Country’s import payments increased by 11.13 per cent in the July-February period of the current fiscal year (2016-17) against the 5.58-per cent rise registered in the corresponding period of the FY 2015-16.
According to the latest Bangladesh Bank data, letters of credit involving $29.84 billion were settled in the eight months of FY17 against $26.85 billion settled in the same period a year ago.
A BB official told New Age on Thursday that the settlement of LCs, or actual import payments, soared in the July-February period of this fiscal year as the import of capital machinery and industrial raw materials increased significantly.
In the period, import of industrial raw materials posted a growth of 2.01 per cent against the 4.24-per cent growth in the corresponding period of FY16.
Settlement of LCs for industrial raw materials amounted to $10.77 billion in the eight months of the current fiscal year against $10.56 billion in the same period of FY16.
The BB official said that the political unrest and uncertainty had recently eased that encouraged the businesspeople to import more industrial raw materials.
The BB data showed that settlement of LCs for capital machinery import in the eight months of the current fiscal year witnessed a 58.55-per cent growth against the 15.46-per cent growth in the same period a year ago.
Import payments for capital machinery in the July-February period of FY17 stood at $3.50 billion, which was $2.21 billion in the same period of FY16.
The BB official said that there was no rational cause of the increase in the capital machinery imports as the country’s businesses apparently did not set up large-scale industrial units in the period.
The huge import payments for capital machinery raised a suspicion that money might have been laundered abroad in disguise, he said.
He feared that some businesspeople were laundering money through over-invoicing in their LCs.
‘The businesspeople usually pay zero per cent tariff to import the capital machinery. They may take the opportunity to launder capital from the country,’ he said.
Settlement of LCs for petroleum products in the July-February period of FY17 registered a negative growth of 6.15 per cent against a negative growth of 30.54 per cent in the same period of FY16.
The import payment for the petroleum products stood at $1.52 billion in the July-February period of FY17 against $1.69 billion in the same period of FY16.
The BB official said the import of petroleum products showed a negative growth due to lower petroleum prices on the global market during the period.
The BB data showed that opening of LCs posted a 13.28 per cent growth in the July-February period of FY17, while it had witnessed a 1.67 per cent negative growth in the same period of FY16.
The BB data showed that the total value of the LCs opened in the country between July and February of FY17 was $31.23 billion, which was $27.57 billion in the same period of FY16.
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