Bangladesh needs to improve its ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index in order to attract both local and foreign investment and retain overseas investors, a business leader said yesterday.
“Improving the ranking is a pressing need not only to increase local private investment, but also to be able to attract and retain FDI,” said Md Nurul Islam, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham).
Islam said the economy of Bangladesh was largely dependent on the private sector and private investment would have been better if the ease of doing business had improved.
Currently, Bangladesh’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business Index is 176th among 190 countries.
“We expect that Bangladesh’s ranking will improve in 2020,” he said. The next ranking is scheduled to be released next week.
He spoke at the regular luncheon meeting of the chamber at The Westin Dhaka.
The comments came at a time when private investments, both by local and foreign entrepreneurs, remained below expectation despite the government’s initiative.
“Bangladesh has taken a series of initiatives to attract FDI, but the inflow remained below expectation. On the other hand, we are hearing news about the exit of long-established global companies from Bangladesh,” Islam said.
For instance, he said, the French pharma giant Sanofi has already confirmed that it would leave Bangladesh soon, after 60 years of its operations.
British multinational pharmaceutical company GSK left the country last year.
Islam cited regulatory and bureaucratic tangles as challenges which are acting as barriers to attracting FDI.
Although Bangladesh has some good laws but at the implementation and policy levels, some show discriminatory attitudes to foreign investors, he said.
Inadequate road and communication systems, lack of human resource development, and poor public services need urgent attention, he said. The AmCham president said the FDI is a key ingredient for sustainable economic growth of developing countries like Bangladesh.
“FDI is not just a source of financing that many countries need -- it goes far beyond that. It is considered as a vehicle for rapid and efficient cross-border transfer and adoption of the best practices ranging from technological, managerial, environmental and social standards,” he added.
Speaking at the event, Md Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), said they were working to ease doing business. He sought suggestions from AmCham members on how to make doing business easier.
He said infrastructure has already developed a lot in Bangladesh. The construction of the Bangabandhu Bridge has changed the whole northern region of the country. Similarly, the implementation of the Padma Bridge will improve the lives of the people in the southern districts.