Planning Minister MA Mannan has stressed the importance of making government rules investment friendly by removing the unnecessary and complicated ones to turn Bangladesh into an attractive place for doing business.
He, however, said the foreign investors should come to Bangladesh to do business based on equity and transparency instead of thinking of “exploiting” cheap labour in the country.
Mannan made the remarks while speaking as the chief guest at a webinar titled “Attracting Foreign Investment in Bangladesh and Branding Bangladesh" jointly organised by Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Better Bangladesh Foundation (BBF) on Saturday night.
"There’re various rules in government books which are not friendly towards investment. You know (BIDA), I know (about the rules). Since we know, let's push it out. Let’s clean it. Let's keep fewer and smaller but better rules so that work can be done in a speedier way," he said pointing out at the BIDA authorities.
Mannan said the government is sincere about liberalizing the rules for creating a smooth ground and level-playing field for everyone to do business.
The minister said it is necessary to work on the issue of ease of doing business. “Our FBCCI, BGMEA, BIDA and BBF can work together to remove the bottlenecks which stand between us and the investors.”
Mannan said Bangladeshi is giving the investors the guarantee for the safety of their investment and giving various concessions, tax holidays, tax concessions and also giving new economic areas where they can set up their business and enjoy the various infrastructural facilities.
He said Bangladesh is now at a point of takeoff amid many difficulties.
The minister said huge investment is surely needed to support the country’s drive towards industrialisation and higher-level of economic growth and economic activities. “Investment can come both from inside or outside.
The minister, however, said every country should think about humanity and human welfare instead of thinking only of economic development. “We should all make the effort so that people can live peacefully in this world and enjoy a better life.”
Manna thinks local investment is a better investment. “We’ll welcome investment from outside if it comes in a friendly and transparent and open way, and if it ensures justice for our labourers. It won’t be sustainable if they come with investment here because of cheap labour which is an inhuman idea.”
Japanese Ambassador in Dhaka Naoki Ito said their companies are ready to expand their business operation in Bangladesh and some have already expanded their business despite the difficult situation caused by Covid-19.
He said Japan and Bangladesh are building bridges of bonding. “Our country is trying to build longer and wider bridges of bonding here. We’re going to celebrate the 50th years of diplomatic relations next year. If you look at the bilateral partnership on business, the number of Japanese companies has gradually been increasing…there’re now more than 300 companies operating here.”
The ambassador said Japan is the largest export market for Bangladesh in Asia as around 1.3 billion export is going to Japan from Bangladesh and the market size is larger than that of India or China, and the investment is coming from Japan.
He said three factors -- further development of infrastructure, better investment climate, workforce development, and capacity building – are very important in expanding its business relations and facilitating the flow of trade and investment.
Naoki Ito also hoped that Japanese companies can be better partners in expanding backward-linkage industries of the RMG sector in Bangladesh.
BGMEA president Faruque Hassan, FBCCI director Ghulam M Alomgir, BIDA director Ariful Haque, BBF consultant GM Nizam Uddin. CEO of BBF Global USA Rafiq Khan, among others, spoke at the programme chaired by BIDA Executive Chairman Sirazul Islam.
Prof Masud A Khan, chairman and founder of BBF, moderated the virtual programme.