Bangladesh needs to carry out reforms, including revision of some laws, to increase its ranking in the Word Bank's ease of doing business index, said Md Sirazul Islam, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) on Thursday.
"It will not be possible without the support of the judicial system," he said at a Business Lunch Meeting of the France Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFB) at a city hotel.
Sirazul Islam presented the keynote paper at the meeting titled "Ease in Doing Business: Is Bangladesh an ideal place for investments, especially FDIs?"
He said the framework of ease of doing business is very narrow so the real situation is not featured. He called for making the index wider.
Bangladesh languished at 168 out of 190 by the 2020 report of the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index.
Bida has targeted to bring down the country's ranking to double digits by 2021, said Sirazul Islam.
"The government has already taken some initiatives as per the World Bank prescriptions," he said adding that they had meetings with eight ministries and divisions in the last three months.
Sirazul Islam said investors are not getting the expected services from desk level officers. "Despite reforms in polices of ministries and departments, changes will not come to the ease of doing business index without an improvement culture."
He put an emphasis on changing the mindsets of the desk level officers.
He said, "Policy reforms are very important. Ministries and departments and agencies have agreed to reform their policies. But without changing the culture, policy reforms alone will not yield expected results."
Replying to a query by investors, he said, "Twenty-six percent of Bangladesh's trade is dependent on China. Several sectors including medicine, telecom and textile may be affected due to the coronavirus outbreak. The major portion of chemicals of our textile industry are imported from China."
''We want to create a business-friendly environment for foreign and local investors. Already 18 services are provided online. Another 11 services will be put online as soon as possible,'' he said inviting French investors to invest in Bangladesh. There is a huge scope of investment in the Public Private Partnership.
He said France is the fourth export destination for Bangladesh.
French Ambassador to Bangladesh Jean-Marin Schuh said, "In 2019, bilateral trade has reached a record level of €3.24 billion, which is the highest level over the last ten years. But trade deficit has risen to €2.71 billion and our exports to Bangladesh have decreased by 21%, while Bangladesh's exports to France show a 14% increase."
He said in 2019, "Bangladesh was our third supplier of RMG and footwear behind China and Italy and the country represents 7.2% of our total imports ahead of Vietnam with 5.9% and India with 4.4%."
Maruf Alam, president of CCIFB said, 180 French companies are running business in Bangladesh. They have keen interest in investing in Bangladesh. Many large French companies have investment in Bangladesh. A large scale investment will come if a business friendly environment is ensured.