Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday inaugurated 50 industrial units, projects and facilities in the Economic Zones (EZs) across the country.
She opened the industrial establishments in the EZs virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence yesterday morning, marking the Golden Jubilee of the country's Independence and the Birth Centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Speaking at the event, Hasina said, "I'm very happy today [Sunday], as I inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of 50 industrial units and infrastructures despite the world going through an economic recession due to the Russia-Ukraine war, sanctions and counter sanctions amid the Covid-19 pandemic".
She also stressed the need for a planned industrialisation by protecting arable lands to ensure economic prosperity, urging the youths and women folks to make their contribution to the sector, the BSS reports.
"No industry can be built indiscriminately," she said.
"If we can increase the purchasing capacity of the people by ensuring their socio-economic advancement, the local markets will be created in larger volumes and thus the country's industry will be benefited immensely," the PM said.
Four factories at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN) in Chattogram and eight factories in different private EZs were launched among the 50 industrial facilities during yesterday's event.
These industrial units have already invested over US$967.73 million in the economic zones and will make further investments of nearly $331.27 million.
The premier laid the foundation stone of 29 industrial units in different EZs, which have so far invested $610 million and are in the process to invest $1,922.39 million more.
Administration buildings of BSMSN, Jamalpur Economic Zone, Srihatta EZ, and Sabrang Tourism Park were inaugurated as well.
The prime minister also formally opened the 20-kilometre Sheikh Hasina Sarani, 230-KVA gridline and substation at the BSMSN and laid the foundation stone of a water treatment plant having 50 million litres per day capacity.
Of the planned 100 economic zones, the government has approved 97 economic zones, 28 of which are currently under development.
So far, 12 privately owned economic zones have received licences to operate and nearly $4 billion have been invested in these economic zones.
The goal of the economic zones is to create employment for 10 million people directly and indirectly. It is also expected that export products worth $40 billion will be produced annually from these economic zones.
Investors can avail of tax holidays, and duty-free imports of raw materials and machinery at the economic zones.
The economic zones have attracted foreign direct investments from different countries, including Japan, China, India, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, America, the United Kingdom, Singapore, South Korea and Norway.
At the inauguration, PM Hasina said, "We have given lands for setting up economic zones for Japan and India. We will arrange lands for Saudi Arabia and Singapore alongside other countries that are showing interest."
The prime minister called upon the businessmen to make strides to meet the demand of the countrymen through operation of their industries.
She said, "The businessmen will definitely do business. We're preparing the ground and giving every scope to do so. So, you have to work for the welfare of the people. The more you work for the people's wellbeing, the more opportunities you will get from the government. But don't do anything for which the people will get hurt or suffer."
The 14 factories which have already begun operations include McDonald Steel Industries Ltd, which produces prefabricated structural steel, used in steel bridges & steel high rise buildings, factories and power plants; Nippon & McDonald Steel Industries Limited produces MS Plate manufacturing from imported steel, purlin, slitting sheets & coil and Asian Paints Bangladesh Limited, which produces paints and allied products, Emulsions.
Pragyan Kumar, chief executive officer of Asian Paints Global International said, "We have constructed a modern factory, where production has already started."
Meghna PVC Limited has also established a factory on 25-acre land where it is producing plastic raw material, Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) resin and Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET).
Suman Bhowmik, senior deputy general manager of Meghna Group of Industries, told The Business Standard, "We invested $293 million until March and 1,900 people have been employed. Altogether $400 million will be invested here including the imports of some machinery."
Australian company TIC Industries Bangladesh Pty Limited is producing plastic garment hangers, sizer and accessories while German Siegwerk Bangladesh Limited is manufacturing Printing Ink, among others.
Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury, PM's Private Industry and Investment adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Chattogram-1 constituency lawmaker Engineer Mosharraf Hossain, Vice-Chairman of the Bashundhara Group Safwan Sobhan spoke at the function at BSMSN end in Chattogram.
Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Executive Chairman Shaikh Yusuf Harun gave the address of welcome.
A video documentary on the development activities of the BEZA was screened at the function.
BEZA aims to establish economic zones in all potential areas in Bangladesh, including backward and underdeveloped regions, with a view to encouraging rapid economic development through the increase and diversification of industry, employment, production and export.