Govt plans to create 1cr jobs in 15 years

100 Economic Zones
• Response from investors of China, India, Japan, Saudi Arabi and Singapore
• 90 already approved
• Will be fully functional in 15 years
• Investment proposal worth   Tk 1 lakh 58 thousand crore

Conceiving the ambitious idea of bringing about an industrial revolution as well as making the country free from unemployment in next 15 years, the government has so far approved 90 Economic Zones, out of the planned 100 across the country. The notion of setting up of economics zones is a part of the government's plan to make an unemployment-free and industry-based Bangladesh through creating employment opportunities for more than 1 crore people. These Economic Zones have already wooed both local and foreign investors remarkably.

Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) sources said investors from China, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore have responded positively signaling to come up with a huge investment in these economic zones. Of the approved 90 Economic Zones, works for setting up of 28 are going on in full swing. Works of land development, construction of factories and roads are going on in these 28 Economic Zones. Some 21 local and foreign companies have already started producing their goods in 12 Economic Zones out of these 28, sources said.

Besides, they said, these state-owned Economic Zones, 20 private Economic Zones have got government approval, among which construction works of 10 have almost been completed, and most of them have started production. Sources further said after implementation of the government and private economic zones, the investors will not face any problem in getting required amount of land. Besides, all the facilities that are needed for investment will also be available in these economic zones. As a result, these economic zones will play an effective role to attract foreign investment.

BEZA executive chairman Paban Chowdhury hoped that all these economic zones will start full functioning within 15 years resulting in creating employment opportunities for more than 1 crore people as well as making the country free from unemployment. These economic zones will trigger an industrial revolution in the country before 2041, he added.

The BEZA already has received proposals of investment worth Tk 1 lakh 58 thousand crore, among which proposals worth Tk 50 thousand crore have come from foreign investors. According to the BEZA, only the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar at Mirsarai upazila of Chittagong district will create employment opportunities for 7 lakh people.

The country's export earnings will go up manifold and the economy will see an exhilarating improvement due to the functioning of these economic zones, BEZA authority opined. Economic Zones are considered the best places for investment and generation of huge employment across the globe.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has also expressed identical views on various occasions. According to the UNCTAD report-2019, more than 5,400 economic zones have been established in 130 countries till date. There are 2500 economic zones and export processing zones in China, 373 in India, 312 in the Philippines and 12 in Sri Lanka. At present Bangladesh has 8 export processing zones.

China established its first economic zone in 1980. Only in 40 years China established more than 2500 economic zones across the country. For smooth completion of the works of setting up of these economic zones in the country, the BEZA has been providing 11 types of services online. These include project approval, project registration, assistance for receiving visa, import recommendation, import approval, export approval, work permit, local purchase permit, local sales permit and sample export permit.

The BEZA also introduced one-stop service for the stakeholder since 2018. To become a developed country under the Vision 2041, the government has mapped out a plan to set up at least 100 public and private economic zones across the country. The Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority was founded in 2010 as per the Bangladesh Economic Zones Act 2010 attaching the topmost priority to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) and to increase and diversify country's export to the world.

 To attract manufacturing investors from home and abroad in its 100 proposed economic zones across the country, the BEZA offered lucrative incentives such as duty-free imports of raw material, capital machinery, tax-cut from capital gains etc. for wooing the investors in the economic zones.

The economic zone also caught investment endorsement from multinational corporations like Wilmar-Adani and China's Zhejiang Jindun Holdings. BEZA is also helping the China Harbour Engineering set up a China Industrial Zone on 750 acres of land in Bangladesh for Chinese investors.