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The Financial Express

Bangladesh ranks 18th at bottom on digital environment for entrepreneurs, ADB's global index shows

| Updated: September 24, 2022 14:04:12


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Bangladesh stood at the bottom 18th of a global ranking on digital environment and support systems for entrepreneurs, reflecting poor opportunities and lack of congenial atmosphere for them to thrive in the country, according to a new global report.

A global index of digital entrepreneurship systems report, developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), said Bangladesh was ranked 96th among 113 economies and scored less than Sri Lanka and India.

The index measures the quality of the environment for digital entrepreneurs by looking at the level of digitalisation in eight areas: culture, institutions, market conditions, infrastructure, human capital, knowledge, finance, and networking.

Stakeholders and experts attributed it to inadequate policy measures including fiscal and, poor and centralised digital connectivity in Dhaka and Chattogram.

AKM Fahim Masroor, co-founder and chief executive officer of bdjobs.com, said our country lacks digital connectivity including internet that could not be expanded across the country like that of Dhaka and Chattogram.

The government should remove the burden of existing tax and VAT (Value Added Tax) on fresh and small entrepreneurs as it is hindering the sector from flourishing as expected, he added.

Four-fifths of the developing Asian economies were placed toward the bottom in the ranking of digital environments and support systems for entrepreneurs, said the report, released on Wednesday as part of the Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2022 Update,

Seventeen of the 21 developing Asian economies are ranked toward the bottom, underscoring the need for many of them to nurture digital entrepreneurship.

Singapore has the world's best digital environment and support system for entrepreneurs, followed by the United States second and Sweden third among the 113 economies.

Digitalisation offers big growth opportunities for the businesses in Asia and the Pacific, it said, adding that it's a driver of innovation, which is the key for economies striving to achieve high-income status.

It can also make economies more resilient, as seen when digital technology helped many businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can promote inclusive growth by lowering the cost of starting a business, as per the report.

"Digital entrepreneurship helped economies stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it can become a major engine of growth and innovation in the post-pandemic world," said ADB Chief Economist Albert Park.

"For this to happen, there needs to be a supportive environment enabled by conducive policies and incentives. While the environment for Asia's digital entrepreneurs made substantial strides in the past couple of years, there's still a lot of room for improvement," Park added.

Md Mazadul Hoque, economic affairs analyst, said that the country is yet to get fully readied to build a time-befitting digital ecosystem for entrepreneurs in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and with globally competitive trends.

Terming that the country is unable to keep up pace with the global trends regarding this, he said the government should make more entrepreneur-friendly fiscal policy and financially-supportive measures for the fresh entrepreneurs.

"Connectivity to the rural areas, it is a far cry," Mr Fahim said, suggesting a wide range of supportive policy measures.

The report also suggested investing in digital infrastructure such as broadband networks and seeking the government's need to promote political stability, reliable legal systems, open and competitive markets, and strong property rights.

An ADB analysis shows that strong rule of law has a positive effect on enterprise innovation, while less corruption in a society is correlated with an increase in the entry of new entrepreneurs in the market.

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