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Businesses want predictable policy for stable investment

CanCham Bangladesh's 3rd Joint Chambers' meeting in city

FE Report | October 09, 2017 00:00:00

Foreign and local businesses in the country on Sunday urged the government to formulate a stable and predictable regulatory and tax policy for a stable investment environment.

They also called for initiating a comprehensive development and investment plan for quality power, energy and infrastructure to attract investors.

The country, according to them, should extend tax base instead of imposing heavy taxes on a small group.

The businesses came up with the observations at a programme titled 'CanCham Bangladesh's 3rd Joint Chambers' Meet-Up' the CanCham Bangladesh organised in association with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) at a city hotel.

Addressing the programme, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said that as a sovereign country, Bangladesh would not accept any instructions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or any other international organisations.

About VAT Act-2012, he viewed that the country should not implement it without conducting any study on its impact. "People of the country, not any foreign pressure group, will decide as to what would be the country's policy."

About the recent Indian line of credit, he said Bangladesh would utilise the credit for the projects which suit the country's needs.

The FBCCI president also sought a stable regulatory and tax policy for stable growth.

GrameenPhone (GP) Chief Executive Officer Petter-B Furberg said Bangladesh has a very unpredictable tax policy, which is very problematic for the operator.

"We have a real problem with unpredictable tax policy here, we invest roughly USD 200 million in Bangladesh annually and predictable tax policy is an issue here," he said.

Paying tax, he said, is not a problem for GP. The operator earns a lot and pays a huge amount of taxes.

"But we need a predictable tax policy here," he stressed.

CocaCola Bangladesh CEO Shadab Ahmed Khan said the tax authority in the country is focusing on a small group of compliant business group rather than extending a tax-base for revenue income.

He also said electricity and gas are the big challenges for investment here.

Nestle Bangladesh CEO Stephane Norde called for stable policies to woo foreign direct investment.

Speaking as the chief guest at the programme, Executive Chairman of BIDA Kazi M Aminul Islam said One-Stop Service Act will be passed in the parliament's next session for providing smooth services to the local and foreign investors.

He said Bangladesh has a target to reach 99 or below in the ease of doing business index from the present position of 176 and the BIDA has been working to this effect.

CanCham's Masud Rahman said BIDA may be given more authority by enacting necessary legislation so that it can grant permission from a single window expeditiously.

He said dependency on quick rentals should be reduced by implementing medium and long-term plans meant for the power and energy sectors, giving special emphasis on renewable energy.

According to him, new entrepreneurs and start-ups should be encouraged by arranging equity fund, also called "Angels Fund', also including the establishment of Start-Up Stock Exchange (SSX).

Mr Rahman said there is a big mismatch at present between skills demanded and skills supplied in the country. Only 14 per cent of the students get technical education. It should be increased by opening technical schools in all Upazillas of the country.

He, however, said state-of-the-art airports in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet and Khulna should be established along with deep sea port and connectivity through highways across the country.

"A Super Highway is necessary to connect the capital city with Chittagong and Cox's Bazar. I have a dream to start from Dhaka by road in the morning and have lunch at Cox's Bazar, the most popular tourist spot of the country. I hope it will come true soon," he added.

Salahuddin Kasem Khan, President of the Japan Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industry (JBCCI), moderated the discussion while Sazzadul Hassan, Managing Director of Syngenta Bangladesh Limited, presented a paper on "The Secrets of Singapore's Amazing Success and Lessons for Bangladesh."

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