Private commercial lender Bank Asia plans to acquire the Bangladesh-based operations of foreign lender Bank Alfalah. Karachi-based Bank Alfalah disclosed the information to the Pakistan Stock exchange on April 17. The disclosure said the board of directors of Bank Alfalah Ltd had given approval in-principal for the non-binding indicative offer received from Bank Asia Ltd to acquire the bank's Bangladesh operations, assets and liabilities, subject to compliance with all applicable laws, regulations and obtaining of necessary regulatory approvals.

"We will now seek approval from the State Bank of Pakistan for Bank Asia to commence due diligence on Bank Alfalah, Bangladesh," the bank said in the disclosure. The disclosure came to light as Bangladesh Bank announced that it will focus on five merger or amalgamation proposals it has already received from the banking sector and not accept any other proposals for the time being. The central bank has decided to merge weak banks with strong lenders as a part of its efforts to bring about reforms in the banking sector.

Bangladesh is preparing to introduce drones to detect crop damage caused by extreme weather events or diseases, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said. Around 20 officers of the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) are initially receiving training to learn how to use the state-of-the-art technologies, it said. Malay Choudhury, additional agriculture secretary, and Edimon Ginting, ADB country director for Bangladesh, inaugurated a related workshop on the issue this week.

The DAE and ADB jointly designed the training programme to be conducted from April 17 to 25. "Proper assessment of crop diseases and losses are critical to take appropriate measures to ensure agricultural productivity and food security in the context of growing threats of climate change in Bangladesh," said Ginting. Renowned geospatial experts from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics conducted the training at the workshop.

The probe body formed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has found evidence of corruption and irregularities against Islamic University Vice -Chancellor Professor Shaikh Abdus Salam. The probe body submitted the report to the UGC and the Ministry of Education recently, according to Professor M Abu Taher, head of the investigation committee and a member of the commission.

Abu Taher said that some allegations brought against the Islamic University VC were found true. They also found evidence against him, he said. Based on the probe report, the ministry of education will take further steps against the vice-chancellor, he added. On November 1, 2023, the UGC formed a three-member probe body headed by Professor M Abu Taher to look into the corruption and irregularities allegations brought against the VC. The probe however only started on January 22. Earlier, a total of 14 audio clips containing conversations between the IU VC and different people went viral on social media from February 16 to June 13 last year.

The number of enrolments in the Universal Pension Scheme (UPS) is growing slowly with around 54,000 people having joined the scheme in eight months. Golam Mostofa, member of the National Pension Authority (NPA) and additional secretary of the Ministry of Finance, confirmed this to our sister newsagency UNB on Tuesday (16 April). He said around Tk43.62 cores have been deposited in government funds through participation in four schemes.

Some 598 people have been enrolled under migration scheme 'Probash', 11,105 people to the Progoti, 16,376 people to the 'Surakkha' and 26,580 people to the Samata scheme. Despite attractive return scope after the specific tenure, people are enrolling in very slow space due to a lack of trust in the funds returning, said economists and sector insiders. In this regard, Golam Mustafa said that the NPA is very much conscious of protecting people's deposits. The government cannot take any loan from this fund.

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