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Investment Institutions (Sovereign Wealth Fund/Pension Fund/Superannuation Fund/Social Security Net/Infrastructure Fund) of Bangladesh and her policy 2021


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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/views/views/using-social-protection-as-a-tool-for-employment-generation-1630423280

Using social protection as a tool for employment generation

 Sayema Haque Bidisha | Published:  August 31, 2021 21:21:21

In a broad stroke, the course of action for an effective social protection plan entails first identifying the problems, then bringing transparency to implementation and developing long-term plans for creating employment, and finally, and most crucially, thinking outside the pre-existing notions of social protection to adapt to ever-changing challenges.

Many essential aspects are not properly taken into account in the current National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) of Bangladesh- inflation adjustment and increasing per capita allotment which is very important during a nationwide pandemic crisis. Instead of over a hundred programmes with lacklustre functioning, what we need right now is a few targeted projects with elaborate planning and strong execution. This approach has proven to be a necessity in ensuring improved livelihoods of grassroots people through social protection programmes.

In the current circumstance and for the future, a viable solution to the NSSS data shortage could be to divide large areas into zones and curate the programmes according to the specific needs of each zone. Zoning will enable us to easily locate the demographic we want to address, such as slum residents, by categorising Dhaka into several zones. Among the 120 programmes of NSSS, only 6/7 programmes are for the urban poor which account for around 1 per cent of the total budget. Zoning is necessary for both urban and rural areas. During the Covid-19 outbreak, those in charge of their zones will have to collaborate with non-governmental organisations until the crisis is under control. Furthermore, local government leaders must be held accountable for maintaining the welfare and food security of the residents of their zones.

Another approach towards strengthening the social security facility is the stimulus packages for the businesses given by the governments. These packages can be a tool to encourage factory owners to donate for the welfare of workers. Therefore, it is necessary to make them obligated by integrating workers' welfare as a condition for availing the stimulus package. If businesses wish to profit from the stimulus package funding, they must take certain steps to protect workers' interests. Enacting such rules may help to normalise a decent working environment and ease the hardships that our workers endure on a daily basis.

Moreover, it is currently imperative to develop specific stimulus packages based on various professions and sectors. Despite the lack of available data, we will have to make the best use of whatever information we have. A potential source of information can be unions and organisations of different professions such as shop owners' associations. They will have an idea about who was adversely affected and lost their businesses in the pandemic.

Aside from allocating stimulus packages, it is equally important to establish a separate monitoring and evaluation system to ensure their effectiveness. We need to assess who received the packages and who did not, how helpful it was for them, and the performance of everyone involved in the distribution every three months or so. The programmes can reach their full potential only if transparency is ensured by holding everyone involved accountable.

The sustainability of the social protection programme is defined by how successful it is in terms of creating employment in the long run. We must consider facilitating small capital for the affected persons in addition to food and cash assistance.  Forming small cooperatives of 4-5 women to obtain fund to work on small businesses, such as grocery stores, could be implemented as one of the innovative financial support methods. Our main goal is to create employment for people who lost their job in the pandemic, for which we will have to find who lost their job and create separate schemes for rural and urban areas. In the recent stimulus package announcement creating employment in villages through Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) was mentioned. Similar programmes should be undertaken for vulnerable urban populations such as women living in slums.

Unemployment benefit is a phenomenon that is often talked about but never implemented. However, given the new wave of Covid-19 cases, some unemployment benefits should be distributed in the coming months even if it is of a small amount. As we can see from the recent stimulus packages, the government has some information about unemployed people. This existing data can be used to introduce an unemployment benefit plan and later we can think about how it can be extended.

The ultimate aim of our social protection programmes should be to eventually direct it towards being employment creation programmes. We need to give unemployed people the tools they need to create their own work. We need more skill training programmes for rural youth but it will not be enough.

We will also have to create job hotspots there to promote decentralisation. This is necessary for decreasing the pressure in big cities. If a young farmer in Rajshahi produces mangoes he needs more business linkage within the district to sell his products there. The regional social protection programmes have to initiate diversification by creating more small non-farm businesses. Similarly in the urban areas, we have to focus on creating a connection between the demand and the supply side to avoid a mismatch of skills. Youths of all educational levels must be trained in marketable skills. The ministry of youth has to expand its activities and provide technological skill-based training to all young job seekers.

By now it is evident to us that the only way for recovering from the economic crisis set by Covid-19 is a strong social protection programme. And in order to finance these programmes, we have to plug the leakages. The extremely slow growth of the Annual Development Programme and mega projects could be diverted towards social protection. We have a scope of introducing some form of Covid tax or progressive tax because persons on fixed incomes were not as affected as low-income people, further widening the chasm of inequality. The key to recovery is out there, but it calls for our dedicated and transparent initiative. 

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https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Bangladesh-to-pour-2-billion-of-reserves-into-infrastructure-fund

ECONOMY

Bangladesh to pour $2 billion of reserves into infrastructure fund

Critics question whether money will serve public needs or political whims

A.Z.M. ANAS, Contributing writerMarch 2, 2017 10:00 JST

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Cabling work for Bangladesh's first subway system is underway in Dhaka. (Photo by A.Z.M. Anas)

DHAKA Bangladesh is moving to put $2 billion from its foreign reserves into a new sovereign wealth fund to finance infrastructure development, but experts fear political maneuvering may soak up public resources.

The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has endorsed a blueprint for the South Asian nation's first sovereign wealth fund to be seeded with $2 billion, and officials hope the fund will launch as early as July. Bangladesh has more than $32 billion in foreign reserves and has been considering a sovereign fund since 2015.

"It's a small amount of money. Yet we'll get a fund of our own," Mahbub Ahmed, a senior secretary at the Finance Ministry, told the Nikkei Asian Review.

If established, the sovereign fund will take minority stakes in public-private partnership infrastructure projects in foreign currencies, dwarfing the state-owned Bangladesh Infrastructure Finance Fund, which has a capital base of roughly 25 billion taka ($313 million). The move comes after a string of aborted attempts in recent years to establish funds of $500 million to $5 billion by issuing sovereign bonds.

A legal framework is being worked out, and officials said the fund, which is to be allocated $2 billion annually for five years, would be administered by professional managers capable of handling large infrastructure financing and project risk. Some observers expect that the legal framework will open the way for the involvement of major global investment banks and similar companies as advisers or consultants.

While the mandates for the sovereign fund and BIFF overlap, Ahmed noted that the existing fund invests using the taka, the local currency. BIFF has invested the equivalent of $146 million in PPP projects since its establishment in 2011, according to its own figures.

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Construction work continues on the subway in Dhaka. (Photo by A.Z.M. Anas)

Public investment in infrastructure is equal to less than 2% of Bangladesh's gross domestic product -- a proportion that the World Bank has said should be raised to 10% a year to attain the 7.5% to 8% GDP growth rate needed for the country to become a middle-income nation by 2021.

Bangladesh's economy grew by 7.1% in the financial year ended June 30. To close the infrastructure gap, the government's seventh "Five-Year Plan" through 2020 estimates that the country needs to invest as much as $410 billion, twice the size of its GDP.

BETTER RETURNS Officials championing the new fund said it would offer stable and flexible sources of financial firepower locally, and ensure better yields on the foreign reserves. Returns on Treasury notes and bonds have dived below 1% since the global economic crisis, but the fund can earn higher returns -- 4% or more -- from lending to private infrastructure projects. At the same time, Bangladesh is borrowing in foreign currencies from China and other countries at a cost of 3% to 4%.

"The idea is to build reserves in good times and invest those in growth-promoting and revenue-earning projects for the future," said A. R. M. Nazmus Sakib, another secretary at the finance ministry, who is closely involved in the process. "The beauty is we can earn interest income while lending at cheaper interest rates."

S. M. Formanul Islam, executive director and CEO of BIFF, agreed that sovereign wealth funds are "ideal" in countries like Bangladesh, where commercial banks are less interested in long-term projects while funding from donors is not reliable. "The need is real given the development route Bangladesh is heading down. Otherwise, there is no other source to finance long-term projects," Islam said.

Past projects have stalled when lenders pulled out unexpectedly. One example is the construction of the $3 billion Padma Bridge. In 2012, the World Bank cut its $1.2 billion credit line after allegations of corruption involving a consultancy contract surfaced. The Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Asian Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank also withdrew committed funds, leaving China to step in in 2014 to help Bangladesh build its longest bridge.

Nonetheless, Islam believes there is no need to set up a separate vehicle and that the government should instead lend greater support to BIFF. He said the creation of a new agency for a similar purpose would send the wrong message to the market. Instead, he said, the government could explore other options such as lending to BIFF on more favorable terms or injecting fresh equity to boost its capital base.

Other experts are also worried about the establishment and monitoring of the new agency. Ahsan H. Mansur, executive director at the Policy Research Institute, a Dhaka think tank, said: "Governance is very important ... oversight functions are also important." Mansur headed the Middle East division at the International Monetary Fund for five years until 2007.

Managing the fund will be the most difficult part, said Salehuddin Ahmed, a former central bank governor, referring to the need to deflect political influence. Ahmed, who now teaches at BRAC University in Dhaka, is also opposed to wholesale transfers from foreign-exchange reserves, saying that authorities must draw no more than the $10 billion planned over five years.

Mustafa K. Mujeri, a former chief economist of the Bangladesh Bank, echoed the same view: "We shouldn't waste reserves," he said. Mujeri, now executive director at the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development, a private think tank in Dhaka, also warned that investments in low-productivity sectors would make returns "risky."

"This fund should be utilized in a way that serves the purpose for which it has been formed. Otherwise, this will lead to enhanced country risk," he said, adding that Bangladesh could face a downgrade of its sovereign credit rating.

Such fears were dismissed by Shitangshu Kumar Sur Chowdhury, a deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, who said that the cabinet would not have approved the fund's formation if there were to be any adverse impact on the country's reserves.

Chowdhury led a seven-member committee formed in 2015 that submitted a report to the government in December, recommending the establishment of the sovereign fund.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/global/over-40b-people-still-lack-any-social-protection-ilo-report-finds-1630499329

Over 4.0b people still lack any social protection, ILO report finds

 FE ONLINE DESK | Published:  September 01, 2021 18:28:49 | Updated:  September 01, 2021 20:43:42

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Despite the unprecedented expansion of social protection during the COVID-19 crisis, more than 4.0 billion people around the world remain entirely unprotected, a new International Labour Organization (ILO) report says.

The United Nations agency gave the information in a report, titled World Social Protection Report 2020-22: Social protection at the crossroads – in pursuit of a better future, ILO News said on Wednesday.

It finds that the pandemic response was uneven and insufficient, deepening the gap between countries with high- and low-income levels and failing to afford the much-needed social protection that all human beings deserve.

The report contains a global overview of recent developments in social protection systems, including social protection floors, and covers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It identifies protection gaps and sets out key policy recommendations, including in relation to the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Currently, only 47 per cent of the global population are effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit, while 4.1 billion people (53 per cent) obtain no income security at all from their national social protection system,” ILO News said citing the report.

“There are significant regional inequalities in social protection. Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage, with 84 per cent of people being covered by at least one benefit,” it added.

“The Americas are also above the global average, with 64.3 per cent. Asia and the Pacific (44 per cent), the Arab States (40 per cent) and Africa (17.4 per cent) have marked coverage gaps.”

"Worldwide, the vast majority of children still have no effective social protection coverage – only one in four children (26.4 per cent) receives a social protection benefit.”

“Only 45 per cent of women with newborns worldwide receive a cash maternity benefit. Only one in three persons with severe disabilities (33.5 per cent) worldwide receive a disability benefit. Coverage of unemployment benefits is even lower; only 18.6 per cent of unemployed workers worldwide are effectively covered.”

The ILO News also mentioned that 77.5 per cent of people above retirement age receive some form of old-age pension, major disparities remain across regions, between rural and urban areas, and between women and men.

“Government spending on social protection also varies significantly. On average, countries spend 12.8 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on social protection (excluding health), however, high-income countries spend 16.4 per cent and low-income countries only 1.1 per cent of their GDP on social protection.”

The ILO study says that the financing gap (the additional spending required to ensure at least minimum social protection for all) has increased by approximately 30 per cent since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

“To guarantee at least basic social protection coverage, low-income countries would need to invest an additional US$77.9 billion per year, lower-middle-income countries an additional US$362.9 billion per year and upper-middle-income countries a further US$750.8 billion per year. That’s equivalent to 15.9, 5.1 and 3.1 per cent of their GDP, respectively.”

“There is an enormous push for countries to move to fiscal consolidation, after the massive public expenditure of their crisis response measures, but it would be seriously damaging to cut back on social protection; investment is required here and now,” said Shahra Razavi, Director, ILO Social Protection Department.

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/bangladesh-joins-new-development-bank-as-its-member-1630565737

Bangladesh joins New Development Bank as its member

 FE ONLINE REPORT | Published:  September 02, 2021 12:55:37 | Updated:  September 02, 2021 13:11:25

The New Development Bank (NDB), established by BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in 2015, has approved Bangladesh as a new member.

The NDB Board of Governors took this decision in a meeting held on 20 August 2020, says a press release.

Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal  said, "Membership of Bangladesh to NDB has paved way for a new partnership at a momentous time of 50th anniversary of our independence.”

He said the membership in the NDB is an important step forward in meeting the country’s development vision.

Recalling the Vision 2041 and the goal to achieve the SDGs, the minister expressed deep commitment to  elevate the  status of Bangladesh to the level of developed countries within the next 20 years by improving the economic and social standards.

He highlighted that the Bangladesh economy, which has been moving ahead with tremendous pace for the last one decade, will need substantial amount of external financing required to sustain the development initiatives.

“Membership of NDB will give us a significant channel for that”, he said. 

NDB’s Board of Governors authorised the Bank to conduct formal negotiations with prospective members in late 2020.

After a round of successful negotiations, the NDB  is increasing its global outreach with the announcement of Bangladesh, UAE and Uruguay as the first countries admitted into the Bank.

 “We are delighted to welcome Bangladesh, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, into the NDB.  Bangladesh joining us in the year it celebrates the 50th Anniversary of its Independence is an important milestone,” said Marcos Troyjo, President of NDB.

Bangladesh will have in NDB a new platform to foster cooperation in infrastructure and sustainable development with BRICS and upcoming new members.

Since its establishment six years ago, NDB has approved about 80 projects in all of its member countries, totalling a portfolio of US$ 30 billion.

Projects in areas such as transport, water and sanitation, clean energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure and urban development are within the scope of the Bank.

Accession into NDB has opened a fresh window for Bangladesh to become member of a premier development institution for emerging market economies towards achieving the goal focusing the development agenda of the country, the finance ministry release added.

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https://www.dhakapost.com/national/59727

পুলিশ কল্যাণ তহবিল আইনের খসড়ার নীতিগত অনুমোদন

নিজস্ব প্রতিবেদক

০৬ সেপ্টেম্বর ২০২১, ০৫:০২ পিএম

‘বাংলাদেশ পুলিশ (অধস্তন কর্মচারী) কল্যাণ তহবিল আইন, ২০২১’ এর খসড়ার নীতিগত অনুমোদন দিয়েছে মন্ত্রিসভা।

সোমবার (৬ সেপ্টেম্বর) প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনার সভাপতিত্বে অনুষ্ঠিত মন্ত্রিসভা বৈঠকে এই অনুমোদন দেওয়া হয়। 

গণভবন থেকে প্রধানমন্ত্রী ও সচিবালয়ে মন্ত্রিপরিষদ বিভাগ থেকে মন্ত্রী ও প্রতিমন্ত্রীরা ভিডিও কনফারেন্সের মাধ্যমে বৈঠকে যোগ দেন।

বৈঠক শেষে দুপুরে সচিবালয়ে মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিব খন্দকার আনোয়ারুল ইসলাম প্রেস ব্রিফিংয়ে এই তথ্য জানান। 

তিনি বলেন, আগেই একটা অধ্যাদেশ ছিল। সামরিক শাসনের সময় যে অধ্যাদেশ ছিল, সেগুলো বাদ দিয়ে নতুন আইন করতে হবে। সেজন্য বাংলাদেশ পুলিশ (অধস্তন কর্মচারী) কল্যাণ তহবিল আইন, ২০২১ এর খসড়ার নীতিগত অনুমোদন দেওয়া হয়েছে। 

মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিব বলেন, আমাদের সরকারি কর্মচারী কল্যাণ তহবিল আছে। পুলিশ বা বিভিন্ন ইউনিফর্ম সার্ভিসে দুইটা। পুলিশের হলো দশম গ্রেড থেকে ২০তম গ্রেড পর্যন্ত একটা। আর দশম গ্রেডের ওপরে যেটা সেটা আমাদের সরকারি কর্মচারী আইন দিয়ে চলে। কিন্তু তারা আবার এটার মধ্যে পড়ে না। 

সেজন্য এই আইনটা নিয়ে আসা হয়েছে উল্লেখ করে তিনি বলেন, কল্যাণ ফান্ডটা যাতে পায় বা ব্যবহার করতে পারে। সেক্ষেত্রে মাসিক চাঁদা ৮৫ টাকা অথবা বোর্ড থাকবে। বোর্ড যেটা নির্ধারণ করে দেবে।

মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিব বলেন, এখানে সাব-ইন্সপেক্টর ও তার অধস্তন (নিচের কর্মকর্তা) যারা থাকবে, তারা সবাই অন্তর্ভুক্ত থাকবে। সরকারি কর্মচারী কল্যাণ তহবিলের মতো যে বোর্ড আছে, সেরকম এখানেও একটা বোর্ড থাকবে। আইজি নিজেই সে বোর্ডের চেয়ারম্যান।  

তিনি বলেন, এখানে কিছু কিছু বিষয় আগেই ছিল, এখনও অন্তর্ভুক্ত করা হয়েছে। যদি কেউ মারা যায় সেক্ষেত্রে উত্তরাধিকারীরা কারা এবং কীভাবে পাবে, সেটা মুসলিম পরিবার আইন বা হিন্দু আইনে যেভাবে আছে, সেভাবেই পাবে। 

মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিব বলেন, যদি কোথাও কোনো এক্সট্রা লোকজন থাকে, পরিবারে কীভাবে বাবা, মা, ভাইরা বা নাবালক থাকে ও বোনরা যদি অবিবাহিত থাকে বা বিধবা থাকবে, এসব জিনিস অন্তর্ভুক্ত করে, কারা-কারা পরিবারের মধ্যে অন্তর্ভুক্ত হবেন এ জাতীয়। সবকিছু বিধানে থাকবে। আগেও ছিল, জাস্ট আবার নতুন করে নিয়ে আসা হয়েছে। 

বোর্ডের একটা দায়বদ্ধতা থাকবে জানিয়ে মন্ত্রিপরিষদ সচিব বলেন, যেসব কর্মচারীরা টাকা-পয়সা নেবে, তা খরচ করা ও সময় সময় বেনিফিট দেওয়ার বিষয়ে দায়বদ্ধতা থাকবে বোর্ডের। 

এছাড়া বৈঠকে বাংলাদেশ ও তুরস্কের মধ্যে সম্পাদিত সামরিক প্রশিক্ষণ ও শিক্ষা সহযোগিতা সংক্রান্ত চুক্তির খসড়ার ভূতাপেক্ষ অনুমোদন দেওয়া হয়েছে বলেও জানান তিনি। 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/corporates/australia-provides-over-tk12cr-support-wfp-social-protection-scheme-bangladesh

TBS Report

09 September, 2021, 10:50 am

Last modified: 09 September, 2021, 11:45 am

Australia provides Tk12.6cr to support WFP social protection scheme in Bangladesh

The financial aid worth Tk12.6 crore is aimed at supporting the development and strengthening the urban safety nets in line with the National Social Security Strategy

 

The Australian government has extended its support for the United Nations World Food Programme's (WFP) urban social protection scheme in Bangladesh.

The financial aid worth Tk12.6 crore is aimed at supporting the development and strengthening the urban safety nets in line with the National Social Security Strategy, said a press release.

Moreover, this will be used to develop an effective model for the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs (MoWCA) to scale up the major flagship Mother and Child Benefit Programme (MCBP) and roll out the Vulnerable Women Benefit (VWB) programme next year.

The social protection scheme will support 33,000 vulnerable women and enroll them in relevant government safety nets with the financial support from Australia and technical assistance from WFP.

This will also help MoWCA prioritise system strengthening and the expansion of these programmes to vulnerable urban areas, with the two government programmes aiming to permanently support 600,000 women.

"We are proud to support Bangladesh government in its efforts to reach people living in at-risk, low-income urban areas across the country. Such people are among the worst affected by the Covid-19 crisis," said Jeremy Bruer, Australia's High Commissioner in Bangladesh. 

"We believe WFP's strong partnership with MoWCA and its on-the-ground presence in Dhaka will help us reach the most vulnerable", added the High Commissioner.

"WFP is very grateful to Australia for supporting the expansion of government safety net programmes to urban areas" said Piet Vochten, WFP deputy country director, adding that "Australia has been historically valuable to our operations as they give us flexible funding, allowing us to immediately assist people in need, including refugees".

WFP provides technical assistance to the Government of Bangladesh for its design and delivery of new and existing national social protection systems, programmes and policies. This typically involves inputs to government policy, programme design, system improvement, implementation and evidence generation to promote nutrition-sensitive approaches to food security.

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https://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/first-page/bd-acquires-10pc-stake-of-ndb-1631380982

BD acquires 1.0pc stake of NDB

 FHM HUMAYAN KABIR |  September 12, 2021 00:00:00

Bangladesh finally attains 1.0- per cent share in the Shanghai-based New Development Bank (NDB) as the country has been offered one of three fortunate shareholders after the five founding BRICS nations.

Officials said Saturday -- close on the heels of the China-sponsored bloc's summit -- that Dhaka is now taking preparation to pay its subscription to the NDB, formerly known as BRICS Bank.

Earlier, the Shanghai-based multilateral bank had offered Bangladesh some 0.76-per cent share as a new member after the five founding members -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS).

A senior Ministry of Finance (MoF) official gave the latest developments, saying: "If other United Nations member-countries join the bank, the share of Bangladesh would ultimately reach 0.42 per cent."

Another MoF official said Dhaka will have to pay some $400 million in the next seven years for becoming a shareholder of the bank.

The board of the Shanghai-based multilateral development lender approved membership of three countries -- Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Bangladesh then negotiated with the lender for getting 1.0-percent stake in the newly established BRICS bank.

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal at a meeting with NDB President Omarcos Troyjo in February last sought at least 1.0-percent stake.

Another MoF official said: "We are now working to prepare the 'Instrument of Accession (IoA)' to the NDB. When the NDB will accept our IoA, then Bangladesh will formally be a member of the NDB."

Besides, they are waiting for NDB notice for paying the subscription fees for the regular share and for the callable share, he added.

The bank of the newly emerging economies, including the second-largest world economy, China -- boasts an authorized capital of US$100 billion, which is divided into 2.0 million shares that have a par value of US$100,000 each.

The NDB's founding members made an initial subscription of 500,000 shares totaling US$50 billion, which include 100,000 thousand shares corresponding to a paid-in capital of US$10 billion and 400,000 shares corresponding to a callable capital of US$40 billion.

The initial subscribed capital was equally distributed amongst the founding members of BRICS nations. Membership of the Bank is open to members of the United Nations.

According to the NDB plan, the BRICS countries would offload 49-percent shares among the aspirant countries.

The MoF official said Bangladesh's effort to strengthen the South-South cooperation would also get a boost by joining the Shanghai-based lending agency.

In 2016, Bangladesh joined the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The Beijing-based lender has been financing many projects in Bangladesh in several sectors, such as power, transportation, water supply and sanitation.

After the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, many multilateral and bilateral donors, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, Japan, the Islamic Development Bank, UKAID, and USAID, have provided loans and grants for developing the country's infrastructure and reducing hunger.

In December 2019, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, to join the bank.

As part of its expansion effort, the NDB has finalised its membership policy and begun the process of drafting the new membership rule.

After adopting a policy where any members of the United Nations can apply for the NDB membership, each member-state would be required to nominate two countries in the bank.

The expansion of membership was also raised in the virtual BRICS Summit held in November 2020.

 

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/stock/bangladesh/govt-plans-to-create-tk-85b-revolving-fund-for-capital-market-1634656019

Govt plans to create Tk 8.5b revolving fund for capital market

Published:  October 19, 2021 21:06:59 | Updated:  October 20, 2021 09:01:04

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The government has planned to create a Tk 8.5 billion revolving fund for five years to invest it in the capital market and utilise it during any crisis to keep the market stable.

Sources at the finance ministry said the Bangladesh Security and Exchange Commission (BSEC) sent a proposal to the financial institution division this week, reports UNB.

“The proposal will be placed before the higher authorities for the approval,” said an official adding that the size of the revolving fund will be about Tk 8.5 billion and the term will be five years.

“If there’s any crisis in the capital market, money can be used from this fund. Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) will take care of the fund,” the official said, wishing anonymity.

In 2010, the capital market suffered a setback and went through depression as shares of most of the listed companies suffered record losses in their prices and the capital market took a decade to bounce back.

Small investors lost their capitals and a large number of investors left the market losing huge money.

The government then formed a special fund to help the affected small investors with low-interest loans and special quotas on initial public offerings (IPOs).

After that, the fund remained idle for a long time. Now the fund is going to be converted into a 'revolving fund' to meet the special needs of the capital market, said the market insiders.

 

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https://thefinancialexpress.com.bd/economy/bangladesh/regulation-forthcoming-to-segregate-bangladeshs-tk-500b-life-fund-1639189532

Regulation forthcoming to segregate Bangladesh's Tk 500b life fund

 JASIM UDDIN HAROON | Published:  December 11, 2021 08:25:32 | Updated:  December 11, 2021 20:41:52

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A major move is underway for segregating the country's nearly Tk500 billion worth of life fund in the insurance industry by framing a regulation, so as to secure policyholders' interests from alleged infringements.

People familiar with the matter told the FE that the regulatory move is part of measures for ensuring transparency and accountability in the fund management by way of preventing insider abuse of stakes.

Life fund has contributions from both company sponsors and policyholders. Policyholders usually have the biggest stakes. For this reason life-insurance firms are called by many 'policyholders' company'.

Allegations have it that a section of sponsors of the life insurers take unethical financial benefits from the fund despite the fact that their stake on the fund is only around 10 per cent.

Life-insurance fund means the insurance fund into which the receipts and from which the payments of an insurer in respect of its life-insurance business are paid. This is built on the money given by the policyholders as premiums.

Life-fund investment has set rules made by the authorities concerned. It is usually invested in risk-free financial products like government bonds and even in assets such as real estates.

There are two types of insurance plans in Bangladesh. One is participatory policy system where the insurers share their earnings with the policyholders as 'bonus' annually--for example, individual life-insurance product.

The other is non-participatory where the insurers do not share the interest incomes accrued from fund. Cited for example are group insurance and large-volume individual or health-insurance products where the insurers do not share interest earnings with the policyholders. The premiums usually become lower for non-participatory plans.

The Financial Institutions Division under the Ministry of Finance already met on the matter with the stakeholders last week. Representatives from Bangladesh Insurance Association and Bangladesh Insurance Forum, a platform of insurance firms' CEOs, and the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA) joined the meeting held at the secretariat. Additional secretary at the FID Abdullah Harun Pasha presided.

One who joined the meeting told the FE that this is meant for ensuring transparency and accountability of the fund as the policyholders whose contribution is around 90 per cent in the fund have "no say" on the fund. It is controlled by the management of the respective insurance firm.

He knows many instances of sponsors abusing the funds.

"We believe that, after the enacting of the regulation on the matter, the industry will attain more confidence." He also says there are many challenges in implementing it, but once it is done, it will be a big leap for the industry.

A CEO had once shared with this scribe a bitter experience of fund abuse. The chairman of the life insurer [not mentioned] had forced him to extract a large sum of funds from the life fund during 2007-08.

Bangladesh has now 33 life insurances in operations with two multinationals. They have around 8.9 million clients.

The aggregate size of the life fund is nearly Tk 500 billion. Of it, Tk 360 has mostly been invested in government securities and FDRs.

However, some organisations, including the IDRA, can issue regulations in consultation with the division concerned.

[email protected]

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/pm-speedy-enation-law-introduce-universal-pension-scheme-372247

Abul Kashem

17 February, 2022, 06:45 pm

Last modified: 20 February, 2022, 11:14 am

Universal pension finally takes shape

The scheme with as low as Tk100 monthly deposit will be available from FY23

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The government is finally going to introduce the much-anticipated pension scheme in the private sector from the fiscal 2022-23 after eight years since the welfare initiative came into discussion to ensure financial security for all classes of senior citizens.

Citizens aged between 18 and 60 will be able to enrol in the scheme and pay a fixed monthly fee, as low as Tk100, to the pension fund. The fee can be paid through all online methods, such as mobile financial services and agent banking.

An aspirant pensioner will have to continue regular payments to the fund for at least 10 years after signing up. However, the enrolment in the private sector pension will not be made mandatory, according to a strategy paper on the formulation of a universal pension scheme presented to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday.

Alongside a one-time payment, a senior citizen, after his retirement at 60, will get a pension per month as per his contribution to the fund in their entire lifespan.  If an enrolled pensioner dies, their family members will get pension benefits.

The government will invest the money deposited to the pension fund in treasury bills, bonds and profit-making infrastructure development projects, which will reduce dependence on bank borrowing.

The returns from such investments will be added to the fund. Besides, the government will also contribute to private sector pensions though the percentage has not been determined yet.

Once the pension scheme comes into effect, the government will cut down on its allocation on several social safety programmes, such as old-age allowance, and transfer the amount slashed to the pension fund.

After the universal pension system is in full swing, it will also be extended to those employed in government services. The finance ministry hopes that the pension programme will be fully implemented by 2025.

Those who are currently in government services and those who will join the services before the introduction of the universal pension, will get pensions from the government as before.

The government will decide a timeline from which year the scheme will be effective for those entering government services.

For government employees, the maximum monthly gross pension has more than doubled over the past one decade. On top of this, a 5% increment is being added every year.

Following the death of pensioners and family pensioners, their minor children, unmarried daughters and children with disabilities are getting lifelong pension benefits.

But there are no institutional financial benefits for private sector employees and for their children after their retirement from jobs.

According to the latest Labour Force Survey, the number of employees in the private sector currently stands at 5.85 crore, while the number is 22.89 lakh in the public sector.

Even though a few of those who do formal jobs in the private sector get contributory provident fund and gratuity benefits, those working in the informal sector do not get any retirement benefits.

After 2040, when the current demographic dividend will be over, the number of such elderly people will increase several times.

Bangladesh is still a young country according to the age structure, but it is ageing fast and poised to enter the official stage of an ageing nation by 2030.

According to the eighth Five Year Plan, the number of people aged 60 and above may reach over 40 million in 2050 from only 10 million in 2020. Thus, each of the next three decades may be associated with 10 million additional elderly citizens.

Senior Finance Secretary Abdur Rauf Talukder placed the strategy paper before the prime minister on Thursday.  Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Planning Minister MA Mannan, PM's Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus and other high officials were also present on the occasion.

In the strategy paper, the Finance Division has highlighted the introduction of the universal pension scheme with three main goals. 

They are ensuring the financial security of the working population in old age and thereby keeping their standard of living above the poverty line; increasing the low-income population's savings tendency and ensuring their welfare by bringing them under a sustainable and well-organised social protection zone; and encouraging capital accumulation by consolidating small savings and contributing to the country's economic development by converting it into investment.

According to a press release issued by the finance ministry, the strategy paper has been formulated in the light of the PM's promise to the citizens of the country in her government's election manifesto of introducing a universal pension system. 

The prime minister already directed the Finance Division to take initiative for enactment of a law on an emergency basis to form a universal pension authority, which will work on introducing formal pension benefits for everyone.

According to officials at the Finance Division, as per the strategy paper, the universal pension scheme was supposed to be introduced from FY24, but the Prime Minister's Office directed making it effective from the next fiscal year.

For this, the finance ministry will complete all work on enacting a law and related regulations within the current fiscal year, they noted.

The pension authority will be a completely IT-based institution and will manage the scheme. The PMO will officially announce the pension scheme once the strategy paper is finalised as per the prime minister's instructions.

Seeking anonymity, a Finance Division official told The Business Standard that everyone must use a national identity card to be included in the universal pension programme.

How universal pension scheme made the rounds

In April 2014, the then finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith spoke of introducing a pension system in the private sector for the first time during a pre-budget meeting with representatives of non-government organisations. 

In his budget speech in June that year, he made an announcement in this regard and asked the Financial Institutions Division to finalise the pension scheme.

He reaffirmed his commitment in the following years and announced the launch of a pilot project to introduce a pension scheme for the employees of private banks and corporate organisations in 2018. He also announced introducing a universal pension system from 2021.

But after the first announcement, two years passed because of a dispute over which department of the finance ministry would run the pension programme.

Over the next two years, a team led by an additional secretary of the Finance Division toured various provinces of India and gave a presentation in 2016 on how to launch the programme.

The initiative came to a halt when the head of the team, former additional secretary ARM Nazmus Sakib, was transferred to the Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports in 2017. He went on pre retirement leave (PRL) in 2019.

In 2020, an initiative was taken to prepare the concept paper by employing Nazmus Sakib on an outsourcing arrangement, but that did not happen due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. 

Pointing out that introducing a pension system for the massive workforce of around six crore is a daunting task, the officials at that time said a lot of preparation, including building institutional and technical infrastructure, hiring foreign consultants, had to be done to start work on it.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangla/অর্থনীতি/news-details-93950?fbclid=IwAR3H_WAI9hYpcVa-Ly9ZLDAW2zf_12ZkTGTBY-d6Jv4vj4pyV6LO3g3cFOk

আবুল কাশেম

18 May, 2022, 11:35 am

Last modified: 18 May, 2022, 04:29 pm

আগামী বছরের জুলাই থেকে কার্যকর হচ্ছে সর্বজনীন পেনশন

সরকারি চাকরিজীবী ছাড়া ১৮-৫০ বছর বয়সীরা সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থার আওতাভুক্ত হতে পারবে। প্রত্যেকে ৬০ বছর বয়স পর্যন্ত প্রতি মাসে নির্দিষ্ট হারে চাঁদা পরিশোধ করে ৬০ বছর পর থেকে আজীবন প্রতিমাসে পেনশন পাবেন।

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJrUPL8rCO0

 

আগামী বছরের জুলাই থেকে সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থা চালু করবে সরকার। ২০২৩ সালের জুলাই থেকে ১৮-৫০ বছর বয়সীদের জন্য সর্বজনীন ব্যবস্থা উন্মুক্ত করাসহ ওই বছরের ডিসেম্বরে অনুষ্ঠেয় জাতীয় সংসদ নির্বাচনের আগেই বিপুল সংখ্যক নাগরিকদের এই পেনশন ব্যবস্থার আওতায় আনার পরিকল্পনা করছে অর্থ মন্ত্রণালয়।

অর্থ বিভাগের সংশ্লিষ্ট কর্মকর্তারা জানান, সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থা কার্যকর করতে তারা একটি রোডম্যাপ প্রণয়ন করেছেন। তাতে আগামী মার্চ থেকে সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থার পাইলটিং শুরু করার লক্ষ্য নিয়ে কাজ চলছে।

ইতোমধ্যে সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থা চালু করতে একটি অথরিটি গঠনের আইনের খসড়া তৈরি করে সংশ্লিষ্ট মন্ত্রণালয়গুলোর মতামত সংগ্রহ করেছে অর্থ বিভাগ। সোমবার অর্থ বিভাগের সিনিয়র সচিব আবদুর রউফ তালুকদারের সভাপতিত্বে অনুষ্ঠিত এক আন্তঃমন্ত্রণালয় সভায় খসড়াটি চূড়ান্ত করা হয়েছে।

"চলতি মাসেই আইনের খসড়াটি অনুমোদনের জন্য মন্ত্রিসভায় উপস্থাপন করা হবে। সেখানে অনুমোদন পেলে জাতীয় সংসদের বাজেট অধিবেশনেই এটি বিল আকারে পাস হওয়ার সম্ভাবনা রয়েছে," বলেন অর্থবিভাগের একজন কর্মকর্তা।

বিল পাসের পর দ্রুতগতিতে অথরিটি গঠন করার পরিকল্পনা রয়েছে অর্থমন্ত্রণালয়ের। এর পরপরই জরুরিভাবে দক্ষ ও টেকনিক্যাল লোক নিয়োগ দেওয়া হবে, যারা সর্বজনীন পেনশনের বিভিন্ন ধরনের প্রোডাক্ট তৈরি করবেন।

এই সময়ের মধ্যেই সর্বজনীন পেনশন বিধিমালা প্রণয়ন করা হবে। আগামী ডিসেম্বরের মধ্যে প্রয়োজনীয় জনবল নিয়োগ সম্পন্ন করে জানুয়ারি-ফেব্রুয়ারির মধ্যে পেনশন প্রোডাক্ট তৈরি করা হবে।

মন্ত্রণালয়ের সংশ্লিষ্ট দু'জন কর্মকর্তা নাম প্রকাশ না করার শর্তে দ্য বিজনেস স্ট্যান্ডার্ডকে বলেন, এই মুহূর্তে সরকার দু'টি বিষয়ে সবচেয়ে গুরুত্ব দিচ্ছে, যার একটি ইউক্রেন যুদ্ধের প্রভাব মোকাবেলা করা, অন্যটি আগামী বছরের জুলাই থেকে পূর্ণোদ্যমে সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থা চালু করা।

আগামী নির্বাচনের আগে পুরোদমে এই পেনশন ব্যবস্থা চালুর মাধ্যমে দেশের ভোটারদের কাছে সরকারের জনকল্যাণকর বার্তা ছড়িয়ে দেওয়া হবে বলে উল্লেখ করেন তারা।

আপাতত সরকারি চাকরিজীবী ছাড়া ১৮-৫০ বছর বয়সীরা সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থার আওতাভূক্ত হতে পারবে। প্রত্যেকে ৬০ বছর বয়স পর্যন্ত প্রতি মাসে নির্দিষ্ট হারে চাঁদা পরিশোধ করে ৬০ বছর পর থেকে আজীবন প্রতিমাসে পেনশন পাবেন।

সোমবার অর্থসচিবের সভাপতিত্বে অনুষ্ঠিত আন্তঃমন্ত্রণালয় সভায় বিভিন্ন মন্ত্রণালয় থেকে বেশকিছু প্রশ্ন উত্থাপিত হয়েছে, যার সমাধান আইনে নেই। যেমন- একজন কর্মকর্তা অর্থসচিবের কাছে জানতে চান, ১৮ বছর বয়সে কোনো নাগরিক সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থায় অন্তর্ভূক্ত হওয়ার পর ২৪ বছর বয়সে ওই নাগরিক সরকারি চাকরিতে যোগদান করে, তাহলে তার পেনশন ব্যবস্থা কেমন হবে?

তিনি কি বিদ্যমান সরকারি পেনশন ব্যবস্থার অন্তর্ভূক্ত হবেন, নাকি সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থার আওতায়ই থাকবেন? আর তিনি সরকারি পেনশন ব্যবস্থার অন্তর্ভূক্ত হলে সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থার আওতায় যে ৬ বছর চাঁদা দিলেন, তার কী হবে?

"বিষয়টি এভাবে আমরা ভেবে দেখিনি। আশা করছি, সর্বজনীন পেনশন বিধিমালায় এসব বিষয় পরিস্কার করা হবে," সভায় জানান অর্থ সচিব।

খসড়া আইনে প্রবাসী বাংলাদেশিদেরও সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থায় অন্তর্ভূক্ত রাখার কথা বলা হয়েছে। এ ব্যবস্থার আওতায় মাসিক ও ত্রৈমাসিক ভিত্তিতে চাঁদা দেওয়া যাবে এবং অগ্রিম ও কিস্তিতেও চাঁদা জমা দেওয়ার সুযোগ রাখা হয়েছে।

জাতীয় পরিচয়পত্রকে ভিত্তি ধরে ১৮ থেকে ৫০ বছর বয়সী সকল বাংলাদেশি সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থায় অন্তর্ভুক্ত হতে পারবেন।

এই ব্যবস্থায় অন্তর্ভুক্তির পর চাঁদাদাতা ধারাবাহিকভাবে কমপক্ষে ১০ বছর চাঁদা দিয়ে মাসিক পেনশন পাওয়ার যোগ্যতা অর্জন করবে এবং চাঁদাদাতার বয়স ৬০ বছর পূর্তিতে পেনশন তহবিলে পুঞ্জিভূত মুনাফাসহ জমার বিপরীতে পেনশন দেওয়া হবে।

৬০ বছর বয়স থেকে পেনশনারগন আজীবন, অর্থাৎ মৃত্যুর পূর্ব পর্যন্ত পেনশন সুবিধা ভোগ করবেন। তবে পেনশনে থাকাকালীন অবস্থায় বয়স ৭৫ বছর হওয়ার আগে মৃত্যুবরণ করলে পেনশনারের নমিনি বাকি সময়কালের (মূল পেনশনারের বয়স ৭৫ বছর পর্যন্ত) মাসিক পেনশন পাবেন।

এছাড়া, কেউ সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থায় অন্তর্ভুক্ত হওয়ার পর কমপক্ষে ১০ বছর চাঁদা পরিশোধ করার আগেই মুত্যুবরণ করলে, জমা করা অর্থ মুনাফাসহ তার নমিনিকে ফেরত দেওয়া হবে।

পেনশন তহবিলে জমা করা অর্থ কোনো পর্যায়েই এককালীন উত্তোলনের সুযোগ থাকবে না। তবে চাঁদাদাতা তার জমা করা অর্থের সর্বোচ্চ ৫০ শতাংশ ঋণ হিসেবে উত্তোলন করতে পারবে, যা ধার্যকৃত ফিসহ পরিশোধ করতে হবে। ফিসহ পরিশোধ করা পুরো অর্থ চাঁদাদাতার নিজ একাউন্টেই জমা হবে।

পেনশনের জন্য নির্ধারিত চাঁদা বিনিয়োগ হিসেবে গণ্য করে কর রেয়াত দেবে সরকার। মাসিক পেনশন হিসেবে পেনশনার যে টাকা পাবে, তাও আয়করমুক্ত থাকবে।

নিম্ন আয়সীমার নিচের নাগরিকদের অথবা দুঃস্থ চাঁদাদাতার ক্ষেত্রে, পেনশন তহবিলে মাসিক চাঁদার একটি অংশ সরকার অনুদান হিসেবে দিতে পারবে। এ বিষয়ে সরকার সময় সময় প্রজ্ঞাপন জারি করতে পারবে।

প্রতিটি চাঁদাদাতার জন্য একটি পৃথক ও স্বতন্ত্র পেনশন হিসাব থাকবে। চাকরিরত চাঁদাদাতারা চাকরি পরিবর্তন করলেও, নতুন কর্মস্থলের বিপরীতে আগের হিসাব স্থানান্তর হবে। নতুন প্রতিষ্ঠানে যোগদান নতুন হিসাব খোলার দরকার হবে না।

খসড়া আইনে অর্থমন্ত্রীকে চেয়ারম্যান করে ১৫ সদস্যের একটি গভর্নিং বোর্ড গঠনের কথা বলা হয়েছে, যেখানে বাংলাদেশ ব্যাংকের গভর্নরসহ সংশ্লিষ্ট মন্ত্রণালয় ও বিভাগের সচিবদের রাখার কথা বলা হয়েছে।

গভর্নিং বোর্ড পেনশন তহবিলের অর্থ সরকারি সিকিউরিটি, কম ঝূঁকিপূর্ণ অন্যান্য সিকিউরিটিজ, লাভজনক অবকাঠামোখাতে বিনিয়োগের জন্য নির্ধারিত গাইডলাইন অনুমোদন এবং কর্তৃপক্ষকে প্রয়োজনীয় পরামর্শ ও দিক-নির্দেশনা দেবে।

২০১৪ সালের এপ্রিলে, তৎকালীন অর্থমন্ত্রী আবুল মাল আবদুল মুহিত বেসরকারি সংস্থার প্রতিনিধিদের সাথে প্রাক-বাজেট বৈঠকে প্রথমবারের মতো বেসরকারি খাতে পেনশন ব্যবস্থা চালু করার কথা বলেন।
সে বছর জুনে তার বাজেট বক্তৃতায় তিনি এ বিষয়ে একটি ঘোষণা দেন এবং আর্থিক প্রতিষ্ঠান বিভাগকে পেনশন প্রকল্প চূড়ান্ত করতে বলেন।

তিনি পরবর্তী বছরগুলোতে তার প্রতিশ্রুতি পুনর্ব্যক্ত করেন এবং ২০১৮ সালে বেসরকারি ব্যাংক এবং কর্পোরেট সংস্থাগুলোর কর্মচারীদের জন্য পেনশন স্কিম চালু করার লক্ষ্যে একটি পাইলট প্রকল্প চালু করার ঘোষণা দেন। 

২০২১ থেকে একটি সর্বজনীন পেনশন ব্যবস্থা চালুর ঘোষণাও দেন তিনি।

কিন্তু প্রথম ঘোষণার পর অর্থ মন্ত্রণালয়ের কোন বিভাগ পেনশন কার্যক্রম পরিচালনা করবে তা নিয়ে বিরোধের কারণে দুই বছর কেটে যায়।

পরের দুই বছরে অর্থ বিভাগের একজন অতিরিক্ত সচিবের নেতৃত্বে একটি দল ভারতের বিভিন্ন প্রদেশ সফর করেন এবং কিভাবে প্রোগ্রামটি চালু করতে হয় সে সম্পর্কে ২০১৬ সালে একটি উপস্থাপনা দেন। 

কিন্তু, দলের প্রধান সাবেক অতিরিক্ত সচিব এআরএম নাজমুস সাকিবকে ২০১৭ সালে আমদানি ও রপ্তানি নিয়ন্ত্রকের অফিসে বদলি করা হলে উদ্যোগটি বন্ধ হয়ে যায়।

২০১৯ সালে অবসরকালীন ছুটিতে (পিআরএল) চলে যান তিনি। 

২০২০ সালে নাজমুস সাকিবকে একটি আউটসোর্সিং ব্যবস্থায় নিয়োগ দিয়ে ধারণাপত্র প্রস্তুত করার একটি উদ্যোগ নেওয়া হয়। কিন্তু, করোনা মহামারির কারণে তা আর সম্ভব হয়নি।

প্রায় ছয় কোটির বিশাল জনবলের জন্য পেনশন ব্যবস্থা চালু করা একটি দুঃসাধ্য কাজ বলে উল্লেখ করে কর্মকর্তারা তখন বলেছিলেন, প্রাতিষ্ঠানিক ও প্রযুক্তিগত অবকাঠামো নির্মাণ, বিদেশী পরামর্শদাতা নিয়োগসহ কাজ শুরু করতে অনেক প্রস্তুতি নিতে হবে। 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/banking/govt-borrows-51-target-thru-savings-certificate-sales-9-months-428518

Sakhawat Prince

28 May, 2022, 01:15 pm

Last modified: 28 May, 2022, 03:56 pm

Govt borrows 51% of target thru’ savings certificate sales in 9 months

 

Highlights:

  • Govt borrowed Tk16,504 crore in July-March
  • The annual target amounts to Tk32,000 crore
  • Borrowing from sales of savings instruments dropped for slow ADP spending 
  • Interest rate reduction also has had impact on sales 
  • Interest rates on all kinds of savings certificates cut by 1-2%

 

The government borrowed only 51% of its target through sales of national savings certificates in the first nine months of FY22, because of higher interest rates and slow spending on projects under the annual development programme.

Till March this fiscal year, it accumulated Tk16,504 crore from selling savings tools against its annual borrowing target of Tk32,000 crore for deficit financing.

According to sources, the government's net debt in the form of savings tools amounted to Tk3,628 crore in August of the current fiscal year. In just a month, this net debt went down to Tk2,825 crore in September. 

The downward trend continued through the next two months, massively causing the net debt to drop to Tk766 crore in October, Tk701 crore in November. In December, the government repaid Tk436 crore without borrowing.

However, in the new year, the whole picture has changed. The government borrowed Tk2,586 crore in January, Tk2,522 crore in February and Tk1,814 crore in March.

Fahmida Khatun, executive director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, told The Business Standard, "The government has reduced sales of savings certificates as interests on such instruments are higher than on bank loans." 

"The money borrowed through sales of savings tools is spent on development projects that see slow implementation in the current fiscal year. That is why the net borrowing is low," she added,

The government has set ADP spending target at Tk217,000 crore in FY22, but in the first nine months, ADP spending stood at Tk98,934 crore or only 45.56% of target.

On condition of anonymity, an official of the National Savings Directorate said, "The cut in interest rates of savings certificates has had some effect on sales in the last few months. Even though sales and net debt increased in the first three months of 2022, this is still less than in the previous year."

Earlier, the government cut interest rates on all kinds of savings certificates by 1-2%.

According to sources, in the first nine months of FY22, total investment in savings certificates amounted to Tk81,326 crore. The government spent Tk64,822 crore to pay off principal and interest during this time.

In FY21, the government's net debt in savings certificates was Tk41,959.54 crore, while the government's borrowing target in the original budget of that fiscal year was Tk20,000 crore. 

 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/citizens-platform-monthly-tk1000-allowance-unemployed-youths-420674

TBS Report 

16 May, 2022, 01:05 pm

Last modified: 16 May, 2022, 10:24 pm

Monthly Tk1,000 allowance sought for unemployed, poor

Tax-free income threshold at individual level suggested to be at Tk3.5 lakh 

 

Highlights:

  • Increased allocations to address pandemic fallouts 
  • Introduction of credit card for students 
  • Cross-check of market prices of fertiliser and seeds 
  • Support for social-media-based female entrepreneurs 
  • Introduction of health cards for the workers

The Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh has urged the government to provide Tk1,000 as social safety allowance to unemployed youths and poor people to help them survive amid the rising inflationary pressure and recover from Covid-induced fallouts.

"The current per head allowance of Tk400-500 to the poor people is not helping them much and the amount is not rational in comparison with the increased per capita income," said Debapriya Bhattacharya, convener of the platform, while addressing a press conference at the CIRDAP Auditorium in the capital on Monday.

Debapriya recommended the introduction of an unemployment allowance of Tk1,000 per head monthly and called for bringing at least 10% (around 6.69 lakh) of the country's unemployed youths under the safety net initiative.

While presenting a study report on the current economic situation, upcoming budget and perspective of the "left behind" communities, he said the government will have to allocate some Tk5,863 crore more for FY2022-23 to ensure the minimum Tk1,000 allowance for the financially insolvent.

"Bangladesh's economy is yet to go back to its pre-pandemic level while the Russia-Ukraine War, supply chain dislocation, and rising commodity prices among other factors have made the situation worse," he said, adding that Bangladesh never saw so much economic pressure since 2007-08.

Professor Mustafizur Rahman, a core group member of the Platform, presided over the function, in which Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh, and Tony Michael Gomes, director of World Vision, were present, among others.

"The government is formulating the budget at a time when the country is suffering from an unprecedented pressure of commodity price hikes even before the recovery of the pandemic. So, ensuring relief for the poor through checking commodity prices and restructuring the subsidy system should be a top priority now," Mustafizur Rahman said.

He further added that economic progress is always considered on the basis of average achievement, where important issues like distribution, fairness and inequality remain neglected.

Debapriya said, "Our savings are declining." Even in the pandemic-hit year of 2020, the savings was 31.42% of the GDP, which dropped to 30.79% the next year.

This year it has further dropped to 25.45%, which means people are struggling to save money due to financial hardship, he added.

He suggested that the tax-free income threshold at the individual level should be set at Tk3.5 lakh in the upcoming budget, while women and other disadvantaged groups may be given further leeway.

Describing the rising inflation as a new challenge for the economy, he said the government was talking about 6.22% inflation, but this was not at all consistent with reality. In such a situation, he suggested the government revisit bank interest rates.

"If the interest rates are not changed keeping pace with inflation rates and exchange rate of currency, the order of the economy will be hampered."

The government believes if the interest rates remain low, the flow of investment will increase. "But lowering interest rates failed to increase investment in the last few years."

"Although GDP growth is substantial now, we could not go back to the pre-pandemic level in terms of investment," he pointed out.

On employment status, Debapriya said large industries grew 13% in the current fiscal year, whereas small and medium industries grew only 11%. "Although small industries generate higher employment, their growth is comparatively lower."

In the upcoming budget, he suggested, necessary initiatives should be taken to increase employment through increased investment. The economist also recommended increasing allocations for human resource development sectors such as education, health and social security, as well as speeding up implementation.

 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/stocks/islami-insurances-profit-jumps-167-five-years-429938

TBS Report

30 May, 2022, 09:40 pm

Last modified: 30 May, 2022, 10:46 pm

Islami Insurance’s profit jumps 167% in five years

With the increase in the profit of Islami Insurance, the rate of paying dividends to the shareholders has also increased

islami_insurance_infographic.png?itok=LS

 

Islami Insurance Bangladesh Limited's net profit jumped 167% in the last five years riding on a robust growth in foreign trade which requires mandatory insurance coverage.

A senior officer of the company, seeking not to be named, said a large part of the general insurance business comes from LCs (letters of credit).

"For import-export business, opening LCs is a must. And insurance is compulsory for every LC. Imports and exports have increased in the last five years. So the company's business has grown," he told The Business Standard.

In 2020, the insurance regulator cancelled the 15% agent commission on the sale of general insurance policies. And insurance companies had to spend a lot of money every year on the agent commission. Which did not happen in 2021. Therefore, the profit increased by 60% in that year.

With the increase in the profit of Islami Insurance, the rate of paying dividends to the shareholders has also increased. The company, which has been paying dividends at the rate of 10% for the last seven years, has paid a 12.50% cash dividend to its shareholders for 2021.

Although the business looks good, there are allegations against the company for not complying with rules and regulations.

It does not comply with the guidelines of the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (Idra) for holding a minimum of 60% shares jointly by its sponsors and directors.

The Insurance Act-2010 has clear guidelines in this regard. Last year, Idra again issued circular asking sponsors and directors of insurance companies to hold 60% shares.

Islami Insurance's sponsors and directors have sold 8.33% of the shares in the last year. They did not even announce the sale of shares to stock exchanges in line with the securities law. At present, sponsors and directors jointly hold a 31.16% stake in the company.

In the year following the general holidays due to the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, the share price of the company on the Dhaka Stock Exchange rose by 285% to Tk77 without any reason. But at present, its shares are being traded at Tk43.

Share market insiders said a group manipulated the share price of the company. The names of more than one person behind this manipulation were under discussion.

However, the regulatory body did not take any action against them. And with this opportunity, some sponsors of the company have sold their shares.

Islami Insurances' Company Secretary Mujibur Rahman did not answer when he was called on his mobile phone for comments on this matter.

Meanwhile, the auditor has raised questions about the company's premium income despite its business growth. In its 2020 report, the auditor said that the company has a deficit of Tk6.16 crore in premium income with value-added tax (VAT) returns. But they could not resolve the issue as the company could not provide any documents in this regard.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/experts-advise-govt-not-rush-universal-pension-431018

TBS Report 

01 June, 2022, 02:35 pm

Last modified: 01 June, 2022, 02:36 pm

Experts advise govt not to rush universal pension 

They also said the process of enacting such an act needs to start with a holistic approach

pension_scheme.jpg?itok=kAucLUTf&timesta

 

Experts have advised the government not to rush the introduction of a universal pension scheme in the country. 

They said it will be difficult for the government to implement initiatives that involve financial matters for people of all walks of life in the last year of their tenure.  

During the pre-budget discussion on universal pension and fair tax policy at the National Press Club on Wednesday (1 June) arranged by COAST Foundation, experts said that everyone's opinion should be considered before introducing a universal pension scheme.

Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) Chairman Dr Quazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmed said, "We want it (pension scheme) to be quick but beautiful. Let there be a definite time within which the scheme will be implemented. In the meantime, whatever needs to be done should be done on the basis of everyone's advice."

He urged the government to ensure the universality of the act. "Those who contribute between the ages of 18 and 60 will receive a pension, but we also need to think about how to cover those who are unable to do so." 

Emphasising pension management, he said accountability must be ensured once it starts. "The scheme should be enacted in such a way that another PK Haldar is not made," he added. 

The speakers also said the process of enacting such an act needs to start with a holistic approach to make the universal pension system a reality for all and increase the number of taxpayers.

Former chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) Mohammad Abdul Majid noted that not considering every stakeholder's opinion before enacting universal pension scheme can create problems. 

He also advised the government to start the process in the first year of their new term should they get reelected. 

"We need to increase the tax net but we have to ensure that the citizens get services through taxes because in the developed world citizens pay taxes, and the state gives them services. However, here we remain unsure if we will get the service after paying tax," said the former NBR chief.

Local government expert Dr Tofail Ahmed demanded pensions for those in their 60s who have been paying taxes for the past 10 years.

"If there is a guarantee of getting a pension, the tax base of the country will be strong. A pension account can be opened automatically in the name of each taxpayer And a portion paid by the taxpayer will be credited there," he added. 

Dr Tofail Ahmed added that universal pension is a complex process hence a roadmap should be made in at least five years after deciding on certain steps.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/govt-halve-borrowing-saving-instruments-3-years-434650

Abul Kashem

07 June, 2022, 12:00 pm

Last modified: 07 June, 2022, 01:29 pm

Govt to halve borrowing from saving instruments in 3 years

The govt eyes reducing loans from savings certificates to ease interest payment pressure

budget-at-a-glance.png?itok=3Ig12Ba2&tim

The government is going to halve borrowing from savings certificates within three years to rein in interest payment, according to finance ministry officials.

To this end, the finance ministry is likely to impose more restrictions to discourage investment in savings certificates.

Although a reduction in borrowing from savings certificates could ease the government's interest payment pressure, economists fear the move may hurt the country's large middle class.

Since the interest rate on savings certificates is almost double that of bank deposits, middle-class people invest in risk-free savings certificates.

Many people, including pensioners, invest their entire savings here and make a living from it. The savers became interested in investing in savings certificates mainly due to fear of losses in the stock market and declining interest rates on bank deposits. As a result, investment in savings certificates has increased even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The revised budget for the current financial year has set a target of borrowing Tk32,000 crore from this sector, which could increase by Tk3,000 crore in the next financial year. And the reliance on low-interest foreign loans will go up by restraining investment in savings certificates in the next two fiscal years.

In the last financial year, the government has spent about Tk70,600 crore on interest payments.

In the revised budget of the current financial year, the allocation for interest expenditure has been fixed at more than Tk71,000 crore. In the next financial year, it will increase to more than Tk80,000 crore.

Of this, more than Tk73,000 crore will be spent on repaying interest on internal loans including savings certificates.

Finance ministry officials say such a huge amount of interest expenditure is creating an imbalance in the budget as revenue is not increasing at the desired level. Although a large part of the budget is supposed to be spent on development to boost economic growth, the expenditure on management is increasing due to interest expenditure. In fiscal 2024-25, operating profit is planned to be reduced to the size of the budget and a large portion of government expenditure will be spent on development.

According to the finance ministry, over the last decade, 26% of the total deficit financing has come from foreign sources, while the remaining 74% has come from domestic sources.

According to the finance ministry's plan, 45% of the deficit financing will be met from foreign sources in FY2024-25, which will reduce the risk of crowding out in the domestic market.

Professor Mohammad Abu Eusuf, of development studies at the University of Dhaka, said in addition to simplifying the financial management of the government, the government had introduced savings certificates to encourage the common people to be interested in personal savings.

"In recent times, restrictions have been imposed on savings certificates. If the government imposes more austerity in this regard, the tendency of people to save will decrease," he added.

The economist said that if there are savings in hand, people can spend in any major disasters. And if there are no savings, the government has to come forward with help. Considering these aspects, savings certificates have a big role to play.

Dr Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said the government's borrowing from savings certificates had exceeded the level a few years ago.

The government's borrowing in this sector has decreased due to the recent introduction of automation and reduction of interest rates and restrictions on the timely purchase of savings certificates. In this situation, it would not be logical to reduce the interest rate in future to bring down the borrowing from savings certificates, she added.

Dr Fahmida Khatun said that a large part of the middle class is dependent on interest on savings certificates. Even if they have some money, they cannot afford to do business. Since the real inflation rate is higher than the interest rate on deposits, the actual value of the money received with interest decreases even if the money is kept in banks.

In this situation, she recommended not imposing big restrictions on savings certificates to keep the life of the middle class in order.

She said it would be difficult in the future to meet the needs of the government by borrowing from foreign sources even if interest rates were low.

"Although more than $50 billion has fallen into the pipeline, this money is not being released due to inefficiency in project implementation," she added.

In the future, the country will have to borrow money from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) - the commercial loan window of the World Bank - with extra interest, said the CPD executive director.

Apart from that, after the removal from the list of least developed countries, foreign grants will stop and interest rates will increase, she added and called upon the government to consider these issues seriously in future financial management.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/govt-introduce-injury-insurance-scheme-rmg-workers-435658

TBS Report

08 June, 2022, 06:10 pm

Last modified: 08 June, 2022, 08:08 pm

Govt to introduce injury insurance scheme for RMG workers

 

The government has decided to introduce an employment injury scheme (EIS) for the readymade garment sector workers from July this year.  

The labour and employment ministry agreed on this on Wednesday at a meeting with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Earlier, leaders of the Bangladesh Employers' Federation (BEF) announced to introduce the scheme in writing on 31 May in Geneva. The government supported that on Wednesday.

The project will be launched in the first week of July on pilot basis. A bank account will be opened in a state-owned bank to be operated by a tripartite management committee.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/budget/tk113576-crore-proposed-social-safety-net-programmes-436578

09 June, 2022, 06:40 pm

Last modified: 09 June, 2022, 06:48 pm

Tk113,576 crore proposed for social safety net programmes

social_safety_-_budget_2022-23.jpg?itok=

 

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has proposed a total of Tk113,576 crore budgetary allocation in fiscal 2022-2023 for social safety net programmes.

This allocation is 16.75% of the total budget and 2.55% of GDP.

He proposed the allocation while placing the budget for fiscal 2022-23 in parliament on Thursday.

In his budget speech, Kamal said expansion of the social safety net is an important part of the government's economic recovery efforts to address the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The allowances have been extended to all eligible senior citizens and widows of 112 upazilas in fiscal 2020-2021, he said.

Mentioning that in fiscal 2021-2022, it has been extended to another 150 upazilas, the finance minister said the digital system has already been introduced in 10 major programmes with the aim of bringing all cash transfers of social safety net programmes under G2P system and the number of beneficiaries under G2P has been increased to 26.3 million in fiscal 2021-2022.

He said as a free emergency food aid, arrangements have been made to distribute rice, relief (cash) and baby food to the poor who have suddenly become unemployed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ongoing programmes of selling rice at a price of only Tk10 per kg to the low- income people across the country have been accelerated, he said.

Kamal mentioned that a total of Tk2,168 crore has been provided in two phases while Tk2,500 was distributed to each of the target-oriented beneficiary families across the country.

He said, in first phase a total of 35 lakh households and in second phase a total of 31 lakh households which includes day labourers, farmers, laborers, domestic workers, motor vehicle workers and people involved in other professions were included in the programme.

"In the wake of the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict and the disruption of the global supply chain, we have launched the Family Card program to distribute essential commodities among the poor across the country at a low cost," he said.

The finance minister said a list of one crore families has been finalised under this programme.

A total of one crore families, including the families who have received Tk2,500 as cash assistance during the pandemic period, are getting family card of TCB, he added.

As a result, Kamal said, about five crore low-income population of the country will be directly benefited from this government initiative.

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https://www.prothomalo.com/business/দেশে-সর্বজনীন-পেনশনব্যবস্থা-চালু-হচ্ছে

দেশে সর্বজনীন পেনশনব্যবস্থা চালু হচ্ছে

নিজস্ব প্রতিবেদক

ঢাকা

প্রকাশ: ০৯ জুন ২০২২, ১৬: ০৮

আগামী ২০২২-২৩ অর্থবছরে সর্বজনীন পেনশন চালুর সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছে সরকার। আজ বৃহস্পতিবার জাতীয় সংসদে বাজেট বক্তৃতায় অর্থমন্ত্রী আ হ ম মুস্তফা কামাল এ ঘোষণা দেন। তিনি বলেন, ‘২০১৯-২০ অর্থবছরের বাজেট বক্তৃতায় আমি সর্বজনীন পেনশন পদ্ধতি প্রবর্তনের ঘোষণা দিয়েছিলাম। আমি অত্যন্ত আনন্দের সঙ্গে ঘোষণা দিচ্ছি যে সরকার আগামী অর্থবছরে সর্বজনীন পেনশনব্যবস্থা চালুর সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছে।’

অর্থমন্ত্রী বলেন, ২০০৮ সালের নির্বাচনী ইশতেহারে প্রধানমন্ত্রী শেখ হাসিনা বয়স্ক জনগোষ্ঠীকে একটি টেকসই ও সুসংগঠিত সামাজিক নিরাপত্তা কাঠামোর আওতায় এনে তাঁদের বৃদ্ধকালীন সুরক্ষা নিশ্চিত করতে জাতীয়ভাবে একটি সর্বজনীন পেনশন পদ্ধতি প্রবর্তনের অঙ্গীকার করেছিলেন। এরই ধারাবাহিকতায় ২০১৫ সালে সরকারের প্রণীত জাতীয় সামাজিক নিরাপত্তা কৌশলপত্রে একটি ব্যাপকভিত্তিক সমন্বিত অংশগ্রহণমূলক পেনশনব্যবস্থা গড়ে তোলার প্রস্তাব করা হয়েছিল।

দেশের শ্রমবাজারের ৮৫ শতাংশ জনবল অনানুষ্ঠানিক খাতে নিয়োজিত উল্লেখ করে মুস্তফা কামাল বলেন, প্রাতিষ্ঠানিক কোনো কাঠামো না থাকায় বৃদ্ধকালে তাঁদের জীবনযাপনে অনিশ্চয়তা দেখা দেওয়ার আশঙ্কা আছে। তাঁর দেওয়া তথ্য অনুযায়ী, ২০২০ সালে দেশে ষাটোর্ধ্ব জনসংখ্যা ছিল ১ কোটি ২০ লাখ। এই সংখ্যা ২০৪১ সালে ৩ কোটি ১০ লাখ হবে বলে তাঁর অনুমান। তিনি বলেন, গড় আয়ু বৃদ্ধির কারণে ধীরে ধীরে বয়স্ক মানুষের সংখ্যা বাড়তে থাকে। তাঁদের নিরাপত্তা ক্রমান্বয়ে হুমকির দিকে ধাবিত হচ্ছে। এসব কারণেই সর্বজনীন পেনশনব্যবস্থা চালু করা হচ্ছে।

অর্থমন্ত্রী জানান, সর্বজনীন পেনশনব্যবস্থা চালু করার আগে এ-সংক্রান্ত আইনের খসড়া তৈরি করা হয়েছে, যা চলতি বছরই বিল আকারে সংসদে তোলা হবে।

আ হ ম মুস্তফা কামাল গত মে মাসে বলেছিলেন, আগামী ছয় মাস থেকে এক বছরের মধ্যেই ১৮ থেকে ৫০ বছর বয়সী বাংলাদেশি নাগরিকদের জন্য সর্বজনীন পেনশনব্যবস্থা চালু করা হবে। প্রবাসী বাংলাদেশিদের জন্যও থাকছে একই সুযোগ।

 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/govt-scraps-plan-creating-sovereign-wealth-fund-reserves-443394

TBS Report

20 June, 2022, 04:25 pm

Last modified: 20 June, 2022, 07:21 pm

Govt scraps plan of creating Sovereign Wealth Fund from reserves

cabinet.jpg?itok=Ct_iUBPc&timestamp=1655

 

The government today scrapped a plan of creating "Bangladesh Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF)" from country's forex reserves. 

The Cabinet, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in chair, approved a proposal on cancelling its previous decision that gave approval for creating the fund.

The initial plan was approved in 2017 to create the SWF with a $10 billion authorised capital from its foreign currency reserves to use it for "any purpose in public interest".

With a primary capital of $2 billion, the fund was supposed to get $2 billion every year from the reserves.

Bangladesh's forex reserve, which witnessed a rapid surge during the pandemic, has now fallen to the $41.38 billion-mark as of 15 June, thanks to higher imports and lower remittance inflow. 

This has caused concerns for the country in the matter of spending foreign currencies.

Amid the concerns, the government planned to shelve low-priority development projects and suspend foreign tours for officials – the second round of belt-tightening after the pandemic.

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https://www.tbsnews.net/bangladesh/cabinet-approves-draft-national-pension-authority-act-2022-443378

TBS Report

20 June, 2022, 04:00 pm

Last modified: 20 June, 2022, 07:15 pm

Cabinet approves draft of National Pension Authority Act, 2022

pension.jpg?itok=Yuftllc7&timestamp=1655

The government has approved the draft of the National Pension Authority Act, 2022.

The approval came at the cabinet meeting on Monday (20 June) with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Citizens aged between 18 and 50, excluding staffers of government and autonomous organisations, will be able to enrol in the scheme using their national identification numbers.

They will become eligible for monthly pension after reaching 60 years of age, on the condition of a 10-year regular deposit as Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal briefed earlier.

Separate accounts will be maintained for individuals, which is why there will be no impact in case of changes in their professions or jobs, he added. 

Apart from individuals, institutions also can enrol in the scheme, the finance minister said, adding that the option of quarterly payment will also be kept considering the convenience of expatriate Bangladeshis. 

 Mustafa Kamal said none will be allowed a one-off withdrawal of their money from the scheme. However, they can take up to 50% of their deposited money as loans. 

In case of deaths before completion of the 10-year deposit, they will be returned their money with interest. Besides, the deposited money will be exempt from tax. 

"Currently, the average longevity is 73 years. It is expected to increase to 80 years in 2050 and 85 years in 2075. The calculation says people will get 20 years longevity after their retirement then," said the finance minister, adding that the ratio of dependent people can increase to 24% in 2050 and 48% in 2075 from the existing 7.7%, as well.

"So, the universal pension scheme is very crucial for ensuring social safety of the old-age people," Mustafa Kamal said. 

According to the finance ministry officials, if an individual aged 18 or above deposits Tk1,000 per month, the savings will be around Tk5 lakh when they turn 60. 

But the 60-year-old citizen will be receiving Tk60,000 per month as pension until death.

The government will invest the pension fund in treasury bills, bonds and infrastructural development projects, and pay a 10% interest on it.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/business/2022/06/23/rmg-workers-to-finally-get-employment-injury-scheme

RMG workers to finally get employment injury scheme

'Such a system would promote sustainable business practices and provide the right kind of signals to investors'

 

Tribune Desk

June 23, 2022 4:00 PM

The much-awaited employment injury scheme (EIS) was launched in the country's readymade garment (RMG) sector to protect workers against dropping into poverty as a result of workplace accidents and/or occupational diseases.

Workers in the export-oriented RMG sector are set to get enhanced social security through income protection following the launch of the new scheme jointly by the Labour Ministry and the International Labour Organization (ILO), in collaboration with the Netherlands and Germany (GIZ).

Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman inaugurated the pilot project in an event held at Hotel Intercontinental in the capital recently.

Labour ministry Secretary Md Ehsan-E- Elahi, Bangladesh Country Director of ILO Tuomo Poutiainen, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Faruque Hassan and labour leaders were present at the ceremony.

ILO Country Director Tuomo Poutiainen said that the launch of the EIS for RMG workers in Bangladesh was an important and historic step in strengthening accident protection in the country.

Such a system would promote sustainable business practices and provide the right kind of signals to investors, as Bangladesh is step by step upgrading its social protection systems for the benefit of all, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, the labour secretary said: "We have the privilege to ensure that the pilot is designed in line with the International Labour Standards, taking the national settings into consideration."

“The Netherlands looks forward to working with all the relevant stakeholders to make the pilot a success,” said Bas Blaauw, first secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

Johannes Schneider, head of development cooperation from the German Embassy, said: "With the addition of the pilot, we now have, for the first time, an employment injury scheme that meets international standards in terms of compensation and that effectively protects workers and their families from falling into poverty as a result of workplace accidents and occupational diseases."

The pilot of the employment injury scheme will contribute to the social well-being of workers and employers and above all improve the country's social security system, said BGMEA president Md Faruque Hassan.

Employment injury protection is one of the nine branches of social protection recognized by ILO for all workers under its Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102).

Bangladesh has already taken this issue as a priority and highlighted the same in the 2nd Phase Action Plan of the National Social Security Strategy.

Since 2013, ILO and GIZ have been working together with the government of Bangladesh and industry partners for ensuring workers' social and financial security.

As a continuation of the process, after having several tripartite consultations, the government has decided to introduce a periodic payment scheme for occupational injuries, disabilities and deaths in the RMG industry.

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https://www.dhakatribune.com/business/2022/06/29/300000-workers-initially-marked-for-digital-database-registration

300,000 workers initially marked for digital database registration

The 300,000 workers will receive labour identification (LID) numbers during the pilot period

Tribune Desk

June 29, 2022 3:26 PM

The government will create a digital database of workers from both formal and informal sectors, where 300,000 workers of about 10,000 entities would be incorporated into the database.

The 300,000 workers will receive labour identification (LID) numbers during the pilot period.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) has undertaken a project in this regard to develop skilled workforce and enhance productivity.

The project -- Labour Information Management System (LIMS) -- will manage labourers' information digitally and help develop their skills for workplaces, sources said.

Labour Secretary Ehsan-e-Elahi said they were waiting for approval of the project from the Ministry of Planning.

Initially they prioritized five formal sectors -- tea garden, ready-made garments, pharmaceuticals, tannery, and ship-breaking.

Gradually, labour force from all the sectors will be covered, he noted.

"A complete database of workers is an immediate need for our ministry, as it is not possible to take any plan on the labour sector without knowing the number of workers."

The database is also important to implement the government's decision to eliminate child labour by 2025 and determine beneficiaries of its various incentives.

Developing a database of workers is also one of the requirements of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the European Union (EU), he added.

The labour ministry officials said the number of units and workers (to come under the project) might change.

According to the labour law, it is mandatory for employers to provide appointment letters and ID cards to workers, they noted.

Providing a service book for every worker by an employer has also been mandatory in the law. The workers have to preserve the service books and hand over the previous service books to the employers.

Under the project, labour ID cards and service books will be digitized, they added.

 

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https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/budget/business-owners-get-relieved-paying-taxes-wppf-449726

TBS Report

29 June, 2022, 07:30 pm

Last modified: 29 June, 2022, 08:28 pm

Business owners get relieved from paying taxes on WPPF

The government has decided to backtrack from its original budget proposal to make corporate contributions to workers' profit participation fund (WPPF) taxable, according to Parliament sources.

The development comes as entrepreneurs protested the decision claiming it will create more tax burden on business owners. 

The move to impose a tax on WPPF would have a huge financial impact on businesses that comply with the country's labour laws. Businessmen requested the government to discard the plan.

The information was disclosed during a final discussion on the budget in the Parliament today (29 June), where sources said the final proposal in this regard will pass tomorrow. 

Earlier on 9 June, Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal said business owners would have to pay taxes from a portion of their profit.

The proposal was made per Labour Act 2006 and was recommended by the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal placed the Tk6,78,064 crore national budget for FY23 at Jatiya Sangsad on 9 June. The proposed budget is Tk74,383 crore higher than the original budget size for the FY2021-22 fiscal year, which was Tk6,03,681 crore. 

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5 hours ago, Joel Ahmed said:

https://www.tbsnews.net/economy/budget/business-owners-get-relieved-paying-taxes-wppf-449726

TBS Report

29 June, 2022, 07:30 pm

Last modified: 29 June, 2022, 08:28 pm

Business owners get relieved from paying taxes on WPPF

The government has decided to backtrack from its original budget proposal to make corporate contributions to workers' profit participation fund (WPPF) taxable, according to Parliament sources.

The development comes as entrepreneurs protested the decision claiming it will create more tax burden on business owners. 

The move to impose a tax on WPPF would have a huge financial impact on businesses that comply with the country's labour laws. Businessmen requested the government to discard the plan.

The information was disclosed during a final discussion on the budget in the Parliament today (29 June), where sources said the final proposal in this regard will pass tomorrow. 

Earlier on 9 June, Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal said business owners would have to pay taxes from a portion of their profit.

The proposal was made per Labour Act 2006 and was recommended by the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal placed the Tk6,78,064 crore national budget for FY23 at Jatiya Sangsad on 9 June. The proposed budget is Tk74,383 crore higher than the original budget size for the FY2021-22 fiscal year, which was Tk6,03,681 crore. 

https://www.slideshare.net/MasumHossain11/workers-profit-participation-fund-wppf

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