The government has given primary approval to set up ten more economic zones (EZ) in a bid to attract investment, create jobs and protect arable and forest land.
The 7th governing board meeting of the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave the approval on Thursday. The PM joined the virtual meeting from Ganabhaban while other board members were connected from the Prime Minister's Office and the Cabinet Division.
According to the meeting, the EZs will be set up in Nawabganj, Tangail, Naogaon's Sapahar, Dinajpur, Noakhali's Companiganj, Chattogram's Sandwip, Sunamganj's Chhatak, Pabna's Bera, Barishal's Hizla Char Megha and Manikganj's Shibalaya areas.
So far 101 EZs have been permitted including the newly approved ten, while infrastructural and land developments are on in 28 EZs.
Meantime, sources at the BEZA said the concerned organisation has been instructed to connect the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Industrial City with the Marine Drive in Cox's Bazar.
The meeting also decided to change the name of 'Maheshkhali Special Economic Zone' to 'Sonadia Eco-Tourism Park'.
Concerned officials said the meeting decided that all agri products processing units in EZs would get export subsidy and cash incentive like the non-EZ industries.
Besides, BEZA officials said the meeting decided to declare Sirajganj, Kishoreganj and Hosendi Economic Area, and Karnaphuli Dry Dock and East West Special Economic Area as economic zones.
Promote small investors, attract youths in investment: PM
The prime minister has asked the BEZA to promote small entrepreneurs, especially youths, alongside attracting foreign investment.
She said, "We have to work to encourage small entrepreneurs, especially youths, in making investments in the economic zones to further speed up the pace of socioeconomic progress of the country."
The prime minister said the young generation should not only run after jobs as they could take on ventures instead. "We will have to work by keeping eyes on these," she added.
"There is no doubt our economy is agriculture dependent, but we need industrialisation at the same time. Because, no country can make progress without industrialisation," she said.
The premier, however, stressed the need to save arable land to ensure food security of a huge population despite the fact that the country's land size is small.
Mentioning that Bangladesh has already made much progress in drawing investments and building small entrepreneurs, Sheikh Hasina hoped that her government would be able to continue this progress.
Sheikh Hasina reiterated her optimism that the country would further advance socio-economically despite the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global economy including Bangladesh.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Planning Minister MA Mannan, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque, Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and BEZA Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury were present at the meeting. Besides, representatives of different business organisations also took part in the meeting.