The government yesterday bestowed the commercially important person (CIP) status on 182 exporters and businesspeople in recognition of their stellar contribution to exports and trade for 2017.
Of the recipients, 136 were given the cards in export category and 46 in trade category.
The CIP cards given under the trade category are for the president, vice-presidents and directors of the country’s apex trade body, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
The awardees represent diverse sectors such as jute and jute goods, garment and textiles, leather and leather goods, fruits and vegetables, frozen fish, sea foods, processed and agricultural foods, software and IT services, home textile, tea, engineering products, ships and yarn.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi handed over the cards to the awardees at a function jointly organised by the commerce ministry and the Export Promotion Bureau at InterContinental Hotel in Dhaka.
Before presenting the cards, Munshi said the number of award winners would increase next time.
He said Bangladesh started its journey as a garment manufacturing nation in the late 1970s and now is the second largest apparel exporter worldwide.
“The credit goes to the businesspeople.”
Tofail Ahmed, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on commerce and the immediate past commerce minister, said in 1972-73 fiscal year, Bangladesh’s export value was $348 million and only three products -- jute, leather and tea -- were the main products.
He said after independence, Bangladesh exported eight million kilogrammes of tea, out of a total production of 10 million kgs.
However, last year the country produced 85 million kgs of tea and all of them were consumed locally. Besides, the country had to import a handsome quantity of tea to meet the local demand, he said.
This indicates that the country has developed a lot over the years and the business community contributed to this development, Ahmed said.
He suggested Munshi to pay more attention to achieve the status of generalised system of preferences (GSP)-Plus from the European Union after the withdrawal of the standard GSP status in 2027.
Bangladesh will not enjoy duty-free benefit to its largest export destination if the EU discontinues GSP benefit. But once the GSP Plus is attained, the duty benefit will continue, he said.
On behalf of the card winners, Abdus Salam Murshedy, managing director of Envoy Group, said every day new challenges are emerging for the business community. So, the government should take time-befitting measures to take businesses forward.
Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the FBCCI, said defying various challenges, Bangladesh has made positive achievements.
Electricity production capacity has reached 21,800 megawatts from 1,600 megawatts and the country achieved the Millennium Development Goals and brought down the poverty rate to 21 percent from 46 percent, he said.
Bangladesh is the second largest garment exporter worldwide, has 8 percent market share in the global leather market and holds the third and fourth positions respectively in global fresh water fish and vegetable production, Fahim said.
Volume and value of shipments, tax payment and compliance records, initiatives aimed at saving the environment and corporate social responsibility are considered while selecting the CIPs.
They will enjoy some privileges from the government until the next winners are named.
The cardholders will be able to use the cards as the entry pass to enter the secretariat and will be invited to state and municipality-sponsored events, according to a gazette.
They will get priority while reserving seats for travelling via railways, airways and waterways. The foreign ministry will also write to embassies or high commissions for visa purposes if a CIP plans to travel abroad for business purposes.
The winners will be able to use the VIP lounges at the airports and their spouses and children will get priority in booking seats at public hospitals.
Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin and FBCCI Director Priti Chakraborty also spoke.