Nation this week
Bangladesh's export earnings clocked a record $55.6 billion in the just-concluded 2022-23 fiscal, registering growth of 6.7 percent year-on-year on the back of its thriving apparel sector, according to recent data by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). An impressive spike in June earnings ($5.03 billion), helped push the final figure past the $52.08 billion earned in 2021-22. As ever, almost the entire growth occurred on account of the RMG sector, that raked in just a tick under $47 billion, growing at 10.3% year-on-year, to set a new industry milestone itself.
Apart from RMG though, alarmingly most of the notable export sectors like leather, jute, home textiles, agricultural products, and engineering products saw their export earnings decline. Leather and leather goods stood as the second-highest exporter, despite slipping to $1.22 billion, from $1.24 billion in the last FY. The only other sectors that managed to earn at least $1 billion were home textiles, and jute and jute goods.
The Bangladesh Foreign Exchange Dealers' Association (Bafeda) asked banks not to sell US dollars to importers for more than Tk109 per dollar, alleging some lenders recently violated the rule. Bafeda and Association of Bankers, Bangladesh (ABB), a platform for managing directors of banks in the country, earlier took a decision to sell each US dollar for a maximum of Tk109. Some banks got more than Tk109 for each dollar sold to importers, Bafeda said in the notice.
Banks are allowed to charge a maximum of Tk1 as a spread over the five-day rolling weighted average for buying rate/cost in case of import bill settlements and interbank selling, but not exceeding Tk109 per dollar, Bafeda also said. As per the agreement between the two platforms, banks are allowed to offer remitters a maximum of Tk108.5 per dollar (apart from 2.5% incentive mandated by the government. In case of exports, the maximum rate offered can be Tk107.5 to the dollar.
The Gono Odhikar Parishad removed Reza Kibria from his post as the party's convener, replacing him with party joint convener Rashed Khan. Party office secretary Shakiluzzaman said the decision was taken as two-thirds of the members of the central committee supported the proposal for Kibria's removal. Member secretary Nurul Haque Nur first brought up the subject of Kibria's impeachment at the meeting.
Reza Kibria was not present at the meeting. He has threatened to take legal action against Nur and two others for their 'unlawful' move to impeach him. Hasan Al Mamun, another joint convener of the party, said that in order to remove anyone from the central executive committee, at least 81 members must vote in favour of the removal. Meeting sources told UNB that only 36 central committee members put down their signatures during the vote for his removal. Kibria has said he will continue to run the party as its convener.
The monthly inflation rate in June fell slightly, to 9.74 percent, a 0.20 percent drop from the previous month, according to data released this week by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. The country recorded an inflation rate of 9.94 percent in May, the highest in a decade. Food inflation, affecting mostly the poor, stood at 9.73 percent in June, an increase from 9.24 percent in May, and non-food inflation hit 9.6 percent - down from almost 10 percent the previous month.
According to BBS data, inflation was 10.1 percent in March 2012 and fell to 9.93% the next month. Since then, inflation has never surpassed double digits. A 9.74 percent inflation rate means that a person who purchased goods worth Tk100 in May 2022 would have to spend Tk107.74 in May of the current year to buy the same product. The upward trajectory in prices poses a substantial challenge to Bangladesh's economy in the days ahead.
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