DCCI also requested Prime Minister’s intervention to ensure infrastructural development for business expansion in Bangladesh.
The call came while unveiling DCCI’s Activity and Plan for 2017 on Thursday.
“Gas exploration, both offshore and onshore, should be a top priority,” said DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan.
“ The demand should be met locally instead of import. The import increases gas prices,” he said.
Khan stated that Bangladeshi manufacturers enjoy advantage of cheaper labour cost and energy price. If gas is imported, it would increase production cost due to higher energy price.
As a result, investors, especially foreigners, would not choose Bangladesh as investment-friendly destination only because of cheap labour, while local investors will see rise in production cost, he added.
Khan also observed that the local coal must be brought into the main energy stream as this is a major energy source which Bangladesh needs to explore in the next 60-70 years and this would help fulfill the growth of Bangladesh.
To meet energy target, the government has aimed to raise energy from coal to up to 50% but this is planned from imported coal, which should be our domestic coal, he added.
According to a DCCI presentation, Bangladesh faces challenges including lack of sufficient infrastructure, energy security, and supply of energy at a viable price.
“Bangladesh can achieve higher economic growth rates of 8% -10% on an average in the coming years but the ‘pre-conditions’ of such growth targets need be to properly addressed, which are mainly related to our infrastructure development,” said Khan.
Currently, there is a limited resource allocation for infrastructure development. Only 2.87% of Bangladesh GDP is allocated for infrastructure against the minimum requirement of 6% to 8%.
The trade body claimed that Bangladesh’s infrastructure remains as one of the most underdeveloped in the world, a factor which has hindered accelerated economic growth of the country. It also casts shadow on GDP growth.
In 2017, focus would be on Dhaka-Chittagong corridor, rail connectivity and ports’ capacity building. “We must take note to the importance of the development of this corridor in terms of its contribution to the economy and also help reduce overcrowding of Dhaka and Chittagong metro cities,” the trade body leader added.
According to World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2016-17, the overall infrastructure competitiveness status of Bangladesh improved at 114 in 2016-17 from 123 in 2016.