The government yesterday awarded CIP status to 147 businesspeople in export and trade categories for outstanding performances in their respective fields during fiscal 2011-2012.
Of the awardees, 101 received the status for exports of 18 types of products, while 46 will enjoy the status being the ex-officio members of the apex trade body -- the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed handed over the CIP (commercially important person) cards among the awardees at a function at Radisson Hotel in Dhaka.
The 18 products include jute, jute goods and carpets, leather and leather goods, pharmaceuticals, frozen foods, tea, garments, software, handicrafts, agro-products, plastic goods, fabrics and specialised home textiles.
The awards for fiscal 2012 were delayed as the ministry had to amend the CIP (export) guideline.
Among various privileges, the CIPs will get special passes to enter the secretariat, use special stickers on their cars, and receive invitations to attend some public functions.
They will also get priority in seat reservations in airlines, railways, roads and public transports in the waterways, and get letters of introduction from the foreign ministry for travelling abroad. They and their dependants will also get cabins in hospitals on a priority basis.
“We will award CIP status for fiscal 2013 and 2014 in June next year,” the minister said, adding that the government will increase the number of CIP recipients as many businesses deserve it. Ahmed said they also consider awarding the status to top taxpayers.
The government is setting up eight new economic zones, he said. “Bangladesh will be able to export $50 billion worth of products from the current $30.20 billion within the tenure of the incumbent government if political stability continues.”
On behalf of the CIP awardees, Saiful Islam, managing director of Picard Bangladesh, said, despite global financial meltdown and political unrest at home, Bangladesh has been witnessing an average export growth of 15 percent and GDP growth of around 6 percent since 2008.
Of the total export earnings, 94 percent come from only seven items as export diversification is taking place very slowly, he said. “The government should form a special advisory council to facilitate product and market diversifications so that exports of non-traditional items increase further,” Islam said.
FBCCI President Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed said many Japanese and US companies are coming to Bangladesh with investment. Hedayetullah Al Mamoon, senior secretary to the commerce ministry, chaired the programme. Shubhashish Bose, vice-chairman of Export Promotion Bureau, Monoj Kumar Roy, additional secretary to the commerce ministry, and Monowara Hakim Ali, FBCCI vice-president, also spoke.