UK announces $50m loan for Bangladesh’s MSMEs, women entrepreneurs

DHAKA, British International Investment (BII), the UK's development finance institution (DFI) and impact investor has announced a loan commitment of 50 million US dollar to BRAC Bank, a leading SME bank in Bangladesh, to support small businesses and women entrepreneurs . The loan will provide vital funding to support growth of micro-, small- and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and women-led businesses - the bedrock of Bangladesh's economy, said a BII press release disseminated by British High Commission here today. "This investment reinforces the UK's commitment to support inclusive and sustainable development in Bangladesh and is a great demonstration of the UK's modern economic partnership with Bangladesh," said British High Commissioner in Dhaka Sarah Cooke on the occasion. She said it will enable small businesses and female entrepreneurs in Bangladesh to take up more economic opportunities and create more jobs. There are around 10 million MSMEs in Bangladesh, employing roughly 80 per cent of the populatio n and responsible for half of the country's industrial output. The Central Bank of Bangladesh recognises the segment as indispensable for overall economic development in the country and specifically women entrepreneurs as crucial for attaining sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. However, access to finance has been a major challenge, with only 20 per cent of total loans in the country going to SMEs, including female-owned enterprises, according to BRAC Bank's data. Half of BII's loan will be directed to MSMEs and the other half will target women entrepreneurs with an expectation to reach up to 3,500 MSMEs and women entrepreneurs in total and accelerate their business growth. This investment supports UN SDG 5 on Gender Equality, SDG 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth, as well as SDG9 on Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, said the release. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

GP and bKash join forces to revolutionize customer convenience

DHAKA, Grameenphone, the country's smart connectivity provider, has partnered with bKash, the largest Mobile Financial Service (MFS) provider, for enabling its customers to seamlessly open bKash accounts directly within the MyGP app. This seamless account opening functionality integrated within the MyGP app, setting a new standard for accessibility and ease-of-use. This pioneering initiative marks the first of its kind in Bangladesh, solidifying Grameenphone and bKash as major forces driving innovation in their respective industries, said a press release. This collaboration has enabled bKash customer registration process within the MyGP app by simply clicking on the dedicated section. Upon consent and a few verifications, customers are swiftly transitioned to the bKash registration platform, where users can proceed to fulfill the eKYC (electronic Know Your Customer) process and follow the required steps. These seamless procedures enable customers to promptly unlock access to a diverse range of financial services via bKash. Initially, android users can enjoy this seamless bKash account opening service in MyGP app. New Customers who open a bKash account through MyGP will receive an enticing bonus of up to Taka 125 upon opening their accounts. This incentive will encourage customers to explore and make the most of the diverse features and services offered by the bKash platform. Expressing enthusiasm for the partnership, Yasir Azman, CEO of Grameenphone said, "At Grameenphone, our customers are at the heart of everything we do... our collaboration with bKash reflects our customer-centric approach while signifying our concerted effort towards promoting financial inclusion and digital empowerment to create a Smart Bangladesh." Echoing with this sentiment, Kamal Quadir, Founder and CEO of bKash said, "Financial inclusion and inclusive services have been part of bKash's DNA since its inception. This innovative joint initiative of Grameenphone and bKash will lead customers to join an inclusive journey of various f inancial services instantly that will contribute to the digital ecosystem. This accessibility will create more options for customers to join the cashless journey of Bangladesh." Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Netherlands to support Bangladesh for solid waste management in EZs

DHAKA, Netherlands will support Bangladesh for successful implementation of sustainable industrial wastewater and solid waste management in Economic Zones (EZs). To this end, Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) and Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands today inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at a function at BEZA headquarters in the city, said a press release. Additional Secretary and Executive Member (Planning and Development) Saleh Ahmed and Ambassador of the Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands Irma van Dueren inked the MoU on behalf of their respective sides. Irma van Dueren said Bangladesh has been able to build a sound investment- friendly environment and set a role model of development to the world. She hoped that the signing of this MoU will further expand the scope of Dutch private investment in Bangladesh. Under the MoU, Saleh Ahmed said BEZA will enable to efficiently address the challenges of industrial waste and solid waste management in the the economic zones. Source: B angladesh Sangbad Sangstha

MCCI hosts discussion on “Stabilizing the Macroeconomy of Bangladesh: Issues and Challenges”

DHAKA, The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI) hosted a discussion titled "Stabilizing the Macroeconomy of Bangladesh: Issues and Challenges" at its Gulshan office today. MCCI President Kamran T. Rahman delivered the welcome remarks while Dr. Sadiq Ahmed, vice chairman of Policy Research Institute, gave the keynote presentation and led an open discussion. The event was moderated by Farooq Ahmed, secretary-general and CEO of the MCCI. During his welcome remarks, MCCI President Kamran T. Rahman stressed that stakeholders and policymakers must have a comprehensive understanding of how multiple factors collectively shape economic dynamics, said a press release here. He believed this knowledge helped create strategies for economic stability and growth. "Discussions such as this event could help private sector representatives enhance their knowledge and realign their strategies," he opined. In his keynote presentation, Dr. Sadiq Ahmed identified Bangladesh's four major mac roeconomic concerns: import surge leading to reserve losses, the depreciation of the Taka, persistent inflation, and low domestic revenue growth because of external shocks. He stated these factors were impeding the growth of Bangladesh's GDP and its overall progress and development. As Bangladesh had one of the lowest tax to GDP ratios in the world, Dr. Sadiq advocated for a focused, medium-term tax reform programme. Later, he also discussed and elaborated on effective ways to tackle the inflationary, balance of payments, and budgetary challenges that the country was facing. Other issues that came up during the open discussion include the challenges of non-performing and distressed loans, tax leakages, fiscal, banking, and trade reforms, and the need for a transparent and easily understandable tax policy. The event ended with a vote of thanks from the MCCI. Representatives from MCCI member firms and the media attended the event. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Bangladesh is emerging as growth hotspot through sustainable practices: Humayun

DHAKA, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun today said Bangladesh is emerging as a growth hotspot through sustainable practices. "Bangladesh, geographically and strategically an important country in the Asia-Pacific region, is emerging as a growth hotspot through sustainable practices. Due to the expansion of the country's economy, global companies are showing interest in investing here," he said. The minister said this while addressing a "Key and Special Address Session" at a two-day "Fourth Bangladesh International Trade Summit-2024" at a hotel in the city, said a press release. Knowledge Sharing Company 'BigMint' organised the event. Humayun said the two-day international trade summit will bring together key stakeholders of the steel, cement and power sectors, including industry leaders, policymakers, traders and investors. "Moreover, it will create a platform to open up new horizons of cooperation in these sectors," he added. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

BB trashes reserve heist report as ‘absolute fake’

DHAKA, Bangladesh Bank (BB) has rejected a report published by an Indian news outlet regarding a "new reserve heist" in Bangladesh, stating that it is "absolute fake news". "An Indian newspaper runs news on a new reserve heist of Bangladesh. This is for information to all that it's an absolute fake news. We have a three tier confirmation policy with the Fed (the Federal Reserve Board of the US) now and have regular reconciliation of transactions," BB Executive Director and Spokesperson Md Mezbaul Haque said in a statement issued today. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Govt working to simplify businesses for small traders: Titu

DHAKA, State Minister for Commerce Ahasanul Islam Titu today said the government has taken necessary measures so that the small traders and businessmen can do their businesses easily. "The government is working to simplify further the process so that small traders can do business easily. It's our duty to make any business venture successful and established. The government is also working to create market access opportunities to the businessmen," he said. The State Minister said this while addressing as the chief guest at a seminar titled: "Business Related Barriers and Possible Way Out" held at the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) in the capital's Motijheel area. The seminar was jointly organised by the country's apex trade body, civil society think tank Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and German development agency GIZ. Putting special importance on building industry and investment-friendly environment in the country to build a prosperous and developed nati on by 2041, Ahasanul said the Ministry of Commerce would work in an integrated manner with all the concerned stakeholders including FBCCI, research and development organisations and academicians in this regard. He said the entrepreneurs had not dare to take risks, the rapid industrial development could not take place in Bangladesh. The State Minister also emphasized on business process re-engineering to meet the future challenges including LDC graduation and fourth industrial revolution. In his speech at the seminar, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Executive Chairman Lokman Hossain Miah said the BIDA has been working sincerely to ensure a business-friendly environment in the country. "Currently, the businessmen are now getting more than 150 services of 38 agencies under one umbrella through one stop service of BIDA," he added. FBCCI President Mahbubul Alam said there is an opportunity for Bangladesh to expand trade as being a hub in South Asia and the ASEAN countries. "The m arket size in Bangladesh is not limited to some 170 million people. Considering the market size of Myanmar and North Eastern states of India, the market size of Bangladesh will exceed with a population of 200 million." he added. The FBCCI president also called for removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers in international trade, taking licenses for establishment of domestic businesses and further expansion, removing HS code related complexities related to tax and unloading of goods. Speaking as a guest of honor at the seminar, Deputy Head of Mission of German Embassy in Dhaka Jan Janowski highlighted the opportunities and possibilities for investors in Bangladesh and expressed the hope that more investment would come here. While presenting the key-note paper, Research Director of CPD Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem advocated for reducing the complexities and lengthiness in getting certificates for starting businesses. He called for taking initiatives to issue certificates for a three to five- year period to remove the complexities in renewing the certificates every year. Dr Moazzem also emphasized on digitizing the licensing process entirely to reduce harassment of the entrepreneurs. Former Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, former member of Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission Dr. Mostafa Abid Khan and PRAN-RFL Group Chairman and CEO Ahsan Khan Chowdhury spoke as panel discussants. The speakers in the seminar pointed out the challenges on regulatory barriers to business, import registration certificate (IRC), Employee Retention Credit (ERC) etc. processes and thus called for resolving those. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Swedish delegation attending EU-Nepal Business Forum

Kathmandu: Ambassador of Sweden to Nepal, Jan Thesleff, is visiting Kathmandu from May 14 to 17 together with representatives from Swedish businesses and government officials from the Swedish Energy Agency. During his visit, Ambassador Thesleff will participate in the second edition of the EU-Nepal Business Forum taking place on May 15-16, and meet with the ministers, including Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha. The business delegation includes companies as Hexagon, Hitachi Energy and Saab. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Sweden and Nepal in June 1960, the bilateral relations have prospered to a strong partnership founded on mutual respect, understanding and friendship over the decades, according to a press release issued by the Swedish Embassy in New Delhi. The countries have an ongoing cooperation on climate change and matters related to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. 'By participating in the EU-Nepal Business Forum, Sweden aims to further increase trade between o ur two nations and explore potential business opportunities involving Swedish and Nepalese companies," Ambassador Thesleff said, expressing hope that the bilateral cooperation with Nepal would be strengthened on climate action and the advancement of the sustainable development goals. Source: National News Agency RSS

Hearing on Cricketer Lamichhane’s case to continue tomorrow

Kathmandu: Hearing on the appeal, filed by cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane against the decision of the District Court to find him guilty of rape, will continue in Patan High Court tomorrow. Arguments by both the sides concluded today before the bench of Judge Sudarshandev Bhatt and Anju Upreti. However, the hearing was not completed and it will continue on Wednesday. The District Court of Kathmandu convicted Lamichhane of rape and sentenced him to eight years in prison along with a fine. Source: National News Agency RSS

Integrated rescue and response system in the offing

Kathmandu: The government is to introduce an integrated emergency rescue and response system by strengthening technical capacity of the mechanisms and equipment mobilized in disaster response. Furthermore, risk reduction tasks will be mainstreamed sectorally in order to mitigate direct economic and social loss caused by natural disasters. According to the government's policy and programmes for the upcoming fiscal year, capacity and participation of citizens in disaster management, including controlling of fire, wildfire, and flood and landslides, will be augmented. "Arrangements will be made to mobilize advanced equipment including helicopter, fire brigade, etc. to minimise the loss of lives and properties caused by disasters." Meanwhile, early warning system will be made reliable for the management of water and weather-induced disasters including floods, storms, and lightning. Weather forecast and early warning system will be extended over tourist trails. The government shall also accord high priority to reconstruction and rehabilitation of disaster-affected structures. Retrofitting, reconstruction and rehabilitation works of private residences and public structures damaged by earthquake with epicentres at Jajarkot, Bajhang, and Doti will be completed soon. Source: National News Agency RSS

‘Madhav Kumar Nepal in Communist Movement of Nepal’ launched

Kathmandu: A book entitled 'Madhav Kumar Nepal in the Communist Movement of Nepal' has been launched today. The book, authored by Parmananda Bhatta, has incorporated several issues, including formative struggle and organizational leadership, CPN (UML)'s minority government, party cleansing campaign, peace process and republic and realization of the need of Madhav Nepal. Launching the book at a programme today, former President Dr Ram Baran Yadav said the role played by former Prime Minister Nepal for the peace process and democratic constitution-making process would be ever remembered. He further said the book would provide knowledge to the citizens of different generations about political evolution in the country. The former President said Nepal has been established as a simple, virtuous and honest statesman with comprehensive understanding of the country. Also speaking on the occasion, CPN (Unified Socialist) chair and former PM Nepal said the book having historical anecdotes would remain as a crucial document. He commented that the feedbacks of the readers would be taken as a source of inspiration for future. Leader Nepal said another book with historical facts and truths is also under preparation. Source: National News Agency RSS

Mixed response to policy and programmes

Kathmandu: Leaders of various political parties have given mixed reaction to the policy and programs of the government for the coming financial year. President Ramchandra Paudel tabled the policy and programmes at the joint sitting of the Federal Parliament earlier today. The parliamentarians of the ruling party have defended the program calling it positive and transformative, while the leaders of the opposition party call it conventional and not so promising. CPN (Maoist Center) leader Madhav Sapkota said that the policies and programs are good overall, while emphasizing on its implementation. Stating that self-employment as well as programmes focused on the youth are good, MP Sapkota said the major step now is to introduce the budget according to policies and programs and the will of the government to implement them. Vice-president of Rastriya Swatantra Party, Dr Swarnim Wagley, said that dozens of reforms have been put forward and the possibility of its linkage with the budget has increased. The idea i n the form of the policy and programmes needs to be realised through the budget. CPN (US) leader Rajendra Pandey described that the policy and program as a routine duty held every year. "The policy program is not meant to give enthusiasm to the people and address the current political situation." Meanwhile, leader of the main opposition, NC, Chandra Bhandari said that policies and programs have included similar themes for 34 years of multi-party system in Nepal. "If only 20 percent of the policies and programs are implemented, the country would have taken leaps towards prosperity", he said. Source: National News Agency RSS