Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called Bangladesh as the most ideal place for investment in the world, seeking larger foreign and local investment for mutual benefit.
"Bangladesh is the most ideal place for investment in the world as we offered maximum investment opportunities. So, I hope overseas investment will come here and local people will also invest in their own country," she said.
The prime minister said this while inaugurating the formal operation of the Japanese Economic Zone in the Bangladesh Special Economic Zone (BSEZ) at Araihazar in Narayanganj district on the outskirts of the capital.
She joined the function virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence here.
The premier mentioned that Bangladesh could be a market of 300 crore people with 17 crore of its own, 50 crore in east, 150 crore in north and 50 crore in west due to its geographical location.
The different countries of the world can invest in Bangladesh largely to reap benefits of the vast market, she added.
She also said that her government has attached topmost priority to planned industrialisation alongside agriculture by protecting the country's environment and arable lands.
Sheikh Hasina said her government is setting up 100 economic zones across the country aimed at eliminating indiscriminate industrialisation and protecting arable lands.
The Japanese Economic Zone is being built on 1000 acres of land at Araihazar Upazila in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh in line with an agreement signed between the two countries during her Japan visit in 2014, she said.
The prime minister said, "Foreign investment is coming to the economic zones. Discussion is going on with India, China and Saudi Arabia (on setting up economic zones in Bangladesh). Some other countries also expressed interest to this end."
She assured the interested countries, which wanted to build economic zones in Bangladesh, of providing their desired places and said they can develop it as per their need.
Bangladesh is offering special opportunities for the investors, she said, adding that foreign investors can use Chattogram, Mongla and Payra seaports and Matharbari deep seaport for transportation of their produced goods.
The prime minister said geographical location of Bangladesh is the most important for investors as they can reach the markets with their products across the globe while her country can make a bridge between East and West.
She described various measures including enactment of investment friendly laws and rules and special stimulus packages and loans for the investors.
Bangladeshi youths can come forward to invest in the economic zones instead of running after the jobs and generate huge employment for others, she said.
She added that women also can invest in the economic zones as special arrangement has been made to give them industrial plots here.
The prime minister said her government has upgraded the road, rail, water and airways with building new streets and railways alongside developing the waterways through dredging to ensure easy and quick transportation of the goods produced in the economic zones.
Describing Japan as a true friend and development partner of Bangladesh, she said Japan is currently helping the country in building metro rail, third terminal of Shahjalal international airport, Dhaka and Matharbari deep seaport.
She also recalled the Japanese cooperation in building the Rupsha Bridge and conducting feasibility study of the Padma Bridge and Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna River.
"I am extending my sincere thanks to Japan for staying beside Bangladesh always," she added.
The prime minister also recalled with due respect the contribution of late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the overall development of Bangladesh describing him a "true friend" and greeted the present Japanese Prime Minister also for supporting her country.
She said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to transform Bangladesh into an industrialised country from an agriculture-based nation following the footprints of Japan, she said.
The premier said Bangabandhu had established Tejgaon industrial area and BSCIC (Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation) when he was the minister during the Pakistan period.
After coming to power in 1996, she said they have first set up economic processing zone in Syedpur as there was no industry in the northern part of Bangladesh and later built the economic zones at different parts of the country.
She said she later thought to establish special economic zones across the country aimed at stopping indiscriminate industrialisation and protecting the arable lands.
"We have to save agriculture as Bangladesh is an agriculture based country. We have to ensure food security for people, but we have to go for industrialisation alongside the agriculture. So, I started to establish special economic zones across the country in a planned way," she said.
Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, ITO Naoki and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sumitomo Corporation Group, Masayuki Hyodo, spoke at function.
Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Shaikh Yusuf Harun gave the address of welcome.
A video documentary on activities of the Bangladesh Economic Zones was screened on the occasion.
Bashundhara Group stands by 10,000 cold-hit people in Faridpur
Bashundhara Group, the country’s largest business conglomerate, distributed blankets among 10,000 cold-hit people of Sadar, Nagarkanda, Saltha and Sadarpur upazilas of Faridpur.
The blankets were distributed with the all out support from Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir.
Bashundhara Group's executive director and Faridpur district Awami League’s industries and commerce affairs secretary Advocate Jamal Hossain Miah distributed the blankets at Talma Union Parishad chairman’s residence on Friday morning.
Speaking on the occasion, Jamal Hossain Miah said, “Bashundhara Group always stands by the people of the country. With the help of Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir, blankets are being distributed among the cold-hit people across the country, including Faridpur. Bashundhara Group will continue effort to serve people in the future.”
After getting blankets, the poor people expressed their gratitude to Bashundhara Group for giving them worm cloth during this bone-chilling cold.
Bashundhara Group general manager Md Yunus Khan, Chief Operating Officer (Banking Sector) Md Razib Samad, Faridpur Press Club general secretary and Bangladesh Pratidin correspondent Kamruzzaman Sohel and Talma Union Parishad Chairman Kamal Hossain Mia were present among others in the event.
League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader
pays a courtesy visit to Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Chairman of country’s leading
industrial conglomerate Bashundhara Group.
Obaidul Quader was greeted with flowers by the Bashundhara family during the meeting at the Bashundhara Group chairman's residence in the capital on Monday.
Bashundhara Group Managing Director, Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited Chairman and Bangladesh Jeweller’s Association President Sayem Sobhan Anvir, Rongdhanu Group Chairman Alhaz M Rafiqul Islam, Awami League Office Secretary Biplab Barua, Bangladesh Pratidin Editor Naem Nizam and Badda thana Awami League General Secretary AM Jahangir Alam were also present during the meeting.
Leaders of Narayanganj district and Rupganj upazila units of Awami League held a view-exchange meeting with Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan on the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Rupganj.
MP from Narayanganj-4 constituency AKM Shamim Osman, Rongdhanu Group Chairman Alhaz Rafiqul Islam, Rupganj upazila AL General Secretary Alhaz Shahjahan Bhuiyan, Vice-President Barrister Khan Mohammad Shamim Aziz, Bashundhara Group Director Liakat Hossain, Kanchan municipality Mayor Alhaz Rafiqul Islam Rafiq, former upazila AL Vice-President Khandaker Abul Bashar Tuku, Daudpur Union Parishad Chairman Alhaz Nurul Islam Jahangir, Rupganj Union Parishad Chairman Alhaz Saladuddin Bhuiyan, upazila AL Information and Research Secretary Kamal Hossain Kamal, Health and Population Secretary Dr Faisal Ahmed and Kanchan municipality AL leader Tariqul Islam Mughal were present at the meeting held at the Bashundhara Group Chairman’s residence in Bashundhara Residential Area in the capital on Monday.
The Awami League retains a “significant level of support” and there is still a lot for the government in Bangladesh to point to as a success story amid current challenges, says Michael Kugelman, director of the newly created South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
“We have to keep in mind that the ruling party Awami League has been in power since 2009 and it retains a significant level of support,” he said, noting that the party has been able to bring success stories on the economic front and in countering terrorism.
Kugelman said that even if someone talks about all the bad things happening in Bangladesh, the bottom line is that there is still a lot for the government in Bangladesh which helps it sustain a significant level of success and there are people who see reasons to support it.
Mark Goldberg recently sat down with Kugelman to discuss the recent protests in Bangladesh. The Foreign Policy magazine published the podcast recently.
Responding to a question, Kugelman said Bangladesh has been a regional success story for its economic growth. “It's a global success story.”
He described what had happened over the last few months, including consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war, high level of inflation, rising fuel cost and responses from the government like rationing electricity amid power shortages.
Kugelman said disruption in electricity supply was a major strain on the economy and sudden fall in economic productivity was an opportunity for the opposition to take to the street.
Corruption, one of the realities in Bangladesh, scandals in the financial sector could be another trigger for the opposition, he said, adding that economic problems and corruption gave the opposition opportunity to draw more attention.
Kugelman, however, said the protests launched by the opposition parties “was not a mass protest” but a partisan protest.
The foreign affairs expert said the government had the opportunity to explain the “temporary consequences” of external factors.
Kugelman said Bangladesh has demonstrated success in the area of counterterrorism and noted that there was a period when it was a significant problem in the country which had experienced series of deadly attacks.
He said the Awami League government took initiatives to crackdown really hard on the militants, and terrorism has not been a problem in Bangladesh over the last few years. “That’s another success story.”
Bangladesh has become a much bigger player on the global stage, including its role in peacekeeping operations and with its non-aligned and balanced foreign policy, he observed.
Responding to a question on “democratic backsliding” he said it is important to look back at the broader history of Bangladesh.
In the past, he said, BNP (when it was in power) was resorting to similar types of tactics and there were crackdowns as well as reports of enforced disappearances.
Kugelman said many things that are happening today were also happening when BNP was in power.
He said “undemocratic tactics” happen in many countries, including Bangladesh and elsewhere in South Asia, and described them as “hybrid democracy”.
Responding to another question, he said he does not think that there will be a Sri Lanka-like situation in Bangladesh as there are safety measures in the latter.
Kugelman said Bangladesh's economy is much more resilient than Sri Lanka’s has been.
He also responded to questions on Bangladesh’s next national election which he hoped will be held as per the constitution.