December 2, 2015
Honorable Chief Guest, Mr. Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Principal Secretary of Prime Minister's Office,
Members of Focal Point for the Investment Climate Improvement Working Groups,
Ladies and gentlemen.
I am pleased to attend the 3rd workshop on Investment Climate Improvement in Bangladesh.
Against the backdrop of sluggish trend of global real investment and slow down of global trade growth, the advancement of Bangladesh in the World Bank's income categories from a "low income economy" to a "lower-middle income economy" is a remarkable feat. In its 7th five-year plan, the Government of Bangladesh envisages to attain an inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The key drivers for this growth would be capital formation through local and foreign investment and productive labor force.
On the other hand, the IMF in its recent (October, 2015) World Economic Outlook predicted a rather dismal economic scenario for the emerging markets and developing economies. Moreover, the recent assaults including killings of foreign nationals in Bangladesh have induced foreign investors to rethink the security situation which is a vital part of investment climate.
I believe Bangladesh has a lot to offer. It is endowed with young labor force and attractive manufacturing base which is very competitive in terms of cost. On the demand side, a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group (October, 2015) shows that Bangladesh has a rising middle-income class which is projected to be tripled (34 million people) by 2025. This attractive domestic market can provide a strong impetus for producers and suppliers. So, it is high time for the Government to gear itself up for an outstandingly attractive investment climate to reach the coveted "middle-income" country status.
JICA has been providing manifold supports to improve the investment climate in Bangladesh. To cite a few instances, some notable projects like "Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Line 6", "Kanchpur, Meghna and Gumti Bridges" and "Matarbari Ultra-Super Critical Coal Fired Power Plant" are all on-going with JICA's soft-loan. The Economic Zone Development Project is immediately forthcoming. In parallel, our technical cooperation for Investment Climate Improvement as well as Economic Zone Development and Capacity Development of the Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority are well under way. All in all, our bilateral development partnership is making steady progress along the grand vision of"BIG-B" or the "Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt" which encompasses industrial agglomerations, infrastructural development and enhancement of regional connectivity, following the model of Japan's Pacific Belt Zone.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The working group members led by the Prime Minister's Office have so far had several group meetings, visits to Japan and dialogue with the private sector as well. They have identified many impediments and bottlenecks in the current system as well as possible solutions. I would like to request the Government of Bangladesh to seriously take into account the recommendations made by the working groups on the issues of coordination, one stop service, procedural delay, system improvement, etc. Unless these recommendations are clearly endorsed by the Prime Minister's Office and solidly implemented by the responsible organizations, the outcome of this project will be incomplete.
Finally, I would like to mention one example of JICA's assistance to India, that is, "Tamil Nadu Investment Promotion Program" committed two years ago with a soft loan of 13 billion yen. The program aims to support policy implementation to improve the investment climate in Tamil Nadu, thereby easing business hurdles for foreign investors. It also supports the State to develop infrastructure which would directly benefit those investors including road, power supply, and water and sewerage systems. JICA has supported similar projects in Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Pakistan, Mongolia and Indonesia. I hope that, in due course, we will be able to pursue the same type of cooperation for Bangladesh based on the outcome of this Investment Climate Improvement Project.
Dhonnobad. Thank you.