Takes back thousand crores of taka as profit to US
- – Doing business in BD since 1952
– No capital brings to do business
– Applied for remittaing Tk 1048 cr
Staff Correspondent: Foreign life insurer-MetLife has offload shares nor domesticated operations in Bangladesh during last 70 years. Rather the company has remitted huge amount of money to US from Bangladesh during the period. MetLife now tries to remit over Tk 500 crore as profit.
MetLife has been doing business in Bangladesh since 1952. The company is only marketing their products in Bangladesh. But the company has not played any role in creating skilled manpower. The company did not even bring any money to Bangladesh to start insurance business as capital. But crores of taka are being taken from Bangladesh to the United States.
A report sent to the Finance Ministry in 2013 by the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA), expressed concern over MetLife. Although a long time has passed since then, no steps have been taken to force MetLife to invest in Bangladesh.
MetLife did not own any local business in Bangladesh. That’s why the huge amount of profit they are making every year is going to the United States to the owners of the company as profit.
After taking hundreds of crores of taka earlier, the company has now applied to the IDRA to transfer more than Tk 1000 crore of to the United States as part of the owners’ profits. Although not approved yet (till February 8), IDRA officials said the company would be able to take part of the owners’ profits to the United States.
According to the relevant sources, MetLife has recently applied to IDRA to take Tk 1,048.11 crore to the United States as dividend for the owners in these four years 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Of this, Tk 260 crore 46 lakh 60 thousand 8 of 2019, Tk 298 crore 36 lakh 98 thousand 530 of 2016, Tk 190 crore 54 lakh two thousand 601 of 2017 and Tk 232 crore seven lakh 40 thousand 535 crore of 2018 are included.
MetLife has applied to take the money to the United States, but has not yet received approval from the IDRA. The regulator of the insurance sector has decided to further examine and review the matter.
When contacted, IDRA spokesperson and executive director SM Shakil Akhtar told that MetLife had applied. We have not yet decided on this. However, they will be able to take a portion of the profits to the United States.
This foreign insurance company started business in Bangladesh under the name Alico in 1952. In 2010, the company was bought by New York-based life insurance company Metropolitan Life Insurance Company or MetLife for $15.5 billion. Since then it has been renamed MetLife Alico. Later in 2015, the company changed its name to MetLife in Bangladesh. The company is currently doing business in Bangladesh under this name.
According to the Insurance Act, domestic companies are required to be listed on the capital market within three years and six months of registering for insurance business in Bangladesh. MetLife is also free from this obligation of law. Unlike other insurance companies, no initiative has been taken to list MetLife in the capital market of Bangladesh.
As a result, MetLife is carrying large sums of money to the United States year after year by doing business in Bangladesh without any investment. The Ministry of Finance was first informed about this matter from IDRA in 2013. That first, that last. Since then, no visible steps have been taken by IDRA and the Ministry of Finance to force the company to invest in Bangladesh.
In 2013, a report from IDRA to the Ministry of Finance expressed concern that US-based MetLife had made a profit of $53 million (about Tk 500 crore) from Bangladesh in the 10 years from 2000 to 2009 without any investment.
The company is only marketing their products in Bangladesh. The insurance sector has not played any role in creating skilled manpower. The company did not even bring any capital to Bangladesh to start insurance business. However, the report states that it is making billions of dollars in profit.
The chief executive of several insurance companies, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the way MetLife was being discounted was hurting domestic companies. Domestic insurance companies have to pay fines every day for not being listed on the capital market. But MetLife does not have to pay any fine. This is weakening the financial base of domestic companies. At the same time, a large amount of money is going out of the country through MetLife.
Former caretaker government adviser and prominent economist AB Mirza Azizul Islam told that he did not think Bangladesh was benefiting from the special concessions given to MetLife. I don’t think extra discounts should be given. The law that exists should be followed. The application of law must be the same in all cases. There should be no discrimination. According to the law, MetLife should be listed on the capital market as soon as possible.
Although not listed in the capital market of Bangladesh, MetLife is listed in the capital markets of different countries of the world including Pakistan. Asked why the company, which has been making huge profits by doing business for a long time, is not being listed in the Bangladeshi capital market, IDRA spokesperson SM Shakil Akhtar told, “We have to make concessions in some places to attract foreign investment.”
“Sometimes we asked them (MetLife) to come to the capital market, he said. They said we did not have this condition. We have made a deal before, we have relaxed there. Now if we go to the hardline, if they leave, there will be chaos in the whole market. Some people have insurance policies. They are not doing worse than the companies in our country.
Asked about investing in Bangladesh, Saifur Rahman, head of communication at MetLife, told “Apart from financial investment in the country, we are committed to contribute to the quality of insurance industry, talent development, job creation and social development.” MetLife is one of the major investors in government treasury bonds and these investments continue to contribute directly to the country’s financial development.
“As an insurance company, we have been ensuring world-class financial security for the people of the country, he said. We believe that through our current position as a long-running international organization, we are able to make a significant contribution to the country’s economy for the people of Bangladesh. Based on this, we are able to bring foreign investment and insurance services in the country.
Saifur Rahman did not give any answer when asked if MetLife has any other investment in Bangladesh except government treasury bonds.
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