Cumilla Economic Zone is expected to go into production within 2023, with its land prepared for factory construction and many local and foreign companies expressing interest to set up factories at the industrial hub.
Situated on the bank of a tributary of the Meghna River near the Dhaka-Chattagram highway, the under-construction private economic zone is the first of its kind in the fast-growing Cumilla district.
The developer of the economic zone – Meghna Group of Industries, following a 20 March gazette notification, will soon start to allot plots to the aspirant companies.
The group hopes it will be able to open the 246.3-acre economic zone by the middle of next year (2023), with the utilisation of its previous experience of developing two other zones in Narayanganj – Meghna Industrial Economic Zone and Meghna Economic Zone.
Some of the proposed factories would be built and would go into operation by this time, it said.
"Several local and foreign companies particularly from the US, Japan, and Germany have already expressed their keen interest to set up their facilities in the economic zone," Suman Bhowmik, senior deputy general manager of Meghna Group, told The Business Standard.
"We expect at least $2 billion investment here and with its full-swing operation, approximately 50,000 people will get job opportunities," he added.
"We are always committed to providing our best to our clients with cost-effective packages, modern facilities and first-class services to help them explore their full potential."
Suman Bhowmik said the economic zone would be completely green – work and environment-friendly – and compliant with all the rules and regulations. "We will allow factories mainly of textile, garment accessories, RMG, chemical, steel, and glass."
The zone land has already been prepared for factory construction, according to officials, and a boundary wall surrounding the area has been built.
Currently, the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board supplies electricity to the under-construction industrial hub, but a separate station by Power Grid Company of Bangladesh will be built to meet the high electricity demand there.
The authorities of the economic zone, meanwhile, applied to Titas Gas for gas connections and are now awaiting approval. For water, they will set up a water treatment plant and depend on the adjacent Meghna tributary. Besides, it will also lift groundwater on a limited scale.
Meghna Group expects the economic zone would have all the basic amenities within this year.
Among other facilities, the zone will have solid waste management, fire-fighting service, investor recreation club, convention hall, separate car parking lot, and medical and childcare centres.
The developer will also ensure some modern amenities like helipads, commercial centres, residential buildings and parks inside the economic zone.
115 plots on 246 acres
Meghna Group received the pre-qualification licence from the Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (Beza) in 2016 to develop the Cumilla Economic Zone at Megna upazila's Shonarchar. Immediately after getting the licence, it started land development and other preparatory works.
Currently, the zone has 246.3 acres of land with 115 plots – the majority are 4046.86 square metres. Meghna Group also has a plan to expand the zone to 350 acres soon.
The Beza is working toward establishing 100 economic zones across the country by 2030.
The goal is to create employment for 10 million people. The Beza also expects to produce and export products worth $40 billion annually in and from these economic zones.
Investors can avail of tax holidays, duty-free imports of raw materials and machinery, exemption from dividend tax, VAT-free electricity, gas and water and other fiscal facilities in the zones.
Besides, they enjoy some other non-fiscal advantages, such as bond facility, One-Stop Service (OSS), repatriation of disinvestment, unlimited telephonic transfers and separate customs procedures.