Oman-Bangladesh joint development fund likely

The bilateral relations between Oman and Bangladesh are set to touch new heights, said Sheikh Sekander Ali, Bangladesh’s Ambassador to the Sultanate. Speaking on the occasion of his country’s 43rd independence anniversary here yesterday, Ali said: “Following a Royal Decree in September 2012 for the establishment of a full-fledged embassy of the Sultanate in Bangladesh, Oman’s Embassy was relocated to new independent premises in 2013.”

Moreover, early this month a four-member delegation of senior Omani officials from the Ministry of Manpower visited Bangladesh to exchange views about welfare of the Bangladeshi workers living in the Sultanate, including exploring options for recruitment of more skilled/semi-skilled manpower from Bangladesh.

bd-omanThe Omani authorities expressed interest to set up an Oman-Bangladesh Joint Development Fund to explore opportunities for investment in mutually beneficial areas like agriculture, oil and gas. A delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries visited Bangladesh in 2013 to explore opportunities for collaboration in the fields of agriculture and allied sectors. During his visit in 2013, the Bangladesh minister for expatriate welfare and overseas employment met Omani ministers and expressed the hope that the authorities would recruit more professionals such as doctors, engineers from Bangladesh. A recent report “Bangladesh’s Economic Progress and Opportunities for Foreign Investment” says Bangladesh is a vibrant economy that has, despite the recent global economic meltdown, maintained a consistent growth rate of around 6.5 per cent.

With a population of 150 million people, Bangladesh boasts an efficient and entrepreneurial workforce that is changing the profile of the economy. Bangladesh’s favourable investment climate has been lauded by many around the world. Bangladesh has been listed in Goldman Sachs’ ‘Next 11’ and JP Morgan’s ‘Frontier Five’. Standard and Poor (S&P) as well as Moody’s have placed Bangladesh ahead of all countries in South Asia, except India. Already agreement on connectivity has been reached between Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan, opening opportunities in the huge next door markets. Bangladesh offers the most liberal FDI regime in South Asia, allowing 100 per cent foreign equity with unrestricted exit policy, remittance of royalty and repatriation of profits and income.

The country offers export-oriented industrial enclaves with infrastructure facilities and logistical support for foreign investors. The country is also developing its core infrastructures, including roads, highways, surface transport and port facilities for a better business environment. A billion dollar credit has been inked with India recently for infrastructure development including communication and transport sectors, and facilities at sea ports. Furthermore, Bangladesh offers several competitive investment incentives in and outside Export Processing Zones (EPZs). For companies outside EPZs, the corporate tax holiday is 5 to 7 years for selected sectors; accelerated depreciation on cost of machinery for new industry in lieu of tax holiday; tariff concessions on import of capital machinery, tariff concessions on import of raw materials of the export oriented industries, bonded warehousing facilities; cash incentives and export subsidies ranging from five to 20 per cent on the FOB value of selected products; remittance of royalty, technical know-how and technical assistance fees; citizenship by investing a minimum of $ 500,000 and permanent resident permits on investing $ 75,000.

The special incentives offered to businesses located in 8 EPZs include: 10 years tax holiday; concessionary tax for five years, after 10 years; duty and tax free exports from the EPZ; readymade factory building; excellent infrastructure logistics; duty free import of machinery, raw and construction materials; and business and administrative support services. According to a UN report, Economic prospects for Bangladesh in contrast to the rest of South Asia remained favourable. Strong growth in private investment and consumption, backed by a steady increase in remittances, contributed to economic expansion in the two countries. Titled “World Economic Situation and Prospects 2013 (WESP)”, the report was unveiled recently in seven cities across the world. It says Bangladesh’s GDP grew by 6.2 per cent in 2012. The rate was second to Sri Lanka’s, which was the fastest in the region at 6.5 per cent. According to WESP, Bangladesh will post a 6.3 per cent growth in 2013 and 6.4 per cent in 2014.

-Oman Daily Observer