The openings of import letters of credit (LCs) showed a marked uptrend during the first two months of the current fiscal -- ahead of the Ramadan.
The value of LC openings rose to US$ 2.421 billion between July and August in the fiscal 2005-2006, registering a 15.66 per cent growth over the corresponding level, in value terms, during the same period of the last fiscal, the sources in the central bank said.
The increased imports -- mainly of capital machinery, petroleum products and food items -- caused the rise in LC openings in first two months of the current fiscal, the sources added.
"The overall trend about the opening import LCs may decline in the current month," a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE Sunday.
The import of some essential commodities like onions, dry fruits and varieties of pulse will go up further to meet the growing demand during the month of Ramadan, he added.
The import LCs worth $2.421 billion were opened in July-August period of the current fiscal against $2.093 billion of the corresponding period of the previous fiscal. However, the LCs worth $1.238 billion were opened last August alone.
Last March, the value of LCs shot up to $1.39 billion, which was the highest amount of LCs openings recorded for a single month of the last fiscal, the sources added.
According to the provisional statistics of the central bank, the value of LCs for import of capital machinery reached $102 million last August while the value of LCs for petroleum products rose to $189.41 million.
The LCs, amounting to $8.56 million, were opened for importing different varieties of pulse last August when onion accounted for import LC openings worth $7.57 million.
The value of LCs for import of rice rose to $10.58 million last August against $5.41 million of the previous month, sources said. The LCs worth $5.96 million were opened for sugar last August against $7.36 million last July.
Meanwhile, the country's foreign exchange reserve came down to US$ 2.73 billion Sunday from $3.01 billion due to a routine payment to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU), official sources said.
The Bangladesh Bank (BB) made a payment worth $293 million to the ACU Thursday, which has been adjusted in the opening balance of the foreign exchange reserve on the first working day of this week, the sources in the central bank said.
The amount of payment has slightly dropped to $ 293 million in the last installment from $353 million of the previous level due to decline in trading activities of the country with other ACU member countries.
The ACU members are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sir Lanka.
Under the existing provisions, settlement of the balance and accrued interests are made at the end of each two-month period.
However, the country will be able to meet the import bills for nearly 2.50 months with the existing reserve, the sources added.
"The reserve will be gradually increased in near future following the previous trend," a BB senior official told the FE, adding that the central bank always tries to keep the reserve position at a 'satisfactory level' to meet the emergency demand of the county.
The increased flows of remittances and reasonable export growth have contributed to maintaining a stable foreign currency reserve in the country, they explained.