Mobile Financial Service (MFS) provider bKash has been denied permission to pay $4.10 lakh in order to become a regional brand partner of the Argentina Football Association (AFA) this year.
In February this year, bKash sought permission from the Bangladesh Bank to send the money to Argentina in accordance with its agreement with the AFA. But, the central bank rejected bKash's application in March considering the current economic context and the unproductive nature of the sector, Bangladesh Bank's Assistant Spokesperson Md Sarwar Hossain told The Business Standard.
Advertisements published by bKash in the media indicate that the company has become AFA's regional brand partner, highlighting its agreement with the AFA. The MFS company has also used the AFA's logo on its website.
However, AFA's official website and Facebook page list bKash as one of the regional sponsors, along with 16 other companies, including Amul, an Indian dairy product manufacturer, and Tata Gluco+, a glucose-based ready-to-serve drink by the Tata Group of Companies.
Speaking on this matter, a senior official of the central bank mentioned the ongoing dollar crisis and the difficulties faced by banks in opening letters of credit (LCs) for importing various products. In an attempt to discourage imports, the central bank has instructed banks to maintain a 100% margin on luxury goods imports, the official added.
Given this situation, the central bank deemed it inappropriate to spend dollars to secure a brand partnership with a football team, the official told TBS.
Usually, in the case of this type of sponsorship, any payment sent abroad usually incurs VAT and taxes at a certain rate, and such payments cannot be made without the regulator's permission, the official maintained, adding that engaging in any alternative means of making the payment would be considered illegal.
When asked whether bKash has already made any payments to the AFA, it's Head of Corporate Communication Shamsuddin Haider Dalim stated that he was unaware of the matter and emphasised that the payment process is lengthy and follows a step-by-step procedure.
Dalim assured that bKash always operates in accordance with the norms set by the central bank.
In a press release issued on 8 May this year, the AFA and bKash announced their brand partnership.
BKash stated that this collaboration with the World Cup-winning team is based on the unwavering support and love that the Bangladeshi fans have shown to the Argentina team. Kamal Qadir, founder and chief executive officer of bKash, expressed his enthusiasm for collaborating with the world-renowned football team, including players like Lionel Messi, and highlighted bKash's position as the most beloved brand in Bangladesh.