Speakers at a webinar today stressed the need for reforming the taxation system alongside tapping the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) potentials in a wide range of sectors like agro processing, light engineering, non-cotton apparel, home textile, blue economy and education in the country to ensure export diversification and smooth LDC graduation.
They also suggested for extending the scope for whitening undisclosed money in the health infrastructure, economic zones, and in other infrastructure sectors alongside the existing sectors to create more employment opportunities.
The participants in the webinar also opined that all the concerned stakeholders need to extend their all-out cooperation to the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) to attract more FDI in the country.
Planning Minister MA Mannan spoke at the Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) Webinar titled “FDI for Export Diversification and Smooth LDC Graduation” as the chief guest.
The webinar was organized as part of the ERF Webinar Series in partnership with the Asia Foundation and Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID).
Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Md Sirazul Islam spoke as special guest chaired by ERF Vice President Shafiqul Alam.
President of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) Barrister Nihad Kabir, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Rizwan Rahman, and Managing Director of Apex Footwear Ltd Syed Nasim Manzur spoke as panelists.
Executive Director of RAPID and Dhaka University Professor of Development Studies Dr M Abu Yusuf and Country Representative of the Asia Foundation Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj gave welcome addresses.
Chairman of RAPID and Director of Policy Research Institute (PRI) Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque made the key-note presentation while ERF general secretary SM Rashidul Islam moderated the function through virtual platform.
Speaking on the occasion as the chief guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan said it is fact that the country does not receive that level of FDI that it needs.
In this regard, he said all the concerned agencies need to accomplish their tasks in due time to attract more FDI.
Mannan also suggested for overcoming the “cultural context” and thus move forward together with modern attitude.
BIDA Executive Chairman Sirazul Islam said that BIDA needs to be empowered fully as it still needs to depend on others to facilitate the private sector.
Noting that there is no lacking from BIDA to create enabling environment for attracting more FDI, he said that the Authority has made effective the One Stop Service (OSS) platform to ensure transparent and hassle free service delivery.
Sirazul informed that some 47 services have so far been brought under online while the services of some 16 organizations including BIDA have already come under OSS platform.
Listing various steps of the BIDA to further ease the doing business index, he informed that separate courts would be lunched in Dhaka and Chattogram to speedily resolve the commercial disputes.
“We’ll definitely try our best to face the challenges emerging before us. But for that the public and the private sector need to work together,” he said adding that the door of BIDA would always remain open for the private sector.
The BIDA Executive Chairman also opined that if the local Investment could be promoted further, there there would be more FDI inflow.
Sirazul suggested for providing COVID-19 vaccination facility to the legally employed foreigners in Bangladesh to show that Bangladesh values all lives equally and also to send a good signal to the outside world.
MCCI President Barrister Nihad Kabir said the now defunct Board of Investment (BOI) was earlier regarded as the “Dead Stop Service” or “Full Stop Service”, but now BIDA has somehow managed to overcome that bad name, but still there is a lot to do.
She said although Bangladesh has an extremely courageous leader to run the country, but others are not moving ahead with the same pace that the Prime Minister has.
The MCCI President also suggested for targeting the potential sectors, adopting a coherent policy strategy by BIDA, signing more Preferential Trade Agreements with potential countries, and thus extending all-out support to BIDA to attract more FDI.
DCCI President Rizwan Rahman underscored the need for reforming the tax rate as it is still high compared to the global and Asian average.
He also suggested for extending the provision for whitening undisclosed money in the health infrastructure, tourism and in economic zones alongside the real estate and capital market, otherwise there would be bubbles in the economy.
Rizwan said that there is much more scope for attracting more FDI in the Blue Economy and education sectors of the country.
He said that if the non-RMG sectors could be nurtured properly apart from the RMG sector, then the country would be able to realize billions of dollars of export earnings.
Citing an example that the Bangladeshi exports earn $1,089 by exporting 1000KGs of tea shirts, whereas the Vietnamese exporters earn $2,157 by exporting the same volume, Syed Nasim Manzur, Managing Director of Apex Footwear Ltd, said ‘bargaining power’ makes the difference here which needs to be addressed.
He said it is the high time to recapture the Japanese Investment from Myanmar to Bangladesh adding, “This is the chance we must not loose,”
He also suggested for ensuring duty free and quota free access in markets like Japan, EU, India and China by not looking forward only to the market of USA.
Nasim Manzur cited huge FDI and Investment potentials in the country’s agro processed food, light engineering, non-cotton apparel and home textile sectors for which there is a need for necessary tax reforms.
In his key-note address, Dr Abdur Razzaque said the tax-GDP ratio needs to be revamped in Bangladesh while FDI can create modern job opportunities and bring in new technology and management practices for Bangladesh.
Mentioning that public health expenditure is one of the lowest in Bangladesh, he said this budget needs to be increased while more investment is needed in the education sector.
Citing that countries like Vietnam and Indonesia are greatly benefitting from FDI, Razzaque said their good practices can be applied in Bangladesh.