Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal disclosed that seven state-owned enterprises in the energy and power sector will be offloading shares in in the capital market "soon". Two of them - Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company and the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh, are already listed on the stock exchange. The others are North-West Power Generation Company, Electricity Generation of Bangladesh, Ashuganj Power Station Company, B-R Powergen Ltd and Gas Transmission Company.

The government will appoint "good firms" to have the assets of the companies re-valued within two months in order to determine the prices of the shares, according to Kamal. He was speaking to reporters after a meeting with top officials stock market regulator BSEC and the government firms. Initially, the companies will offer 10 to 25 percent of their shares. The firms that are already listed on the market will also offload 10 percent shares anew, he added.

The government exhausted its net borrowing target for the fiscal year of 2019-20 from the banking system in just six months (July-December) with the net borrowing reaching Tk 48,015.81 crore (480 billion) in the period. In the budget for the fiscal year 2019-2020, the government had projected to borrow Tk 47,364 (473 billion) crore from the banking sector. The latest borrowing figure shows that the government's bank borrowing has already exceeded the target by Tk 651.81 crore (6.5 billion) with another six months of the fiscal year to spare.

The net bank borrowing went on to exceed Tk 508 billion till January 15 of the current fiscal, according to a Bangladesh Bank internal update. The Ministry of Finance is now working on a revised bank borrowing target for FY '20, in view of the falling trend in sales of national savings instruments.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research has so far conducted coronavirus tests on 39 Bangladeshis, who came back home from China in recent weeks, but none of them were found infected with the new Coronavirus, officials said. People coming back to Bangladesh from China are being screened at the airports, seaports and land ports and those who are found with symptoms such as fever, sneezing and coughing are being tested by the IEDCR, said its director Meerjady Sabrina Flora.

Bangladesh this week evacuated 312 nationals from Wuhan, the epicentre of the disease. They all are in isolation at the Hajj Camp near the Dhaka airport. Among the returnee Bangladeshis, two were admitted to the Kurmitola General Hospital after they came down with a fever and headache. The IEDCR director however said: "The two were taken to the hospital as part of a precautionary measure and they were not infected with the coronavirus."

Grameenphone may not be able to sell any more new SIMs "in a week or two" as it is close to exhausting the number of SIMs it was allowed to sell with the second three-digit prefix (013) allocated to it by the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, its first Bangladeshi CEO said after taking charge this week. The company may face a major crisis unless the regulator allocates a new prefix to it, or allows it to resell SIMs that that have not been used in 15 months and thus assumed to be out of use, said Yasir Azman.

BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque however has said that GP's crisis would only be solved once it paid the money it owed the government. An audit of GP, ordered by BTRC in 2015, concluded that the company owed the government Tk 12,579.95 crore. GP has always disputed the audit claim and refused to pay up. The case continues in the country's courts.

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