Awami League-nominated chairman candidates, including 28 unopposed contenders won in 148 Union Parishads (UP) out of 204 that went to election on Monday (June 21). Besides, 49 independent chairman contenders, three chairman contesters each from Jatiya Party (Ershad) and Jatiya Party-JP (Manju) and one from Islami Andolan Bangladesh were elected in the remaining UPs, according to the factsheet of the Election Commission (EC). Another major political party BNP did not participate in the election.

The average turnout of the voters was 64.73% in the first phase election to 204 UPs. The highest voter turnout of 82.75% was in Chandradwip UP of Bauphal upazila under Patuakhali district, while the lowest voter turnout of 49.57% was in Binaykathi UP of Jhalokathi Sadar upazila. Most of the independent chairman contenders who got elected are known as Awami League's rebel candidates.

The government is going to import 50,000 tonnes of rice from neighbouring India at Tk 31.91 per kilogram. Earlier in April, it went for purchasing Boro rice from the local market fixing the price of parboiled rice at Tk 40 and sunburnt rice (atap) at Tk 39 per kg. The cabinet committee on government purchase yesterday approved a food department proposal to purchase the 50,000 tonnes of non-basmati rice from Bagadiya Brothers Private for Tk 169.55 crore.

Each tonnes would cost $ 399.90, informed Shamsul Arefin, additional secretary to the cabinet division. As the country's food stock was at an alarmingly low level earlier this year, the government took several steps to both import rice from different countries and make purchases locally. The food stock came down to 4.62 lakh tonnes in April. That month, the government decided to increase stocks through the purchase of 6.5 lakh tonnes of paddy and 11.5 lakh tonnes of rice from the local market while Boro harvests were ongoing.

Bangladesh Bank launched another Tk2,520 crore refinancing fund for the cottage, micro, small, and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) to help recover Covid-19 losses. The fund was created with support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The AIIB signed a deal with the Bangladesh government on 26 February this year to provide this assistance. The fund will be managed by the Bangladesh Bank. Its term is three years and the interest rate will be 4%. The CMSME sector will get loans from the fund as working capital.

The policy on the fund's management, published by the SME and Special Programs Department of the central bank, states that half of the Tk20,000 crore stimulus package announced for the CMSME sector last year will be used for refinancing. If an organisation receives 50% of the required loan from that fund for refinancing, it will get the remaining 50% from the new fund.

The securities regulator has approved a proposal by corporate giants Beximco to issue asset-backed Green-Sukuk bond worth Tk 30 billion for the purpose of business expansion. The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) approved the proposal setting some conditions. Beximco will utilise the fund for expansion of its textile unit and implementing the solar projects of Teesta Solar and Korotoa Solar, two subsidiaries of Beximco Power Company.

A sukuk is an Islamic financial certificate, similar to a bond in Western finance, that complies with Islamic religious law commonly known as Sharia. Of Tk 30 billion, Tk 22.50 billion will be raised through private placements from the existing shareholders and others. The remaining Tk 7.5 billion will be raised through IPO (initial public offering). The tenure of the convertible or redeemable asset-backed green-sukuk will be five years and the offer price of the bond will be Tk 100 per unit. Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) is the trustee of sukuk bond while City Bank Capital Resources and Agrani Equity and Investment are working as issue managers.

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