On Sunday, November 10, 2017, 164 people were recognised as Commercially Important Persons (CIP) by the Commerce Ministry for their contribution to the economic growth of Bangladesh in 2014.
The awardees included: Managing Director of Picard Bangladesh Limited Mohammad Saiful Islam, Managing Director of Bagerhat Sea Food Industries Ltd SM Amzad Hossain, Vice-chairman of Newage Apparels Ltd Asif Ibrahim, Managing Director of Ananta Apparels Limited Sharif Zahir, and Managing Director of Envoy Group Abdus Salam Murshedy, among others.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed handed over the CIP cards at a gala ceremony on Sunday held at Hotel Sonargaon in Dhaka.
With 562 CIP cards having been granted by the Commerce Ministry over the past four years, it begs the question: What exactly is a CIP and what benefits do they get?
CIPs are awarded in various categories each denoting a particular industry, such as the leather product sector, frozen food sector and knitwear sector.
A CIP in Bangladesh can avail a number of benefits and facilities for one year once he or she has been given the card for their contribution to their respective sector.
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These facilities include permission to enter the Bangladesh Secretariat, invitations to participate at various national programmes, priority booking for air, railway and waterway tickets for business purposes, as well as assistance from the Foreign Ministry in the issuance of visas through letters of introduction that they send to the embassies concerned.
Furthermore, CIPs also get access to the VVIP lounges at airports, and their family members receive priority when booking cabins at government hospitals for treatment.
However, some of the CIPs told the Dhaka Tribune that there were occasionally difficulties in availing these benefits.
Picard Bangladesh Limited Managing Director Mohammad Saiful Islam, who received the CIP card for the seventeenth consecutive year, said: “We have all been getting the CIP facilities provided by the government regularly. However, there are some problems with priority booking for air, railway and waterway tickets for business purposes, which need to be addressed.”
Meanwhile, Envoy Group MD Abdus Salam Murshedy said: “There are a number of difficulties in availing the benefits offered by government agencies to CIPs. First, the CIP list is not updated regularly enough, so those who are granting the benefits sometimes do not believe that the CIP cards are real. Further confusion in this regard is created because the cards for 2014 are only being given now. In addition, some service providers do not even know what CIPs are.”