The government will upgrade 250 firms to international standard in order to increase employment and exports in the leather and leather goods, footwear, plastics, and light engineering sectors.
Additional Secretary of Commerce Ministry Md Obaidul Azam said this at a knowledge sharing workshop on The Public Investment Facility for Infrastructure Constraints (PIFIC) at ERF office in the city on Tuesday.
PIFIC is a significant component of the 'Export Competitiveness for Jobs' (EC4J) project adopted by the ministry.
The Project Director of EC4J said the firms will be certified after completing the projects by 2023.
"Bangladesh need 42 days to deliver export products but Vietnam delivers them in only 7 days with the help of modern technology. So, we have to make more modern factories using technology to get foreign orders," he said.
He added that Bangladesh has to double its exports earning to attain the SDG. "So, we have taken various initiatives for sustainable business model. Around 90,000 quality jobs will be created in the future under our project," he said.
Obaidul said the Prime Minister asked them to work with transparency so that there will no political influence in selecting the firms.
"We will release fund to scrutinise project progress," he said.
Sharmin Rinvi, President of Economic Reporters Forum (ERF), presided over the function while its General Secretary SM Rashidul Islam moderated it.
The Ministry of Commerce envisages launching a fund on December 9 under the Export Competitiveness for Jobs project in leather and leather goods, footwear, plastics, and light engineering sectors. The PIFIC now seeks funding proposals for infrastructure investments in these four sectors.
PIFIC has approximately $40 million available in grants and technical assistance, which is expected to cover 15-20 infrastructure projects within industrial clusters around the country.
The types of projects for which investment grants are available include water treatment plants and upgraded water connections in an industrial area, waste recycling facilities in public-private joint ventures, specialised warehouses, last-mile transmission of electric power, and enhanced local connectivity. It also includes upgraded telecom connectivity, upgraded access roads, service centers in clusters and industrial parks related general facilities.
This grant will only be applicable when at least a cluster of industries will benefit from it and not for the benefit of a single industry.
The purpose is to remove infrastructural barriers to increase productivity and export-capacity in the four potential sectors for growth of production, employment and exports. To this end, PIFIC is accepting applications from industrial associations, business groups, or consortiums of industrial clusters.
Processing of application
Suitable applications for financing infrastructure investment will be selected by PIFIC. Upon such selection, it will also provide guidance and actively assist the nominated candidates in formulating a complete project proposal.
Services provided by the PIFIC programme will include feasibility study, project evaluation, technical design, preparation of procurement document and monitoring service during project implementation period. Subsequently all these agreements will be continued under the EC4J project.
Leather products, footwear (leather and non-Ieather), plastic, and light engineering industries have been selected on a priority basis in the country's Export Policy and the Seventh Five-Year Plan.
If the PIFIC programme is successfully implemented, these potential sectors will contribute to the implementation of the country's export diversification plan, and will facilitate the access to international markets.