Home Bangladesh BB-EPB export info mis-matched$7 b earnings
Bangladesh - 4 weeks ago

BB-EPB export info mis-matched$7 b earnings

Mahfuja Mukul : The discrepancy in export earnings is increasing abnormally. In the last financial year, it reached the mark of $8.48 billion. Not only that, in the 6 months (July-December) before the 12th National Assembly elections, the discrepancy reached $7 billion. It is expected to surpass all previous records by the end of the financial year (2023-24).
A gross account of income against export of goods abroad is prepared by EPB and Bangladesh Bank at the end of every financial year. As the two organizations gradually discovered the unusual discrepancy. Gradually increasing abnormally.
There is a lot of concern in the government policy-making circles as to whether the major discrepancies in exports are indicative of money laundering abroad. Finance Minister Abul Hasan Mahmud Ali has ordered to look into the matter. Recently, a committee of three organizations has been formed under the leadership of the finance department to investigate the matter.
The committee will submit an investigation report to the finance minister by March 31.
This information was found in the relevant sources. A review of Bangladesh Bank and EPB’s export earnings documents for the last 7 financial years (2017-2018 to 2023-24) shows that in each fiscal year, EPB’s export earnings are slightly less than Bangladesh Bank’s. It has been like this for the past few years.
But recently there is a big discrepancy between the accounts of the two companies, raising doubts. Bangladesh Bank Governor Abdur Rauf Talukder raised the first question about the unusual discrepancy in export income.
In the meeting regarding the review of the macroeconomic situation of the country held this month, he said that in fiscal year 2022-23, according to the data of EPB, 55.5 billion US dollars were exported, but according to the data of customs, $49 billion and $48 billion dollars according to the data of Bangladesh Bank. On the other hand, according to the data of EPB so far 2023-24 fiscal year, the export of goods worth $27 billion, according to the data of Bangladesh Bank, $20 billion. He expressed his opinion in that meeting that it is necessary to resolve this discrepancy in the export income data.
When asked about this, Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Tapan Kanti Ghosh told Daily Industry that a committee has been formed from the Ministry of Finance. The committee is working on this. However, before this, the commerce secretary spoke about the issue in the meeting regarding the review of the macroeconomic condition of the country. There he said, “A committee can be formed to look into the discrepancy between the Export Development Bureau and the Bangladesh Bank regarding export data.”
A review of EPB and Bangladesh Bank documents showed that the export of goods in the financial year 2022-23 was $5,555 million. But according to the central bank, $4.8 billion. $7.5 billion revenue mismatch. The gap between the EPB and Bangladesh Bank figures was slightly lower earlier. For example, in the fiscal year 2017-18, the income discrepancy figure was $414 million and in the fiscal year 2018-19 it was $519 million, in the fiscal year 2019-20 it was $235 million and in the fiscal year 2020-21 it was $478 million. But in the fiscal year 2021-22, this gap increased abnormally to $8.48 billion. According to EPB, exports of goods abroad that year were $5,208 million. But according to the central bank, $4,360 million.
It has also been seen that in the first 6 months (July-December) of the current financial year 2023-24, the amount of misalignment is $7 billion. It is expected that the figure at the end of the financial year will surpass all previous records. In the first 6 months of the last few financial years, there was no such discrepancy in export earnings. However, these 6 months are just before the 12th National Parliament elections held in January. In the run-up to the elections, questions have been raised about the huge gap between export shipment data and remittances from abroad.
Economists say, such a gap can’t be a normal phenomenon. Mahbub Ahmed, the former senior secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Finance, feels that it is necessary to look into the issue of the large amount of difference in the export income of the two companies. He told Daily Industry that there may be a slight discrepancy in the export income data due to the reconciliation of bank accounts. It happens every year. First, we have to see the difference between the two companies. If it is too low, it will be fixed by adjustment. But if the difference is high, there is a doubt. Because the amount of money that has been exported may not be under or over investing. But the matter is still not clear. If the discrepancy is large, it is also necessary to see whether there is manipulation.
According to sources in the Finance Department, this discrepancy is being looked at seriously. A committee was formed on March 19 with EPB, NBR, Bangladesh Bank comprising Finance Department. A senior official involved in this process told that the formed committee will start working together soon. The committee will look at how EPB is getting the export earnings data from any source and similarly the source of Bangladesh Bank will be verified. Then the actual cause of the error will be found out.
Zahid Hossain, the former chief economist of World Bank’s Dhaka office told Daily Industry that in the case of export of ready-made garments, some raw materials have to be bought from the export processing zone EPZ. If it is a domestic purchase it is shown as export income in EPGD. The same product is fully manufactured and exported abroad. The same product income is being added as export once in EPZ and again in list of respective apparel industry. Also, there may be a difference between export shipments and export earnings coming in as dollars. But the way the discrepancy in export earnings is increasing every year, it seems that maybe the exporters are not bringing in dollars or even if they are bringing in differently. It is also necessary to examine whether the difference is due to money laundering.
Mohammad Hatem, Executive President of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, feels that there are always some differences between the information provided by Bangladesh Bank and EPB. But it refuses to accept whether the large difference is money laundering. He said, if the export income does not come within 120 days, the name of the exporter is displayed on the dashboard of the central bank. Then, the exporter gets no service from the bank. To continue the banking services, extension of time is required from the central bank and if the exporter feels that he will not get the income, then it has to be informed to the discount committee of Bangladesh Bank who analyzes it before approval.

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