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BB bars release of foreign currencies for overseas training, seminar, workshop

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2022-05-23 02:35:30 BdST

Representational Image. Reuters

The Bangladesh Bank has ordered all banks and authorised dealers to stop releasing foreign currencies on the account of fees for registration and participation in training, seminars, and workshops abroad.

The central bank issued the order on Sunday as the government goes for austerity measures amid a global economic crisis triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war amid recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bangladesh Bank ordered banks and financial institutions to refrain from executing the transactions in compliance with instructions given by the finance ministry on May 12 and 16.

The finance ministry had earlier said all foreign travels by government officials, including for familiarisation trips, study tours, workshops, and seminars, will be suspended until further notice.

All types of exposure visits, study tours, and travel for workshops or seminars by employees of the government, statutory, state-owned, autonomous and semi-autonomous organisations, and state-run companies and financial institutions using their own funds had been barred later.

The latest order from the central bank applies to officials of the government, autonomous and semi-autonomous institutions, employees of banks and financial institutions, faculty members of nationally recognised banking training institutions, and employees of companies, firms, institutions and NGOs registered and operating in Bangladesh.

In another notice, the central bank ordered officials of banks to refrain from travelling abroad for personal reasons, training, seminars, workshops and other events using their own or the organisations’ funds. Bangladesh Bank officials had earlier been ordered to do the same. The orders do not apply to travel for Hajj or medical treatment.

Speaking virtually at a meeting of Champions’ Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, hosted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Friday said her government braced for austerity measures to cushion fallouts of the global economic volatility.

To tackle the latest situation, she said, especially the pressure on reserves due to an increase in imports, the government is discouraging the import of luxury items and imposed restrictions on foreign trips of officials. It has also continued a 2.5 percent cash intensive scheme for remittances, she said.

Bangladesh's foreign currency reserves fell below the $42 billion mark recently, a fall enough to make analysts nervous as the economy has already been suffering from sluggish inward remittances and rising inflation.

The central bank and the economists are saying that the decline of COVID-19 cases was met with a global hike in the prices of commodities as the Russia-Ukraine war caused the supply and delivery costs to go up. As a result, the demand for the US dollars rose and the Bangladeshi taka, like many other currencies in the world, began losing value.

Meanwhile, the higher dollar expenditure for imports and other necessities is putting pressure on the foreign exchange reserves. Bangladesh had a record $48.02 billion in August last year, sufficient to pay import bills for up to one year, but a steady decline has brought it down to the current level.