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 Bangladesh halts plan to relax capital controls

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PostSubject: Bangladesh halts plan to relax capital controls   Fri May 28, 2010 4:09 pm

Bangladesh's central bank has suspended a plan to ease restrictions on capital transfers, due to concerns about its impact on financial stability and the need to invest spare funds at home, the bank's governor said recently.

"We abandoned the plan to approve capital account convertibility for the time being," central bank governor Atiur Rahman told Reuters by phone.

"If we could go ahead with the plan it would allow our entrepreneurs to invest in foreign countries without any limits."

Bangladeshi business groups have been pressing the central bank to make the capital account convertible and allow a free outflow of cash. Some economists have said that would strain the country's foreign exchange reserves.

The central bank last week decided to relax controls on capital movement on an experimental basis, but Monday's decision reined in those moves. Capital account convertibility means the abolition of limitations on the movement of capital from

Bangladesh to other countries across the globe.

Officials said several local companies were trying to export capital to set up factories and business outlets in foreign land, such as India, Sri Lanka, Europe and the U.S.A.

"We need huge investment within the country in energy and infrastructure sectors," said Salehuddin Ahmed, a former central bank governor.

He said the government should carefully scrutinise foreign exchange reserve size, capital repatriation prospects and benefit of the country before giving green signal to the convertibility.

Mirza Azizul Islam, a former finance adviser, said the impoverished south Asian country of over 150 million people could still not afford to open its capital account.

"The central bank can give capital outflow decisions on a case-by-case basis after scrutinising proposals very carefully," he said.
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