Staff Correspondent: Bangladesh witnessed high volume of investment from both local and foreign sources over the last 10 years as the government offered a number of incentives by adopting a time-befitting industrial policy, export growth strategy and public-private partnership programme.
The foreign direct investment (FDI) hit at US Dollar 2,580 million in June of this year which was only $748 million in 2008.
Investment under the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) soared around three times to $4,724.92 million in August 2018 from $1509.14 million in December 2008.
In the last 10 years, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) gave registrations to 15,886 industrial units under local, joint venture and 100 percent foreign investment scheme that promised investment of $1,22,824 million including $39,764 million FDI with creating job opportunities for more than 30 lakh people.
“Thanks to different measures taken by the BEPZA, the flow of investment in the country’s eight Export Processing Zones (EPZs) showed an upward trend in the last couple of years,” BEPZA General Manager Nazma Binte Alamgir told recently.
She said a total of 476 industries under the eight EPZs also showed better performance in the fields of export and employment generation as the two components increased 2.5 times and two times respectively in the last 10 years.
Nazma said BEPZA is moving forward to materialise Vision-2021 and Vision-2041 under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
BEPZA sources said the total amount of export in the EPZs climbed to $50,221.30 million in August 2018, which was $17,598.24 million in December 2008.
Official data shows that the cumulative investment stood at $1,643.02 million in Chittagong EPZ till June 2018 while $1,360.81 million in Dhaka EPZ, $315.51 million in Cumilla EPZ, $59.01 million in Mongla EPZ, $159 million in Uttara EPZ, $136.77 million in Ishwardi EPZ, $471.70 million in Adamjee EPZ and $535.03 million in Karnaphuli EPZ.
BIDA sources said the government is providing a number of investment incentives including declaring tax holidays for 10 to 15 years and exemption of VAT on electricity for 10 years, local purchase except petroleum, customs and stamp duties.
They said Bangladesh’s tax incentives and benefits are standard that apply generally to all companies according to their operation and negotiation for case to case basis is not required.
Bangladesh is likely to improve its rank in the World Bank’s Global Doing Business Report for the next year as the BIDA is going to introduce the full-fledged ‘One-Stop Service (OSS) Centre’ in January.
“Entrepreneurs will get all necessary permissions for investment from a single window after launching the OSS in January. It will make easier starting a business in Bangladesh. So, the position in doing business index will improve,” BIDA Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said.
Through the OSS, Aminul said, the potential investors would get all necessary permissions for making investment and starting a business and get all paperwork done for receiving various utility services like power, gas, water and telephone from the centre after becoming fully functional.
“The flow of the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Bangladesh will reach a new height after the launching of the service centre as the new web-based system allows a company to start its activities within a short time,” he added.
The BIDA executive chairman said the government has set a plan to bring down the country’s position in doing business ranking to below 100 from the existing 176 by 2021 through reforming the rules and regulations of doing business.
Although there is little discrimination against foreign investors, the government favours some potential local industries as importation of drugs that compete with locally manufactured pharmaceuticals is tightly controlled, BIDA sources said.
In order to mitigate the risks of being too dependent on industrial production in the textile sector (80 pc of Bangladesh’s industrial production in 2017), the sources said, the government is seeking to develop certain sectors by granting companies involved in these areas with incentives and favourable conditions.
These include agricultural and agro-industrial products, light engineering, leather footwear and leather goods, pharmaceuticals, software and ICT products, as well as shipbuilding.
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