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Newspaper / BTRC refuses to accept operators’ quarterly payment sans VAT
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 02:00:13 PM »
BTRC refuses to accept operators’ quarterly payment sans VAT

The telecom regulator has refrained from receiving mobile phone operators’ various payments for the April-June quarter after the latter declined to include the associated value-added tax in the sum.

Yesterday was the last day for making the payments, amounting to Tk 1,000 crore and pertaining to revenue sharing, social obligation fund, annual spectrum fee etc.

The operators say they were withholding the VAT as the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) does not have the relevant registration to receive it.

SM Farhad, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh (Amtob), said according to the recently passed VAT and Supplementary Duty Act 2012, it was mandatory for suppliers or service entities, including the BTRC, to have the VAT registration.

Under section 49(2), if a supplier is not registered or enlisted, and if a combined tax invoice and withholding certificate is not issued, the withholding entity shall not receive any supply from such supplier and shall pay no price against such supply to the supplier, he said.

The mobile phone operators want to pay the charges to the regulator to run the telecommunication service uninterrupted for the sake of more than 16 crore mobile users but the BTRC refused to accept it, the Amtob said.

However, Md Jahurul Haque, the BTRC chairman, said the commission would receive the payments sans the VAT only if the operators could produce in writing that the National Board of Revenue (NBR) would itself be receiving the VAT.

“Even if they do collect the NBR note, the last date has already passed and the operators failed to make their payments, so they will be charged 15 percent in late fees,” he said in the evening yesterday.

The VAT amount is huge and could be about Tk 150 crore, and the BTRC can’t take a decision on it by itself, Haque said.

Earlier, the Amtob had requested both the NBR and the BTRC to find a way for the quarterly charges to be paid avoiding legal complications but did not receive any response till date.

BTRC officials say if the commission gets registered, the operators will be able to claim rebates on the VAT, but NBR officials are not willing to register it.

Newspaper / GP’s profit falls despite record revenue
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 01:58:00 PM »
GP’s profit falls despite record revenue

Grameenphone raked in Tk 3,603.82 crore in revenue in the April-June period this year, the highest in a single quarter, driven by growth in voice and data usage due to improved network.

The receipts in the second quarter of the year were up 10.63 percent year-on-year.

However, the mobile phone operator’s profit declined 8.12 percent to Tk 955.28 crore in the quarter, according to its financial statement published yesterday. Earnings per share stood at Tk 7.07.

A board meeting of the operator on Sunday decided to declare 90 percent interim cash dividend.   

“GP is very happy about the business growth amid huge regulatory challenges,” said Michael Patrick Foley, chief executive officer of the company.

He said the operator delivered strong business performance in the first half of the year.

In the last quarter, GP focused on improving the network resilience and modernising it as well as expanding 4G services, covering 62 percent of the population of Bangladesh, he said. GP witnessed growth in voice and data revenue as well as in usage and subscriber base.

Foley said despite the additional supplementary duty on mobile phone use, the company would continue to protect the interest of the shareholders and provide value to customers. GP acquired 13 lakh new subscribers and 16 lakh internet subscribers in the quarter.

Data revenue grew more than 18 percent to Tk 720 crore. Each internet user now uses 1.5 GB data on an average every month, up from 986MB a year ago. At the end of June, 52.8 percent of its total subscribers were using internet services. The market leader has 84 lakh active 4G users.

Mustafa Alim Aolad, deputy chief financial officer of GP, said the company continues to acquire quality subscribers. With investment in network rollout, he is optimistic about delivering profitable growth going forward.

In the last three months, GP invested Tk 380 crore for network coverage and installed 1,560 new 4G sites.

On Dhaka Stock Exchange yesterday, the share of GP, the lone listed mobile phone operator in the market, traded between Tk 341 and Tk 353.4, before closing at Tk 352.2.

Newspaper / BTRC may withdraw block on bandwidth of GP, Robi tomorrow
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 01:56:06 PM »
BTRC may withdraw block on bandwidth of GP, Robi tomorrow

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission may withdraw the bandwidth capped on Grameenphone and Robi for the relief of crores of internet users of the two leading mobile phone operators.

BTRC Chairman Md Jahurul Haque said after a meeting at telecom division with Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Adviser Sajeeb Wazed Joy, they decided to revisit the bandwidth capping and evaluate the whole issue.

On June 4, the telecom regulator slashed Grameenphone’s bandwidth by 30 per cent and Robi’s by 15 per cent -- to slow down the internet speed and raise the call drop frequency of the two operators for non-payment of dues detected in audits.

The BTRC’s audit claim that Tk 12,579.95 crore of the Grameenphone and Tk 867.24 crore of Robi are pending and it has issued demand notes to the respective operators several times but they ignored.

“We will try to evaluate the situation who much customers and revenue share are affected and will go for new decisions in this regard,” said Haque.

He said the PM’s ICT advisor asked them to rethink about the bandwidth capping as it suffers customers and commission will give top priority to the customers.

Senior officials of the two-market leaders said capping bandwidth severely affected their internet services and it has gone off at some parts of the country as the internet speed become slow.

“Blocking any kind of no-objection certificate (NOC) would be our next course of action,” he said adding that the telecom act allows appointing administrators to resolve the issue.

Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar presided over the meeting where top officials of telecom division and its other wings including the BTRC, among other, were present.

Newspaper / Double-digit export growth in FY19
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 01:53:24 PM »
Double-digit export growth in FY19

The country’s merchandise export earnings grew by 10.55 percent year-on-year to $40.53 billion in the immediate past fiscal year riding on a high volume of garment shipment in a favourable external business environment.

The earnings were 3.94 percent higher than the annual target of $39 billion in 2018-19. In 2017-18, Bangladesh exported goods worth $36.66 billion.

However, June recorded one of the lowest export receipts at $2.78 billion, which is also 5.27 percent less than that of the corresponding month in the previous fiscal year, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data released yesterday.

In June of 2017-18, Bangladesh’s export earnings were $2.93 billion.

June’s receipts were also 22.65 percent lower than the monthly target of $3.60 billion set by the government. In Bangladesh, the fiscal year is counted between July of a year and June of the next year.

Garment export earnings, which accounted for over 84 percent of the national exports, amounted to $34.13 billion, registering an 11.49 percent year-on-year growth.

Of the amount, $16.88 billion came from knitwear and $17.24 billion from woven garment products.

Earnings from apparel shipment were 4.57 percent higher than the target of $32.68 billion. Some $30.61 billion was earned in fiscal 2017-18.

“The earnings from June indicate that the future trend is not so good for the garment sector,” said Faisal Samad, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), over the phone.

Although garment shipments grew by 11.49 percent, international retailers and brands are not paying higher prices while purchasing garment items from Bangladesh, he said.

However, Bangladesh is getting more work orders that shifted from China resulting from the US-China trade war, Samad said. Buyers are more confident as the image of the country’s garment sector has brightened a lot recently because of the remediation carried out as per requirements of the international community.

The country’s garment export to the US market, the single largest export destination for garment, grew more than 10 percent in recent months because of the trade war, he said.

“The exact value addition has not been reflected in the offered prices for Bangladeshi garment items by the international clothing retailers and brands although the cost of doing business is increasing every year for various reasons,” Samad said.

Moreover, an unhealthy price competition has been hurting the Bangladesh’s garment sector for many years as many small and medium factories have been receiving work orders for offering prices below the production cost only to keep factories running, he added.

Apart from apparel, some other sectors also fared well.

The shipment of frozen and live fish such as shrimp and crabs rose 1.58 percent to $500.4 million and that of agricultural products such as tea, vegetables, fruits, spices, dry food, and tobacco surged 34.92 percent to $908.96 million.

Pharmaceuticals, furniture, petroleum byproducts, plastic goods, ceramics, handicrafts, cotton, cotton products (yarn and wastes of fabrics), carpet, terry towel, footwear, wigs, and furniture performed better in the last fiscal year.

However, leather and leather goods and jute and jute goods continued their poor show. Leather and leather goods fetched $1.01 billion, down 6.06 percent year-on-year. This is largely because many tanneries that have shifted to the leather estate in Savar have not embarked on full-fledged production yet.

The sector is the only segment that had crossed the $1-billion export mark after garments last year. Exports of jute and jute goods, another important foreign currency earner, fell 20.41 percent year-on-year to $816.27 million.

The sector’s earnings are declining mainly because of higher use of jute goods like sacks in the domestic market and the anti-dumping duty slapped by India.

Home textiles, building materials, ships and bicycles also performed poorly.

Newspaper / Garment exporters call for faster customs service
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 01:49:18 PM »
Garment exporters call for faster customs service

Garment exporters yesterday demanded a faster and more efficient service from the customs houses of Dhaka, Chattogram and Benapole ports as some of them are facing troubles in their business operations.

Many garment entrepreneurs are becoming victims of harassment by a section of officials as notices are being served to factory owners for not attaching the details of back-to-back letters of credit with the utilisation declaration (UD) of bonded goods.

There is a trust deficit regarding the services between the officials of the customs and bond facility users, said Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), at a meeting between the leaders of the trade body and the customs bond commissionerate, the customs houses of Dhaka, Chattogram and Benapole at the BGMEA office in Dhaka.

Huq suggested forming a joint committee involving the officials of the Bond Commissionerate of Dhaka, the customs houses of Dhaka, Chattogram and Benapole ports and representatives from the BGMEA and clearing and forwarding agents for easing the activities of bond related issues in garment business. She also demanded automation of bond management so that the entrepreneurs can easily complete the audit efficiently.

Huq also said recently officials of the customs bond commissionerate and customs intelligence have issued show-cause notices to factory owners and fined them during the inspection of bonded warehouses.

As a result, exporters are facing trouble, she said. The BGMEA chief also suggested the bond commissionerate give the names of bond abusers to the trade body so that official action can be taken against the abusers.

Md Azizur Rahman, commissioner of the Customs Bond Commissionerate of Chittagong, said they are ready to lend cooperation to achieve the target of $50 billion in garment export by 2021.

He informed the meeting that a committee has already been formed in the Chittagong customs for resolving any customs related problem quickly.

Newspaper / Samsung’s Eid campaign offers free electronics
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 01:47:34 PM »
Samsung’s Eid campaign offers free electronics

Samsung has launched a “Meet the Eid” campaign marking the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha offering free consumer electronics and cashbacks on purchase of select models of refrigerators, televisions and washing machines till August 11.

Televisions, washing machines and microwave ovens are coming free with purchase of the refrigerators alongside cashbacks of up to Tk 50,000, says a press release.

There are offers for newly introduced side-by-side refrigerator Spacemax while cash backs and exchange offers on upright freezers.

Free soundbars and televisions alongside cashbacks of up to Tk 200,000 are available on purchase of the televisions while vacuum cleaners with the washing machines.

Air conditioner are accompanied by cashbacks of up to Tk 6,000 and washing machines of up to Tk 10,000.

Exchange offers and cashbacks can only be availed separately.

Free gift boxes (until stock lasts) are being provided with refrigerators and microwave ovens while a subscription of iflix and discount vouchers for Akash DTH with televisions.

Newspaper / Facing Olympic hotel shortage, Tokyo looks offshore
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 01:44:52 PM »
Facing Olympic hotel shortage, Tokyo looks offshore

Tokyo is facing a shortage of accommodation when Olympic fans pour into the Japanese capital for next year’s Games so officials are looking offshore -- to moored cruise ships operating as floating hotels.

Despite a construction boom, Tokyo could be short as many as 14,000 rooms given an expected surge of Olympics-related tourism, according to researchers.

Local officials think one solution could be to put people up in giant ships temporarily docked off Tokyo and nearby Yokohama during the Games.

Among those on board with the idea is Japan’s largest travel agency JTB, which has chartered the 1,011-cabin Sun Princess for the Olympic period, complete with everything from jacuzzis to a theatre.

The agency is offering packages that combine rooms with Olympic event tickets, but they don’t come cheap.

Two nights in a room with a balcony combined with tickets to an Olympic football match will run 200,000 yen ($1,850), while two nights in a 50-square-metre suite combined with baseball tickets will go for 724,000 yen ($6,700).

The agency said it was confident about demand, partly because  “we will have a shortage of hotels of a certain standard”, said Minoru Kuge, head of JTB’s Tokyo2020 Project Office.

“Although we can’t disclose the actual numbers, we have received an excellent reaction from our customers”, he told AFP on a tour of the luxury ship.

And Kuge said he expected the package to have a special draw --  “a sense of unity” among customers who will all be cheering on Olympic athletes.

Elsewhere, plans have been negotiated for the 928-cabin Explorer Dream ship to dock in Kawasaki, in western Tokyo bay.

And both Tokyo’s local government and officials in Chiba prefecture, east of the capital, are looking into additional cruise ship possibilities.

Japan’s hotel business law bans rooms without a window, but the health ministry last year issued an ordinance that allows ships with windowless cabins to be used as hotels during major events.

But experts warn that a few cruise ships may not be enough.

“It is unclear if hotels ships in the Tokyo Bay will be able to cover hotel rooms shortage,” warned a report on the issue published in October by Mizuho Research Institute.

Even the number of tourists the capital can expect remains unclear because the increase in Olympic visitors may be balanced out by other tourists opting to stay away until the Games are done.

Regardless, Tokyo officials see the ships as a novel accommodation solution, and are also planning to open a new cruise ship terminal days before the Games began.

Officials and industry experts hope using docked ships for extra hotel space will become common in the country, as a way to cater to visitors during special events, or even help people displaced during disasters.

“If a provincial city wants to host an international convention or other big events but doesn’t have enough accommodation, hotel ships can be a solution,” said Yoshimi Tajima, JTB’s senior official at the corporate business department.

Newspaper / Canada is ‘closest transatlantic partner’ of EU, says Tusk
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 01:42:10 PM »
Canada is ‘closest transatlantic partner’ of EU, says Tusk

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched the Canada-EU summit Wednesday by praising the  “progress” resulting from CETA, their free trade deal, while European Council president Donald Tusk called Ottawa the bloc’s  “closest transatlantic partner.” Their mutual praise contrasted with the strained ties between Europe and the United States under President Donald Trump and his protectionist administration.

“CETA goes far beyond lowering trade barriers and reaching new markets... With CETA, we’re doing trade differently,” Trudeau said at the start of the 17th summit.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) went into effect in practically its entirety in September 2017 and so far has been ratified by 13 of the 28 European Union member states and Canada.

The pact removes tariffs on nearly all goods and services between Canada and Europe, which the EU says eliminates 590 million euros ($890 million Canadian/$665 million) in customs duties each year.  Since the accord came into effect, EU exports to Canada have risen 15 percent, a European official said.

Canadian exports to the EU rose seven percent in 2018 compared to the previous year to $44.5 billion, according to Canadian government figures.

But the agreement is controversial: some environmentalists, social activists and free trade sceptics argue it gives too much power to corporations and does not give citizens a balancing right to take legal action if companies break the rules.

Newspaper / Samsung asks partners to stockpile Japanese components
« Last post by Priya on July 22, 2019, 01:40:10 PM »
Samsung asks partners to stockpile Japanese components

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics has sent letters to local partners urging them to stockpile more Japanese components in case Tokyo expands its export restrictions, a source with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

The move comes in the face of Tokyo’s curbs on some exports of high-tech materials to South Korea that threaten to disrupt the global supply of microchips used by technology companies around the world.

The source, who spoke on condition on anonymity, said the letters were recently sent to local suppliers for the smartphone and home appliances businesses.

Earlier on Thursday, Yonhap news agency reported that Samsung had sent the letters and was  “exploring all possible means” to secure more components in preparation for Japan possibly expanding the restrictions.

In letters sent earlier this week, Samsung asked partners to secure components by the end of July, or before Aug. 15 at the latest, the Yonhap report says.

Samsung, the world’s biggest memory chipmaker, declined to comment on the report.

Japan is considering whether to remove South Korea from its  “white list” of countries with minimum trade restrictions, a move South Korean officials have said would cause a  “tremendous amount of problems” and strain ties between Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

Samsung has told its partners it would shoulder the additional costs of stockpiling the components, the report says.

Many of the deadliest cancers receive the least amount of research funding

Many of the deadliest or most common cancers get the least amount of nonprofit research funding, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study that examined the distribution of nonprofit research funding in 2015 across cancer types.

Colon, endometrial, liver and bile duct, cervical, ovarian, pancreatic and lung cancers were all poorly funded compared to how common they are and how many deaths they cause, the study found. In contrast, breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and pediatric cancers were all well-funded, respective to their impact on society.

The study is the first to compare nonprofit funding distribution in the United States across cancer types. It will be published July 18 in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

"The goal of this study is not to divert funds away from cancers that are well-supported, but rather expand funding for other cancers that aren't getting enough support currently," said corresponding author Dr. Suneel Kamath, who was the chief fellow in the department of hematology and oncology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine when he conducted the study. "These are all deadly and life-altering diseases that deserve our attention and support."

Cancer-related nonprofit organizations play an important role in funding medical research, supporting the education of patients and their families and influencing health policy. Underfunding of these common cancers could negatively impact research, drug development and the number of FDA drug approvals for poorly funded cancers.

"Well-funded patient advocacy organizations should be applauded for their successes," said co-author Dr. Sheetal Kircher, assistant professor of hematology and oncology at Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine oncologist. "We hope to bring awareness to the organizations with less relative funding so we can collaborate to improve funding and outcomes for all patients with cancer."

The study also explored factors that may influence which cancers receive more public support over others. Cancers that are associated with a stigmatized behavior, such as lung cancer with smoking or liver cancer with drinking, were all poorly funded.

"Shame and discomfort with talking about our bowels and 'private parts' may be reducing funding for diseases like colon or endometrial cancer," Kamath said.

The nationwide study, conducted between October 2017 and February 2018, used IRS tax records to identify all nonprofit organizations that support any type of cancer and made at least $5 million in annual revenue in 2015. The scientists examined 119 organizations with a total of $5.98 billion in annual revenue. Most of this ($4.59 billion) went to general cancer charities with no focus on one disease (e.g. American Cancer Society).

The authors compared the amount of revenue for each cancer type with the number of new cases, number of deaths and number of years of life lost to see if the amount of funding for each cancer is proportional to how common and/or deadly it is.

Dr. Al Benson, professor of hematology and oncology at Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine oncologist, also is a study author. Benson and Kircher also are members of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

The study was not funded or supported by any government, nonprofit or industry entities.

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