Seminar-18 of the NRB conference was discussed about investment environment of Bangladesh. In this session three different paper was submitted by NRB experts.
Nasim Ali, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of SBLI, USA, presented a paper on ‘Capital Market Development’ He said the NRBs think there are opportunities to go for successful ventures in Bangladesh.
If Indonesia can attract investment even from China and India, then why not Bangladesh, he questioned, adding that this is the perfect time to help the public sector to restructure Bangladesh, which has a large resource of qualified labour.
Lutfey Siddiqi, managing director, risk advisory and corporate FX of Asia-Pacific Barclays Capital, Singapore presented on ‘Practical Challenges in Attracting Foreign Investment a Comparative Perspective’. In his presentation Lutfey Siddiqi said, like Malaysia and Singapore, Bangladesh should make a ‘branding’ for attracting foreigners.
He also urged the government to introduce a series of investment vehicles such as mutual fund, industrial fund, infrastructure fund and micro-finance fund through which the NRBs can invest. “Many of the NRBs are willing to make investment in Bangladesh, but they do not know the proper way.”
Shabbir Ahmed, chief financial officer of Johnson Control, a European company and Brigadier General A T M Amin, counter terrorism bureau, Bangladesh, jointly prepared a seminar paper on `Domestic securities improvement and investment environment in Bangladesh’.
The government representatives attending the seminar see the present atmosphere much better and urged the foreign entrepreneurs, especially the NRBs, to make their investment here particularly in textile, pharmaceuticals, leather and leather goods, ceramics and frozen foods sector.
They also listed some incentives for investment and export Bangladesh government now offers to entrepreneurs. They said the main objective of establishing the Regulatory Reforms Commission and Better Business Forum is to maintain an atmosphere conducive to business.
Home Secretary Abdul Karim said the law and order situation has improved manifold and to mark a further improvement the Anti Terrorism Act is now at the final stage, which will help stop terrorist activities as well as terrorist financing.
Replying to a question from a NRB, home secretary said to ease the visa system, mainly for foreign entrepreneurs, the government has introduced ‘one stop service’ at the Zia International Airport.
Finance Secretary Mohammad Tareque said the main obstacle is a ‘mindset’ to development and investment. He said, “We lost confidence in ourselves. We cannot think that we can do something”.
Board of Investment Executive Chairman Kamal Uddin Ahmed and Inspector General of Police Nur Mohammad also spoke at the function. Hamid Rashid, director general, multilateral economic affairs of the Foreign Ministry moderated the session.
Syed Manzur Elahi, administrator of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) said, an investment-friendly environment is possible through an effective parliament, establishment of transparency and accountability and ensuring rule of law.
Salahuddin Imran, a financial consultant, pointed out that most of the remittances come into Bangladesh mainly for family maintenance. “But, the remittances can be transferred to productive sectors that will certainly help develop the national economy,” he said.
In this session NRBs said that Bangladesh holds a huge potential for investment, especially from abroad, but it needs to ensure a more investment friendly environment to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
They said the major obstacles such as bureaucratic tangle, some sort of corruption, inadequate infrastructure, lack of transparency and accountability, political instability, poor law and order situation and complex visa system should be addressed to encourage more investment in the country.
The Bangladeshi expatriates also urged the government to forge a partnership among public and private sectors and NRBs.