More foreign investment likely

The government will initiate policy reforms to attract more foreign investment in Bangladesh in the post-Covid-19 pandemic period, sources in the finance ministry said.

When the policy is reformed it will be very easy and comfortable for foreign countries to invest in Bangladesh.

In this regard, proposals from the National Board of Revenue (NBR), Commerce Ministry, BEZA, BEPZA, BIDA, the Ministry of External Affairs and the business community have already been gathered by the finance ministry.

“After evaluation, examination and check, re-check and crosscheck, the proposals will be placed in the cabinet meeting soon for approval,” an official of the finance ministry, preferring not to be named, said.

The government also wants to create a win-win situation so that investors do not get into any complications after coming up with investment proposals. Basically, the government has taken this initiative in the context of a new polarisation envisaged for the post-Coronavirus world economy, and diversification of foreign investment.

In a post budget press conference on the fiscal 2020-21, finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said, the target of investment has been doubled in this Year's budget. As many foreign investors are showing interest in investing in the country, it will increase for sure.

Private investment will increase as the government is ready to provide huge incentives on their investment. And we are establishing more than 100 economic zones. Of these, 17 are nearing completion. Many foreign countries will shift their investment to other countries amid Covid-19, he added.

As we know from which way we can attract investment, we are simplifying our rules and regulations. Both locals and foreigners will be able to produce the same product. In both cases the same benefits will be given, he added further.

When contacted, Executive director of South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) Dr Selim Raihan told Bangladesh Post, “The first question is how much we are ready to grab those investment opportunities while our neighbouring countries are well prepared.

It's high time to highlight our Special Economic Zones to the world, where we can fetch more foreign investment. If the government relaxes its existing policies, and keeps contacting foreign countries through its diplomatic channels, more foreign investment can be expected,” he added.

According to a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, the country has the advantage of being in a strategic geographical position between South and Southeast Asia. In addition, its domestic consumption potential and the wealth of its natural resources make the country a good candidate for investment. 

It is learned that due to the Coid-19 situation, there is a possibility of many foreign investments shifting from China to other countries. In this context, many countries in the South Asian region such as India, Vietnam, Indonesia have simplified investment laws, regulations and banking processes in their respective countries. Changes have been made in the policy framework.

Sources said that many Chinese companies have also expressed interest in investing in Bangladesh. As a result, the government has taken steps to amend the laws and regulations that are necessary to increase foreign investment in the country.

The country's two major economic zones are awaiting US$ two billion in investments. In the meantime, BEZA inked a land lease agreement with Jiangsu Yabang Dyestuff, China, a concern of the Yabang Investment Holdings Group Co Limited, at BEZA office in the city for 100 acres of developed land on August 4.

Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Secretary, Md Tofazzel Hossain Miah as chief guest at the deal signing agreement said, “We are committed to providing all sorts of support to the investors. We are making much more reforms. We are providing good investment friendly incentives compared to those in the other neighbouring countries. By now, many foreign direct investments are taking place in Bangladesh.

At a recent meeting held at the Ministry of Finance with the aim of creating an environment conducive to foreign investment in Bangladesh under the changed circumstances of COVID-19, seven decisions were made. The finance ministry has given necessary instructions to the departments concerned and agencies, including the central bank, to implement the decisions, finance ministry sources said on anonymity.

The latest decision states that the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act-1974 (as amended in 2015) has been consulted on the draft law to translate it into Bengali and make it timely.

Former World Bank lead economist Dr Zahid Hossain said, “Bangladesh needs to remove policy complexity and infrastructure crisis to attract foreign investment.”

Besides, a clear message has been sent to foreign investors as to how they will benefit out of investing here, he mentioned.