There was a time when no countries in the globe would appreciate Bangladesh economy due to its poor index in all sectors, resulting in stumbling again and again while seeking any support from leading economies. But, today’s Bangladesh economy is really admirable in terms of GDP growth rate where neighbouring country India, known as viable economy for long, is observed to be defeated in the race of growth. The growth is getting momentum in every sector run in the country with the rise as well as presence of new industrial plants and business hubs here and there across the country and ultimately taking the country forward economically even though some limitations are lying still now.
It is said that the environment for doing business in the country is recorded unsatisfactory, according to World Bank study, whereas some South Asian economies have gained the ability of wooing foreign traders’ businesses. In fact, we have been derailed to welcome the foreign investors having global exposure since long. There is no denying that the government is trying its level best to woo the business people by offering a good number of business-friendly incentive packages.
Speaking with grave concern that if recently ranked by World Bank is continued to go and sustained for unidentified days, an alarming situation might be viewed since the spontaneous presence of investors coming from abroad is badly needed for the interest of economy right now. The fate of booming economy is uncertain if their rush for doing business here in the country is not seen. Why we failed to invite the global-famed investors after so many years of independence? Why we failed to fill up their needs to operate their business? The causes are many but should be identified and solved by the authorities as early as possible for the sake of national economy. Otherwise, the economy might have seen negative trend instead of being stable.
Nevertheless, a few numbers of companies owned by foreign lands had reportedly left the country with bag and baggage, according to some leading newspapers. The news of departure of companies is absolutely shocking for the nation. I really do not understand the reason of leaving Bangladesh forever. National polls to be held in December may be one of causes of it. Only business-friendly lucrative packages offered by the state can stop them from going back to their respective countries.
The study of Washington based-lender, the World Bank, revealed that, in terms of ease of doing business, Bangladesh had been ranked 176th whereas only tourism dependent economies Bhutan 81st and Nepal 110th even though war-torn Afghanistan has been placed 167th, Maldives 139th, Pakistan 136th, and Sri Lanka 100th. Our neighboring country India has secured 77th place. Malaysia, known as the world’s fastest growing economy, has been ranked 15th and sea port dependent economy Singapore 3rd, one of leading automobile manufacturers Japan 39th in respect of doing business. Sadly, according to https://asia.nikkei.com/, in the 2018 ASEAN Investment Report released recently, Bangladesh has earned 5th position among the world’s poorest nations in respect of foreign direct investment whereas Myanmar 1st, Ethiopia 2nd, Cambodia 3rd, and Mozambique has earned 4th position.
Nevertheless, the need for ensuring required facilities for running newly built plants by foreign business people is a must among others. At first, administrative complexities before starting the business along with waiver of tax and infrastructure facilities, as per their say, should be addressed on priority basis. It is a must say that those economies lagging behind to Bangladesh are trying to ensure a congenial business environment for the entrepreneurs belonging to foreign states whereas we so far could not provide world-class facilities to the entrepreneurs.
Over the past couple of years, a good number of private-owned and state-owned Economic Zones (EZ) have been set up or are underway to be established covering country’s most areas. This is obviously a good hub for business people. But it is worrying that no economic zones are seen to set up in the region of country’s second largest sea port, Mongla and largest land port, Benapole under Bagerhat and Jashore districts. The labour cost of the said region is reportedly lower than that of in Dhaka and Chattogram region. Transportation of raw materials and final goods would be so cheaper as well as fastest through these ports. Moreover, Padma Multipurpose Bridge is sure to make ties among country’s various zones. Probably, many trade people of home and abroad are expecting establishment of export processing zones and special economic zones in this region.
It is notably observed that a significant number of economies with very poor growth rates and also having clash with others on various issues for long have already been able to create business friendly environment. For example, Afghanistan’s position is higher than Bangladesh in terms doing business. But, we could not do that. Many companies owned by foreign owners are being observed to set up their factory plants but they primarily fear the bureaucratic complexities prior to launch their business operations. Moreover, political stability and availability of facilities are to be ensured among others.
If an onrush of foreign investors in the country is not seen, the booming economy of Bangladesh might backpedal. As noted above, the ranking of ease of doing business and FDI are not satisfactory at all to the eye of global traders, so the need for reconstruction of all areas is a must. The corruption practice among the related officials, in this regard, must be removed. There should be a strong monitoring and controlling authority to look after the investors whether they face any hindrance at the time of operating their business. Moreover, the need for setting up of economic zones in the regions where production cost, including land, labour and capital, is comparatively cheap.
Md Mazadul Hoque is a banker and can be reached at email@example.com