Nation this week
The government raised the retail price of gas by 14.5 percent to 178.9 percent for industries, power plants and commercial establishments, who together account for 78 percent of gas use in Bangladesh, as it looks to lessen its unsustainable subsidy burden. The development is set to fuel a fresh round of inflation. From next month, the price of gas used for power generation will be Tk 14 for each cubic metre, up 178.9 percent from the existing rate, as per the gazette notification from the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.
For captive power plants and industries, gas will cost Tk 30 per cubic metre. That would be a 150 percent hike for large industries, 154.7 percent for medium industries and 178.3 percent for small and cottage industries. For captive power plants, it would be an increase of 87.5 percent. The tariff for households, fertiliser production, CNG-run vehicles and tea gardens will remain unchanged.
Ahmed Zaker and Co Chartered Accountants has been banned from auditing all listed companies and mutual funds as the accountancy firm did not attend any enquiry hearing of four mutual funds of UFS Asset Management. The Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC) shared the information yesterday through an order. The BSEC said the audit firm did not attend the hearing for the enquiry of UFS IBBL Shariah Unit Fund, UFS-Popular Life Unit Fund, UFS-Padma Life Islamic Unit Fund, and UFS-Bank Asia Unit Fund.
Universal Financial Solutions Ltd was the fund manager of the funds and Ahmed Zaker and Co was the external auditor. The enquiry committee found evidence of some unprofessional activities conducted by the audit firm, the stock market regulator said. UFS Asset Management has embezzled Tk 158 crore in investors' funds from the mutual funds. Ahmed Zaker and Co Chartered Accountants shall not be the auditor of any mutual funds and listed company till further instruction of the commission.
The European Union is interested in sending polls observers for Bangladesh's next general election. Ambassador Charles Whiteley, head of the 11-member EU delegation visiting Bangladesh, said this after a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal. "We are very heartened by the positive comments by the Bangladesh authorities about welcoming foreign observers," he told reporters.
Whiteley said they discussed a wide range of issues on preparations for the next polls. Everybody wants a participatory, peaceful, and fair election and that is in everybody's interest, he added. Meanwhile, the CEC said there were still some disagreements between political parties on some issues and the atmosphere was not congenial yet for polls. "We are advancing as per the roadmap we have. We are preparing and we will hold the election on time. We also made it clear to them [the EU delegation]," said CEC Kazi Habibul Awal.
Over 1,000 illegal money changers are in operation laundering several hundred crores of taka daily through unlawful transactions of foreign currencies, the Criminal Investigation Department of police said based on the Bangladesh Bank data. Even some registered money changers exchange currencies without endorsement, and are involved in hundi. The investigation agency came up with this information after arresting 14 people engaged in illegal money exchange and over-the-rate transactions while conducting drives in Dhaka this week. During the drive, a total of Tk 1,99,61,376, including foreign currencies of 19 countries worth Tk 1,11,19,826, were seized.
Bangladesh Bank has been coordinating with law enforcement agencies through the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit that reported an increase of 62.33 percent in suspicious transactions and activities related to money laundering in the financial year 2021-2022 over the previous financial year. Experts fear that such a trend would contribute to the ongoing dollar crisis, further affecting the country's overall economy.
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