To attract foreign direct investments, Bangladesh does not want to make any division between local and foreign investors, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said on Thursday.
"All local and foreign investors are equal to the government. Those who will invest in this country are all assets of Bangladesh," Kamal said while addressing a views-exchange meeting with local and foreign investors on Thursday.
The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) organised the meeting on a virtual platform as part of its fourth anniversary celebrations.
The meeting was presided over by Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirajul Islam, while Salman F Rahman, private industry and investment adviser to the prime minister; and Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI), attended the programme as special guests.
Mustafa Kamal said the country over the last few years has brought massive development in physical infrastructure to create an investment-friendly climate. "Now what we need is to win the hearts of investors."
He also said any problem of investors would be resolved and the limitations will be removed.
Mentioning that it is not possible to increase exports with only four or five products, the finance minister said, "For this, it is important to diversify the export products and a separate wing can be set up under the supervision of the Bida."
He said the wing will work on how countries in the world have benefited from product diversification.
"Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Bangladesh has achieved a 5.24 percent GDP growth in the fiscal year 2019-20. Bangladesh has done the best in South Asia, even in Asia, in achieving growth. In this case, only Vietnam is close to Bangladesh."
Mustafa Kamal said Bangladesh is in a good position in all the macroeconomic indicators in the current financial year. "Progress is good in all sectors, including exports and remittances."
"Manpower is the biggest asset of our country," he said, adding, "This strength must be used properly."
He also commented that the government has opened all the doors for local entrepreneurs.
Salman F Rahman said if local investment increases foreign investment will also go up. "By utilising this investment, the government wants to become a developed country by 2041."
He said Bangladesh is working on a number of reforms to improve the ease of doing business.
"Progress is also good in this case. However, One Stop Service (OSS) is more important to make the business process easier."
"If all government agencies are brought under OSS, the business environment will change drastically," he said. "However, in this case, the field level officials have to change their mindset."
He said Bangladesh has made great strides in the infrastructure sector.
"We did not have a deep-sea port. The Japanese are building a deep-sea port at Matarbari. Road and rail infrastructures have improved. A new airport is being built. All these infrastructures are attracting foreign investors."
Salman F Rahman further said that foreign investors are working as ambassadors of Bangladesh. They are letting their country and the business community there know about the progress Bangladesh is making.
Sheikh Fazle Fahim said the Bida is working to improve the ease of doing business index.
"In Bangladesh, a number of initiatives in the banking and revenue sectors are playing an important role in business development."
He said technology and knowledge are entering the country along with foreign investment. "This way, technological changes are taking place."
Selima Ahmad, president of the Bangladesh Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Bida needs to have statistics on how many women investors came in over the past four years, or why they didn't.
"Small businesses or new entrepreneurs are having trouble getting a bank loan and now it is important to take action in this regard."
Rubana Huq, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said Vietnam had set up a special sector council to diversify its export products.
"The move also has brought them success."
She said such a council should be formed in Bangladesh under the leadership of the Bida.
"The council may include the Bangladesh Bank, the National Board of Revenue, the Ministry of Commerce and other agencies."
Representatives of local and foreign investors and various business organisations spoke on the occasion.