Dhaka, Friday, September 22, 2017

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Bangladesh on right path of development: speakers

DHAKA, April 20, 2017 (BSS)- Speakers at a discussion here today said Bangladesh is on the right path of development and stressed the need for ensuring adequate infrastructure development to attract required FDI which will lead the country to become the 30th largest economy in the world.

"We're on right path of development and the government is firmly committed to accelerate industrialization. In the South Asian region Bangladesh has better opportunities to grow and if we work together Bangladesh will be the 30th largest economy by 2030," state minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan said at the discussion.

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF) jointly organized the event "Road to 2030: Strategic Priorities".

Member (Secretary) of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Paban Chowdhury, Distinguished Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Former President of DCCI Asif Ibrahim, Editor of The Financial Express Moazzem Hossain and General Secretary of ERF Ziaur Rahman were present as panel discussants.

DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan made a power point presentation on the topic while ERF president Saif Islam Dilal made opening remarks.

Paban Chowdhury said the government has taken initiative of establishing 100 economic zones in the country. BEZA has already allocated land for 76 EZs out of which 23 EZs are in process and 3 EZs have been given to private sector to develop and operate, he added.

"BEZA has taken an initiative of establishing a Land Bank of 1,00,000 acres of land for economic zones," he said.

He said India has requested for 1054 acres of land for Indian economic zone which is under consideration.

To attract tourists, the government will develop tourism city in the country and by the next two years an island in the Naaf River will be open for tourists, Chowdhury said.

Editor of The Financial Express Moazzem Hossain termed investment as one of the main challenges for Bangladesh now and said a hard and action driven process and some policy reforms are needed.

He said corporate tax rate in Bangladesh is the highest in South Asian region and urged the government to widen tax net. The world is moving fast and Bangladesh has to be competitive because this window of opportunity will not be open forever, if Bangladesh fails, other will grab the opportunity.

DCCI president Abul Kasem Khan in his presentation said Bangladesh needs 20 to 22 billion US dollar investment annually only in infrastructure if the country wants to become the 30th largest economy by 2030.

"By the year 2030 we need 10 percent GDP growth, we have to make PPP functional, we need FDI and we need quality investment in infrastructure," said Khan.

He said some challenges for the economy like energy crisis, land crisis, lack of infrastructure, higher tax rate, shortage of skilled manpower will have to be addressed.

He underscored the need of formulation of a coal policy soon and said utilization of locally extracted coal will be more competitive.

"We need to take some actions ahead of 2030 like decentralization of Dhaka, policy reforms, tax policy, reducing cost of doing business, more gas exploration, reducing cost of energy and skill development," he added.

CPD's distinguished fellow Mustafizur Rahman said Bangladesh is losing FDI because of adequate infrastructure and the only solution to attract FDI is infrastructure development along with good governance and transparency.

Regional integration in southern region is a window of opportunity for Bangladesh, he said, adding that Bangladesh needs to be engaged with BCIM economic corridor, BBIN motor vehicle agreement and Asian highway for this regional integration.