Monthly Archives: April 2008

State-owned co joins shipbuilding soon

State-owned co joins shipbuilding soon

FHM Humayan Kabir

A state-owned company will soon join the newly emerging export-oriented shipbuilding industry that has been witnessing a boom in the country recently.

Dockyard & Engineering Works Limited (DEWL), the country’s oldest shipbuilder now being run by the Bangladesh Navy, will develop its existing infrastructure to international standard to lure export orders from overseas buyers, managing director of the company Captain Mahmud Ali said.

“We will enter into joint ventures with experienced local or international shipbuilders to develop our shipyard. We’ve already requested for expression of interests from several companies for entering into joint venture partnership with us,” he said.

“I hope we will be able to do so within a couple of months. Then we will start development of our existing shipyard and bring it to world standard level to acquire ocean-going ship construction orders from the abroad,” Mahmud Ali, who is also a captain of Bangladesh Navy told the FE.

The DEWL, established in 1926, is situated in 22 acres of land at Sonakanda in Narayangaj district on the bank of Sitalakhya River.

It has all the facilities for building Ro-Ro Ferry, Tug Boats, Inland & Coastal Vessels, Barges etc. It has also repair and maintenance facilities apart from equipment to produce industrial spares.

The company is well equipped with slipway, workshops having facilities of lathe shear, press, drill, grinding, boring, milling, cranes, forklifts, jack, pulleys etc. The slipway measures 298’X290′ with a capacity to dock vessels upto 300 feet in length and dead load of 780 tonnes.

The state-owned DEWL, once operational, will be the seventh company in the country to enter into the booming shipbuilding industry, after the Ananda, Chittagong-based Western Marine, Fatullah-based Highspeed, Meghnaghat-based Khan Brothers and Meghna Group and Karnaphuli-based Rangs Group.

The Khan Brothers, Meghna Group and Rangs Group are now working to set up world standard shipyard to bag international orders of ocean-going ships.

The Ananda, Western Marine and Highspeed Group have already bagged export orders worth nearly $350 million since the country emerged as a new global destination of shipbuilding last year.

Experts said Bangladesh has become a new destination for construction of small sea vessels, with an annual market of $400 billion, as traditional shipbuilding nations such as South Korea, Japan and China now focus on larger vessels.

Even Vietnam, which is relatively new in shipbuilding, is no longer interested to build ships of less than 25,000 tonnes capacity.

“We are confident that after developing our shipyard into international standard we can be able to build ocean-going vessel weighing up to 8,000 dead weight tonnes,” Mahmud Ali said.

We already have some expertise to build cargo vessels, repair private vessels, marine ships and build necessary motorised boats of Bangladesh Navy, he said.

The DEWL managing director said a lot of shipbuilding experts, who once used to work in this company, were now working in country’s renowned shipbuilding companies like Ananda, Western Marine and High Speed.

Capt Mahmud Ali said: “As the major ship building countries like South Korea, Japan, China, Singapore, India and Vietnam have no spare capacity for taking new orders, the international shipping companies are courcing out new destination. This prospect has prompted us to develop our shipyard for securing some of those orders.”

Since DWEL has some modern facilities and also have expert manpower, the enterprise will be bale to able million-dollar export orders from abroad to construct ocean-going vessels, he added.


Orange, SK Telecom, Etisalat eye investment

Orange, SK Telecom, Etisalat eye investment
Company reps in Dhaka this week for talks
Md Hasan

Delegates of three big telecoms companies– UK-based Orange Telecom, South Korean SK Telecom and UAE’s Etisalat — start meeting telecoms regulator tomorrow to investigate investment opportunities in Bangladesh.

High officials of the three companies will meet Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) chief between tomorrow and Wednesday to explore investment potentiality in submarine cable and WiMAX technology and mobile phone as well.

The news came at the moment when the BTRC forecast that the number of mobile phone subscribers would be doubled to 7 crore by 2010 and the sector’s turnover would also reach to Tk 50,000 crore by 2011.

“We have got huge responses from the world’s telecoms giants. And the visit of these companies to the country means how Bangladesh has become a significant hub for telecoms,” Major General (retd) Manzurul Alam, chairman of BTRC, told reporters yesterday.

The telecoms regulator said perhaps the companies are coming to explore opportunities in WiMAX, private submarine cable and joint ventures in existing mobile operators.

“We will introduce a service for telecoms investors under which maximum procedures will be completed by the BTRC so that investors can decide to invest here sitting in one office,” Alam said.

BTRC has taken up initiatives to bring back discipline in the telecoms sector.

The BTRC is working hard to introduce the latest technologies like WiMAX and third generation mobile phone, Alam said.

India’s Reliance, Tata and Singapore-based Singtel also visited Bangladesh and basically investigated the potentiality to participate in the bidding process of private submarine cable.

BTRC said some 65 companies including 15 foreign ones already showed their interest to participate in the submarine cable bidding.

Orange could show interest in introducing Wimax technology in Bangladesh, BTRC officials said. WiMAX is a wireless digital communications system, that is intended for wireless “metropolitan area networks”. WiMAX can provide broadband wireless access up to 30 miles (50 km) for fixed stations, and 3 to 10 miles (5 – 15 km) for mobile stations.

SK Telecom already showed interest to buy stakes in the state-run Teletalk, BTRC officials said but failed to confirm Etisalat’s intention.

Bangladesh’s telecoms sector has been growing since 1991 after introducing mobile telecommunications. With having telecoms penetration rate of 29 percent, at present, the country has 38million mobile and 11 million land phone customers.

The revenue from the telecoms sector also increased to Tk1345crore till yesterday, which was Tk500crore in the last fiscal year. The telecom regulator said this year revenue basically increased mainly because of getting compensation of Tk631crore from different mobile and fixed line operators for their illefgal involvement in international call termination through using VoIP technology.

However, the regulator hope the average revenue from telecoms sector will be Tk1500crore a year.

Meghna Group unveils massive investment plans

Meghna Group unveils massive investment plans

Mushir Ahmed

Leading conglomerate Meghna Group Wednesday unveiled an array of new investment as part of a massive expansion of its business, top executives said.

The Tk40 billion sprawling group, which hit the headline recently for a row over its Fresh brand, signed a US$35 million dollars deal with South Korean shipbuilding giant STX to build the country’s largest ship-manufacturing facility.

The Group said it bought a salt plant from ailing Globe Janakantha Shilpa Paribar for Tk 180 million and invested over Tk1.00 billion in a paper plant and another $12 million in a 25megawatt power plant to cement its position as the leading conglomerate of the country.

“Our ultimate goal is to build a billion dollar company as soon as possible,” the group’s General Manager Afzal Hossain said, adding the group’s present turnover is around Tk40.00 billion with big stakes in edible oil, sugar and cement.

Chairman Mostofa Kamal said his group wants to build the biggest shipbuilding facility in the country, investing over $100 million in two years.

“Our aim is to be big in the fast booming sector. We could have signed deal with a lesser known company to build the shipbuilding facility. But we chose world-famed STX to build our slipways and the shipbuilding yard,” he said.

STX Heavy Industries is one of the top six shipbuilding companies in South Korea, which made the country the world’s largest shipbuilders.

The company builds large oil tanker and ships weighing over 25000 dead weight tonnes for clients all over the globe. It has shipbuilding joint ventures in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Kamal said his Meghna Shipbuilding company would start operating later this year after STX completes half the work for the slipways and shipbuilding yard on a 33 acres land on the river Meghna.

“In the first two years we can build four ocean going vessels a year. But after our total facility is built, we will be able to churn out one ship a month. And STX has said it would also do marketing for us,” he said.

Meghna will very soon go massively into steel and already it has bought over 150 acres of land for the venture, he said, without disclosing the amount he plans to invest.

General manager Afzal said the family-owned group is also investing in sugar, cement and automatic flour mill to consolidate its position as the leader in commodities.

The company has already commissioned an automatic flour mill with the capacity to produce 500 metric tonnes flour a day at the factory site in Meghnaghat in Munshiganj, he said.

Meghna sells Fresh brand flour in the market, but it has lost the leading position to City Group, another of the country’s family-owned commodity conglomerates.

The company last year doubled its cement production to a million tonnes a year despite a dull in the construction business due to the government’s anti-graft crackdown.

This year the company has already started work to expand cement output by another 2000 tonnes a day, Afzal said, adding the group is banking on a recovery of construction activities in the country.

The Group is also one of the largest sugar refiners with a capacity to refine 1200 tonnes a day. It is now setting up another refinery with a production capacity of 1000 tonnes a day, he said.

Meghna is the country’s largest mineral water and feed mill producer and woven bag manufacturer. Last year it doubled its mineral water production amid a rapid rise in mineral water consumption across the country.

The company produces 28 megawatt power a day, much of which is sold to the state-owned Power Development Board. It commissioned a $12 million plant from Rolls Royce to add another 25 megawatt power to its existing capacity.

BTTB to offer free dial up internet connection

BTTB to offer free dial up internet connection
Md Hasan

State-owned land phone operator BTTB plans to offer free dial up internet connection to its customers in a bid to sustain stiff competition in the telecommunications market.

On execution of such a plan, 7lakh digital connection holders of the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board will be benefited. Presently, one time registration fee for any dial up internet connection is charged Tk300.

“We are considering withdrawing such dialup internet connection fee,” Telecommunication Secretary Iqbal Mahmud told The Daily Star yesterday, hoping the move will bring the BTTB back into competition.

The BTTB has been facing stiff competition since 2005 when its rival private land phone operators entered the market with lucrative packages.

BTTB has two internet services: Dial up for home based use and broadband for commercial use. Presently, 28,000 customers of the BTTB use dial up connection, while it provides broadband internet for more than 100 internet service providers.

Under the new plan, any customer having digital connection can apply for internet services and will be connected without any charge. The customer will get internet access through its digital phone line just putting secret password given by the BTTB.

The private landline operators do not charge for internet connection.

“Such decision will not make any competitive change,” Masrur Nawaz Waiz, head of operation and coordination for Rankstel.

Coming budget to protect local industries

Coming budget to protect local industries

Staff Reporter

Finance and Planning Adviser Dr AB Mirza Azizul Islam yesterday said the national budget for 2008-09 fiscal would be prepared keeping a view of the interests of the local industries.

Necessary initiatives are underway to expand the local industries with a view to transforming into a ‘ production’ oriented country.

Expansion of tax net without increasing tax rate, liberalisation of rules and regulations and curtailment of discretionary powers of the tax officials are amongst the most prime consideration of the government in preparing the budget,” he told the 29th Consultative Committee’s Meeting of National Board of Revenue (NBR) at Bangladesh- China Friendship Conference Centre (BCFCC) yesterday in the city.

The programme was jointly organised by NBR and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

Muhammad Abdul Majid, Chairman, NBR, delivered welcome speech and First Vice President of FBCCI Abul Kasem Ahmed gave vote of thanks.

Anisul Huq, President and Abu Alam Chowdhury Vice-President of FBCCI, Anwar-ul- Alam Chowdhury (Pervez), President of BGMEA , former FBCCI President Mir Nasir Hossain, Fazlul Hoque ,President of BKMEA, high officials of NBR and directors of the apex trade bodies among others, spoke on the occasion.

On the demand of businessmen to legalise the undisclosed money and its investment in various enterprises the Finance and Planning Adviser Dr AB Mirza Azizul Islam said such income could be legalised after paying necessary fines to the government.

But he made it clear that there will be no compromise in the case of illegally earned money.

He assured the business leaders that a ‘judicious decision’ relating to their demands would be taken by the government.

About the businessmen concerns on expiry of tax holiday from July, the Adviser said ” Let me assure you that tax holiday is not going to be abolished, but there might be some modifications,”.

He further said the food security and providing necessary agriculture inputs to the farmers and social safety net for the marginalised people would be ensured by allocating more fund in the next budget.

NBR Chairman Muhammad Abdul Majid said revenue could be enhanced through coordinated efforts of the businessmen and tax officials.

He said steps have been taken to remove cause of anxiety from the mind of the businessmen. He assured them that tax officials will not be allowed to create panic.

He said the budget will contain guidelines for taking the country towards industrialisation quickly. FBCCI President Anisul Huq called upon the government to ensure uninterrupted supply of gas and power to the export oriented industries for retaining production and export growth.

He demanded of the government to consider the homegrown industries interests in the budget and bringing NGOs under tax net.

Taiwanese company to invest $60m in KEPZ

Taiwanese company to invest $60m in KEPZ


Messrs. Trendex Furniture Industry Company Limited, a Taiwanese company is going to set up a furniture manufacturing industry in the Karnaphuli Export Processing Zone.

This100 per cent foreign-owned company will invest about Taka 408 crore and will produce table, chair, hutch buffet, bed, night stand, chest, dresser, TV stand, coffee table, end table, sofa, commercial/office furniture. The company will also create employment opportunity for 10,085 Bangladeshi and 17 foreign nationals. This is the first time that a foreign company is going to invest in furniture manufacturing industry in an EPZ, which is expected to play a significant role in product diversification.

An agreement to this effect was signed between the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority and Messrs Trendex Furniture Industry Company Limited in BEPZA Complex, Dhaka recently.

Member (Investment Promotion) of BEPZA and Managing Director of MIs. Trendex Furniture Industry Company Limited signed the lease agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.

Officials of BEPZA and Messrs Trendex Furniture Industry Company Limited were present on the occasion.

BBBF puts suggestions for boosting business

BBBF puts suggestions for boosting business
United News of Bangladesh . Dhaka

The Bangladesh Better Business Forum, a high-profile government-businesspeople platform, Wednesday elaborately discussed over 100 recommendations for improving business and investment atmosphere to attain desired economic growth.

The recently formed forum in its third meeting with its chairperson chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed in the chair at the CA’s office discussed the recommendations placed by five thematic working groups of the BBBF after working out them in 23 meetings.

The recommendations were categorised for their quick, efficient and effective implementation in specific time.

They were categorised mainly in three groups — matter for immediate action which would be implemented immediately, matters for short-term action which would be implemented within next one to two months and matters for midterm action which would be implemented within four to six months.

Management and financing of Small and Medium Enterprise for its overall development and development of ICT sector figure prominently in the immediate-action recommendations.

Recommendations covered in short-term action group include expansion of Tax Holiday, providing tax facility, simplification of company registration, trade license, VAT and environment certificates, reduction of bank interest and development of work efficiency.

Maximum of these dos will be addressed in the coming budget.

Other recommendations would be placed in the next meeting of the forum to make them implementation-worthy after refining those in the working groups.
The BBBF hopes that if these decisions are implemented, it will have positive impacts on overall business and investment in next two to three months. ‘As a result, country rating regarding business will be improved and overall image of the country enhanced,’ the meeting was told.

Chief adviser Fakhruddin directed the ministries, departments and organisations concerned to implement those recommendations on priority basis.
‘Necessary monitoring and evaluation would be carried out to supervise whether the decisions are being implemented,’ he said.

The chief adviser thanked the thematic working groups for their efforts put in preparing the recommendations.

Bangladesh Bank, NBR, Registrar of Joint Stock Company, City Corporation and BTRC would implement their relevant decisions, according to BOI executive chairman Kamal Uddin Ahmed, also member- secretary to the forum.

The meeting observed that the activity of the BBBF is a continuous process as business and investment is an ongoing concern.

The thematic working groups would keep up their activities according to their working areas and would present recommendations to the Better Business Forum regularly.

The next meeting of the BBBF would be held at the end of next month to review the latest developments, according to the chief adviser’s press secretary Syed Fahim Munaim, who was present at the meeting.

Finance adviser, law adviser, special assistant to the chief adviser for industries ministry, special assistant to chief adviser for power and energy ministry, cabinet secretary, Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division, BOI chairman, BTRC chairman, chairmen and co-chairmen of the five thematic working groups, business representatives and secretaries concerned were present at the meeting.