Connectivity, loan facilities needed for Rajshahi’s business growth: chamber leaders
Leaders of the Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) today emphasised enhancing the connectivity between Rajshahi and other parts of Bangladesh in order to boost business and trade activities in the north-western region.
Speaking at a roundtable in the RCCI boardroom, they also highlighted the need to ensure infrastructural development and loan facilities for the agriculture industry.
The business chamber had organised the discussion to help identify the various hurdles that are preventing the growth of business and trade activities in Rajshahi.
Masudur Rahman Rinku, president of the RCCI, presided over the meeting while Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, attended as chief guest.
Addressing the meeting, RCCI Vice President Sultan Mahmud said Rajshahi is drawing investment from large industries for having low land prices and labour costs.
Still though, the investors are suffering due to a lack of proper infrastructure and connectivity, he added.
Against this backdrop, he pointed out how the mango business in Rajshahi rakes in more than Tk 1,000 crore annually.
"But no efforts have been made to support mango exports by developing the required quarantine facilities," Mahmud said.
However, RCCI President Rinku informed that a new river route from India's Dhulian to Rajshahi, Aricha and Mongla port in Bangladesh is being implemented within six months to support the local community.
Rozeti Naznin, president of the Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said a growing number of women are showing interest in engaging in business activities.
"But they go on the backfoot after seeing the gas and electricity crises," she added.
Liakat Ali, president of the Resham Shilpa Malik Samity, an association of silk industry owners, said the country currently produces just 20 tonnes of silk yarn against an annual demand of 400 tonnes.
"If proper loan facilities are arranged, then the silk industry can grow in a planned way," Ali added.
Akbarul Hasan Millat, acting editor of Bangla daily Dainik Sonar Desh, said the silk industry needs cargo facilities for transporting products to different parts of country at low cost.
Abdul Gaffar, a director of the RCCI, said his investment of Tk 200 crore is sitting idle due to the lack of bank loan facilities for local businesspeople.
Regarding the establishment of a new river route, Jamaat Khan, general secretary of the Rajshahi Rakkha Sangram Parishad, said the plan is being initiated without proper planning.
He stressed the need for implementing the Ganges Barrage and North Rajshahi Irrigation projects and also demanded the construction of an agro-based export processing zone and agricultural university in Rajshahi.
Iftekharul Haq, a local businessman, said he could not establish his compostable shopping bag business for the past one year due to bureaucratic tangles.
Among others, Fouzdar Md Shafikul Islam, president of the Rajshahi district office of the National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh, and Asaduzzaman Robi, a former RCCI director, spoke at the event.
The speakers also said a way forward for government policy would be to create job opportunities for 25,000 people in the newly established Hi-Tech Park.
Rajshahi's poultry industry and fish cultivation has immense potential, but need state-of-art marketing management, they added.
After hearing what the business leaders had to say, The Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam expressed his eagerness to work together with the local business community.
He said this newspaper will provide all the ethical and journalistic support needed to express the voices of the business community and work together for economic advancement in the region.