Govt even ready for zero taxes to woo investment

Dhaka,  Tue,  22 August 2017
Published : 18 May 2017, 00:32:19

Govt even ready for zero taxes to woo investment

Govt even ready for zero taxes to woo investment
FE Report

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said Wednesday the government will do everything for the development of the country.

"If required, we will bring down tax rates to zero per cent because we want to take the country ahead," said the planning minister and urged the business people to go for a massive investment in the country.

He claimed that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate in the current fiscal was not fabricated or tampered one.

"There was no distortion in the GDP data. I know all the numbers. I have full confidence and trust on my departments," he said at a business dialogue organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Wednesday with its president Abul Kasem Khan in the chair.

Mr Kamal was referring to doubts of some donor agencies and critics on Bangladesh's economic growth at a dialogue on 'Infrastructure of Bangladesh-priority areas SEZs, Ports and Roads' in Dhaka Wednesday.

Businessmen, policymakers, development partners, and local and international lenders took part in the dialogue.

The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) under the Planning Minister on Sunday unveiled the GDP growth estimate which swelled to 7.24 per cent in the current financial year (FY) 2016-17.

Mr Mustafa Kamal said 'One Stop Service Act, 2017' will be placed in the upcoming session of parliament to facilitate businesses in the country.

Mr Kamal said Padma bridge, Rooppur nuclear power plant, 1320MW Rampal power plant and deep seaport are among the priority projects of the government. Now time has come to give attention to development of the infrastructure, he added.

He said the cooperation of the business people is needed to turn Bangladesh into a middle income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041.

The government has US$29 billion in its hand for taking up different projects for the development of the country, he added.

The minister said the country has made significant progress in different areas of the economy. Bangladesh collected revenue at the rate of 18 per cent over the last eight years and internal resources now help meet around 90 per cent finance of the national budget.

DCCI President Abul Kasem Khan, in his speech, attributed lack of modern infrastructure to low investment, which is currently recorded at 2.87 per cent of GDP. In fact, in Bangladesh, for last 25 years the private sector growth outpaced the public sector planning and development.

"We know, the limitation we faced in terms of resources resulted in limited allocation to infrastructure when the requirement was much higher."

The DCCI president, however, described the recent trend as very positive as the government has increased spending by 300 per cent since 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Mr Abul Kasem Khan said the country must now make higher levels of infrastructure investments. He urged the government to establish National Infrastructure Development and Monitoring Authority (NIDMA).

Other speakers at the discussion called upon the government for easing the cost of doing business through its policy and structural reforms and a massive infrastructure development.

They said Bangladesh's business climate is still unfavourable due to complex land procurement, policy and legal issues, inadequate infrastructure and higher cost of services.

International Finance Corporation (IFC) Country Manager in Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan Ms Wendy Jo Werner presented the key-note paper in the dialogue.

Chairman of the Chittagong Port Authority Rear Admiral M Khaled Iqbal, Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of Abdul Monem Limited Mr ASM Mainuddin Monem and DMD of Alliance Port Limited Syed Yasser Haider Rizvi participated as discussants.

Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Kazi M. Aminul Islam and former American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) President Aftab Ul Islam were present as special guests at the function.

Mr Aftab Ul Islam said although the present government has upgraded electricity generation, the per capita electricity consumption in Bangladesh is one of the lowest in South Asia.

He criticised the government for higher cost of projects and delays in their implementation. Mr Islam termed this challenge as one of the 'chronic problems' in Bangladesh and an obstacle to investment and businesses.

"The initial cost of the Rooppur nuke power plant was only US$4.5 billion which now jumped to nearly $12 billion," he said.

The former AmCham President sought clarification from Planning Minister Mustafa Kamal, who looks after development project planning and approval process.

The Planning Minister, however, did not give any clarification on the delays and cost overruns of the public sector development projects.

Former DCCI President Asif Ibrahim said land scarcity and complex procurement system have now emerged as key hindrances for investors here.

He also identified lack of good governance, discipline and complex regulatory system as also major obstacles to set up businesses.

The DMD of Abdul Monem Ltd said land scarcity and complex land-related laws are major impediments to business and investment here.

Alliance Port Ltd. DMD Haider Rizvi called upon the government not to consider private sector as a competitor in businesses.

Chittagong Port Authority Chairman Khaled Iqbal said if Customs and commercial banks cooperate with him, he could continue full-fledged port operation for seven days in a week.

"The capacity of the port has improved a lot. We are trying to ensure maximum output from the Chittagong port," he said.

BIDA Executive Chairman Aminul Islam assured the businessmen that they would bring down the cost of doing business in Bangladesh through some massive reforms and initiatives within the shortest possible time.

"We will bring down the overall construction time here from 269 days to 60 days only and electricity connection from 400 days to 28 days only. We will improve our rank at the World Bank's flagship report on the 'Ease of Cost of Doing Business' through our reforms," he added.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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