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Sunday, May 31, 2009

DSE-20 to include more issues

The New Age : DSE-20 to include more issues

The Dhaka Stock Exchange has initiated a move to review its blue chips index for the first time its inception on January 1, 2001. ‘We will soon review the index as the existing DSE-20 index does not represent a proper blue chips index,’ said DSE senior vice-president Saiful Islam. He said the DSE initiated the move to remove shortcomings in the index and to introduce a new set of criteria for the listed companies to have a berth in the index.
A DSE senior official, preferring anonymity, said, ‘The bourse is thinking positively to include more companies in the index as a number of strong-fundamentals issues have entered into the market in recent years.’ ‘The DSE is weighing an option of introducing a DSE-30 index, replacing the existing DSE-20 index,’ he said.
‘In the process, a number of companies currently included in the index may be shown door for making way for better ones,’ the official added.Currently, DSE-20 index comprises of ACI, AMCL(Pran), Apex Tannery, Bata Shoe, BATBC, BD Lamps, BOC, Beximco Pharmaceuticals, Dhaka Bank, GQ Ball Pen, Islami Bank, Meghna Cement, Monno Ceramics, NBL, Prime Bank, Singer BD, Southeast Bank, Square Textile, Squre Pharmaceuticals and Uttara Finance.
The DSE-20 index started its journey with 1000 base.The DSE has two other indices to reflect the market behaviour–DSE all share price index and DSE general index.The DSE introduced all share price index on March 28, 2005 and general index, which excludes ‘Z’ category companies, on November 27, 2001.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Google Chrome Backup


Google Chrome (web browser) has just hit the world. Google Chrome backup is a small tool to backup and restore Google Chrome profile. The profile holds personal data like history, bookmarks, etc. Everything is done with one click.

1. You need Google Chrome installed in order for this tool to work. It supports version of Google Chrome.
2. Select a profile from drop down list and manipulate profile by selecting options on "Profile Tools" menu.
3. To backup current profile click "Backup" menu from "Profile Tools" and select a backup path. A new file which holds your profile is created.
4. To restore the old profile, click on "Restore" menu from "Profile Tools" and navigate to *.gcb file you want to restore. Selected profile will be deleted and restored from the backup file.
5. Create new Google Chrome profiles and create shortcut on desktop.
6. Delete Google Chrome profiles.
7. Add Google Chrome profiles to Google Chrome backup tool.


Gadwin PrintScreen


Want to create a screenshot suitable for saving or printing? Then just hit a key on your keyboard. Oh yeah, you'll have to download this program first. There are several hotkey combos to choose from. Once you've chosen your favorite combo, head to the Destination tab and have the screen print out instantly, copy the capture to the clipboard, save it to a specific folder, or even send it through e-mail. You can perform full screen captures, or only capture a specific window. There are also six different image formats to choose from, and each one can be resized. With all the customization capabilities, what more could you ask for?


Conversoft YouTube Downloader


A powerful program that allows you to download videos from YouTube and save them on your computer. Its user-friendly and easy-to-use interface makes your work simple, just specify the URL for the video you want to download and press the Download button.

The software will download the video as FLV file instantly with high quality as it was.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

NBFIs capital double by yearend


Recession end in 2009

The Daily Star : Most economists see recession end in 2009

More than 90 percent of economists predict the recession will end this year, although the recovery is likely to be bumpy.

That assessment came from leading forecasters in a survey by the National Association for Business Economics to be released Wednesday. It is generally in line with the outlook from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues.

About 74 percent of the forecasters expect the recession -- which started in December 2007 and is the longest since World War II -- to end in the third quarter. Another 19 percent predict the turning point will come in the final three months of this year, and the remaining 7 percent believe the recession will end in the first quarter of 2010.

"While the overall tone remains soft, there are emerging signs that the economy is stabilising," said NABE president Chris Varvares, head of Macroeconomic Advisers. "The economic recovery is likely to be considerably more moderate than those typically experienced following steep declines."

One of the major forces that plunged the economy into a recession was the financial crisis that struck with force last fall and was the worst since the 1930s. Economists say recoveries after financial crises tend to be slower.

Against that backdrop, unemployment will climb this year even if the economy is rebounding, the NABE forecasters predict. Companies won't be in a rush to hire until they feel certain any recovery is firmly rooted.

For all of this year, the forecasters said the unemployment rate should average 9.1 percent, a big jump from 5.8 percent last year and up from its current quarter-century peak of 8.9 percent. If NABE forecasters are right, it would be the highest since a 9.6 percent rate in 1983, when the country was struggling to recover from a severe recession.

Some forecasters thought the unemployment rate could rise as high as 10.7 percent in the second quarter of next year. The NABE outlook from 45 economists was conducted April 27 through May 11.

General Motors Corp., chemical company DuPont and Clear Channel Communications Inc. were among the companies announcing mass layoffs during the survey period.

With joblessness rising, consumers -- major shapers of overall economic activity -- likely will stay cautious, making for a tepid turnaround. And given the big bite the recession has taken out of household wealth, notably the values of homes and investment portfolios, consumers probably will stay subdued for some time.

Seventy-one percent of the forecasters believe a more-thrifty consumer will be around for at least the next five years. Americans' personal savings rate edged up to 4.2 percent in March, marking the first time in a decade that the savings rate has been above 4 percent for three straight months.

Even as the NABE forecasters believe the country will emerge from recession later this year, they also predict the economy's overall performance in 2009 will be rotten.

The economy should contract by 2.8 percent this year, the forecasters said in updated projections. That's worse than the 1.9 percent drop they forecast in late February. If they are right, it would mark the worst annual contraction since 1946, when economic activity fell by 11 percent.

Still, the forecasters believe the worst is already behind the country in terms of lost economic activity.

The economy shrank at a 6.1 percent annualised pace in the first three months of this year, on top of a 6.3 percent decline in the final three months of last year, the worst six-month performance in 50 years.

For the current April-June quarter, the NABE forecasters believe the economy will shrink at a pace of 1.8 percent. After that, the economy should start growing again - at a 0.7 percent pace in the third quarter and a 1.8 percent pace in the fourth quarter.

NABE's growth projections for the third and fourth quarters are lower than those made in late February. The downgrade was based on the expectation that businesses, whose profits and sales were hit hard by the recession, will remain wary of ramping up investment.

President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package of increased government spending and tax cuts, near-zero interest rates ordered by the Fed and government programs to get banks to lend more freely again all factor into the expected economic revival.

Many forecasters also predict that home sales will hit bottom by the middle of this year, another stabilising factor for the economy. A report on sales of previously owned homes will be released Wednesday, and data on new-home sales is due Thursday.

Tourism policy seeks larger share in budget


The Daily Star : Tourism policy seeks larger share in budget

The proposed national tourism development policy, awaiting parliament's endorsement, has prioritised more budgetary allocation for massive development of the industry.The draft policy widely encourages public private partnership and foreign investments for infrastructure development, which is considered a prerequisite to the sectoral uplift.

It also suggests providing special facilities to travel agents and tour operators as well as entrepreneurs, as enjoyed by the export-oriented industries.“The proposed policy has certain guidelines to establish public private partnership (PPP) and mobilise funds from local and foreign investors for infrastructure development to give a boost to the tourism industry,” said GM Quader, civil aviation and tourism minister.

“To this end, a budgetary allocation is now under government's consideration. We have approved 30 projects that are to get block allocation soon after the announcement of the new budget next month,” he added.“In addition, we have selected 10 other projects, encouraging PPP,” said Quader.

The minister thinks when the private sector comes up with around 90 percent investment proposals for infrastructure development it can be considered as an 'ideal situation.' “The government would take the responsibility of the rest portion,” Quader said, pointing to the policy suggestions.

The proposed policy also suggested different ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Economic Relations Division under the Ministry of Finance, take initiatives to attract new investments, both from home and abroad.Special supplementary assistance should be provided to private entrepreneurs, it said further.

The policy also proposed that Bangladesh's foreign missions be involved in a bigger way to promote tourism.Stressing more budgetary allocation for infrastructure development, Hasan Mansur, tourism expert and managing director of The Guide Tours Ltd, said promotional activities should be beefed up at home and abroad to popularise the country's tourist spots.

Meanwhile, prior to placing the draft tourism policy before the budget session of Jatiya Sangsad (parliament), Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation demanded the government earmark funds for the corporation.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ADP takes sky-high aim


The Daily Star : ADP takes sky-high aim

Economists say Tk 30,500 crore plan is too difficult to implement

A Tk 30,500 crore annual development programme (ADP) for the next fiscal year is highly ambitious, a stunt and will be too difficult to implement completely, economists said yesterday.The government must increase development expenditure and take special steps to implement the programme, they said. They also suggested formation of a committee to implement the recommendations of the public expenditure review commission.

"Such a big ADP is simply a stunt and will fail to be implemented," former finance adviser of the caretaker government M Hafizuddin Khan told The Daily Star."Government tends to take on ADP that are beyond their capacity. Furthermore, a major portion of the expenditure is made in the second half of the year in a rush, resulting in a waste of funds."

Khan suggested that the government should take up projects on the basis of priority and avoid unnecessary projects, just for the sake of political consideration.Khan, also former chairman of the public expenditure review commission (PERC), said: "The commission has submitted a report to the government with recommendations for streamlining government spending. But the government did not even read the report."

He said a copy of the recommendations was also sent to Finance Minister AMA Muhith."The commission was formed much earlier but the government can form another committee to decide on which of the recommendations should be implemented," Khan said.

Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Research Director Zaid Bakht said: "Public expenditure in Bangladesh, which is only about 15 percent of GDP, is low even by regional standards and tilted more towards revenue expenditure."Bakht said the share of development expenditure in the national budget is quite small and has dwindled over time. The size of the realised ADP, as a percentage of GDP, steadily declined from 5.16 percent in FY2002 to 3.41 percent in FY 2008.

"There is a strong case in favour of raising the size of the ADP, which would also be in line with the present government's election pledges on broad-based employment generation and rapid poverty reduction," he said."Augmentation of domestic demand to counter the possible adverse effects of global recession on the Bangladesh economy would also require to enhance public expenditure."

The BIDS research director said notwithstanding these justifications, an ADP of Tk 30,500 crore for FY10 seems too ambitious and risky.Bakht said first, it would require commensurate ambitious growth in revenue earnings, which is unlikely to be achieved given the current outlook for the domestic and global economies.

Second, in the event of a significant shortfall in achieving the revenue target, the government will either have to raise borrowing or downsize the ADP, the latter being the common practice in recent years, which results in a waste of resources due to abruptly stopping the flow of funds to ongoing projects, he said.

Third, the quality of the ADP, already burdened with low-priority projects from the past political government, is likely to be compromised further with the inclusion of a large number of new projects, he said. The industry minister's recent announcement to reopen all closed-down public enterprises to generate employment, adds to this fear, the economist added.

Fourth, an oversized ADP would result in resources being dispersed over a large number of projects, resulting in delayed implementation and a consequent wastage of resources, Bakht said."If we look at the recent trend in the level of ADP implementation, it will be clear that realisation of an ADP target of Tk 30,500 crore in FY10 will require more than 50 percent improvement in the capacity of our project implementation machinery in a single year," the BIDS research director said.

World Bank Senior Economist Zahid Hussain said it appears that the size of the FY10 ADP is likely to be over Tk 300 billion, the largest ADP in Bangladesh's history in nominal terms.Hussain said it is understandable that in its first budget, the newly elected government would like to be seen delivering on the promises it had made in its election manifesto.

"However, it is also important to keep in mind that at the end of the day, it is implementation that matters."Hussain said the quality and effectiveness of the ADP, which typically comprises about 1,000 projects, have remained a major policy concern for years.

"Even though the physical progress in ADP implementation is usually faster than financial progress during the year, we normally fail to implement more than 80 percent of the original ADP size," he said.

Hussain said: "There is growing realisation among policymakers that ADP implementation bottlenecks need to be addressed on an urgent basis to increase the rate of public investment expenditures and improve its effectiveness. The bottlenecks range from procurement snags to land acquisition, court cases, lack of well-developed work plan and instability in project management."

He said these problems have proven difficult to surmount historically.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tourism policy suggests


The Daily Star : Tourism policy suggests one-stop service for private investment

The Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism has drafted a new policy with several recommendations such as one-stop-service for private investment in the tourism sector, aiming to make it time-bound and pragmatic.The tourism policy of 1992 has also been amended, as the drafting authority foresees a stiff competition in the sector by 2020, thanks to possible extensive investments by local and multinational businesses.

Presently, tourism is one of five top earning sectors for the world's 83 percent countries, with one in every 11 employed persons in the world is engaged in tourism.As per the draft paper, the government plans to make beaches as ideal holiday destinations by creating facilities such as cultural centre, club, bar, discotheque, casino and international standard resorts.

Setting up a tourism village near Zia International Airport in Dhaka for foreign tourists are also under the plan."Besides coastal areas, if there is any permanent island on the big rivers around the capital, it would be developed as special tourism zone for foreigners," the paper reads.

To diversify tourism attractions, the government in collaboration with the private sector would develop adventure tourism, tracking, surfing, hiking and scuba diving.Dublar Char will also be brought under the tourism development programme and eco-tourism in the Sundarbans be expanded. Facilities such as eco-lodge, watchtower, walkway and night-hiking facilities will also be created to attract tourists there.

The draft policy suggested easing visa procedures to arrange visa on arrival for group tourists.As per the plan, the country will be divided into eight greater tourism areas. Besides, committees comprising local leaders and government representatives will be formed in areas where big number of tourists flock.

The government also wants to deploy plain clothed Tourist Police in top tourist spots for tourists' safety.A National Tourism Council will be formed with the prime minister as its head to facilitate prompt decisions for tourism development.The government will facilitate public-private partnership, supporting the private sector in the areas of land allocation, infrastructure development and training.

However, the policy paper is undergoing different changes in line with suggestions from government bodies, tour operators, academics and other stakeholders."The paper is undergoing huge changes and the latest meeting on the issue will take place on May 27," said a high official of the ministry concerned.

The ministry will submit the policy before the cabinet soon for its approval, the official added.On the public-private partnership, Hasan Mansur, managing director of Guide Tours, suggested, “The government should be cautious in such partnership, because in the past some facilities of the tourism sector were leased out to some inefficient people resulting in bad performances of such services."

Extra VAT makes consumers pay more

The New Age : Extra VAT makes consumers pay more

Consumers at supermarkets have to pay more than the maximum retail prices marked on the products due to additional value added tax imposed by the National Board of Revenue.Apart from meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, supermarket shoppers are charged additional 1.5 per cent VAT on top of MRPs that already include the same tax at the rate of 15 per cent. The consumers, however, are not charged the extra VAT at the retailers other than supermarkets.

If a person at supermarket makes a purchase worth Tk 1000, he or she will have to pay additional Tk 15 VAT, which is in addition to MRPs specified on the products. But, if the consumer purchases the same products from shops other than supermarkets, he or she will not have to pay the additional Tk 15.Even, it is possible to have little discounts on MRPs at the retailers. They can do so by minimising some of the commission they get from the companies.

‘I really don’t understand why I am charged more than the prices mentioned on the products. This is very unfair,’ Saidur Rahman, an occasional supermarket shopper, told New Age.‘Under no circumstances, one should be charged more than the prices specified on the products,’ he added.Mahbubul Haque, a regular shopper at Trust Family Needs supermarket in Uttara, said that prices should be same everywhere.

When approached on her exit from Uttara Branch of Nandan supermarket, Shahnaz Begum told this correspondent that she was aware of the extra taxation and hoped it should not happen.When asked about the reason for shopping at supermarket despite being charged more, she replied, ‘I get everything under one roof. Service and atmosphere are also good around here.’

About charging VAT on top of MRP, the supermarket officials said they are simply abiding by the order of the NBR.‘Apart from fresh items, we have to pay 1.5 per cent VAT on every product. We are giving NBR what we are realising from customers,’ Mizanur Rahman, the managing director of Trust Family Need, told New Age.

Replying to a question, he said that on many occasions customers want to know the reasons of charging extra VAT in addition to MRP and they do not seem to be happy with the answer they get.Mizan admitted that his store is losing customers due to imposition of extra VAT. ‘Why people will come to me when they can buy the same products cheaper. The government should address the issue.’

Masud Rana, deputy manager of Nandan supermarket’s Uttara branch, said, ‘We are obligated by the law to pay VAT and that is why we are charging the customers.’A senior official of that store requesting anonymity said that affluent people come to supermarkets for shopping and that they are not bothered about the additional 1.5 per cent VATThe Consumer Association of Bangladesh president, Borhan Ahmed, said he is not aware of the issue as no one has yet reported.

He, however, said that consumers must not be charged more than MRPs. ‘If this is the case we will request the commerce minister to take measures.’An NBR senior official, who requested anonymity, said the law states that apart from agricultural products 1.5 per cent VAT has to be paid for everything and supermarkets are just doing that.

When reminded that retailers do not charge anything in addition to MRPs, he said they are violating the law. ‘Law says there must be VAT for every sale.’Replying to a question, he admitted that there is no enforcement of the law at retailer level.

The official, however, said that based on locations and sizes there are fixed lump sum amounts the retailers have to pay every year as VAT. ‘For instance upazila-level retailers have to pay Tk 1,200 as VAT every year.’Couple of retailers in the capital said they pay Tk 4,200 each year as VAT.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Top honchos quit Satyam BPO

Times Of India

Naresh Jhangiani, global head of HR at Satyam BPO, V Satyanandam, head of corporate services, have put in their papers. Even Kulwinder Singh, head of marketing (Asia Pacific), Satyam, and earlier with Satyam BPO as global head of marketing and communication, has resigned.

Interestingly, this comes soon after Fridays statement by Vineet Nayyar, CEO of Satyams new parent Tech Mahindra, that the company has an excess staff of 10,000. However, sources said that this has no connection with Nayyar's statement as the executives have put in their papers over a month ago. All the three executives have been with Satyam for over four years.

When contacted, Satyam's spokesperson M V Sridhar confirmed the development and clarified that the three executives were not asked to leave but were moving out on their own. "We have not asked anyone to leave till now," he said.

However, another official said that people correction is natural after business and revenue correction. Moreover, except for Jhangiani, the other two executives exit would not have a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of the company as their roles are not critical and are only supportive.

Established in 2002 as Nipuna, the company went in for a name change as Satyam BPO as part of a unified brand exercise in early 2008. Almost 90 per cent of its customers are Satyam customers with a strong focus on the banking, financial services and insurance verticals and also in manufacturing. The company has about 2,400 employees and posted revenues of $ 68.2 million last year and three delivery centres in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. In spite of the Satyam fiasco in the last six months, the company, which is in the top three in the Indian BPO space has reportedly not lost any major clients. Its a vibrant and viable business and is doing well, asserted Sridhar.

Interestingly, all the executives are headed to the same destination: the Bangalore-based Taurus Group with estimated revenues of over $ 1 billion. The group has diversified interests in infrastructure services for mining, ports, construction, food and beverages and consulting. According to sources, a new holding company Taurus United has been set up to oversee the operations and drive growth of the various group companies. The entity is being headed by none other than Venkatesh Roddam, former CEO of Satyam BPO, who quit in September 2008. He has already been joined by another the former CFO of Satyam BPO, M Satyanarayana.

Hollywood calling, again for Divya


Times Of India : Hollywood has come calling for Divya Dutta yet again.

After the international venture, Hissss, the actor has bagged another romantic comedy, Heart Land, directed by Fred Holmes of Forget Me Not: The Anne Frank Story and children’s TV series, Barney & Friends fame. Shot in Dallas and Texas, USA, since April 28, the unit is now coming down to India, and the actor will start shooting in a day or two.

The film that also stars Amelia Jackson Gray, Reg Grant, Mehr Hassaan and Stephan M Singh, has got the actor all curious. “The unit was considering me for quite some time. I think after Delhi 6, new avenues opened up. I was in touch with the team via emails. The producer, who lives in LA, called me up to give me the good news.” Though Divya isn’t keen on divulging the details right now, she says, “The catchline of the film is Away from New York. The film is a combination of rustic America and India. I play a vivacious Punjabi girl in the flick.”

What worked in the actor’s favour, is that she can’t be typecast in a specific image. She has dabbled in serious cinema and comedy, and emerged a performer in both genres. “Monica and 21/5/1991 — The hunt for Rajiv Gandhi’s killers are some of the serious films that I’m doing, while there are four to five comedies lined up at the same time. One can’t stamp me either as a serious actor, or as a comic one,” she says thoughtfully. And dwelling on actors getting stereotyped in certain roles, Divya opines, “I guess, every human being has two sides to him/her and I’m no different. There are times when I’m in a serious mood, while at other times, I’m all pepped up. These sides of mine get reflected in the films that I do.”

But when it comes to international projects, it’s the screen time that has always been under the scanner (does Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s role in Pink Panther 2 ring a bell?). Divya smiles as she gives one a peek into her choosy side. “Hissss, which is my international debut opposite Irrfan, has me extracting my pound of flesh from the film. I can’t help being choosy. Like many others, I wouldn’t say that the length of the role doesn’t matter to me. It does, and

I choose a role on the basis of many parameters; screen time being one of them. In Heart Land, I play an endearing role, which is anything but blink-and-miss,” the actor quips. Here’s hoping that the engaging actor ends up winning many more hearts with this film.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Your sex dreams revealed


Times Of India : Your sex dreams revealed

Passionate dreams about that long ago flame, that colleague you have a crush on or even a famous celebrity can make you feel dazed and confused. But the most common emotion that one experiences is usually guilt.

Experts say that these dreams should not be taken as literal expressions of lust. In fact it is believed that interpreting and understanding one's dreams can help unearth one's fears or desires.

Dreams are often a way to let you know what you need but are not getting during your waking hours. By making the effort to decode them you could achieve a far more satisfying love life. Here are five common scenarios:

The Ex
It can be unnerving, to say the least, to dream about your ex lover. However it does not mean you are not normal. You can relax as it is just your mind taking a mental break. In fact this ex could just symbolise anything that you associate with him/her. For instance if it is someone you had a crush on in college, he/she could symbolise the freedom you had at that point in your life. If you dream of an ex who was sweet and caring, it could be that you crave security while a wild ex could represent spontaneity. So enjoy the flashback as it is perfectly safe unless of course you go too far. If you have recurring obsessive dreams about this one person, you might have a reason to be concerned.

The celebrity crush
To dream of a sexy encounter with a celebrity is not uncommon, especially among women. It could just indicate the desire to have a wish fulfilled. For instance dreaming of a romantic musician could indicate that you are waiting for that kind of person to come into your life or that you desire more romance in your existing relationship. It could also mean that you might want to be a part of the glamorous world your crush represents.

The person you hate
Imagine dreaming about that irritating co-worker who never fails to annoy you at work. This kind of dream can definitely cause a lot of confusion — a passionate dream involving someone you can't stand normally. But don't be shocked — it could mean that no matter how horrid this person is, he/she could have certain qualities that you might want to emulate. Similarly dreams about relatives could indicate a desire for stronger family ties.

The opposite sex
Don't panic if you have a dream about having a sexual encounter with someone of the same sex. It does not mean that you have suddenly switched your sexuality. What it could mean is the desire for more understanding in your relationship. You probably need your partner to be more sensitive and caring towards you.

The stranger
Making love with a mysterious stranger could represent the need for more mystery and spice in your life. This would be particularly relevant if you and your partner have let your sex life lag recently. Dreaming about a threesome too could signal a desire to break out of a boring romantic routine and get the spark right back in to your relationship.

Bipasha, John live in?


Times Of India : Bipasha, John live in?

It’s not quite like the last Bollywood horror film 13-B, but yes, this tale does involve a house... and, trying to live in that house, is Bollywood hottie Bipasha Basu!

Bips, who has a penthouse in a Santacruz high-rise, was forced to move out when this place took a beating in the savage rains of 26/7 in 2005. “I had to get my home renovated after that horrible incident,’’ said the Bengali beauty, who moved into a rented apartment a few lanes away while the interior work began in her devastated penthouse. And here comes the twist in the tale.

“I started getting a lot of negative vibes,” admitted Bipasha, “I just didn’t feel good living there.” What’s worse — since it was a rented place, she had to send her pet dog Poshto, a Chihuahua the actress absolutely dotes on, to live with her parents at their suburban home.
But the bad vibes in rented apartment really took their toll on her in the last couple of months. And finally Bips locked up the place and began virtually living out of a suitcase. “I’m even endorsing a luggage brand only for this,’’ she joked.

She’s started looking forward to outdoor shoots now, the actress said, “because this way I don’t have to go around Mumbai looking for a roof over my head”.

NBFIs demand tax cut

The Daily star : NBFIs demand tax cut

Leasing and finance companies demanded yesterday a lower tax rate for them than what is being charged in case of banks.The tax rate for banks and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) is same at 45 percent.“It's not practical to keep the banks and NBFIs within the same tax bracket since a major part of revenues of a bank comes from fee-based earnings,” Mafizuddin Sarker, president of Bangladesh Leasing and Finance Companies Association (BLFCA), told a press conference at Sheraton Hotel.

Sarker said banks earn a huge amount from L/Cs (letter of credit), guarantees, remittances and foreign currency exchange, which the NBFIs cannot.“We believe the tax rate for NBFIs should be 5 percent lower than that of the banks,” he told The Daily Star by phone.The association placed an eight-point demand before the government for considering those in the upcoming budget for fiscal 2009-10.

The demands also include allowing depreciation allowance, reduction of tax on dividend income, admissibility of provision for doubtful debt, reduced tax rate for housing finance operation, tax deduction at source and tax exemption for zero coupon bonds.Leasing and finance companies are demanding a less tax rate for them arguing that their cost of fund is significantly higher than the banks'.

The lending rate of the NBFIs is 1.5-2.0 percent higher than the banks as they mobilise fund mainly from the banks for lending their clients. Banks lend them at least at 14 percent.“Moreover, the banks can take short-term deposit at a cheaper rate, which leasing companies cannot because of regulatory restrictions,” the BLFCA president said.

In its budget proposals, already forwarded to the finance ministry, the association demanded that corporate tax should be fixed at 30 percent for publicly listed and 37.5 percent for non-listed financial institutions.At present, both the listed and non-listed NBFIs have to pay 45 percent corporate tax.

The association requested the finance minister to allow depreciation allowance to leasing operation for stimulating investment in capital machinery in the country. The government withdrew the facility in fiscal 2007-08.They also demanded the tax on dividend at 15 percent from 20 percent.Other office bearers of BLFCA were present at the press conference.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

UK 'worst electrical recycler'


BBC NEWS : UK 'worst electrical recycler'

A study on recycling suggests Britons are the worst in Europe when it comes to recycling electrical equipment.Computer manufacturer Dell found that fewer than half of UK residents regularly recycled old hardware, compared with more than 80% of Germans.Within the UK, the Welsh are the worst when it comes to recycling technology; almost 20% have never done so.

It is thought the UK creates enough electrical waste each year to fill Wembley Stadium six times over.Environmental consultant Tony Juniper said that lack of awareness was a serious issue.

"Governments in every country need to make the disposal of old electrical equipment as accessible and commonplace as recycling old paper, plastics and glass," said the former Friends of the Earth director.

In early May, mobile operator 02 looked at what electrical equipment was inside a typical home. It found that there was an average of 2.4 TVs, 1.6 computers, 2.4 games consoles, 3 mobile phones, and 2.2 MP3 players.

Historic legislation

Introduced by the European Commission in 2002, although not coming into force in the UK until January 2007, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) was European legislation designed to "reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment being produced and to encourage everyone to reuse, recycle and recover it".

Jean Cox-Kearns, recycling manager with Dell, told the BBC that one of the reasons Britain lagged was because other countries had implemented the WEEE directive two years before.

"The UK had historic legislation that they had difficulty in implementing," she said.There are concerns that many items that are disposed of - especially computer equipment - still work but have been rendered obsolete by new technology. A number of charities actively collect IT equipment so it can be used in the developing world.

Ms Cox-Kearns acknowledged that was preferable to recycling, although she did have reservations."I agree we should maximise the use of computer equipment. However, we need to find out what happens to the equipment after they [the recipients] are finished with them, otherwise it is effectively dumping."

US credit card firms clamp down


BBC News : US credit card firms clamp down

President Barack Obama has signed into law extensive new restrictions on the ability of US credit card companies to charge fees or raise interest rates."With this bill we are putting in place some common sense reforms designed to protect consumers," he said.The bill is designed to protect credit card users from unexpected fees or increases to their interest rates.

Some of the major US banks have warned the changes may reduce the amount of credit available to some card holders.They say this is because the new rules will make it more difficult for them to set rates based on the risk customers pose. Americans currently owe nearly $1 trillion (£630bn) on their credit cards."This cements a victory for every American consumer who has ever suffered at the hands of the credit card industry," said Senator Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate banking committee.The US government has been concerned to tighten its regulation of the banking system in the light of the credit crunch and banking crisis.

Big changes

The new law, described as a credit card holder "Bill of Rights", is the first of a series of law changes designed to help stave off further financial crises.Among the main provisions of the new law are ones that:

• stop arbitrary interest rate increases and "universal default" on existing balances. In universal default, a lender can change a cardholder's account to costly "default" terms from normal terms when the lender learns the cardholder missed a payment on an account with another lender, even if the cardholder has not defaulted with the first lender

• stop card issuers from raising rates for a cardholder in the first year after an account is opened, and require that promotional rates must last at least six months

• stop issuers from charging fees for spending beyond their limits, unless the cardholder chooses to allow the issuer to process the excess spending, and restrict any "over-limit" fees

• require penalty fees to be reasonable and proportional to the cardholder's omission or violation

• require that cardholders be told how long it would take, and the interest cost involved, in paying off a card balance if they make only the minimum monthly payments

• require that cardholders must get 45 days' notice of interest rate, fee and finance charge increases

Backing off

One important exception to the new restrictions on rate changes are people who are one month or more behind with their repayments.US borrowers in this position will continue to run the risk that their card issuer can decide they are now a bad risk and levy a higher interest rate."We will watch to see how the situation in the US develops," said Sandra Quinn of the UK card association Apacs.

"Many of the new US policies already exist in the UK under the Banking Code and have done for four years," she said.In March, the UK government said it would bring in legislation to stop card firms from raising the credit limit of customers who had not asked for it.It also wants to ban firms from sending out unsolicited credit card cheques to their customers.

In December, the credit card industry gave in to government pressure and agreed a new set of "fair principles" which would see card companies backing off from raising interest rates when customers fall into arrears on their payments.

"We continue to talk regularly to consumer groups and the credit card industry and these discussions, along with proposals to provide further help to people in difficulty with their finances, will be reflected in the forthcoming Consumer White Paper," said the Consumer Affairs Minister, Gareth Thomas.

Friday, May 22, 2009

WiMax, International Gateways tech soon

The Daily Star : WiMax, International Gateways tech soon

The telecom watchdog is likely to open the WiMax and International Gateways technology shortly, said the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission chairman yesterday."Anyone can apply for a licence to operate the WiMax and IGWs, as there is huge demand in the market for the technologies," Zia Ahmed said."The licence will be made available within three months, after revising the present International Long Distance Telecommunication Services (ILDTS) policy,” he added.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a workshop on 'Recent Trends in IP Telephony at Sheraton Hotel, he also said the new licence fee for both the technologies will be lower than the previous rate. REVE Systems, a leading IP Telephony solution provider with customers in more than 50 countries, organised the workshop.Private sector stakeholders now hold three IGWs and two WiMax licences. The WiMax licence acquisition fee was fixed at Tk 215 crore through an auction by BTRC last year.

However, questions arose as to how the former high cost of licence would be justified, if BTRC reduces licence prices. Ahmed said in response, "The government is considering whether the existing hefty licence fee would be repaid to the licensees. But everything will be settled after revising the ILDTS policy."Ahmed also supported the idea of opening up the VoIP (voice over internet protocol) technology. "Like others, I want to say that VoIP must be opened. But for that, a suitable environment is required."

The past caretaker government issued three licences to the private sector to handle international calls to and from Bangladesh. The operators are handling more than 20million minutes calls a day, with a revenue sharing of 62.5 percent with the government.Among the two WiMax licence holders, no one is yet to go for service operation. The Tk 215 crore hefty licence fee has become an obstacle for the operators to start.The BTRC chief's idea to float more IGW licences is making the existing private sector operators anxious.

Muhith eyes Tk 800b revenue target

The Financial Express

Finance Minister AMA Muhith has hinted at fixing the government's overall revenue income target at nearly Tk 800 billion for the next fiscal without putting any extra tax burden on the public.Of the total, the target of generating revenue under the National Board of Revenue (NBR) would be fixed at around Tk 600 billion and the target of revenue from sources outside NBR Tk 180 billion to Tk 200 billion in the budget for the fiscal year (FY) 2009-10, he said Thursday.

In the original budget for the FY 2008-09 the government's total revenue earnings target was set at Tk 693.80 billion - Tk 545 billion under NBR, Tk 22.88 billion non-NBR revenue and Tk 125.92 billion from non-tax sources, according to official figures."In the next budget we will enhance our tax mobilisation target in such a manner that it does not create any additional tax burden on the public," the finance minister said while talking to newsmen at his ministry after a meeting with a delegation of the Newspapers Owners Association of Bangladesh (NOAB), led by its president Mahbubul Alam.

Responding to a question, the finance minister said: "Our general tax policy will be to support the local sectors that are able to produce quality products at competitive prices."About his meeting with the NOAB leaders, Mr Muhith said the local newspaper owners have made two key proposals--maintaining the existing 'zero' tariff rate on import of newsprints and enhancing the allocation in the next budget to facilitate quick payments on the government's advertisement bills.

Not only the quality of local newsprint is lower than the imported, but also the supply of local newsprints is irregular, Mr Muhith informed the media quoting the NOAB representatives as saying."They have informed me that in spite of having poor quality, the price of local newsprint is around 25 per cent higher than the imported," said the minister.

Considering the situation, the local newspaper owners have made a proposal to allow them to import newsprints from abroad as per their requirements, he mentioned.The minister further said the newspaper owners also claimed that the use of 50 per cent local newsprint also created a problem for them.

Also demanding a hike in the government's advertisement bills in line with the pay hikes of newspaper employees under the latest 7th Wage Board, the NOAB leaders proposed to streamline the bill payment system, Mr Muhith mentioned.

The NOAB president informed newsmen that during the meeting they had proposed to keep the existing 'zero' tariff rate on import of newsprint unchanged in the next budget for helping implement the seventh Wage Board.

"We want to use quality newsprint … So, we have urged the finance minister to allow us to freely import from aboard, as is the practice in some other countries including India," Mr Mahbubul Alam said.Responding to a question, he said the finance minister assured the NOAB members of considering their proposals.

The News Today Editor Reazuddin Ahmed, Prothom Alo Editor Motiur Rahman, Sangbad Editor Altamas Kabir and Manab Zamin Editor Motiur Rahman Chowdhury were present at the meeting with the finance minister.

BTCL shares soon


GP, SEC hold talks on IPO

The New Age

Mobile operator Grameenphone on Thursday held a meeting with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the company’s proposal of an initial public offering. ‘It was a routine meeting and we discussed over some of our queries concerning its IPO proposal,’ said SEC chairman Ziaul Haque Khondker.Grameenphone submitted the final IPO prospectus on January 28, but the SEC is yet to give a go-ahead to the $65 million (Tk 449 crore) IPO.

On Tuesday, Grameen-phone’s chief executive officer Oddvar Hesjedal at a meeting at the Chittagong Stock Exchange said the listing of the shares of Grameenphone with the country’s bourses would be finalised soon.Oddvar Hesjedal led the Grameenphone’s team in the Thursday’s meeting with the SEC, Ziaul Haque said.
The SEC chief said, ‘Grameenphone has decided to change the face value of its shares.’
On May 7, the SEC decided not to allow any public limited company to float shares with having the face value below Tk 10. The capital market regulator made the decision in line with an earlier proposal of the Dhaka Stock Exchange, the country’s prime bourse. Grameenphone, which is waiting for the SEC’s approval for its IPO with a face value of Tk 1 each share, excluding premium, is required to change face value under the new situation.
The Grameenphone’s $60 million pre-IPO has already been settled with more than 40 local institutional investors.An air of uncertainty loomed over the fate of Grameenphone’s IPO as the SEC did not approve the IPO application of the mobile phone company within a stipulated time. In line with securities rules, the SEC has to approve any IPO within 60 days after the final submission of a prospectus. However, the rules allow the SEC to extend the deadline.

Banglalink hints at merger


Banglalink hints at merger ; Sustaining competition is the goal: CEO

The Daily Star

Mobile phone operator Banglalink, owned by Egyptian Orascom Telecom Holdings, hinted yesterday in favour of a possible merger with AKTEL, saying consolidation is an option among many other strategies of the company to sustain in the competitive market.

"Except for the market leader, others are continually posting losses. In order to sustain in this fiercely competitive market, and in line with our growth ambitions, we are considering many strategies of which consolidation is an option," said Ahmed Abou Doma, chief executive officer of Banglalink, in a statement.

His statement came following media reports about the merger issue, which was disclosed by Orascom Telecom Holdings Chairman Naguib Sawiris recently.Meanwhile, employees of both the operators are in a fear of possible job cuts amid talks for the merger.But Doma dismissed the speculation over job losses.

He said: "On the contrary, a consolidation that results in the formation of a bigger and stronger entity is in a much better position to utilise its workforce and protect their interests. The resulting growth would require a bigger workforce and thus have a positive impact on the overall socio-economic scenario of the country.”

Now around 4,000 employees are working for the two companies.Explaining the recent merger developments, Doma said the telecom industry in Bangladesh is already crowded with too many operators. In most developed and developing countries there are not more than 2 to 3 operators, whereas in Bangladesh there are 6, he added.

Doma also pointed out that “consolidation is beneficial if it creates better synergies -- this usually leads to more efficient sharing of resources in terms of infrastructure, procurement, and marketing. All possible options are being evaluated at this stage”.He said it is correct to point out that at this stage all strategic options are being reviewed that are not necessarily restricted to any one operator in particular.

"It's too premature to give any indication whatsoever regarding concrete details about the potential consolidation options and timelines at this stage," he said."Once our negotiations on different fronts that are being explored reach a more concrete stage, we will obviously share the proposition with telecom watchdog and other government entities concerned,” he said.Banglalink is yet to break even although it holds the market's second position with 10.90 million customers as of April 2009.

The operator's probable consolidation partner AKTEL holds the third position in the market with 8.83 million subscribers as of April.Telekom Malaysia International has 70 percent stake and Japanese NTT DoCoMo the rest in AKTEL.

At present, the top three operators -- Grameenphone, Banglalink and AKTEL -- hold more than 90 percent market share. Norwegian Telenor's majority shareholding company Grameenphone is in the number one position with 46 percent market share and 21.02 million customers as of April 2009.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Folic acid protects baby hearts


BBC News

Mandatory fortification of bread with folic acid would slash the risk of babies being born with a heart problem, experience from Canada shows.

Rates of severe congenital heart defects among newborns in Quebec fell significantly after the move to fortify flour and pasta began in 1998.The British Medical Journal online study lends support to calls for introducing fortification to Europe.But others argue against this, saying it would inevitably harm some people.

The fear is that adding folic acid to products like bread could harm some elderly people if they are deficient in other B vitamins.In extreme cases, this can cause irreversible damage to the nervous system.There is also concern that it may also increase the risk of certain cancers, including bowel cancer, in some people.

In 2007 the UK's watchdog, the Food Standards Agency, agreed with expert recommendations to fortify bread or flour with folic acid.Since then, at the request of the Chief Medical Officer, an expert working group on folate has been considering the results of recent trials looking at the effect of folic acid on the risk of some types of cancer.The group is expected to report back to Sir Liam Donaldson this summer.

Risk reduction

Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, a B vitamin found in a wide variety of foods including liver and green leafy vegetables.Pregnant women and those trying to conceive are already advised to take folic acid supplements to reduce the risk that their baby will have a "neural tube" birth defect like spina bifida.But uptake is not ideal, particularly because some pregnancies are unplanned and can go unnoticed for some weeks.

The latest work suggests folic acid also cuts the risk of baby heart defects.In the seven years after fortification was introduced there was a 6% drop per year in the birth prevalence of severe heart defects.This compares with a 9% drop in neural tube defects.

Writing in the BMJ, lead author Professor Louise Pilote of McGill University in Montreal, said: "Given that severe congenital heart defects require complex surgical interventions in infancy and are associated with high infant mortality rates, even a small reduction in the overall risk will significantly reduce the costs associated with the medical care of these patients and the psychological burden on patients and their families."

Weighing the risks

The British Heart Foundation said the risks and benefits of fortification must be carefully weighed.A spokeswoman said: "This Canadian study shows that when folic acid was added to flour and pasta the number of babies born with certain severe heart conditions was reduced.

"While the decrease in babies born with heart conditions during this time is statistically significant, many children were still born with congenital heart disease."This must be taken into account when considering the benefits of routinely introducing folic acid to flour and pasta in the UK.

"Especially because routine introduction could pose a risk to some elderly people as potentially dangerous vitamin B12 deficiency can be masked by high intake of folic acid."

Alternative suggested

Dr Sian Astley, a scientist for the Institute of Food Research, said: "Personally, I do not think mandatory fortification is the way forward. It is like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.

"It would reduce ill health in children but there are cautionary issues.

"An alternative would be to fortify only certain foods and clearly label them so consumers can make the choice. Co-fortification with other B vitamins would be another sensible option."

She said the IFR believes there is still insufficient evidence to make a decision about whether the benefits of fortification would outweigh the risks.

Global economy at turning point

The New Age

The global economy, hit by the worst slump in decades, is now at a turning point, with recovery apparent in some cases and the downturn slowing in others, top central bankers said on Monday.
‘We are, as far as growth is concerned, around the inflection point in the (economic) cycle,’ European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet said, speaking as the spokesman of the Group of 10 central banks.
‘In all cases, we see a slowing down of the decrease of GDP that has been observed in the last quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year,’ he said after a regular G10 meeting.

‘In certain cases you see already a picking up, in other cases you see it continuing to fall but at a lower pace.’
In particular, Trichet said ‘a number of emerging economies seem to be beyond the inflection point.’
Separately, ECB governing council member Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez said that the worst may be over for the 16-nation eurozone.
‘There are signs that the worst (of the economic slump) was in the first quarter,’ he told reporters on the sidelines of the central bankers meeting.
At their March meeting, the G10 central bankers felt the global economy was ‘approaching’ a pick-up point.
The G10 groups 11 countries — but still retains its original name — Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, who consult and cooperate on economic, monetary and financial matters.
Trichet also warned on Monday that the world had to remain vigilant as the process was ‘ongoing.’
‘We have to remain alert, we are in uncharted waters, even if we are at the inflection point and even beyond in certain economies,’ he said.

Single-digit bank rate


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Banks warned against rule breach

The Daily Star

The central bank has warned boards of directors and chief executive officers of private commercial banks against any violation of rules in governing the institutions, said a circular issued yesterday.

The Bangladesh Bank (BB) has also instructed the boards and CEOs of the banks to exercise their authority in line with a previous BB order issued in 2003.

The allegations, which are usually brought against chairman and directors of a bank, include intervention in loan approval process and regular administrative works, staying in the bank without any board meeting and unauthorised use of cars, telephone, staff and office room.

The BB also came down on the boards for forming some formal and informal committees, which it said are unnecessary.

The central bank observed that the CEOs of many banks are not exercising their authority in line with the Banking Company Act 1991.

Even the CEOs do not feel it necessary to inform the BB of any violation of regulations in their banks although it is mandatory for them to do so, the central bank said.

The BB also blamed the CEOs for not developing loan, risk and human resources management guidelines in their respective banks.

“The irregularities are a matter of concern and go against good governance,” said the circular.

A senior BB official told The Daily Star that for the banks, the roles of the CEO and the chairman of the board were clearly defined through a BB circular issued on July 24, 2003.

He said guidelines have also been issued regarding responsibility and accountability of the board, chairman of the board, and CEO/managing director of financial institutions to ensure transparency, accountability, and dynamism in overall financial, managerial, and administrative policies and executive activities.

“But we found that boards of directors and CEOs of many banks are violating the guidelines prescribed in the 2003 circular,” the official said, asking not to be named.

He said the BB as the regulator of banks and non-bank financial institutions in the country issued the new circular to warn them against any future violation.

The BB also instructed the banks to place the circular at their next board meetings.

Meanwhile, the central bank issued another circular on regulation of lending to the directors of financial institutions.

The circular asked the CEOs of financial institutions to mention any loan, guarantee or security given to or against a director's name in the balance sheet.

A director will not be allowed to receive more than 50 percent of his/her paid-up share capital, it said.

The BB also asked them to follow the Financial Institutions Act 1993 strictly.


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