Govt fortifying BIDA to be investment-friendly

JASIM UDDDIN HAROON and REZAUL KARIM | Wednesday, 12 August 2020

The government is strengthening the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) to make it is more sophisticated and investment-friendly.
As part of reinforcing the investment promotion agency, the government is amending the BIDA Act which was passed sometime in 2016.
The amendment is now in the final stage of approval by the ministry concerned.
The amendment, after its passage in parliament, will empower the BIDA to make quick decisions meant for expanding both local and foreign direct investment (FDI).
The Act was promulgated to promote investment in Bangladesh that accounts for less than 32 per cent of the GDP.
The BIDA now provides proper guidelines to local and foreign investors to set up industrial plants in the country through 'one-stop service'.
In 2016, the government formed the agency by amalgamating two separate agencies -- Board of Investment and Privatisation Commission -- to escalate investment and build a rude health of the economy.
Under the proposed amendment, the BIDA will have more power to make decisions in terms of attracting both local investment and FDI, according to the draft seen by the FE.
The BIDA governing body will be empowered to prepare its own law, rules, regulations and others to make a hassle-free investment in Bangladesh.
BIDA works under the Prime Minister's Office. Prime minister is the chairman of the BIDA and president of its governing body while finance minister acts as the ex-officio vice-president.
The BIDA's policy-making body will also be able to make decisions and provide both fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to lure investors.
According to the draft act, individual or sole investment may also be allowed in state-owned entities.
But the existing BIDA Act-2016 restricts individual or sole investment in the government entities.
The BIDA just allows partnership investment in state entities and their adjoining unused land.
The authorities may take a special assignment for expanding investment, according to the draft.
Those who have been working with the organisation will be deemed as its own employees or absorbed, it reads.
Around 50 per cent of an estimated 200 employees are currently on deputation from different cadre services while the remaining are appointed through the Public Service Commission.
In the meantime, the process of making an organogram of the entity is also in the final stage, people familiar with the development at the BIDA told the FE.
Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary to the PM, chaired the latest BIDA meeting on August 03 convened to finalise the draft.
But it also needs parliamentary approval for execution, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.
When contacted, BIDA executive chairman Serazul Islam, a former secretary, said a move on the matter has been made, but he declined to comment in detail.
"I will comment on the matter after its passage in parliament…" Mr Islam told the FE over the phone.
Former BIDA executive chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said the key objective of the entity is to promote investment and "any move to this end is a piece of good news for me".
"The act is now centralised in nature. Through amendment, it may court more investment that helps grow the economy and create employment," he told the FE.
Some 13 out of 36 sections of the BIDA Act-2016 will be amended.
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