The year 2021 will open a lot of scopes for local investors and the country's special economic zone looks set to see a flow of foreign investments, particularly from Japan and China, in areas like electric car plant, says Salman F Rahman, private sector industry and investment adviser to the prime minister.
In an interview with The Business Standard, he elaborates on the improvements made so far in land and company registrations and initiatives to ease trade licensing and give more tasks to Bida to improve Bangladesh's ranking in the ease of doing business index.
He appreciates the positive change in understanding of top level of administration but feels that the mindset in mid- and lower levels needs change to understand why businesses need speedier delivery of services they need.
The government is forming a dedicated small claim court to resolve small business disputes in January to step up ease of doing business, he says.
Long queues of unresolved small business disputes that deal with financial amounts ranging from Tk5 lakh to Tk10 lakh has remained a big minus point in the ease of doing business index of the World Bank. The prime minister's adviser believes that by setting up this court Bangladesh's ranking would drastically jump up.
In the virtual interview on Wednesday, Salman F Rahman said the court will be formed by the law ministry with the help of the chief justice and it will have a set of practice directives outlining how quickly such cases would be resolved.
"This will be a permanent system," he said, adding that an existing law dealing with small business disputes is too complex to solve such cases and that the law would be amended later.
Salman F Rahman was discussing ease of doing business as well as the outlook of 2021 and beyond.
He looks at 2021 as a transitional period as the world is still reeling from the impact of Covid-19. But he believes that there will be large-scale Japanese investment in the Japanese special economic zone at Araihajar.
There are other large investment proposals in the pipeline. But their materialisation will depend on how fast the world recovers from the pandemic.
"The biggest thing that will happen in 2021 is mass vaccination. As England has approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, we can expect the vaccine to arrive in 10 to 15 days in Dhaka," he said. This will pave way for Bangladesh to become "normal" quickly.
"We are also getting large domestic investment proposals," he said, adding that many young entrepreneurs are planning to invest in electronics and consumer goods as Bangladesh's purchase power has increased.
He noted that there is a Bangladesh-China joint venture in Bangabandhu Industrial Area to build electric cars for domestic and export markets.
Salman F Rahman noted that considering the successful implementation of low bank interest regime, a new dynamic leadership of the Securities and Exchange Commission that was reviving the stock market, and the introduction of bond market – the financial elasticity and diversity of the country has expanded like never before. Bangladeshi investors will get a lot of scope in 2021.
The government was also working on organising the small and medium enterprises to help them grow.
"There will be a lot of work in 2021, but we will start getting results from 2022," he pointed out.