Find ways to bring commodity prices to a normal level: PM tells business leaders
Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today (March 11, 2023) asked the business community leaders to find ways to bring commodity prices to a normal level. “Considering public suffering, the business community leaders will have to find ways to bring prices of essentials to a normal level. Otherwise, you will lose your markets,” she said. The premier said this while inaugurating Bangladesh Business Summit-2023 at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the city. Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), in partnership with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Commerce Ministry and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), is arranging the three-day summit. Read More: If people don’t buy in excess, there will be no price hike of essentials ahead of Ramadan: Tipu Munshi Sheikh Hasina said people are going through a very difficult time due to high prices of essentials and inflationary pressure. She said developing countries like Bangladesh as well as developed countries are facing severe problems due to price hike of essentials and high inflation caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, economic sanctions and counter-sanctions following the Covid-19 pandemic. Ministers from seven countries including the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, China, Bhutan and the United Arab Emirates, CEOs of 12 multinational companies, and more than 200 foreign investors and business leaders from 17 countries are participating in the business summit. Read more: 'Business Summit to help brand Bangladesh's identity, manufacturing prowess to foreign investors' Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, PM's Private Industry and Investment Affairs Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Saudi Arabian Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-kassabi, Bhutanese Minister of Commerce and Employment Karma Dorjia and Deputy Director General of World Trade Organisation (WTO) Xiangchen Zhang spoke at the opening function, while FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin delivered the welcome speech. The Business Summit is being organized as a part of the FBCCI's 50th founding anniversary celebrations with the aim of creating new opportunities for trade and investment by showcasing the country's economic potential before a global audience. The Business Summit will showcase dynamic investment opportunities and improvements to the local business climate while also giving insights into investment priorities of global investors to improve policymaking. Read more: PM to inaugurate Bangladesh Business Summit on Saturday
BIDA, ILO sign deal to streamline one-stop service for investors
International Labour Organization (ILO) and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) have signed an agreement to promote, simplify and harmonize the one-stop service (OSS) of BIDA. Under the agreement signed on Tuesday, ILO will support the integration of safety licenses of four national regulators to BIDA-OSS. Over the course of a year, ILO will provide necessary support to Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence Department (BFSCD), Chattogram Development Authority (CDA), Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments (DIFE) and Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (RAJUK) to integrate and operate their licensing systems to BIDA OSS. Also read: Youth unemployment rate in Bangladesh stands at 10.6pc: ILO Additionally, ILO will facilitate the simplification of application and payment process in BIDA-OSS, and support an awareness campaign to promote the system among investors. These activities will be conducted under the remit of ILO’s RMG programme funded by Canada and Netherlands. The programme would also provide essential technical and financial support to BFSCD, CDA, DIFE and RAJUK to interconnect their safety licencing systems to BIDA-OSS. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Country Director of ILO Bangladesh Tuomo Poutiainen said investment in workplace safety protects businesses from occupational hazards and improves the brand image of Bangladesh. “We hope integrating relevant safety licencing systems in the BIDA-OSS and simplification of the OSS process is a necessary step to attract more local and foreign investors to apply for safety permits,” Poutiainen said. Also read: UNDP, Grameenphone, BIDA join hands to create economic opportunities for youth Executive Chairman of BIDA Md Sirazul Islam said BIDA is pleased to collaborate with the ILO to streamline one-stop service system. “We believe the harmonization and simplification of BIDA-OSS will help investors save time and cost for setting up their businesses,” he said.
UNDP, Grameenphone, BIDA join hands to create economic opportunities for youth
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Grameenphone on Sunday jointly launched graduate employment in the private sector programme under an alliance called "FutureNation" to create economic opportunities for all by 2041. Future Nation, an alliance of the private, public and development sectors, is created to accelerate the nation's future economic growth by enhancing the skills and potential of youth by identifying opportunities for development, employment, entrepreneurship, and investment in the post-pandemic situation. Salman F Rahman, Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister; Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for ICT; Md Sirazul Islam, Executive Chairman, BIDA; Radwan Mujib Siddiq, Strategic Advisor, UNDP; Mohsina Yasmin, Executive Member, International Investment Promotion, BIDA Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative, UNDP; and Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone; joined the launching ceremony held in the city. While speaking at the event as the chief guest Salman Rahman said after realizing a ‘Digital Bangladesh’, the government is now working to establish a ‘Smart Bangladesh’ to be successfully involved in the 4IR, engaging to create youth employment through various ICT initiatives, a pre-condition for sustaining Bangladesh’s prosperity. “I wholeheartedly applaud this initiative, ‘FutureNation by Grameenphone, UNDP and BIDA,” he said. Read: UNDP to work with BRAC for accelerating pace of poverty reduction Palak said Bangladesh is uniquely positioned to potentially benefit from a demographic dividend but to reap the benefits of a demographic dividend stable employment opportunities and equipping the youth with digital competencies is pivotal. “We must collaborate to reduce the disparity between the urban and rural areas by transforming the country into a digitally connected society. FutureNation is one of this co-creation,” he said. Radwan Mujib in a video message shared his vision about FutureNation and said FutureNation with its advanced grooming method and more realistic assessment procedure, will help endow the youth with employable skills. “I am delighted to see this coalition support the very critical area of building skills through their technology and innovation. Such an initiative will be impactful to upskill the youth and prepare them for real work,” he said. Sudipto Mukerjee said the global job market is consistently evolving and they must ensure that youth is prepared for the new reality presented by the fast-paced economic and technological evolutions. “The blessings of a demographic dividend do not last forever. The private, public and development sectors have to work hand in hand and accelerate efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” he said. Read: Citi, UNDP support young entrepreneurs to achieve SDGs in Bangladesh Jorgen C. Arentz Rostrup, EVP, Head of Asia, Telenor, in his video message said creating opportunities for youth is fundamental for any nation and it is crucial for Bangladesh, more so due to its great national ambitions and is one of the fastest growing economies. “Grameenphone has been creating employment opportunities for the last 25 years. At Telenor, we believe strong partnerships create a stronger impact and this alliance is exemplary of that. Time is now to create new opportunities for the youth of Bangladesh.” Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone, said at Grameenphone, they always take a youth-first approach through our tech, innovation and social impact projects. “Today I am delighted to be a part of this collective effort- a step towards realigning the existing talent with emerging technologies, making them more cyber smart, and ultimately enabling better job opportunities and future proofing the youth of Bangladesh for the digital world."
Seven agencies sign performance agreements with PMO
The annual performance agreements (APAs) 2022-23 were signed between the prime minister's office and its attached seven agencies including Ashrayan-2 project on Thursday. PMO senior secretary Tofazzel Hossain Miah and the heads of the agencies inked the agreements on behalf of their respective sides at the PMO. In the APAs, the seven agencies made different commitments over their performances for the fiscal year of 2022-23. Also read: Increase oxygen supply, Corona beds: PMO Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus and Principal Coordinator for SDG Affairs at the PMO Zuena Aziz spoke at the signing event presided over by Tofazzel Hossain Miah. The seven agencies are Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA), Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA), National Skills Development Authority (NSDA), Public Private Partnership (PPP) Authority, NGO Affairs Bureau and Ashrayan-2 Project. The APA is a result-based working plan to reach the desired goal through increasing the efficiency and accountability of the public servant. In the 2014-15 fiscal year, the Awami League government introduced the APA method in a bid to get better performance from all the ministries and divisions. In the process, all the subordinate departments, agencies or offices also sign the APAs with their respective ministries, divisions or higher offices.
BIDA Chairman urges private sector entrepreneurs to use OSS
Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Md. Sirazul Islam urged private sector entrepreneurs to proactively use One Stop Service (OSS) portal to get 58 services. At one point of time, it was the private sector who demanded for a single window from where they could get all relevant services to start or run a business and currently 58 different services are being provided through OSS, he said. Speaking as the chief guest Sirazul said this in a discussion on the use of OSS, arranged by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) on April 20, 2022. He also said that BIDA’s registration and RJSC’s name clearance can now be taken within 24 hours through OSS. In three years of time OSS has been able to provide about 60,000 services and at present, 90 percent of BIDA’s services are being provided in time, he added. BIDA Chairman requested the private sector to access these digital facilities online with a view to reduce the cost of doing business. “If private sector shows keen interest to avail services from OSS then hundreds of more services will be added to the board, then the cost of business will automatically come down,” he added. Dhaka Chamber President Rizwan Rahman said, “We need to change our mindset to use the OSS.” READ: Investment proposals grow 46.33 pc in July-September 2021: BIDA He also said that DCCI will work to disseminate the positive features of OSS to its members as well as to the business community to make it familiar. Rizwan also requested BIDA to develop a promotional video tutorial on OSS and upload that to social media for better reach. Senior Vice President of DCCI Arman Haque, Executive Member of BIDA Mohsina Yasmin, DCCI Vice President Monowar Hossain, and other members of DCCI were present on the occasion.
Investment proposals grow 46.33 pc in July-September 2021: BIDA
The investment proposals registered by Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) grew by 46.33 per cent in July-September 2021. This has been a marked improvement from July- September period of 2020 when the investment inflow fell due to worsening Covid-19 pandemic situation. BIDA, an entity attached with the Prime Minister Office, provided registration to 189 companies with investment proposals of Tk20463 crore in the three months (July-September) this year. A total 177 domestic companies have taken registration in July-September 2021 period with investment proposals of Tk18586 crore. Read: 184 industrial establishments get BIDA registration in 3 months In the similar period 7 foreign nationals-owned companies and 5-joint venture companies have taken registration with investment proposals of Tk 1877crore. The investors have preferred the agriculture based industries to textile, services and engineering sector to invest money. If the proposed investment is executed, the jobs opportunity of 28850 would be created. Bangladesh, growing rapidly over a decade, is on its way to becoming the next Asian Tiger. Economic and political stability are driving its journey towards the future. Currently the world’s 41st largest economy, Bangladesh will be the 25th largest economy by 2035, according to BIDA. Read: BIDA, BBF join hands to boost FDI BIDA is working to accelerate industrialization and employment. The entity has been providing transparent investor services of different organizations all in one place.
184 industrial establishments get BIDA registration in 3 months
A total of 184 industrial establishments got registered with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) in three months, from April to June this year. The total amount of the proposed investments of the establishments is some Tk14,128 crore, which is much higher than the investment proposal of Tk5,684 crore in the same period of 2020. Also read: BIDA, DCCI sign MoU for integrating services with OSS Only 46 industrial establishments got registered with the BIDA during April-June 2020 due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Press Information Department. The BIDA, the principal private investment promotion agency, provides diversified promotional and facilitating services to accelerate the country's industrial development. Also read: Bangladesh to continue to grow over next 30 yrs: BIDA
WB lauds Bangladesh's economic growth despite downturn
The World Bank has acknowledged Bangladesh’s remarkable economic development and growth, and reassured the global lender's continued support for this country's prosperity. Private Industry and Investment Adviser to the Prime Minister, Salman Fazlur Rahman, met with World Bank’s Managing Director (Operations) Axel van Trotsenburg and other high-ranking officials at its global headquarters in Washington DC recently. Salman led the Bangladeshi delegation, which included Abdur Rouf Talukder, Senior Secretary, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Finance, and Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Also read: WB to provide USD 300 mn for livelihood improvement in Bangladesh In addition to Trotsenburg, the World Bank Group was also represented by John F. Gandolfo, IFC’s Vice President, Economics and Private Sector Development (acting) and Treasurer, and Mohammad Shafiul Alam, Bangladesh’s Alternate Executive Director to the global financial institution. In the meeting with the World Bank’s MD, Adviser Salman highlighted Bangladesh’s unprecedented economic development under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterating that the country's economy was on a solid footing. In particular, he underscored Bangladesh’s economic performance and the GDP growth of 5.24% despite the pandemic-induced economic downturn. Salman recalled the continued financial assistance provided by the World Bank to Bangladesh and thanked the global lending body for its contribution. He also highlighted the need to reduce procedural delay -- through bilateral discussions and close engagement -- in the disbursement of the loans sanctioned by the World Bank for Bangladesh to purchase Covid-19 vaccines on an emergency basis. Also read: Manufacturing sector’s productivity crucial for Bangladesh to offset Covid impacts: WB At a separate meeting, the Bangladesh delegation led by Adviser Rahman met with IFC’s South Asia Vice President and the World Bank’s acting South Asia Vice President. Both sides agreed to accelerate cooperation in crucial areas, including Bangladesh’s reform efforts regarding ease of doing business, BIDA’s institutional capacity enhancement, and skills and human resources development.
Bangladesh needs to have a great deal more to be investment friendly: Minister
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. Also read: Bangladesh, Kosovo explore investment, trade opportunities 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.” Also read: Big-B Initiative to bring more investment to Bangladesh: Shahriar 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.
LPG operators to get services under one roof soon
Bangladesh’s liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) operators are likely to get one-stop service (OSS) in receiving different licenses from various agencies which will ultimately play a vital role in reducing their operational costs. According to official sources, the Energy and Mineral Resources Division will initiate a move for introducing such OSS as part of ease of doing business ethics to promote and smoothen the growing business in the LPG sector. "We will introduce the OSS like the one in the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) system to bring all the services under one umbrella,” said Anisur Rahman, senior secretary of the Energy and Mineral Resources Division. Also read: Introduce tracking system for LPG, CNG cylinders: Nasrul Hamid He said this OSS will be introduced within six months. “If necessary, we’ll place the issue at the top level of the government.” At present, the LPG operators have to take permission from various administrative and licensing bodies, including Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC). In some cases, the operators have to move up to 21 offices from a district-level administration to ministry-level office, said Jakaria Jalal, head of marketing of Bashundhara LPG, a leading operator. Read Private companies’ 12kg LPG price re-fixed at Tk 906 Industry insiders and consumers right groups said multiple regulators in the energy sector have made the services costlier for both the operators and the consumers, casting a big impact on the tariff, especially in the LPG and CNG businesses. “Consumers have to bear the brunt of huge amounts paid in fees annually by the business operators,” said an energy expert. President of LPG Operators of Bangladesh (LOAB) Azam J Chowdhury at a recent seminar said any bulk liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) business operator has to pay annually about Tk 13.5 million (1.35 crore) in total to 13 regulatory bodies to obtain licenses or to renew them for business. Also read: LPG distribution launched by UN partners in Cox’s Bazar The licensing bodies and the amount of their fees are Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) Tk 35,65,000, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) (proposed) Tk 25,00,000, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Tk 40,000, Department of Environment (DoE) Tk 205,000, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) Tk 12,04,158, Department of Explosives Tk 116,000, Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defense (BFSCD) Tk 120,000, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Tk 25,00,000, and city corporation/local government body Tk 93,760. The other bodies and their fees include Department of Inspection of Factories and Establishment (DIFE) Tk 320,000, Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports (CCI and E) Tk 61,000, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Tk 10,350 and Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC and F) Tk 27,60,000 (assuming an authorised capital Tk 3 billion or 300 crore). During a public hearing recently held by the BERC, officials of large six private LPG companies also raised the issues and demanded a single regulatory authority to monitor their business and introduction of a one-stop service at the prime regulator's office. Read LPG operators to get services under one roof soon Hasin Pervez, a leader of the Bangladesh CNG Filling Stations and Conversion Workshop Owners Association, brought a similar allegation saying that they have to pay fees to 22 bodies to take licenses for LPG and CNG business. "The most bothersome part, in this case, is that there’s no serial to maintain in seeking licenses or permission from among the bodies like deputy commissioner (DC) office, BPC, or any other authority," he said. Once anybody applies to the DC office, its officials ask the applicant to take licenses from other agencies first and then apply, he added. Read Omera LPG introduces home delivery services in lockdown Hasin Pervez noted that when applications are filed to other authorities, they direct to bring the DC Office's permission first and then apply to them. Echoing the allegation, Prof Shamsul Alam, an adviser to the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said the consumer rights body will also prefer a single regulator in the energy sector. "We're of the same opinion that multiple regulatory bodies only create complications in business and enhance costs which cast an impact on the energy tariff, and finally consumers have to pay the price," he said. Read LPG terminal project at Matarbari to get consultant Backing their views, former member of the BERC Mizanur Rahman said there should be a single and prime regulatory authority with one stop service facilities that will coordinate with other government agencies. He said the BERC has already simplified some of the processes in applying for a license for energy business by reducing the number of required obligatory documents. "But still there’s a scope for doing much more to further ease doing business in the energy sector," he told UNB. Read BPC’s ballooning operations call for augmented manpower He also suggested fixing the fees rationally so that it does not affect the consumers. BERC Member (Gas) Maqbul-E-Elahi Chowdhury said they have already prepared a draft to reduce the annual license fees for different businesses in the energy sector.