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Dhaka Tribune

Experts: Policy consistency a must to attract new FDI

They also urged the private sector to come up with new business ideas including blue economy, energy exploration and marine tourism

Update : 20 Nov 2023, 09:21 PM

Eradicating policy inconsistency in the economic zones is a must to attract new foreign direct investment (FDI) in Bangladesh, according to the experts. They also said that the investors will complain if the issues are not solved properly. 

This was discussed while speaking at a panel discussion titled “Investment Climate: Current Landscape and Mission 2041” organized by the Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in an event marking its 60 years celebration in the capital on Monday. 

Rupali Haque Chowdhury, managing director of Berger Paints Bangladesh, said in response to Senior Secretary of Commerce Tapan Kanti Ghosh's speech where he said investors are blaming rather than discussing problems. 

Rupali Haque Chowdhury said that when investors invest in EZ, at that time, there was no value added tax on land lease, however,  suddenly the policy changed, and imposed 15% VAT on it.

“Moreover investors have to pay more utility charges at the  national rate and other surcharges. So the overall charges will be higher in BEZA rather than reducing,” she added. 

She also said that there is a problem regarding getting electricity connections and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) frequently changes the policy. “We are not saying that 100% of businesses are transparent and compliant. But we cannot say that all the processes that the government has developed for ease of doing business are also not responsible,” she added. 

“It is not criticism rather a humble submission, and we really  have problems and we have to solve them. Unless people talk about it,” she added. 

Yuji Ando, country director of Jetro (Japan External Trade Organization) said that there are issues in the customs function of the country and if the issues are solved, investors will be attracted to invest more. 

In response to the speech, Senior Commerce Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh said that the BEZA provided sufficient lands to the Japanese investors in Araihazar EZ but investors didn't come.

"We said that they have been able to make a great profit magnificently compared to other countries. So why don't they come here? They raise issues regarding customs and others,” he added. 

He also said that they urge them to come and tell what is their problem, and Bangladesh will solve it. “Saying something far from the country is like blaming and shaming.” 

Dr M Masrur Reaz, chairman of Policy Exchange Bangladesh presented a keynote paper where he pointed out some challenges and prospects of Bangladesh in attracting FDI.

In the closing remarks, Nasser Ejaj Bijoy, president of FICCI pointed out the potential of agribusiness,  digital economy and other new sectors.

Tofazzel Hossain Miah, principal secretary of prime ministers office urged the foreign investors to come to Bangladesh and said their engagement will help us to make a conducive environment.

He also urged the private sectors to come up with new business ideas including blue economy, energy exploration and marine tourism.

“We have worked a lot, but still we have limitations and need to do more”, he added.

 Samsoo Kim, director general of KOTRA, Saiful Islam, president of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) also spoke at the seminar.

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