DHAKA, April 1 Bangladesh's foreign exchange
reserves stood at an all-time high of $19.31 billion at the end
of March, $160 million more than the earlier record set in
February, and more than 38 percent higher than a year earlier,
the central bank said on Tuesday.
The higher reserves, which stem from a widening
current-account surplus, are enough to cover more than six
months of imports.
At the end of March 2013, reserves totalled $13.97 billion.
Rising exports and slowing imports have helped build
reserves despite a drop in inward remittances due to fewer
Bangladeshis going abroad to work.
In the first eight months of the financial year beginning
July 1, exports totalled $19.83 billion, up nearly 14 percent
from the same period a year ago, boosted by stronger garment
However, the $22 billion garment industry, which supplies
many Western brands such as Wal-Mart WMT.N, Tesco TSCO.L and H&M
HMb.ST, has been under the spotlight after a string of fatal
factory accidents, including the collapse of a building housing
factories in April that killed more than 1,130 people.
In the first three quarters of the financial year, the
central bank purchased nearly $3.8 billion from local commercial
banks to stem the rise of the domestic currency. In the previous
financial year, it bought $4 billion.
Economic growth is expected to slow below 6 percent in the
financial year ending in June, after the country was gripped by
political turmoil in the months leading up to an election in
January. In 2012/13, the economy grew 6 percent.
($1 = 77.65 taka)
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Kim Coghill)