'You (BIDA) know about it, I also know about it. Let us push these out and clean the system'
Planning Minister MA Mannan has urged relevant authorities to cut down on unfavourable regulations and keep a business-friendly atmosphere in the country to attract domestic and foreign investment.
Speaking as a chief guest at a webinar titled "Attracting Foreign Investment in Bangladesh and Branding Bangladesh", he urged the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) to refrain from following policies which are not conducive to doing business in Bangladesh.
"You (BIDA) know about it, I also know about it. Let us push these out and clean the system. Let's keep fewer rules…so that business can be done faster," the minister further said.
BIDA and Better Bangladesh Foundation (BBF) on Saturday organized the webinar.
This has been a recurring demand among the country's businesspersons for a long time now.
Several reports and indices have all raised concerns about the business environment in Bangladesh.
Every year, the World Bank (WB) creates a list of 190 countries based on business environment metrics.
In their last index, Bangladesh ranked 168th out of 190 in 2020.
In a recent webinar, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Executive Chairman Sirajul Islam commented that by 2021, they projected Bangladesh to improve its position to 99th.
According to the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD)’s Bangladesh Business Environment Study 2020 report, 75% of businesses found the central bank's monitoring of banks to be inadequate.
The report also noted that due to bureaucratic red-tape, policymakers need to focus on the availability and quality of government services.
They are indicative of transparency, accountability, and weakness in public services.
Furthermore, the report identified some administrative weaknesses in improving the business environment.
Analysis of the reports of those organizations highlighted three main criteria as the reasons for Bangladesh's backwardness and declining scores.
These include the deterioration of institutions, the use of information technology and the product market situation. In other words, in the last few years, Bangladesh's score has decreased the most in these three criteria.
Also, a lack of corporate ethics in government institutions, illegal transfer of government funds, and inefficiency of judicial systems in resolving business disputes were behind Bangladesh lagging behind.
MA Mannan also urged the authorities concerned to make a smooth, level-playing field for everyone to do business in.
Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Naoki Ito said that more than 300 Japanese companies are now operating in Bangladesh, while the number of the companies has tripled in the last 10 years.
“Japan is the largest export market for Bangladeshis in Asia with $1.3 billion worth of export,” he said, adding that Japanese companies are ready to expand their business in Bangladesh despite the pandemic.
"We see three important factors to increase business and facilitate trade and investment –further development of infrastructure, better investment climate and workforce development, particularly of young people. I think these three elements are very very important," he said.
Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of BIDA; Jashim Uddin, president of FBCCI; Faruque Hasan, president of BGMEA, and Ghulam M Alomgir, chairman of Max Group and Director of FBCCI, spoke at the programme. Prof Masud A Khan, chairman and founder of BBF moderated the event.
BIDA Director Ariful Haque and BBF consultant GM Nizam Uddin presented presentations. Rafiq Khan, CEO, BBF Global USA; Sazzad Rashid, managing director, BBF Global, USA; Shafiqul Islam, president of BFQ, also participated.
As per the Eighth Five-Year Plan (FY2021-25), Bangladesh has set a target to attain 8.51% GDP growth, together with increasing private investment to GDP ratio at 28.2%.
With that in mind, it has been made clear that private sector investment from both home and abroad would be crucial in attaining the national target.
To meet this target, the country would need an investment of some Tk5,177,660 crore into the private sector. But, a country cannot expect to attract such huge sums in private investment without a conducive business environment.
According to the World Bank (WB) Ease of Doing Business 2020 index, Bangladesh ranked 168, up by eight notches from 176 in 2019, out of 190 countries.
Although Bangladesh made a notable improvement in its ranking on the global index, unfortunately, the country is yet to gain a position where it can draw the attention of investors.
Despite the giant leap, Bangladesh’s ranking remains the second-lowest among the South Asian nations.
Among the South Asian countries, Nepal improved by 16 notches and ranked at 94, while India improved by 14 notches and placed at 63. Bhutan ranked at 89, followed by Sri Lanka 99, Pakistan 108 and Afghanistan at 173.