Bangladesh eyes mutual benefit from FTA with China: Titu

State Minister for Commerce Ahasanul Islam Titu has said Bangladesh is keen to ensure mutual benefits after signing of free trade agreement (FTA) with China. "We want to move ahead with FTA. There is no doubt about it. We have to make sure that our partnership is mutually beneficial," he said. The state minister was speaking at a seminar titled "China-Bangladesh Free Trade Agreement: A Mutually Beneficial and Win-Win Choice" at the Chinese mission here on Sunday evening. The seminar was organised by the Chinese embassy to Bangladesh in collaboration with Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCCI) and Chinese Enterprises Association in Bangladesh (CEAB). Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Yeo Wen also spoke on the occasion. The state minister said Bangladesh is now considering 26 countries to sign different types of trade agreements, including the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), preferential trade agreement (PTA) and FTA. He said Dhaka's priority is to increase employme nt opportunities and investment through the signing of FTA with China. "Our relationship is getting stronger day by day. The two countries can move forward with a political will for the development of people," he added. He also said Dhaka and Beijing have a look at Bangladesh-China relations in a comprehensive way to overcome any impediment. "We want more trade and more investment with China so that we can grow further," Titu said. The Chinese ambassador said the under discussion free trade agreement (FTA) between Dhaka and Beijing will help reduce inflation in Bangladesh decreasing tariff of goods imported from China as the deal will lead to a decline in import prices. "Overall tariff on goods imported from China to Bangladesh will significantly decrease after the signing of the FTA, leading to a reduction in import prices. This will have an immediate effect on alleviating inflation in Bangladesh," he said. The Chinese envoy said Beijing stands ready to work together with Bangladesh to announce the con clusion of the feasibility study of the China-Bangladesh FTA in the near future. China also strives to officially initiate negotiations within this year, so as to conclude the negotiations before 2026, commencing the building of a bilateral free trade zone, he added. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

General point to point inflation increases slightly to 9.89% in May

The general point to point inflation rate in May has slightly increased to 9.89 percent due to the continuous increase in food inflation. According to the monthly consumer price index released by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the general point to point inflation rate in April was 9.74 percent while it was 9.94 percent in March this year. According to the data of the BBS, the point to point food inflation has slightly increased to 10.76 percent in May, 2024 which was 10.22 percent in April. The BBS data showed that the point to point non-food inflation rate declined slightly to 9.19 percent in May down from 9.34 percent in April. Besides, the general inflation rate at the urban level in May increased to 9.72 percent while it was 9.99 percent at the rural level. At the rural level, the food inflation increased to 10.73 percent in May, up from 10.25 percent in the previous month, while the non-food inflation, however, declined to 9.31 percent in May as against 9.60 percent in April this year. I n urban areas, the food inflation also increased to 10.86 percent in May, up from 10.19 percent in April. The non-food inflation rate, also witnessed a slight increasing trend with 9.03 percent in May which was 9.01 percent in April last. The national wage index rate witnessed a 9.89 percent growth in May with 122.04 points against 9.74 percent growth with 122.30 points in April. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

BEA proposes Tk 11,95,486cr alternate budget

The Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) today proposed a Taka 11,95,486 crore alternate national budget for the next fiscal year (FY25). BEA general secretary Dr Md Ainul Islam proposed this alternate budget at a press conference held at its office. Dr Ainul said this alternate budget has been proposed in a bid to transform 70 to 80 percent majority population of the country into sustainable middle class by 2034. He said if this proposed budget is implemented by the government, disparity will be removed as well as there will be poverty alleviation, ensuring of social security, reduction of inflation and improvement in the foreign currency reserve situation. BEA president Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad and immediate past president Dr Abu Barkat were present among others. The BEA alternate budget proposals highlight that the government would have to explore many newer sources of revenue generation which were unexplored in the past or not utilized as per necessity. These include property tax, ta x on excess profit, tax collection from the recovered laundered money, undisclosed money and imposing tax on the foreign nationals. The association also suggested for putting more emphasis on direct tax rather than indirect tax, keeping the poor, lower middle class and middle class people outside the tax net for the next couple of years. Out of the total alternate budget size of Taka 11,95,486 crore, the BEA proposed for realizing Taka 10,24,767 core as revenue income which is 92.13 percent of the budget size. Out of the deficit budget size of Taka 1,70,719 crore, Taka 95,719 crore will come from the bond market, Taka 25,000 crore from the sales of savings certificates, Taka 50,000 crore from the public and private partnership. There will be no role of local loans and foreign loans in financing the budget. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Bangladesh Bank hands over Nagad Digital Bank PLC’s licence

The Bangladesh Bank has granted the final license to Nagad Digital Bank PLC - paving the way for commencing operations as the country's first full-fledged digital bank. In this way, Bangladesh is going to formally enter the world of digital banking. Mohammad Shahriar Siddiqui, director (BRPD) of Bangladesh Bank, handed over the copy of the digital bank licence to Tanvir A Mishuk, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Nagad Ltd., today at the office of Bangladesh Bank's Governor Abdur Rouf Talukder. Once Nagad Digital Bank PLC is launched, it will function like the same as all scheduled banks do, said a press release. During the handover, Deputy Director of Bangladesh Bank Nurun Nahar, Executive Director (BRPD) Saiful Islam, Additional Director (BRPD) Manirul Islam; and Nagad Ltd.'s Additional Managing Director Mohammad Aminul Haque, Deputy Managing Director Mohammad Anwar Hossain and Chief External Affairs Officer Sheikh Shabab Ahmed were present among others. On 24 October last year, the central bank issued letters of intent to Nagad and another company for digital bank licences. Only Nagad met all the conditions within the stipulated time, leading to its receipt of the first digital bank licence. Earlier, around 500 companies, including Nagad, submitted 52 applications for securing a digital bank licence following the central bank's call for applications through its website. However, based on technical capabilities and other considerations, only two companies were granted letters of intent. Upon receiving the digital bank license, Tanvir A Mishuk, founder and CEO of Nagad Ltd., said, "We have been advocating for a digital bank to transform Bangladesh into a smart economy through cashless transactions. A significant portion of the country's people remains out of financial inclusion, and Nagad Digital Bank will work with them. Getting the license for the country's first digital bank is historic. I extend my greetings to our 9.5 crore customers and everyone involved." Regarding the preparations for launching the digital bank, Tanvir A Mishuk mentioned, "Customers will no longer need to visit banks; instead, banking services will be at their fingertips. We will offer single-digit interest loans without any collateral, introduce micro savings schemes and provide solutions to people's day-to-day transactions. We have completed all preparations and expect to launch this innovative banking service soon." In just five years, Nagad has onboarded 9.5 crore people, showcasing newer innovations and advanced technology in mobile financial services. The company ensures market competition by providing quality services to customers at low costs. Nagad's rapid progress has earned it recognition from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the country's fastest-growing unicorn. As part of its digital banking preparations, Nagad has achieved significant technological advancements and partnered with Silverlake Group, one of the world's leading banking solutions companies. The company is now working on credit rating capabilit ies using artificial intelligence. Now the wait is for the start of digital banking operations. Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha

Strong wind cause damage to banana farming in 2,500 bighas land

The recurring incidents of wind of late have caused huge damage to the banana farming in Chitwan. According to Chitwan Banana Producers' Association chairperson Madhav Prasad Ghimire, the gusty winds occurring in the district for the past couple of days has damaged banana cultivated in 2,500 bighas of land. The erratic incident mostly caused damage to the banana farming in eastern Chitwan, Ghimire informed. "Banana planted in Ratnanagar, Kalika and Khairhani municipalities of eastern Chitwan have suffered heavy damage", he added. Association's general secretary Janak Panta said the damage caused to banana due to the storm is estimated to be around Rs 120 million. The banana farming of 70 commercial farmers have been completely damaged while the banana cultivated by others have been partially damaged, he said. Around 90 per cent of the farmers have insurance for banana farming. He said that although the farmers with insurance will get some amount for the loss, the uninsured farmers will suffer complete l osses. At present, banana is cultivated in 3,500 bighas of land in the district. According to him, 700 farmers have cultivated bananas here, out of which farming by 165 banana farmers have been damaged due to the storm. It will take some time to bring the actual figure of loss and damage, he added. Source: National News Agency RSS

Over 1.8 million people likely to be affected in monsoon this year

Kathmandu: More than 1.8 million people are likely to be affected by the monsoon this year, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA). As per the details released by the NDRRMA on Monday, more than 1.8 million people might be affected in this year's monsoon following the expectation of more rainfall this year. NDRRMA Spokesperson Dr Disan Bhattarai shared that it is estimated that more than 1.8 million people of 412,000 households would be affected in different ways during the monsoon. A situation might surface where 83,000 families would be directly affected and 18,000 households need to be rescued and provided with relief. It was estimated that 1.2 million people would be affected last year while more than two million people were affected. The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology has already forecast that there is possibility of 35-55 per cent more rainfall than average rainfall this year. Dr Bhattarai mentioned that all the responsible agencies have already been directed to carry out necessary preparations considering higher risk this time. The preparedness work is being done in accordance with the monsoon preparedness and response national action plan developed by the Home Ministry. Source: National News Agency RSS

President Paudel extends best wishes to Nepali cricket team in US

Kathmandu: President Ramchandra Paudel has wished the Nepali cricket team, currently in the US to compete in the ICC Men's T-20 Cricket World Cup 2024, all the best while urging the team members to play with high morale. In a telephone conversation with members of the delegation of the Nepali National Cricket Team on Monday, the President said that the entire country was backing up their national cricket team and expressed confidence the team would achieve success by entering the field with a high morale. He also expressed his belief that Nepalis will be watching the matches involving Nepal wherever they are in the world, thereby boosting the spirit of the Nepali team. The ICC Men's T-20 World Cup cricket tournament jointly organized by the US and West Indies has started from June 1. Nepal is playing its inaugural match against the Netherlands on June 4, starting 9:15 pm Nepali Standard Time. Source: National News Agency RSS

Case of corruption filed against Godavari ex-mayor and deputy

Kathmandu: The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority has filed a case of corruption against nine individuals including the then Mayor Gajendra Maharjan and Deputy Mayor Muna Adhikari of Lalitpur's Godavari Municipality. In the case registered at the Special Court on Monday, the accused has been charged of indulging in corruption by leaking revenue. The CIAA investigation has shown that the municipality acted against the law in the fiscal year 2079/80 when inviting tenders and reaching contracts for mining of construction minerals from the local rivers. The CIAA has charged then mayor Maharjan of committing corruption worth Rs 266 million, along with the Deputy Mayor Adhikari. Also named in the chargesheet include the then chief administrative officer of the municipality Prabin Koirala, head of revenue branch Srikanth Ghimire, Karma Construction and its owner Ravi Maharjan, owner of Nirkar Dhunga Roda Udyog Madhusudan Dotel, owner of Machindranath Multipurpose Kedarnath Timalsena, owner of Easy Roda Udyog Shashiraj Shahi and Birendra Maharjan, said said Assistant Spokesperson of the CIAA, Devi Prasad Thapaliya. Source: National News Agency RSS

Discussions continue on budget in NA

Kathmandu: General discussions on the budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2024/025 continued in the National Assembly (NA) meeting on Monday as well. The lawmakers have suggested that the government should give emphasis on the implementation of the budget adding that the budget has incorporated the concerns of the private sector, agriculture, tourism, health care and education. Taking part in the discussions, CPN (Maoist Centre) lawmaker Bishnu Bahadur Bishwakarma appreciated the budget saying it has unveiled good programmes to make the country self-reliant on agriculture. Sumitra BC of CPN (UML) said though the budget was good, it was not that futuristic to create employment within the country and retain the youth at home. However, Nepali Congress lawmaker Bishnu Devi Pudasaini argued that the budget has projects to retain the youths within the country and run the industries to create new employment opportunities. Sonam Galzen Sherpa of CPN (UML) said the budget has envisioned the strengthening of federa lism and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Likewise, Gomadevi Timalsina of CPN (Unified Socialist) expressed her reservations about the provision of sending youths abroad by providing collateral. Taraman Swar of CPN (Maoist Centre) and Madan Kumari Shah of CPN (Unified Socialist) said the budget has incorporated economic, social and cultural sides but failed to create hope in Sudurpaschim Province. Also taking part in the discussion, Nepali Congress lawmaker Yubaraj Sharma stated that the budget lacks sufficient allocation in the tourism sector. CPN (UML) lawmaker Rukmini Koirala and CPN (Maoist Centre) lawmaker Man Rupa Sharma commended the budget saying it was aimed at bringing about reforms in the economy and effectively run the public service and uplift the morale of the private sector. Likewise, Krishna Prasad Adhikari of CPN (Maoist Centre) said the budget has paved a clear roadmap in IT, industry, education, health and all other sectors. Discussions on the budget will continue on Tuesday as well. The next meeting of the NA is to be held at 1:15 pm on Tuesday. Source: National News Agency RSS

Earthquake recorded in Tajegaon in Lamjung

Kathmandu: An earthquake has occurred in Tajegaon of Lamjung district. An earthquake of magnitude 3.7 took place today at 8:38 PM with its epicenter around Tajegaon in Lamjung, said the National Earthquake Measurement and Research Center, Lainchaur. Source: National News Agency RSS

Koshi province govt. unveils policies, programmes

The Koshi Province government has unveiled its policies and programs for coming fiscal year 2024/25. As per the Rule 6 (3) of the Province Assembly Regulation, Chief of Koshi Province, Parashuram Khapung, read out the policies and programmes at the Provincial Assembly on Monday. The policies and programmes talks about adopting a policy for the study and research and use of natural and human resources of the province, implementing province-level plan, budget and programmes along with necessary revision to help in achieving national goals. Reducing the use of plastic, promoting greenery, protecting and promoting water resources of hilly areas, developing Koshi Province as the source of paddy seed and running a soil and fertilizer test mobile camp have been mentioned in the policies and programmes. The Koshi Province government has incorporated different programmes including identifying indigenous crops and expanding areas, continuing production-based grant programmes, promoting crops and livestock insuranc e. The policies and programmes have further incorporated different programmes including increasing production and productivity by providing long-term irrigation facility, rainwater harvesting, taking irrigation facility in hilly areas through lifting system and developing and expanding surface and underground irrigation system in tarai. The Koshi province government has also set a target of encouraging establishment of industries based on local raw materials, making necessary improvement in public procurement regulation, adopting austerity policy and developing information system to control crime. Chief Minister Hikmat Karki tabled a copy of policies and programmes in the PA meeting today itself. The PA meeting passed the proposal of vote of thanks unanimously after Province Chief Khapung released the policies and programmes. Source: National News Agency RSS

Annapurna Day observed with much fanfare

The 74th Annapurna Day was celebrated by organising a variety of programs here today. The Day is celebrated every year on June 3, commemorating the historical day on June 3, 1950, when French climbers Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal reached atop Mt Annapurna for the first time ever. Ambassadors and diplomats from nine different countries joined hands with officers from Nepal Tourism Board, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN) and Nepal Mountaineering Association to celebrate the day. Speaking at a morning procession held to mark the occasion, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha said that the government is identifying and promoting tourist destinations with the goal of developing Nepal as a tourist hub. Chief of Gandaki Province, Surendra Raj Pandey said that Maurice Herzog's first ascent to Annapurna helped establish Nepal as a mountaineering and adventure destination. On the occasion, Deputy Prime Minister Shrestha also unveiled th e statue of Maurice Herzog, which will be kept at the Annapurna base camp located in Annapurna rural municipality-4 of Myagdi district. Source: National News Agency RSS