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Proposed SEZs to get Tk300cr for land acquisition

The government has decided to allocate Tk300 crore in the upcoming budget for acquisition of lands for the proposed special economic zones.

Against the backdrop of huge complaints lodged by the foreign investors on land crisis, the finance division has finally decided to allocate of the aforesaid amount in the next budget to acquire lands, said a finance division official.

The official also said the acquisition works would begin soon to develop seven economic zones in the country.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith had earlier mentioned that both local and foreign investments would come to Bangladesh only if the government could provide land to the investors.

“But we are not in a position to provide them with valuable lands right away. However, the government has a plan to allocate money in next fiscal budget for land acquisition for the projects.”

Board of Investment data shows Bangladesh had received foreign direct investment worth $1.78bn in 2013, registering 37.5% growth from the previous year.

According to several government agencies, the local businessmen have allegedly transferred their capital to countries like Malaysia, UAE, USA and Canada as the investors have been losing their confidence and private sector credit growth has dropped to a record low of 10.73% in February this year.

The economists and experts said the lack of government plans had already caused colossal damage to the industrialisation process in a land-hungry country like Bangladesh.

They said absence of facilities such as road connectivity and power and gas supplies in the countryside have forced the entrepreneurs to set up their industrial plants close to major cities, even at the heart of the capital city Dhaka and Chittagong.

In its recent report, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) mentioned that one of the major constraints to attract foreign direct investment in Bangladesh is shortage of lands and infrastructural facilities.

Last year, the previous government set a priority to arrange over 10,000 acres of land for industrial plots across the country over the next three years and launch five special economic zones (SEZs) by the end of its tenure. The last government ended its tenure in early this year.

However, the new industry ministry later stopped the process of the acquisition of 10,000 acres of land.

“Insufficiency of land for setting up industries at appropriate locations has come up as a major obstacle to the country’s industrial expansion and finding out industrial lands with necessary facilities has appeared as another key problem,” Dr AB Mirza Azizul Islam, former finance adviser to last caretaker government, said.

“The government won’t be able to attract foreign and domestic investors until it provided proper land facilities to them,” he said.

Report: Asif Showkat Kallol

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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