Businesses yesterday called for reassurances of political stability for the foreseeable future as they mull over making long-term investments.
“Relative calm today is not the guarantee for lasting peace and stability,” Aftab ul Islam, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham), said the association's monthly luncheon meeting at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka yesterday.
He called for “creative national efforts” to maintain political stability in the country, adding that businesspeople are still reeling from the aftermath of last year's volatile political situation, which resulted in loss of property, business and confidence and brought about uncertainty and unpredictability.
“It is the fear, threat, mistrust, intervention, interference, hatred, suspicion that has really slowed down trade and commerce activities -- the business community has lost confidence.”
The AmCham chief went on to urge “national reconciliation in some basic areas of the economy”, so that business functions remain uninterrupted and undisturbed.
“The business community wants genuine and credible assurance from the government that what they are seeing today in terms of stability will not be a short lived. Otherwise, businesses will continue to remain slow, fragile and uncomfortable.”
Islam suggested the government four areas where it can work on to assure the business community, which include: continued support and cooperation in running businesses without obstruction, creating the right kind of business environment, promoting a powerful reforms agenda and ensuring quick decision.
In response to the business leaders' call, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said: “Bangladesh is now back in business. We should not mix politics and economy together.”
He said businesses remained “unhurt” during the political crisis for “separation of politics from the economy”.
The country is on way to hitting the fiscal year's export target of $30.5 billion, according to the minister. “All economic indicators are positive now—Bangladesh has a very bright prospect.”
Ahmed said the country will enjoy duty-free access of all products to Chile from 1st January next year. In fiscal 2012-13, the country exported $30.37 million worth of goods to the South American nation, while importing $6.20 million.