The DCCI added that the government should provide local entrepreneurs the same facilities being offered to foreign investors
DCCI's recommendations for recovery
- Provide local entrepreneurs the same facilities as foreign investors
- Prioritise backward linkage industries
- Reach out to countries, such as Japan, to benefit from their FDI relocation
- Place more emphasis on economic diplomacy to ease LDC graduation
- Focus on bilateral and multilateral deals such as FTAs and PTAs
- Fully implement Tk22,700cr incentive package set aside for CMSME sector
- Lower corporate tax in phases within the next 3 years
- Boost investments in education, training for skilled manpower
Local investors must be encouraged alongside foreign ones, because there is no alternative to private sector development for reviving Bangladesh's economy from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government should also provide local entrepreneurs the same facilities being offered to foreign investors in the country, particularly in the special economic zones, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (DCCI) President Rizwan Rahman said on Saturday.
Backward linkage industries supporting larger ones need to be focused on as well, added Rizwan, while recommending sector-wise measures for revitalising the country's economy at a meet the press event titled "Road to Recovery – Survive, Revive and Thrive" organised by the DCCI.
Addressing the matter of foreign investment, the DCCI president said, "Instead of seeking fresh investments, we should prioritise reaching out to countries planning for FDI [foreign direct investment] relocation."
"We should seek out opportunities from Japan and Korea specifically, as these countries are relocating their investments from China. Under the circumstances, we should focus more on economic diplomacy," he added.
At the event held at DCCI's headquarters in Dhaka, its president announced that an international conference on investment will be organised at the end of this year, as part of a private sector initiative to bring the local and foreign business communities together.
He then urged the government to boost preparations for tackling trade-related challenges following Bangladesh's graduation from least developed country (LDC), as the country will lose a number of facilities only available to least developed countries.
The DCCI recommended launching necessary programmes to increase Bangladesh's competitiveness on the international market.
The government should also focus on attaining the GSP+ facility from Europe, plus sign bilateral and multilateral agreements such as Free Trade Agreements (FTA) and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTA) with other countries, the Dhaka Chamber advised.
It then called upon the government to make a serious effort to attain observer status with regional organisations such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), and put more emphasis on product diversification and market expansion.
The DCCI also pointed out that prioritising the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprise (CMSME) sector is crucial for private sector development. It urged the government to formulate a new law separating medium industries from smaller ones, so that cottage, micro and small industries get a better chance at success.
The DCCI president said, "We recommend forming a separate bank for this sector and launching a bond to ensure the steady flow of money. We also demand that the Tk22,700 crore incentive earmarked for the CMSME sector be implemented 100% within the deadline."
The Bangladesh Bank had set the deadline for implementing this incentive package on 31 March this year, after extending it a number of times.
Pointing out that Bangladesh has a tax rate of 32.5%, compared to the global average of 23.79%, the DCCI demanded that the corporate tax be lowered in multiple phases within the next three years.
It also recommended that VAT be imposed on value addition or profit margin, instead of on turnover.
Speaking on the remittance issue, the DCCI president said, "Expatriates remitted more money to their families in need due to the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic last year. The increasing trend of remittance inflow may not continue in the current year."
He called upon the officials concerned to boost investment in education and research sectors to train the manpower necessary for meeting demands of the fourth industrial revolution and new normal life.
The DCCI further recommend that Bangladesh work with neighbours such as India or Thailand on matters of the Blue Economy – which prioritises the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, livelihoods and jobs, plus the ocean ecosystem's health.
It then advised the government to take necessary steps for boosting transportation of goods through Bangladesh's inland waterways.
Among many others, DCCI's Senior Vice-President NKA Mobin, Vice-President Monowar Hossain, plus directors Md Shahid Hossain, Golam Jilani, Hossain A Sikder and Nasiruddin A Ferdous were present at the meet the press event.