The country’s economic growth would become stagnant unless adequate investment was made to develop infrastructure, said experts at a discussion meeting on Wednesday.
They came with the caution while speaking at a round table discussion on Bangladesh Infrastructure, jointly organised by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, World Bank Group and UK-AID on Bangladesh Infrastructure at Sonargoan Hotel in the city.
BIDA executive chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said that the country’s economic growth had reached upper limit with the present level of infrastructure.
‘That’s why we have to prioritise the infrastructure development to move our economy forward. It would require huge amount of infrastructure investments and here participation of the private sector should be improved,’ he said.
International Finance Corporation country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Wendy Jo Werner presented a keynote paper in the first session stressing on infrastructure development in the form of public private partnership and role of special economic zones.
She identified inadequate supply of information, corruption, access to finance, inefficient government bureaucracy, inadequately educated workforce, tax rates, policy instability and tax regulations among the most problematic factors for doing business in Bangladesh.
Wendy highlighted regulatory challenges a project faces after awarding of the contract.
She said investors’ confidence deter due to delay over government approval of PPP structures like financing terms and bureaucratic support to a group of people who can influence them.
DCCI president Abul Kasem Khan mentioned that lack of government investment as one of the major reasons behind the country’s poor ranking in ease of doing business by the World Economic Forum.
He said the investment for the infrastructure development in Bangladesh is currently 2.87 per cent of its gross domestic product, which is very low in compared with the countries which have been doing well in infrastructure development and attaining healthy investments.
He mentioned China has invested 8 per cent of its GDP since 2003, Taiwan 9.50 per cent during 1970 to 1990 and South Korea invested almost 8.70 per cent of its GDP during 1960 to 1990.
Bangladesh would require $75-$100 billion till 2020 and $300-$320 billion
by 3030 in the infrastructure development to accelerate the growth of the country, he said.
Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said, ‘we know all the bottlenecks and we are giving emphasise on the issues accordingly.’
He also said that the government would provide every support for businesses even if it requires brining down tax rate to zero.
Speaking about the government’s estimation that the GDP growth would be 7.24 per cent in the fiscal 2016-17, Kamal said, ‘some people criticise the estimation in different ways but I would say that there has been no fabrication in the estimation and it is the reality.’
Replying on the slow handling of container by the ports, Chittagong Port Authority chairman M Khaled Iqbal said port office remains open for seven days a week but the customs and banks work for five days out of seven days in a week which should be taken into consideration.
DCCI former president Aftab Ul Islam spoke about the slow progress of different infrastructure development projects and dramatic rise in cost of such projects without any reason.
DCCI former president Asif Ibrahim, Abdul Monem Limited deputy managing director ASM Mainuddin Monem and Alliance Port Limited deputy managing director Syed Yasser Haider Rizvi also spoke at the discussion.
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