Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Dhaka will sign the much-awaited TICFA with Washington only after getting assurances that Bangladeshi apparels would be granted duty-free access to the US market. It will also address fully the long-debated labour issues in industries across the country, a cabinet committee decided last week.

Non-bank financial institutions, which are struggling to sustain business growth, have decided to intensify their deposit collection measures to reduce dependence on costly bank funds.

The National Board of Revenue has started a door-to-door survey to detect tax evading house and apartment owners across the country, particularly in the metropolitan cities, and bring them under tax net. Inspectors of the 31 tax zones of the NBR started visiting houses on December 18, officials of the revenue board said. 

Bangladesh’s foreign exchange (forex) reserve crossed the US$13 billion-mark for the first time on Monday, thanks to a robust growth of inward remittances as well as lower import payment, officials said. The reserve rose to $13.053 billion on the day, setting a new record, from $12.848 billion of the previous day, according to the central bank statistics.

The foreign aid component of the development budget for fiscal year (FY), 2012-13, is about to be sliced down by, at least, 14 per cent of the earlier estimated level, official sources indicated this on Monday. The cutback in the aid fund, in terms of disbursement, to the tune of BDT 185 billion will follow the lacklustre performance so far this fiscal about the externally aided projects by the implementation agencies.

Cotton consumption will increase by 10-15 percent in 2013 on the back of higher ready-made garment exports, industry insiders said on Monday. “RMG exports are displaying a distinct upward trend, which will increase demand for cotton,” said Jahangir Alamin, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA). In July-November, knitwear exports increased year-on-year by 1.74 percent, woven by 10.16 percent and home textile by 0.59 percent, according to data from the Export Promotion Bureau. 

The central bank has asked state-owned Agrani Bank Limited (ABL) to take necessary measures for improving its financial health through expediting classified loan recovery drives, officials said. 

The government borrowing from the commercial banks soared in the first half of the current fiscal year, although the overall borrowing decreased compared with that of the same period of the last fiscal year on a decreased borrowing from the Bangladesh Bank. BB officials and economists said that the high government borrowing from the scheduled banks would put extra pressure on the private sector in the coming months.

The government has finally formed a panel, which will take necessary preparations to float sovereign bonds in the international market. 

Dhaka stocks fell on Monday with the turnover hitting nearly a six-month low on the back of the finance minister’s remark that the market was dominated by speculators.  DGEN, the benchmark general index of Dhaka Stock Exchange, lost 0.88 per cent or 36.81 points, to close at 4,126.92 points. Turnover of the bourse declined to BDT 121.97 crore on Monday from that of BDT 145.89 crore on the day before. 

BBN/SI/AD-08Jan13-9:40 am (BST)