Small ventures engaged in leather and leather goods, footwear, plastics and light engineering sectors now can avail grants under the Public Investment Facility for Infrastructure Constraints (PIFIC) programme to catch global market with Bangladeshi products.
To diversify export goods, the commerce ministry on Wednesday launched the PIFIC – one of the four components of the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project.
A Tk340 crore fund, which will be provided by the World Bank, under the programme will be spent on infrastructure development of small businesses in the four sectors with the objective of producing goods for the export market.
"Our export has become heavily dependent on the apparel sector. We have taken this project to diversify the country's export basket," Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi said at a virtual inaugural ceremony of the PIFIC.
There are many factories outside the garment sector scattered in different places. The government is now working on enhancing their capacity and helping them manufacture exportable products, he added.
The commerce minister said, "The PIFIC programme will help Bangladesh to join the international export value chain. We want to increase the export of other products as the government has placed emphasis on product diversification."
The World Bank's funding will be used to remove the existing infrastructural barriers in the four sectors – leather and leather products, footwear, plastic and light engineering industries – and increase their productivity and export-capacity for growth of production, employment and exports, he added.
"Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, we are taking the country's economy forward. The whole world is praising these efforts. We have become a role model. One of our goals is to reduce poverty by increasing exports and employment," he said.
Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin said businesses located in different parts of the country will get benefits of the PIFIC programme in developing their infrastructure.
Saiful Islam, president of the Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh, said, "The Central Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in the tannery estate is still ineffective. If we want to survive in the world market, we have to do it in an environmentally friendly way."
Jasim Uddin, president of the Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said there is no institute in Bangladesh to improve the quality of plastic products. Therefore, an institute needs to be built to benefit small entrepreneurs.
Abdur Razzak, president of the Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners' Association, said, "There are many small light engineering factories in Old Dhaka. The products manufactured in this factory should be made suitable for export. And for this, we have to create a quality control lab."
IFC Private Sector Specialist Hosna Ferdous Sum said the project is not for the benefit of a single industry. This programme is being taken up especially for the benefit of SME entrepreneurs.
The kinds of projects for which investment grants under the PIFIC are available include water treatment plants and upgraded water connections in an industrial area, waste recycling facilities in public-private joint ventures, specialised warehouses, last-mile transmission of electric power, and enhanced local connectivity, etc.
Included too are upgraded telecom connectivity, upgraded access roads, service centers in clusters and industrial parks related general facilities, etc.
The PIFIC programme will jointly be implemented by the commerce ministry and the World Bank.