A group of local and foreign investors yesterday urged the government to engage people from the private sector to strengthen Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) for the sake of the investors.
Bida has been trying to introduce a One Stop Service (OSS) centre for the last two years but it failed because of the noncooperation of different government agencies and departments.
As a result, both local and international entities have been facing difficulties in obtaining government approval for opening businesses in Bangladesh, the investors complained.
They also expressed frustration over the perennial poor services at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka.
So an advisory body involving private sector people may be constituted by Bida to accelerate the reform process and make the OSS effective, said Masud Rahman, president of the Canada Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CanCham). He was addressing the fourth Joint Chambers' Luncheon Meeting of CanCham Bangladesh at Four Points by Sheraton in Dhaka, participated by diplomats, local and foreign investors and CEOs of different companies.
So far the country's effort to make it an attractive destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) is yet to be optimum because of bureaucracy and lack of infrastructure and energy, Rahman said. Ease of doing business is very important for investors, said Kazi M Aminul Islam, executive chairman of Bida.
Earlier it took over a year to get an electricity connection but now it can be availed in just days, so improvement is taking place in the country, he said.
Enactment of a law is not enough to address a problem as its implementation matters, he said, adding that people of the private sector, should the government want, could be included in Bida for expediting its activities.
The size of the country's GDP will need to be at least $3 trillion and per capita income $15,000 if Bangladesh wants to be a developed country by 2041, he said. Achieving this target is possible if the country could be transformed, he said.
Bangladesh has many positive success stories to tell the world but it is still one of the lowest recipients of FDI, said Shehzad Munim, president of the Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Ease of doing business is a major barrier in attracting FDI in the country, Munim said, adding that Bangladesh ranked 177th in the ease of doing business index. “We need to run a campaign to brighten our image.”
It was a fantastic initiative of Bida to introduce an OSS centre under which 34 agencies will be engaged in 150 activities for the ease of doing business, he said. He identified an image crisis and lapses in attitude which overshadowed positive stories of the country.
Michael Foley, CEO of Grameenphone, said Bangladesh is still a good destination for investment. Grameenphone invested $5 billion over the last 22 years and created a customer base of 71 million people.
By this time, Grameenphone has become one of the largest taxpayers. Bangladesh needs to reduce the steps in opening a business and also the bureaucracy, he said.
Naser Ezaz Bijoy, CEO of Standard Chartered Bangladesh, said the investors need to run to different government agencies and department for investing in this country.
But it would be easier for them if the government can arrange a system where all the agencies and departments of the government will be made available to give permission to save time and money, he said.
Francois de Maricourt, CEO of HSBC, also spoke.