of ultra-profitable business gro ups, raising voice against market syndication and expanding the coverage of TCB's subsidized products for low-income group of people are also among the 19- point recommendations. The organization also urged the government to reduce the price of medicines in the budget to keep it at reasonable level to cut people's expanses in health sector. They also demanded special financial allocations to speed up and expand the activities of Directorate of National Consumers' Right Protection, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution, Bangladesh Competition Commission and Bangladesh Food Safety Authority along with non-government voluntary organizations working in consumer rights protection. VOCTA chairman Professor Dr. Hossain Uddin Shekhor, Vice-chairman Sanoar Hossain Nawaj and director Dr. Latiful Bari were present at the press conference. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Two people drown in Doda river

Two persons have drowned while bathing in the Doda river in Kanchanpur. Two others have been injured in the incident that took place on Saturday. The deceased have been identified as Rajendra Kunwar and Vijay Kunwar of Shantipur in Belauri Municipality-7, said Deputy Superintendent of Police and spokesperson of District Police Office Kanchanpur, Umeshraj Joshi. Samir Subedi and Shishir Bista from the same locality were injured. They are undergoing treatment at local medical centres. Source: National News Agency RSS

NC’s protest in Gandaki Province Assembly meeting

The Nepali Congress (NC) has expressed its disagreement with the way Gandaki Province's Chief Minister Khagaraj Adhikari obtained vote of confidence in the Province Assembly meeting. The NC's Province Assembly members stood from their respective places and chanted slogans in protest after CM Adhikari was announced to have obtained the vote of confidence based on the support of majority where Adhikari received vote of confidence from 30 out of the 59 Province Assembly members excluding the Speaker. NC argued the Speaker announced that Adhikari secured the vote of confidence without complying with parliamentary practice and traditions, while he who is seeking vote of confidence has to obtain it from the majority number of members from among all members in the Province Assembly. NC Province Assembly Parliamentary Party leader and outgoing Chief Minister of the Province Surendra Raj Pandey said that the announcement about obtaining vote of confidence was ''unconstitutional'' and thus they would move to Suprem e Court for legal recourse. In a press meet organized at the NC parliamentary party's office in Pokhara on Sunday, leader Pandey insisted that at least 31 Province Assembly members out of 60 members in the Province Assembly has to be secured as vote of confidence for the Chief Minister. The Speaker, according to Pandey, should play a neutral role and remain within constitution and Province Assembly regulation and should not favour any party. Speaker Krishna Prasad Dhital had announced that CM Adhikari had secured the vote of confidence based on the principle of majority. Adhikari had received 30 votes, 22 from CPN (UML), 7 from CPN (Maoist Centre) and one from independent member. Source: National News Agency RSS

Chief Minister Adhikari gets vote of confidence

Chief Minister of Gandaki Province Khagaraj Adhikari has won a vote of confidence from the Gandaki Province Assembly meeting on Sunday. Speaker of Gandaki Province Assembly Krishna Prasad Dhital announced that Chief Minister Adhikari's proposal tabled at the province assembly meeting was approved with a majority of votes. A total of 30 province assembly members seconded the proposal tabled by Chief Minister Adhikari while 27 voted against the motion. Likewise, two province assembly members chose to remain neutral. The province assembly members of the CPN (UML), Maoist Centre, and an independent voted for Adhikari while Nepali Congress lawmakers voted against Adhikari's proposal. The NC province assembly members protested the Speaker's announcement after he declared the voting by 30 as a majority of votes by making a basis for the Supreme Court (SC) verdict. Earlier, Nepali Congress parliamentary party leader in Gandaki Province Surendra Raj Pandey asked the Speaker not to take a side and urged the Speak er to consider the message written in the constitution. Likewise, the parliamentary party leader of CPN (Maoist Centre) in Gandaki Hari Bahadur Chuman asked the Speaker to act as a referee adding that the Speaker has the responsibility to safeguard the Gandaki Province Assembly from its dissolution. Source: National News Agency RSS

Hearing continues on sidhakura.com

Kathmandu: The Supreme Court conducted a hearing on the case of sidhakura.com on Sunday as well. The hearing was not completed because the recording of statement from Raj Kumar Timilsina, the person who provided audio clip to the media, was not over on Sunday. A division bench of justices Hari Prasad Phuyal and Mahesh Sharma Paudel conducted the hearing, which will be continued on Monday as well. The court has already recorded the statements from executive editor of sidhakura.com online, Nabin Dhungana, and publisher Yubraj Kandel. A week back, the online media had run a story with an audio on a 'sting operation' launched by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority where it mentioned the 'Supreme Court justices held a meeting to influence a case'. Following the news, deputy registrar at SC, Govinda Ghimire, had submitted a report on contempt of court against the media. In response to the contempt of court case on April 29, the division bench of justices Nahakul Subedi and Tek Prasad Dhungan a ordered the media to take down the news story within 24 hours. Source: National News Agency RSS

Minister Pun says govt committed to creating business-friendly environment

Kathmandu: Finance Minister Barshaman Pun has said the government was successful in giving the message of its private sector-friendly moves. The active participation of the private sector in the recently held Nepal Investment Summit also demonstrated the government's friendly gestures to the private sector. At a meeting with the representatives of the Revenue Advisory Committee and the umbrella organizations of the private sector at the Ministry of Finance on Sunday, Minister Pun said the government was committed to creating a business-friendly environment for the private sector. On the occasion, Minister Pun shared that eight different laws were revised through the ordinance to create an investment-friendly situation. The Finance Minister was of the view that a favorable situation would be created if the state and private sector collaborated to end the ongoing economic slowdown. "We have presented the private sector in all sessions and closing session of the investment summit. A positive situation has be en created from the amendments made in the laws targeting domestic and foreign investors. We have given the message to the entire world that the government is private sector- friendly," according to the Finance Minister. Minister Pun argued that the economy will be accelerated by enhancing productivity through the partnership with the private sector and added that the government has taken the policy to ensure competitiveness of the private sector. On the occasion, Minister Pun said that the change in the rate of tax would be done by being based on needs and relevance. Source: National News Agency RSS

Seven JSP MPs submit application to EC seeking legitimacy

Kathmandu: Seven members of parliament (MPs) have submitted an application to the Election Commission seeking legitimacy. With this, the party is on the brink of split. JSP's MP Sushila Shrestha told Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS) that a group of seven MPs led by Ashok Rai submitted the application claiming for the same. "Now we are seven parliamentarians. More and more MPs are joining. They are in touch with us," said leader Shrestha, who is one among them to the application seeking legitimate status. Shrestha justified that they took the move to effectively take their agenda to the people and to further strengthen internal democracy. It may be noted that another faction in the party registered the application while party Chairperson, also Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Population Upendra Yadav, is currently in the US. EC's Assistant Spokesperson Ramdutta Pande confirmed about seven MPs of JSP registering an application and said that the EC was looking into it. The party has 12 MPs in the federal parliament at present. Of them, seven differing MPs took to the EC, claiming themselves as the legitimate party. Those signing in the application are Ashok Rai, Nawal Kishore Shah Sudi, Pradeep Yadav, Ranju Jha, Birendra Mahato, Hasina Khan and Sushila Shrestha. It is said that nine party members from central executive committee and 27 from central committee are in favor of leader Rai's group. Source: National News Agency RSS

Economic prosperity begins from Dailekh: Minister Bhandari

Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supply, Damodar Bhandari, has said Dailekh district would pave a way for economic prosperity. Inaugurating the final drilling as part of the petroleum exploration at Jaljale of Bhairabi rural municipality in Dailekh district on Sunday, Minister Bhandari hoped the final exploration will be successful, which would usher country into economic prosperity. He inaugurated the drilling works by placing the national flags of Nepal and China. "Government is for finalizing the significant projects in order to realize the national ambition of happy Nepali-prosperous Nepal," Bhandari shared. On the occasion, Director General at Department of Mines and Geology, Ram Prasad Ghimire, also said if the exploration results in a positive note, it would certainly make Dailekh an economic hub of Nepal. "The exploration of petroleum here has been known to the world. All Nepalis have been happy over the progress so far," he informed. Minister Bhandari, Director General Ghimire, and Member of the House of Representatives inspected the exploration site. The Department informed that the works for final drilling were intensified after the 150 trucks reached exploration materials at Jaljale from Nepalgunj. The final exploration will conclude in six months. With this, it would be determined how much petroleum and gas is available here. If the examination indicates the natural assets as usable, it would be followed with measures for processing. The exploration has been continued at the grant of Rs 2.50 billion provided by the Chinese government as per government to government agreement reached in 2075BS. Source: National News Agency RSS