Infrastructure building, quick access to power hold the key

BGCCI meet lists barriers to spurring foreign investments

FE Report | Published: September 14, 2018 14:09:36 | Updated: September 15, 2018 17:30:38

Picture used for illustrative purpose only — Collected

There is a need for visible improvement in infrastructure building and prompt electricity connections to industries for tapping more foreign investments in the country.

Besides, a changed mindset of bureaucracy, simplification of land acquisition process and energising the country's capital market are also necessary for the country's economic development.

These were the crux of observations made at a business networking meeting titled 'Emerging Bangladesh: Business Friendly Policies and Plans' organised by the Bangladesh-German Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BGCCI) at a city hotel on Thursday.

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal addressed the programme as the chief guest.

Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam and CEMS-Global President Meherun N Islam were also present with BGCCI president Omar Sadat in chair.

Mentioning that no country in the world is now enjoying demographic dividend like Bangladesh, Mustafa Kamal said around 61 per cent of the people in the country are fit for work currently which will reach around 70 per cent by 2041.

He said around 35 to 40 million people in the country are now classified under the middle class status and they all should come under the tax-net.

He also observed that the rate of income tax should be lowered to 10 per cent to encourage more people to pay taxes.

"If it (lowering income tax percentage) can be done, revenue collection will increase instead of decrease; the revenue target can be amplified to Tk 5.0 trillion from existing Tk 2.5 trillion," Mr Kamal added.

The government will not interfere in the initiatives of the private sector as it contributes nearly 83 per cent to the country's economy, he said.

The government will only help the private sector with required policies.

Besides, underscoring the need for product diversification, he said apart from core dependence on readymade garments (RMG) sector, the country's entrepreneurs should invest more in the areas of leather, medicine and plastic for sustainable economy.

The government will continue providing incentives sector-wise and trade policies will be simplified further for development of emerging sectors, he also added.

"Some say that many people are transferring the country's money abroad, but we (the government) will work in such a way that they would bring back the money and make fresh investment here."

Speaking at the programme, BGCCI president Omar Sadat said though Bangladesh is growing rapidly, in terms of competitiveness, it has been lagging behind countries like Vietnam and Cambodia.

Highlighting the reasons for the country's backwardness, he said though there have been many mega infrastructure projects going on in the country, it still remains a concern.

The country has been producing more electricity than ever but industries need electricity connections in the shortest possible time.

Urging authorities concerned to grant a separate economic zone (EZ) only for German investors, Mr Sadat said land acquisition is a big concern for the entrepreneurs due to the lengthy procedure.

However, the government has been developing many EZs across the country to resolve the problem, he mentioned.

There are many ways to bring upgradation to the country's stock market and by doing so more investors could be attracted.

Mr Sadat also blamed inefficient bureaucracy of the country that still bears a colonial legacy and inefficient workforce as barriers to business development.

The business leader also said the country's natural gas reserve will run out soon and the government is set to meet the energy demand through costly exported liquefied natural gas (LNG).

But the country's entrepreneurs want a cost-effective energy solution in the long run.

Terming settlement of maritime boundary a big achievement of the government, he said it hasn't been possible yet to carry out energy and mineral exploration in the seabed.

Germany is the single largest export destination for Bangladesh as it stood at around $6.0 billion, he also said.

In his speech, the BIDA executive chairman said the talent of the business community is the key to the country's development but it should also be remembered that the government helped them with relevant policies.

Facilities like bonded warehouse and back to back letters of credit (LC) brought dynamism in the country's export trade, he mentioned.

American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) president Md Nurul Islam, BGCCI senior vice-presidents Golam Morshed and Thomas Hoffmann were also present at the programme.


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