The Financial Express

Govt puts forth Tk 1.0tn investment needs

'Pvt capital holds the key'

| Updated: February 03, 2020 11:42:14

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The government has brought up a US$1.02 trillion investment requirement for the 8th five-year plan (FYP), which envisages achieving an upper middle income country status by 2031 and a developed nation by 2041.

The needs came on the first day of the two-day Bangladesh Development Forum, BDF, which began on Wednesday in Dhaka.

Officials let the development partners know that the country would need some $783.50 billion, or three-quarters of the total requirement, from the private sector alone for implementing the next planning blueprint.

And the remaining $252 billion will be come from the public sector.

General Economics Division, GED, member Professor Shamsul Alam presented the figures for the plan to be implemented over FY2021-FY2025.

He was presenting a paper on the "Effective Partnership for Implementation of 8th Five-year Plan towards achieving SDGs" at the keynote session of the forum, where cabinet secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam presided over the meeting.

Development partners, policymakers, civil servants, private sector and civil society representatives and academics spoke in different sessions.

Donor representatives highlighted the poor country ranking in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business report, and the lack of transparency and accountability as the major impediments to drawing expected foreign direct investment into Bangladesh.

At the working session on "Private sector engagement and trade facilitation," Economic Growth Office director of USAID John Smith-Sreen said the lack of transparency and accountability are affecting Bangladesh's business expansion.

President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry Sheikh Fazle Fahim presided over the session.

Mr John said the gap between policy and practice is also a big challenge for the country for attracting private investments and business.

The USAID director has suggested Bangladesh diversify its export products immediately ahead its graduation from the Least Developed Country status.

DFID Bangladesh chief Judith Herbertson said business climate is still a "big challenge" for Bangladesh to attain an upper middle-income country status.

"Here the lower tax-GDP ratio is a challenge for higher growth," she added.

Programme leader for equitable growth, finance and institutions of the World Bank Yutaka Yoshino said FDI is constrained in the country.

He suggested the government frame a comprehensive import and export policy so that it can have a proper link to business growth of the country.

EU ambassador in Bangladesh Rensje Teerink urged the government to arrange a business climate dialogue to discuss on how the country can overcome the barriers to easing doing trade and commerce.

President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association Rubana Huq laid emphasis on taking preparation for the possible impact after graduation to a developing nation status in 2024.

She said Bangladesh has no way but to diversify its products as well as the markets.

She echoed the EU diplomat, calling for a dialogue with the private sector.

"Why don't you (government) think of including the garmentr sector investors who can also work towards diversifying the products?" Ms Rubana Huq.

In his response, commerce secretary Zafar Ahmed said Bangladesh is working on diversifying both products and markets to overcome any possible impact after the graduation.

"We are now discussing with at least 10 countries on entering into preferential or free-trade agreements," he added.

The government is also trying to explore the export markets at the CIA nations, the Mercosur trade block, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay and Africa, Mr Ahmed said.

Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister Md Tajul Islam, Finance Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Chair of BRAC Global Board Ameerah Haq, Executive Chairman of the BIDA Sirajul Islam, Executive Chairman of the BEZA Paban Chowdhury spoke, among others, at the forum.

Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the BDF, where Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Economic Relations Division Secretary Monowar Ahmed, UN Resident Coordinator Mia Seppo, Vice President of the World Bank Hartwig Schafer, VP of Asian Development Bank Shixin Chen and Senior VP of JICA Junichi Yamada were present.

Four working sessions will take place today (Thurs), where policymakers, representatives from the development partners, private sector, and civil society were present.

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