Bangladesh foreign currency reserves near $29 billion despite Fed Reserve hack steal

The reserves touched $28.8 billion, an all-time high, on Tuesday.

Central bank officials expect the reserves to cross $29 billon by the end of April.

Analyst Zaid Bakht thinks the reserves are rising steadily because of increased export and reduced import.

Bangladesh Bank spokesperson Shubhankar Saha, however, skirted a reply when asked whether the stolen $81 million was included in the count.

“The reserves are rising for a considerable time. The theft has not affected it,” he said.

“Every country counts the reserves following International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS). We’ve also followed it,” Saha added.

Nearly $10 million of the $81 million stolen funds is now with the Filipino anti-money laundering agency AMLC.

The hackers transferred the money to and beyond the Philippines. Their bid to transfer another $20 million to Sri Lanka failed because of spelling mistake in the transfer order.

Saha hoped the entire money would be recovered.

The theft has had not impact on the reserves, says Zaid Bakht, Research Director at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).

“The incident has certainly damaged Bangladesh’s image. The amount of the money stolen is also not so big (given the size of the reserves).”

“Export is growing. Remittance keeps coming. Import cost is also dropping as global oil and food prices have declined. Naturally, the reserves are swelling,” he said.

The reserves crossed $28 billion for the first time on Feb 25. It dropped after the bills of Asian Clearing Union (ACU) were cleared in the first week of March and rose over $28 billion again.

The reserves will top $29 billion before the ACU bills for March and April are paid in the first week of May, Bangladesh Bank officials hope.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau, Bangladesh sold goods worth $25 billion abroad in the first nine months to March of the current 2015-16 fiscal year.

The exports figure is 9 percent higher than the figure at the same time during the previous fiscal year.

But remittance dropped 1.8 percent in this period.

Total import cost increased 6.44 percent, but the amount involving the Letters of Credit (LC) to import fuel oil and food dropped around 40.5 and over 33 percent respectively.

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