Stating that ensuring the compliance is not possible without the relocation of poorly-equipped factories, business leaders at a meeting here on Wednesday suggested the government set up an industrial zone with all utility services either near Chittagong or Dhaka for shifting the RMG factories.
“Many of our garment factories are now facing difficulties in ensuring compliance. It’s not possible to ensure that in all factories with the existing infrastructures. The government can set up an industrial zone either near Chittagong or Dhaka where there are gas, power and other facilities to relocate the factories so that they can ensure the compliance,” said former FBCCI president Anisul Haq.
The Ministry of Commerce arranged the meeting at TCB Bhaban with a committee formed to advise the Commerce Minister for the development and expansion of the country’s trade and business.
It was the first meeting of the 27-member committee formed on March 9 with leaders of the business community. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed chaired the meeting.
At the meeting, the business leaders narrated various problems and barriers, including gas, power and land crises, they are facing now and put forward various suggestions to resolve those.
Addressing the meeting, Tofail said the country needs to diversify both its products and markets. “We’ll not remain confined to a limited market and product. We’ll diversify our products and expand our market in the international arena. Our government will take every necessary step to this end,” he told the meeting.
He said Russia, North America and South Africa can be the destinations for the expanded market of Bangladeshi products.
After the RMG sector, Tofail said, the lather sector also can earn huge foreign currencies with its diversified products.
The minister assured the business leaders of resolving their problems, including gas and power crises, on priority basis.
He also said in consultation with the Finance Minister he will form some subcommittees on different sectors to implant the suggestions of the committee meeting.
Mentioning that Awami League will stay in office for five years, Tofail said the government will take the country and its businesses forward with the help of the business community.
The minister said they are prepared enough to control the market with the increasing food supply during the Ramada. “The major food importers have assured me that the prices of essential commodities will be under control during the holy month. TCB will also take every required step to keep the market cool during the Ramadan.”
Earlier, addressing the meeting, FBCCI former president Mir Niasir Hossain said the country’s private sector is losing new investment despite huge bank liquidity as the government cannot ensure gas, power and other utility services to the industrial units.
He urged the minister to take initiatives for strengthening the Research and Analysis Wing of the ministry alongside the Tariff Commission for development of the industrial sector.
Voicing concern over the growing incidents of abduction and forced disappearance, Nasir said it is a big threat for the businessmen and a barrier to the development of business and trade. “The government must ensure personal security and take steps to stop abduction.”
Anisul Haq said many investors had imported machineries spending crores of taka but could not start the operations for lack of gas supply to their factories. “The government should immediately provide gas connections to those factories.”
He recommended the government make stronger and active the Board of Investment to attract both local and foreign investments to the country.
The former FBCCI president also suggested taking necessary steps for expanding the RMG market to Russia and other new countries.
Former BGMEA president Salam Murshedi underscored the need for ensuring discipline in the banking sector as it is suffering from trust deficit following some scams like Hall-Mark one.
He also suggested fixing a unified dollar rate for all the exporters to remove discriminations between big and small entrepreneurs.
Another ex-FBCCI president AK Azad urged the government to take strong measures for saving the potential jute sector.
He suggested providing interest free loan among the jute farmers to revive the jute-based industries.
Azad also advised to the government to give priority to develop the communications infrastructures and ensure utility services for uninterrupted production of the industries.
BGMEA president M Atiqul Islam suggested the government take steps for branding Bangladesh before the outside world for the expansion of its trade and business.
He also advised the government to employ foreign lobbyists for getting duty-free access of Bangladeshi products to different countries.
FBCCI president Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, Apex group chairman and Syed former adviser to a caretaker government Manzur Elahi, former FBCCI presidents Yusuf Abdullah Harun, Salman F Rahman, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association president Jahangir Al Amin and Bangladesh Employers’ Federation president Tapan Chowdhury, among others, addressed the programme.