Quality infrastructure emphasised to match bright prospects  

Marksman     | Published: October 30, 2018 22:38:18 | Updated: October 31, 2018 20:31:52

"Destination Bangladesh", an event organised  by the  Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) to mark  60th year of its birth last Sunday, held more than a commemorative significance. Actually,  nostalgia  has  more of a literary use than being any  nuance in  business parlance; although granted  it is a measure  of the distance the  DCCI  has  traversed and in the process   matured as a chamber body.

So, we saw the event not  passing off as a points-scoring   discourse among experts, stakeholders and policymakers nor was it a merely note-exchanging experience between participants. If you look up close, you'll discover that there was some meat to  the event. This has been something of a path-finder through the maze of oft-repeated unresolved or partially addressed issues to arrive at a clearing in conceptual terms.

The event's  multiple    sessions having been  focused  on   brass tacks, it  has  delivered  a  'potentially' coherent, practicable set of recommendations on investment,  infrastructure development, human resource uplift and sustainable  growth.

We feel  a composite  taskforce may be created  to facilitate synthesis  of the outputs, follow-up for enrichment, monitoring  and  coordination  of  progress or lack of it,  in terms of adoption/implementation.

In fact, the business leaders and experts through  their deliberations  shared  their recipes with the audience towards  materialising  'the bright prospects'. Many of them argued that the principal role for Bangladesh having   advanced  thus far  was played by cheap  labour. In future though, we cannot hope to move ahead  with  low-cost labour; we shall need  a whole range of other requisites:  More productive workers, skilled workforce,  infrastructure  development at par with  competing countries, improved business ecology,  increased institutional capacity  and  good governance in trade and business .

The labour productivity in Bangladesh is one-sixth of a Chinese worker's output and half that of an Indian labour. In the matter of port handling, we have been notoriously sluggish vis-à-vis the South and Southeast Asian ports. These inadequacies need to be overcome under a strictly time-bound plan.  Four-lane Dhaka-Chottagram Highway cannot  carry the inward and outbound loads to and from Chottagram port. In that context, we will have to   expedite  the construction of  Dhaka-Chottagram   Expressway!

Apex chief Nasim Manzur stressed  the need for a decisive  move to   garner FDI (foreign direct investment). For  foreign direct investment  comes with technology, expertise, knowledge and marketing strategies.

 One-stop service, literally under the same roof, coupled with hassle-free visa-on-arrival for the potential investor must be ensured. It is also stressed that management  of Hazrat  Shah Jalal International Airport  will have to be improved radically  to render  services to travellers  comparable  with those of other airports in the region; maybe  we  should contemplate handing the  management over to another institution.

Wendy Werner, Country Manager of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), said, "Given that Bangladesh's FDI flow is low compared  to countries  like India and Thailand, FDI is an area where we need to focus on." 

Taking note of the huge infrastructure investment gap in Bangladesh, Dr. Selim Raihan, executive director of Sanem, maintained, "There should be a serious change  in the mindset of the public sector so that they can team up with the private sector to fill the huge gap."

One couldn't agree more with him.

It can hardly be overemphasised that the quality of spending in infrastructure-building will have to be above board; otherwise quantity cannot  be a substitute  for it sans  value addition.             




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