Foreign Investors’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday said absence of level playing field for the foreign investors and lack of clarity in laws are major obstacles in Bangladesh for improving state of doing business.
The chamber came with the observation at a luncheon meeting held in the Westin Hotel in the city.
FICCI president Rupali Chowdhury presided over the meeting while Bangladesh Investment Development Authority executive chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam, FICCI executive director Jamil Osman, KrishEnergy general manger Edwin Bowles, among others, spoke on the occasion.
Speaking about the remittance of royalty, technical knowhow or technical assistance fees, Rupali Chowdhury said, ‘Although there were some conditions, no prior permission of Bangladesh Bank or BIDA is required for foreign entities in remitting such fees under the foreign exchange guideline of Bangladesh Bank.’
‘But to our surprise, no bank in Bangladesh agrees to send remittance under these purposes without prior approval from BIDA which we understand from banks as due to verbal restriction of the central bank,’ he said.
‘Such big gap in law and practice is one of the biggest hindrances for ease of doing business in Bangladesh,’ the FICCI president said.
Mentioning Bangladesh’s bank loan policy for the foreign companies as one of the setbacks in ensuring level playing field for foreign companies, Rupali said, ‘The foreign companies need to go to Bangladesh Bank for case by case approval in taking term loans beyond one year.’
‘And, to be eligible to take such local currency term loans, the companies have to maintain 50:50 debt to equity ratio, which was not required for local companies,’ she said.
‘We believe, this should be left to the banker-customer relationship like the privilege enjoyed by the local companies,’ she said.
Speaking on the occasion, HSBC Bangladesh chief executive officer Francois de Maricourt said, ‘We did not want so many thing, we need rules that will be clear and supportive for use.
So, we can report properly to our head offices.’
Stressing on the importance of local loans for foreign investors, Abrar A Anwar, chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bangladesh, said a simple change in Bangladesh Bank’s policy can solve the access to credit problem of the foreign investors.
Speaking on the issue, BIDA executive chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said, ‘We had detailed discussion with the Bangladesh Bank regarding the issue.’
‘On the discussion, we agreed on 15 points including reforms and changes that can be shared,’ he said.
Thanking foreign investors for contributing to the development of the country, BIDA chairman said, ‘There are laws which are backdated, there are rules which are sometimes meaningless and there are processes which are redundant.’
Considering the facts, BIDA has taken initiative in bringing down below 100 position from the present 176th position in doing business index so that the country can grow faster and attain double digit growth, he said.