The government yesterday awarded CIP (commercially important person) cards to 182 business people in recognition of their extraordinary performance and contribution to the economy.
Of them, 136 received the cards in the export category for 2017. Sixty eight of the recipients in the export category are from the readymade garments (RMG) and textile sectors.
Forty-six cards were given to the directors of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in the trade category as ex-officio members. Interestingly, following the immediate past year's tradition, many of the directors also came from the two mentioned sectors.
This means, more than half of the CIP cards went to the business people involved in these two sectors.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi presented the CIP cards at a function at Hotel InterContinental in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Most of Bangladesh's export earnings still come from the RMG sector. Therefore, the speakers underscored the need for export diversification.
The minister said that the total export volume of the country will hit $60 billion by 2021, therefore export diversification is a must.
In 2004-05, the overall value of Bangladesh's exports was $10 billion, and that has increased to $46 billion now. But dependence on a single sector – RMG – still remains. New export destinations are mostly untapped.
Commerce Secretary Dr Md Zafar Uddin also underscored the importance of export diversification and the tapping of new export destinations.
Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh, said both the export basket and the markets are limited to a few products and countries – a situation that must be improved.
FBCCI Director Priti Chakraborty said Bangladesh should enhance its export competitiveness to cope with the changing world scenario. Therefore, along with increasing productivity, it also has to improve the quality of the products.
The 136 recipients under the export category were selected from 17 sectors.
The volume and value of shipments, tax payment, compliances, initiatives aimed at saving the environment and corporate social responsibility are considered during the selection process.
The sectors which have been considered for the awards are jute and jute products, leather goods, frozen food, oven garments, agri products and agro processing, light engineering, pharmaceuticals, handicrafts, specialised textile/hometex, knitwear, ceramic, plastic products, textile (fabrics), software and miscellaneous.
What facilities will CIPs enjoy?
From the issuance of the gazette notification on September 7, the CIP cardholders are entitled to enjoy privileges until the next winners are named.
They will be able to use the VIP lounges at the airports and their spouses and children will get priority in booking seats at public hospitals.
The CIPs will be able to use the cards as an entry pass to enter the secretariat, and will be invited to state- and municipality-sponsored events, according to the gazette.
They will get priority while reserving seats for travelling on railways, airways and waterways.
The foreign ministry will also write to embassies or high commissions for a visa if a CIP plans to travel abroad on business.