The government has taken up a new project to promote the country's leather and leather goods, footwear, plastics and light engineering sectors. The project is aimed at diversifying the nation's export basket.
The Ministry of Commerce will launch the project today (Wednesday) to invest in infrastructural development in these four sectors.
Under the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project, the new project will include a $40 million fund from the World Bank. It is expected to create around 90,000 new jobs.
The objective of the fund includes upgrading standards and facilities of at least 250 companies in these four sectors with the objective of producing goods for the export market.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi is scheduled to be present as the chief guest at the online launching ceremony of the fund.
Details of the project were revealed at a knowledge sharing workshop on "Public Investment Facility for Infrastructure Constraints (PIFIC)" on Tuesday. The workshop was held at the Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) auditorium in the capital, where EC4J Project Director and Additional Secretary in the commerce ministry Md Obaidul Azam spoke as the chief guest.
Highlighting the main objectives of the project and the possible outcome of the fund, Azam said the government's target was to raise the standards of some 250 local firms in these four sectors to the global level.
Answering a question, he said these four sectors had been selected on the basis of a study conducted by the Word Bank because of their high potential.
Azam said work was going on to initiate a separate investment project of this kind to incorporate the jute and agro-processing sectors to explore their potential further.
In response to another question, he said the authorities expected that most of the jobs in these sectors would be created mainly in the country.
He also hoped that the implementation of the project would increase export volumes in these four sectors significantly.
Azam stated that a fund of $8 million would be created under the project as part of measures to tackle the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
He said beyond these four sectors, those who manufactured medical equipment and masks to fight the pandemic would receive grants from this fund.
The PIFIC has approximately $40 million available for grants and technical assistance, which is expected to cover 15-20 infrastructure projects within industrial clusters around the country.
The types of projects for which investment grants are available include water treatment plants and upgraded water connections in industrial areas, waste recycling facilities in public-private joint ventures, specialised warehouses, last-mile transmission of electric power, enhanced local connectivity, etc.
Upgraded telecom connectivity and access to roads, service centres in clusters and other general facilities related to industrial parks are also included.
This grant will only be applicable when at least a cluster of industries benefits from it. This is not for the benefit of a single industry.
Its purpose is to remove infrastructural barriers to increasing productivity and export capacity in these four sectors for the growth of employment and exports.
To this end, PIFIC is accepting applications from industrial associations, business groups, and consortiums of industrial clusters.
PIFIC will select suitable applications for financing infrastructure investment.
After the selection, it will also provide guidance and actively assist the nominated candidates in formulating a complete project proposal.
Services provided by the PIFIC programme will include feasibility studies, project evaluation, technical designs, preparation of procurement documents, and monitoring service during project implementation.
Subsequently, all these agreements will be continued under the EC4J project.
EC4J Project-3 Director Sheikh Mohammad Abdur Rahman delivered the welcome address at Tuesday's workshop, while EC4J Project Manager Md Lutfur Rahman made a PowerPoint presentation on PIFIC.
PIFIC team leader Shobuz A Ikbal, ERF President Sharmeen Rinvy and General Secretary SM Rashidul Islam also spoke on the occasion.