Over 22 per cent of industrial plots allocated to entrepreneurs in BSCIC industrial estates across the country remain unused, according to a recent study.
It might be 27 per cent if unallocated plots are taken into account, said the study conducted by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).
The study also showed that low use of plots was a culmination of several factors including weaknesses in enforcement of rules and regulations, problems with the selection process of entrepreneurs and infrastructural bottlenecks.
It highlighted the stagnant employment rate in BSCIC estates. "The existing estates provide about 0.56 million jobs with an insignificant growth over years."
Despite stagnant employment, the study said, production has been growing at a rate of 10 per cent annually, indicating increased productivity of the firms.
The leading think-tank revealed the findings of the research on May 29, 2019. The study was conducted during the period between September 2017 and March 2018.
Plot utilisation rate is the lowest in Barishal division (50 per cent) and highest in Rajshahi division (95 per cent).
The study showed that about 35 per cent posts in estate offices remained vacant for a long time. "It is necessary to rethink on how to improve estate management affairs."
It found that a large number of plots remained unused mainly due to the faulty plot allotment process.
It also suggested identifying the reasons behind such non-utilisation of plots.
BSCIC estates are now facing different problems which need to be resolved on an urgent basis for the sake of better industrialisation in the country.
The study identified non-utilisation of a large number of industrial plots, poor maintenance of infrastructure inside estates, and lack of gas and electricity supply as major problems.
On August 24 in 2014, the prime minister instructed the BSCIC to evaluate the activities carried out by BSCIC estates.
BSCIC requested BIDS to evaluate the activities of its estates in order to identify the problems they face and find a future way forward to strengthen its capacity and carry out its activities smoothly.
The study also suggested that BSCIC should give utmost importance to recover unused plots and ensure their proper use.
"In many estates, gas and electricity connections are not dedicated and the estates cannot generate adequate leverage to entrepreneurs," it said.
Dr Monzur Hossain, senior research fellow of BIDS who led the study team, told the FE that it was matter of grave concern that a substantial number of plots remained unused in BSCIC estates.
Big investment may be needed to ensure uninterrupted power and gas supply in BSCIC estates, he added.
Otherwise, he said, it would not be possible for the authority concerned to reap the benefits of industrial estates. "BSCIC may consider restructuring organisations to bring dynamism in the industrial estate management."
They recommended that BSCIC consider carrying out a cost-benefit analysis of BSCIC industrial estates in order to grasp future sustainability of the estates, the research fellow said.
Talking to the FE, Md Mostaque Hassan, chairman of BSCIC, said the rate of non-utilisation of industrial plots might reach over 30 per cent.
BSCIC has already taken steps to maximise the use of allotted plots, he said.
Many cases were still pending with the High Court, he said, adding that it would enough time to settle the cases.
BSCIC has started doing a study to make proper evaluation of its estates, the chairman said.
"BSCIC is also taking up some mega projects to help increase the employment rate at the estates."
Mr Hassan said BSCIC is set to expand its industrial estates in next five years.
So far a total of 76 industrial estates have been established on 1,969 acres of land. But two of these estates are yet to go into operation.