Business leaders yesterday urged the government to create an investment-friendly environment for creating more jobs.
They made the call at the first meeting of a 'business consultative committee' with Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed at the office of the Export Promotion Bureau in the capital.
The commerce ministry formed the committee in January comprising the members of the business community to accommodate their recommendations in formulating policies to boost trade and commerce.
Tapan Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Employers' Federation, demanded steps to stop harassment of businesses at the hands of government officials.
Officials of the environment department often harass businesspeople for using diesel-run generators as those create noise, said Chowdhury, also the managing director of Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
Businesses under the revenue board's large tax payers units (LTUs) also face harassment, he said.
“We need investment as we have potential. We have great potential in the pharmaceuticals sector as well. But at the same time, we have a scarcity of lands for setting up new factories,” Chowdhury said.
More than 100 proposals for joint venture investment are pending with the Board of Investment, said Apex Group Chairman Syed Manzur Elahi.
"But new industrial units cannot be set up due to a dearth of lands," he said. He advised the commerce minister to form several sub-committees for different sectors for effective consultation.
“We need to increase exports and identify the barriers to attract investment. Reforms in trade facilitation are also very urgent,” said Yusuf Abdullah Haroon, a lawmaker and president of Asia Insurance Limited.
Atiqul Islam, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said businesses need adequate supply of gas and power to their factories and credit at low interest.
“The government should allocate a good amount of money for appointing lobbyists to regain GSP in the US market,” he said.
But Aftab ul Islam, president of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh, said the country does not need to appoint such lobbyists as it is very expensive.
Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said businesses had to face a lot of troubles due to political unrest last year. “We do not want any repetition of the crises. We want a congenial environment for investment.”
The FBCCI will hold a pre-budget consultative meeting on May 8 to put forward its proposals for the next budget, Ahmed said.
Former FBCCI president AK Azad also spoke.