According to very recent information, the country's light engineering sector has sought policy support from the government. For its part the sector has been preparing a set of proposals that include issues of investment, technology and diversification. Although the government has an upcoming industrial park for the sector, the Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners' Association (BEIOA) thinks that the park may not be enough for its requirement. BEIOA's estimates put the market size of the industry at Tk 600 billion with a possible production range of over 10,000 types of products. These figures that should give the country's economic policy thinkers satisfaction, as well as encourage them to give serious thought to how to further help the sector in future years with new inputs of ideas.
Dubbed `the mother of all industry/sectors', light engineering in this country caters to the needs of spare parts for agriculture, textiles, garments, jute mills, poultry, paper, cement, sugar, food processing, railway, shipping and a host of other areas. In fact, there can hardly be a second sector producing ten thousand types of products. Great numbers have come from other studies that find the existence of 40,000 enterprises employing 800,000 people in this field, enormous figures indeed. The light engineering sector's future too is held in high esteem by countries in similar state of industrialisation as Bangladesh. Bangladesh Industrial Technical Centre (BITC), the government body to support industries has assessed its import earnings to reach US $15 billion by the year 2041 from the current US $ 356 million in the last fiscal. It is a well-known fact that 2041 is a to-be-landmark year for Bangladesh in terms of economic growth, the supposed year of its graduation to a developed country. What the policy makers have set forth for the whole economy till that time would and should no doubt have its caring effect on the light engineering sector.
Concerned sources in the government have already hinted that they are waiting for the BEIOA's draft policy proposals so that the government can formulate the required policy for the sector. Light engineering enterprises in the private sector are bereft of wastage and sluggishness. These make them economically viable; and the electrical goods like socket, light shed, switch, channel, cables, electrical fans, generator etc manufactured by the sector meet nearly half the country's demands. As the sector moves forward on its own, the government should waste no time in combining BEIOA's coming draft policy with inputs of its own so that the core issues of investment, technology and diversification are addressed and settled. For this foreign investment is surely necessary; and neighbours may be tapped. The earlier this is done, the better for the full realisation of the sector's untapped potential.
Light engineering sector commends itself for some very important reasons: Job creation at a rapid pace; adoption of appropriate technologies; catering to the need for more backward linkages to medium and large industries. What deserves a special mention is the sector's huge potential for filling in the void pertaining to availability of mid-level technicians and production line supervisors and managers. Currently, we have had to critically depend on some neighbouring countries for the supply of such skilled manpower. We need some indigenous capacity building there.
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