The light engineering sector has potential and policy support from the government is needed to develop it further, said speakers at a seminar on Wednesday.
Apart from policy support, technological improvement, training and technical support are needed as well, they said.
They were addressing the seminar titled "Light engineering goods as product of the year for 2020: Potential for National Development" at the national SME fair at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center in the capital.
State Minister for Industries Kamal Ahmed Majumder was the chief guest while light engineering industry leaders, SME entrepreneurs and business experts were present.
Speakers said there is no alternative to research and training institutes to develop the light engineering sector.
"We need to reduce the gap between university and industry because skilled manpower is our main resource," said Director of Bangladesh Industrial Technical Assistance Centre Dr Syed Md Ihsanul Karim in his keynote presentation.
Md Abdur Razzak, president of Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners Association, said, "Most of the time, we see that highly qualified students go abroad to work. They do not stay here."
"Actually, when they see that light engineering factories are being shut down in the country, they cannot think about building a career here," he said.
"The government is doing a lot for us, but we need more investment, infrastructure and policy support," added Razzak.
Industry leaders and entrepreneurs said they are facing losses due to the current tax and procurement policies.
They urged the government to issue a business-friendly tax policy in order to save local manufacturers.
Industry leaders also demanded that industrial parks be built by the government for the sake of the sector's expansion and development.
The state minister for industries assured that he would talk about these issues during the next budget discussion.
About 40,000 entrepreneurs and about 800,000 people work in the light engineering sector at present. The sector's annual turnover is Tk13,571 crore.
On January 1 this year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced light engineering as the product of the year to give special attention to this sector for earning more foreign currency by exporting various products.