She opined that high bank loan interest rates are the biggest barrier to Bangladesh's industrialization
Expressing her government's firm stance to bring down bank loan interest rates to single digits, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday said the government will take measures to reduce the rates for the sake of industrialization.
"We will sit again to discuss how to reduce the interest rate of bank loan," she said while inaugurating the week-long first national industrial fair in Dhaka.
The Industries Ministry is organizing the National Industrial Fair 2019 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, aimed at promoting and expanding the market of local industrial products and attract investments.
Prime Minister Hasina opined that high bank loan interest rates "are the biggest barriers to Bangladesh's industrialization."
She said the government earlier took initiatives to reduce the rates and provided some facilities to the banks. "Some banks brought down the interest rate to 9% accordingly, but all didn't do so. It [the rate] was taken to 14–16% again," she added.
The Prime Minister questioned why the banks did not reduce the interest rate despite enjoying the facilities.
Noting that now she will have to interfere in this area, she said: "They're running banks and also industries, but won't reduce the interest rates. What businesses do they have and are they paying taxes and VAT properly?"
The Prime Minister urged entrepreneurs to repay bank loans and its interest in time for keeping the banks operational. "If so, it won't be very tough to reduce the interest rate," she added.
Noting that the country's economy is mainly based on agriculture, she stressed the need for setting up food processing industries to export the items on a large scale to different countries—particularly to neighbouring markets in addition to fulfilling the local demand.
"We do not want industries to be developed haphazardly, destroying arable lands. We also need to keep in mind that we have to fulfill the food demand of 160 million people. We can export food items on a large scale through producing and processing agricultural products.
"Furthermore, we have a big domestic market. We also can catch big markets in neighbouring countries," she said.
Alongside promoting agro-processing industries and agricultural mechanization, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is in dire need of industrialization to generate jobs and enhance the export volume.
"We will have to diversify industrialization, export, production and marketing," she said adding that there are many types of products in the country that can be exported.
She asked the businessmen and the authorities concerned to find out new markets and set up industries accordingly after assessing demand of products in different countries.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also said the government is relentlessly implementing its plans to promote agro-based industrialization in the country to generate jobs and boost production and export. She further urged entrepreneurs to maintain standard of food products to increase their exports.