Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) and Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF) jointly organized a Round Table Discussion Meeting on the topic “Road to 2030: Strategic Priorities” at DCCI auditorium on 20 April, 2017. Sate Minister for Finance and Planning M A Mannan, MP was present as the chief guest.
Member (Secretary) of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Paban Chowdhury, Distinguished Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Former President, DCCI Asif Ibrahim, Editor of The Financial Express Moazzem Hossain and General Secretary of ERF Ziaur Rahman were present as Panel Discussants.
In the opening remarks President of ERF Saif Islam Dilal said what Dhaka Chamber envisioned in 2010 that Bangladesh could be the 30th largest economy in the world by the year 2030 is quite possible because we are in right track now. He said we have to turn our human resources into human capital. He also stressed for coordinated effort to bring changes in the economy and infrastructure development. If we can ensure adequate infrastructure development in the country we will be able to attract required FDI which will lead us to become 30th largest economy in the world, he said.
DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan made a power point presentation. He highlighted that Bangladesh needs 20 to 22 billion US dollar investment annually only in infrastructure if we want to become 30th largest economy by 2030. He said in last 33 years Bangladesh is one of the 3rd fastest growing economy in the world. Bangladesh has achieved 7% growth, now we have to increase our pace to get 8% GDP, he said. By the year 2030 we need 10% GDP growth, we have to make PPP functional, we need FDI and we need quality investment in infrastructure, said Abul Kasem Khan. He said allocation for infrastructure development is only 2.85% of the GDP which needs to be accelerated to 6-8% of the GDP whereas Vietnam spends 10% of their GDP only in infrastructure. Slow pace of implementation of large project is a challenge, he said. He termed some challenges for our economy like energy crisis, land crisis, lack of infrastructure, higher tax rate, shortage of skilled manpower which needs to be addressed. Abul Kasem Khan underscored the need of Coal Policy soon and urged upon to utilize our own extracted coal to be more competitive. We need to take some actions ahead of 2030 like decentralization of Dhaka, policy reforms, tax policy, reducing cost of doing business, more gas exploration, reducing cost of energy and skill development.
State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan, MP said in our country misuse sometimes outpaces corruption. Nevertheless, we are in right path of development. Government is firmly committed to accelerate industrialization, he said. In the South Asian region Bangladesh has better opportunities to grow and if we work together Bangladesh will be the 30th largest economy by 2030, he said.
Member (Secretary) of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Paban Chowdhury said government has taken initiative of establishing 100 economic zones in the country. BEZA has already allocated land for 76 EZs out of which 23 EZs are in process and 3 EZs have been given to private sector to develop and operate. Government has given 771 acres of land for Chinese economic zone and 1000 acres of land has given to Japanese economic zone. India has requested for 1054 acres of land for Indian economic zone which is under consideration. BEZA has taken an initiative of establishing a Land Bank of 1,00,000 acres of land for economic zones. To attract tourists, government will develop tourism city in the country and by the next two years an island in the Naaf River will be open for tourists.
Distinguished Fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Professor Mustafizur Rahman said that our window of opportunity is narrow. He said cost of doing business is increasing day by day. Bangladesh ranks 176 out of 190 countries in cost of doing business index. Both in public and private sector we have to strengthen middle management. He said because of adequate infrastructure we are losing FDI and the only solution to attract FDI is infrastructure development along with good governance and transparency. He said SDG is a challenge for us because we have to develop sustainable and environment friendly industrialization. He said regional integration in southern region is a window of opportunity for Bangladesh. We have to be engaged with BCIM economic corridor, BBIN motor vehicle agreement and Asian highway for this regional integration, he said.
DCCI former President Asif Ibrahim said we need investment in every sector which is true but in line with that we need an investment friendly environment. We are enjoying 12.5% duty and quota free access in the European market which is in the risk now. If we do not reform our labour law especially for the RMG factories EU may postpone GSP facility to Bangladesh. If we lose GSP in the European market our leather and pharmaceutical sector will also suffer, he said. There is no space for complaisance for us because we need sustainable development, Asif Ibrahim said.
Editor of The Financial Express Moazzem Hossain said investment is now one of the main challenges for Bangladesh. He said we need hard and action driven process besides we need some policy reforms as well. Government is the facilitator of private sector and government should create the enabling environment for investment. He said corporate tax rate in Bangladesh is highest in South Asian region. He called upon the government to widen tax net. Terming Indonesia as an emerging country he said we need to ensure our quality of investment. He also said our regulatory bodies must be functioning. He said the world is moving fast and we have to be competitive because this window of opportunity will not be open forever, if we fail, other will grab the opportunity.
General Secretary of ERF Ziaur Rahman said we have failed to grab the opportunity of relocating China’s sunset industry which is deviating to Vietnam. In terms of infrastructure development if we delay cost of development will be increased, he said. In order to ensure transparency in return filing of joint stock companies “Financial Reporting Council” needs to be established, he said. He said for sustainable infrastructure development a long term planning is must and development in ad hoc basis ultimately brings nothing.
DCCI former President Matiur Rahman, Bureau Chief of AFP Shafiqul Islam, DCCI Convenor Ikram Dhali, DCCI Director K. Atique-e-Rabbani, FCA, Business Editor of The Daily Star Sajjadur Rahman, Chief Editor of News Today Matiul Alam, DCCI Joint Convenor Brig. Gen. (Retd.) Qamrul Islam took part in the open discussion session.
DCCI Senior Vice President Kamrul Islam, FCA, gave vote of thanks. DCCI Vice President Hossain A Sikder, Directors Imran Ahmed, KMN Manjurul Hoque, Md. Alauddin Malik, K. Atique-e-Rabbani, FCA, Kh. Rashedul Ahsan and Secretary General AHM Rezaul Karim were also present.