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Businesses and investment specialists for services under one umbrella to boost FDI

Businesses and investment specialists Thursday (27 February 2014) singled out the absence of a specific investment policy and poor infrastructure facilities, especially those related to land and primary energy, as major impediments to boosting FDI (foreign direct investment) inflow in Bangladesh.

Seeking government attention to such shortcomings, they also stressed the necessity of bringing all the services for promoting foreign investment under one umbrella to ensure hassle-free investment atmosphere for Bangladesh.

The observations were made at a roundtable discussion arranged by Board of Investment (BoI) at its conference room on Thursday.

The BoI organised the roundtable with the business communities and investment experts under the topic “FDI Inflow and Its Trends in Bangladesh” to learn about their observations and suggestions that would help the board, the investment promoter, intensify its strategy to attract investors.

Adviser of Japan-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry Abdul Haque said investors needed to move several ministries and government departments to obtain permission or licences before making their investments.”Normally, investors feel much better having the services under one umbrella as they can avail those in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. So, we should think of it with due importance,” he said.

Mentioning the 16-nation group Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will cover trade in goods, trade in services; investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement and other issues, he suggested Bangladesh join in the supply chain.

Adviser of FBCCI (Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry) Manzur Ahmed suggested analysing the FDI policies of the USA (United States of America) and China, into where a large volume of FDI flows.

Talking about the reform of the country’s FDI strategy, he said Bangladesh should be more strict and regulated in respect of FDI, which causes a massive outflow of resources.

“Foreign investors came to Bangladesh and went back after making profits as our investment strategy is highly biased towards FDI. Now time has come to consider how much we will get by providing them with so many facilities,” he said.

Ferdaus Ara Begum, chief executive officer of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD), said the country does not have a specific investment policy like industry and import policies to remove the policy gaps.

Coming to bilateral treaties, she said some 24 out of 29 bilateral treaties are active in Bangladesh, which is expected to sign 10 more such agreements.

“So we need to calculate how we can reap the most benefits out of these,” she added.

Abdul Matlub Ahmad, chairman of Nitol-Niloy Group, said foreign investment would flow into the country, if BoI could assure the investors of two things – land and primary energy like power and gas.

Focusing on installation of more SEZs (specialised economic zones) here, financial sector specialist of the World Bank A.K.M Abdullah said BoI should conduct sector-wise studies to attract FDI.

He also stressed reform in the structure of BoI.

BoI Executive Chairman Dr. Syed A Samad said there are huge government lands which remain abandoned for long.

“The Privatisation Commission took measures to use those, but could not achieve anything significant because there were some inter-ministerial problems,” he said.

He observed that Bangladesh economy was not like the sick or declining ones as the FDI inflow had been increasing frequently for the last several years.

“Because of this, the flow of FDI marked a 45 per cent growth in the financial year of 2013 as it stood at US$ 1.73 billion against US$ 1.19 billion registered in FY ’12,” he said.

About the one-stop service, he said all the entities except BSCIC and SME are directly operated by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

According to BoI data, the United Kingdom (UK) topped the list of FDI inflow in Bangladesh followed by Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and USA.

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Source: Financial Express

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