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2 govt bonded warehouses on cards to counter liquor syndicate

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The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has decided to issue licences of diplomatic bonded warehouses to state-owned Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation and InterContinental Dhaka to address the ongoing liquor crisis.

The crisis began as the existing six private diplomatic bonded warehouses called a strike after the NBR made the use of a software mandatory from 2 July. The strike left the country’s liquor market dry.

The strike prompted the revenue authorities to issue new licence after three decades on condition that the software, which aims at automation of the liquor market, is used, according to NBR sources.

Both the organisations were asked to procure a ‘no objection’ from the Bangladesh Bank and the commerce ministry to go for importing liquor.

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Confirming the matter of issuing a new licence, Kazi Mustafizur Rahman, commissioner of Customs Bond Commissionerate said that the decision was taken as NBR wants government organisations to operate diplomatic bonded warehouses.

NBR moves to bring bonded operation under automation:

NBR is also going to incorporate a new provision of bringing bonded operation under automation in the bonded warehouse licensing regulations 2008.

In section 119A of Customs law 1969, NBR is given authority to add or alter any provision to meet any special requirement.

With this authority, NBR is adding the new provision of electronic bonded operation in the regulations which reflects that the revenue authority is firm in implementing the use of software in the liquor trade.

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Meanwhile, the bonded warehouse which filed a writ petition against the NBR’s decision on mandatory use of software in business got a High Court order in their favour on 30 November.

However, the NBR appealed against the court order.

Though diplomatic bonded warehouses have the High Court order in their favour, they did not resume sales as they did not get a positive signal from the revenue authority, according to licensees.

On the other hand, when the Business Standard asked a top official of NBR about this matter, he said that the authority has no problem if bonded warehouses sell liquor through the prescribed software.

It is an open secret that alcohol, imported duty-free by bonded warehouses for diplomats, often makes its way out through the backdoor through the abuse of diplomatic passbooks.

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Despite having 37 licences of importing duty paid alcohol, sales closure of only six diplomatic bonded warehouses created a liquor crisis in the entire market which indicates that duty-free houses are the main source of illegal supply.

So to check this illegal market, the NBR has developed the software to strengthen monitoring on the warehouses and check the misuse of the duty-free import facility.

Currently, the warehouses sell liquor against hard copies of passbooks and often against fake passbooks or passbooks of diplomats who left the country but did not return the books to the foreign ministry.

They show fake sales against these passbooks and sell the liquor in the black market at hefty profits. Slices of this pie then reach various departments of the government.

But when sales are tracked by the software, warehouses will be required to enter necessary data. Every diplomatic bonded warehouse will be required to enter all information regarding import – including bill of entry number, import date, office code, invoice number and date, name of purchased goods, volume, and price – into the bond automation system.

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During sales, they will have to log into the system and input information about passbooks or Tax Exemption Certificate (TEC) numbers, names of sold goods, volume, the bill of entry number, and price in the software.

Previously, bonded warehouses used to provide all the information manually to the NBR.

This is why the warehouses are now resisting the use of the software by keeping their doors closed.

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Anwar Group of Industries Organized ‘Induction of Leadership’ program

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Anwar Group of Industries, a leading Bangladeshi conglomerate, celebrated a momentous occasion with the formal induction of its new leadership team.

In a ceremony held at the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Mr. Manwar Hossain, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, officially announced Mr. Hossain Mehmood as Vice Chairman and Mr. Hossain Khaled as the Group Managing Director of Anwar Group of Industries. Additionally, Mr. Furkaan N Hossain, Mr. Waeez R Hossain, and Ms. Faizah Mehmood were sworn in as Deputy Managing Director of Anwar Group of Industries.

The “Induction of Leadership” ceremony on March 3, 2024, marked a memorable and new chapter for Anwar Group of Industries. At the ceremony, Mr. Manwar Hossain, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, presented the group’s brooches to Mr. Hossain Mehmood, Mr. Hossain Khaled, Mr. Furkaan N Hossain, Mr. Waeez R Hossain, and Ms. Faizah Mehmood. The ceremony was also attended by members of the Anwar family, stakeholders, and employees.

Committed to empowering its employees and creating a shared vision for the future, Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, Mr. Manwar Hossain announced a groundbreaking move, all future employees will be made shareholders. This bold initiative underscores the group’s belief in the value of its employees and its commitment to building a sustainable and inclusive future.

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Shark Tank Bangladesh: Meet the Sharks!

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The global phenomenon show “Shark Tank” is finally coming to Bangladesh as Shark Tank Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s top OTT platform, Bongo, signed a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to bring the world’s number-one business show to Bangladesh.

“Shark Tank” allows entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea to a panel of investors, known as “Sharks”, who can offer the entrepreneurs cash for a deal if they like the opportunity. Whether it is a prototype of a new product, an existing product or service, or a company looking for a financial injection to grow, the entrepreneurs have to convince the five “Sharks” to invest in their idea and help turn their life’s work into a household name.

Since launching in 2001 as “Money Tigers” on Nippon TV in Japan, the format has become a phenomenal worldwide success. It is produced in territories on every continent under a variety of names including “Dragon’s Den”, “Lion’s Den,” and of course “Shark Tank.” The format has seen Dragons, Lions, and Sharks, all hugely successful entrepreneurs themselves, invest nearly $1 billion through all versions of the franchise across the globe, enabling dozens of companies to grow significantly. Entrepreneurs who have been onboarded into the “Shark” ecosystem have seen massive growth and generated billions of dollars in sales after receiving deals and being featured on the show.

Shooting for the much-anticipated show is scheduled to kick off on February 12th, after having screened more than 2,000 companies to select the best businesses. Producers from Sony, Arch Dyson, and Kevin Hyland, who have helped supervise and produce versions of the show around the world, will be present in Dhaka to unveil the Sharks and oversee the first few days of the shoot.

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After a long wait, the panel of Bangladeshi Sharks is ready to be unveiled. The investors, aka Sharks, are all business leaders in their own right and are excited to hear the pitches from the innovative Bengali entrepreneurs.

Robi is the “Title Sponsor,” Startup Bangladesh is the “Powered By Sponsor,” Tally is the “Co-Sponsor”, Prime Bank is the “Banking Partner,” Olympic Foodie Instant Noodles is the “Snacks Partner,” Sunquick is the “Beverage Partner,” Yellow by Beximco is the “Wardrobe Partner”,  Kloth Studio is the “Style Partner”, Holiday Inn is the “Hospitality Partner”, Inn Star is the “Pre-Pitch Interview Room Partner”, Euro Vigil Security Services is the “Security Partner”, Raw Exposure is the “Photography Partner”, Live2Web is the “Backstory Partner”, Chows is the “Restaurant Partner”,Miniso is the “Gift Partner” and Concito is the “PR Partner” of Shark Tank Bangladesh Season 1. Deepto TV will broadcast the inaugural season of the show while it will be streamed on Bongo.

Shark Tank Bangladesh Season 1: The Sharks

Sami Ahmed

Startup Bangladesh

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Sami Ahmed, Managing Director and CEO of Startup Bangladesh Limited (SBL), a Government Venture Capital firm, spearheads seed-stage and growth-stage startup investments. He is committed to helping empower the local startup ecosystem and has dedicated his career to helping improve the tech landscape in Bangladesh.  Previously, he advised LICT and held pivotal roles in Bangladesh’s IT-ITES Industry and BASIS. His influence extends to the Government and private sector. With a background in computer science from the University of Texas, Austin, he leverages US experience to foster Bangladesh’s ICT growth. Recognized for shaping digital policies, Ahmed’s return to Bangladesh signifies a commitment to societal and national progress, solidifying his pivotal role in the country’s startup ecosystem.

Nazim Farhan Chowdhury

ADCOMM

Nazim Farhan Choudhury is a serial entrepreneur and a feminist. He is also the Managing Director of Adcomm Holding Group which has investments in Advertising, IT, Hospitality, and Media. They have also been active investors in the Bangladesh startup scene for over a decade. The most prominent of their investment is in one of the top 3 advertising agencies in Bangladesh.  With stellar clients like Unilever, Akij Ventures, and a host of top brands in the country, Adcomm over the last 50 years has been a powerhouse in the advertising communication space. The group’s IT companies GraphicPeople, SoftwarePeople, and The Kow Company are amongst the country’s top ITES exporters, employing over 600 people. The group’s Nazimgarh Resorts runs two luxury resorts in Sylhet. Choudhury’s involvement in the start-up ecosystem has been proven by an enviable string of investments including Aamartaka, HandyMama, and Babuland among quite a few others. Choudhury is also an active mentor and is involved in voluntary organizations like the Jaago Foundation as a founding trustee.  Choudhury’s commitment to innovation and excellence cements his influence in Bangladesh’s business community.

Golam Murshed

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Majesto Limited/Ex-Walton

Golam Murshed,  currently the Managing Director of Majesto Limited is a dedicated business leader who has left an enduring mark on Walton, a renowned conglomerate, over a decade-long career, where he helped catapult them into a multi-billion dollar company as the Managing Director. His commitment to excellence, innovative production, and assertive marketing strategies have positioned him as a prominent figure.Murshed’s exceptional leadership, coupled with his expertise in technology and product management, empowers him to navigate dynamic market landscapes effortlessly. His dedication to innovation and industry leadership is now poised to revolutionize the furniture industry.

Kazi Mahboob Hassan

R Ventures PLC

Kazi M. Hassan, CEO of Robi’s digital ventures arm R Ventures PLC, drives the company’s digital growth, collaborating with partners to enhance customer experiences. With an MBA from Oxford and FCCA qualification, he chairs ACCA Bangladesh’s Member Advisory Committee. Previously, Kazi led international strategies at logistics giant DELHIVERY, advised a2i on restructuring, and held key roles at local Telcos. He supports Bangladeshi startups, mentors entrepreneurs, and attracts foreign investments, contributing significantly to the country’s tech ecosystem.

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Samanzar Khan

AKS Khan Holdings Ltd

Samanzar Khan is the Managing Director of A K S Khan Holdings Ltd, an investment and operating company that aggressively identifies and acquires companies in which it can leverage its strengths to generate superior earnings or market value. She is the eldest daughter of Mr. A K Shamsuddin Khan, Chairman of A K Khan & Co. Ltd. A Barrister by qualification, she graduated from the London School of Economics. She founded Bonex UK Ltd in 2008, marketing unique fire-fighting solutions in the UK and Europe. In 2010, she returned to Bangladesh to become the CEO of A K Khan Healthcare Trust, a non-profit founded by her father to enhance healthcare in Bangladesh. A decade on, she now manages a diverse portfolio of companies across different sectors ranging from healthcare, agriculture to education.

Fahim Mashroor

Bdjobs.com

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Fahim Mashroor is Managing Director of Bdjobs.com, the most popular online job searching platform in the country. Fahim founded Bdjobs 23 years ago in 2000. Currently the company has over 300 members working in the 10 offices across the country. It is the first tech company that got valued by a global tech company. In 2015, SEEK Australia purchased its 25% share at a valuation of 25 Million USD. Fahim Mashroor has been investing actively in different tech startups in software, logistics, fintech and eCommerce. For his innovative contribution in the tech industry, Fahim has received a number of prestigious awards such as Best SME entrepreneurs by SME foundation and ICT Personality of the Year by ICT ministry

Ahmed Ali

TISTA Science and Technology Corporation

Ahmed R. Ali, Founder and Chairman of TISTA Science and Technology Corporation, grew the company from a small operation to a thriving multimillion-dollar enterprise, emphasizing hard work and excellence. Inspired by Top Gun, he joined the military to fund his education, excelling as a radio frequency engineer. Transitioning to IT security, Ahmed founded TISTA, overcoming challenges with determination to take his cyber security firm to a several thousand crore annual revenue company which he built from the ground up. Raised by Bangladeshi immigrant parents, he values giving back to the country and honors his heritage through TISTA’s name. Ahmed’s story reflects resilience, service, and a commitment to impact.

In addition to these Sharks, several other high-profile female entrepreneurs will be joining the Tank. Their names will be shared soon.

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Telenor to sell Pakistan telecoms unit for $490 mln

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OSLO, Dec 14 (Reuters) – Norway’s Telenor (TEL.OL) said on Thursday it had agreed to sell its Pakistan unit to state group Pakistan Telecommunications (PTCA.PSX) in a transaction valuing the unit at 5.3 billion Norwegian crowns ($490 million).

The Norwegian group has been restructuring its Asian businesses, building bigger units in Thailand and Malaysia via local mergers, and had said it hoped to decide on a solution for the Pakistan business by year-end.

“We also tried to do a merger in Pakistan but we didn’t manage to get that, and when we saw this wasn’t happening the second-best alternative was to arrange a sale,” Telenor CEO Sigve Brekke told Reuters.

“It was a combination of not getting the structure in place, and value. So we found a sale was better for our shareholders,” he added.

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Telenor Pakistan, launched 18 years ago, has 45 million customers.

Pakistan Telecommunications’ share price rose 8.3% on Thursday, while Telenor’s was up 1.1% at 0837 GMT.

In the first nine months, Telenor Pakistan contributed 2.6 billion crowns in service revenue and 1.4 billion crowns in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to the group.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals, and the aim is to close it during 2024. The sale was not estimated to have a significant impact on financials for 2023, Telenor said.

Telenor’s remaining Asian portfolio consists of stakes in Grameenphone in Bangladesh, CelcomDigi in Malaysia and True Corp in Thailand, with close to 160 million customers combined.

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“Telenor Asia will remain an active owner for the three market-leading businesses which make up our Asian portfolio,” said the head of the company’s operation in the region, Petter-Boerre Furberg.

($1 = 10.7403 Norwegian crowns)

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