Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) Executive Chairman Lokman Hossain Miah has said Bangladesh sees less foreign direct investment (FDI) as it takes comparatively longer time to start a business here compared to competing countries.
"Vietnam provides all services in 35 days while Indonesia gives in 49 days and India gives in 60 days. But it takes about six months in Bangladesh," he said while addressing AmCham's February luncheon meeting on "Investment for Smart Bangladesh" on Sunday.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) arranged the event at a city hotel where the Bida executive chairman was present as the guest of honour.
Lokman Hossain Miah said being informed about the matter, the prime minister instructed the departments concerned to take measures for providing quick services to investors like Vietnam and Indonesia.
"A committee led by the PM's Principal Secretary was already formed to look after the matter. We are hopeful about the progress within the next three months," he added.
The Bida Executive Chairman said "Bangladesh is safe for doing business. To provide all services quickly to the investors, the government is setting up 100 economic zones. Bida has introduced the One Stop Service (OSS) to facilitate all services to investors.
According to the central bank, Bangladesh received $2.58 billion in foreign direct investment in the 2017-18 fiscal year, $3.89 billion in 2018-19, $2.37 billion in 2019-20, $2.51 billion in 2020-21, and $2.65 billion in 2021-22.
Abdul Gafur, director at Abdul Monem Economic Zone Limited, said, "We have to improve our business environment to attract foreign investment to beat the competitor countries."
AmCham President Syed Ershad Ahmed said, "Investing in a smart Bangladesh is not just an economic imperative, it is a moral one. By making the right investments in infrastructure, education, technology, energy, and social inclusion, we can build a sustainable better future for Bangladeshis. Let us work together to create a smarter Bangladesh for the generations to come."
"Whatever favorable policies and friendly rules for FDI exist in the country, proper implementation of those matters most. Good policies on paper and a verbal assurance of support by the policymakers will not attract foreign investors," Syed Ershad added.
Muhammad Abdul Mazid, former chairman of the National Board of Revenue, said, "When foreigners go to invest in a country they first see if the country's local investors are happy with doing business. Whether there is skilled manpower or not… So, we have to satisfy local investors first and develop skilled manpower."
To facilitate the investors, the chiefs of Bida, Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority, Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority, NBR, and Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation have to hold an urgent meeting as if they can work coordinately to attract investment, he opined.
Syed Mohammad Kamal, vice president of AmCham, executive committee members, executive director and members of the chamber and former presidents, foreign dignitaries, business leaders, media representatives, and others attended the meeting.