IMF says Bangladesh loan program on track

Updated 07 December 2012

IMF says Bangladesh loan program on track

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund said Bangladesh was making progress with reforms under an IMF loan program and may be eligible for the second aid payment.
An IMF mission to Dhaka met with senior Bangladeshi officials in the first review of the country's performance under a $987 million Extended Credit Facility granted in April.
Bangladesh's performance under the loan program so far has been generally sound, said IMF mission leader David Cowen.
"Quantitative targets are broadly on track, with all performance criteria met at end-June 2012 — the first test date under the ECF," he said in a statement.
Under the three-year loan deal, Bangladesh has pledged wide-reaching structural reforms to get its economy back on track and ease long-term poverty.
Bangladesh received some $141 million in an initial disbursement in April.
Cowen noted progress on structural measures as well as commitments by the government on several measures, including containing the budget deficit to 4.5 percent of gross domestic product in fiscal 2013.
The government also pledged to boost efforts to curb subsidy costs, particularly through a fuel price adjustment formula, and to take steps to lessen the negative impact on the most vulnerable.
The IMF Executive Board is expected to complete its review in January, which would make the second disbursement of some $141 million available to Bangladesh.
The government sought the IMF aid after rising global oil prices delivered a double whammy, spurring inflation and taking scarce foreign currency out of the country.
Under the IMF agreement, the government must hike prices of oil, power and fertilizer to bolster the country's shaky balance of payments. But poor farmers have relied on deep subsidies for decades.
"Despite global headwinds, Bangladesh's economy performed well in FY12, with preliminary estimates pegging growth at 6.3 percent," Cowen said.
The IMF projects GDP growth of about 6 percent in the current fiscal year, citing external uncertainties and the broader global slowdown.

Saudia replaces Apple as top brand among KSA millennials 

Updated 37 min 48 sec ago

Saudia replaces Apple as top brand among KSA millennials 

  • Facebook falls out of favour among Kingdom’s Youth, YouGov survey finds
  • Technology giant Apple fell to No. 3 in the top 10 brands this year

LONDON: The national airline Saudia has knocked Apple off the top spot as the brand Saudi millennials are most likely to talk about positively with their friends and family, according to a new survey.

Tech giant Apple fell to No. 3 in the top 10 brands this year, while social networking site Facebook failed to even rank at all, according to research compiled by YouGov.

Consumer electronics brand Samsung also saw its popularity decrease, dropping to eighth place this year. 

Brands that saw an improvement in their reputation included the Saudi fast-food chain Al Baik which came in at No. 6, while the real estate group Bin Laden and Saudi beverage brand Almarai made their debut in the top 10, ranking at spot nine and 10 respectively. 

Other drink brands including Aquafina, Fanta, Sprite and Diet Pepsi also saw improvements in their brand perception, the research found. 

The rankings are based on responses collected online from 18 to 34-year-olds over the last year to discover the brands they have discussed positively either in person or online. 

"The top 10 list has a mix of travel and airline brands, consumer brands, financial services and real estate brands. These brands have managed to harness the power of word of mouth and have been successful in shaping a positive brand image,” said Scott Booth, head of YouGov BrandIndex in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Millennials and non-millennials alike may have been won over by Saudia’s announcement earlier this month to introduce free-of-charge access to social messaging apps such as Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage for onboard guests. 

It is said to be the first airline in Europe, Middle East Africa and Asia to introduce complementary social media messaging on flights, according to a statement issued on Sept. 16.