March 3, 2016
Honorable Chief Guest, Dr. Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank,
Mr. Abdul Mannan, Member in Charge of Planning Commission,
Mr. Takeshi Matsunaga, Minister of Embassy of Japan,
Mr. Gokul Chand Das, Additional Secretary, Bank and Financial Institutions Division of Ministry of Finance,
Mr. Nirmal Chandra Bhakta, Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank,
Distinguished guests from banks and non-bank financial institutions,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Assalam alaikum, Namaskar and Good evening.
It is indeed my pleasure to participate in such a great ceremony that celebrates the most vibrant part of economic and social development in Bangladesh. Under Financial Sector Project for the Development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (FSPDSME), more than five-hundred SMEs have improved their productivity, increased their sales records and generated a number of job opportunities. Now the initial round of financing under the Project is about to be completed.
As many of you remember, the Bangladesh Bank and JICA formulated this Project in 2010 under a difficult situation surrounding SMEs. At that time, most of financial products available to SMEs were for working capital or trade finance with maturity of up to one year only. I heard from an entrepreneur that his enterprise had no choice but to proceed with capital investment with such a short-term loan.
During the last five years, twenty-six banks and Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs) have utilized the Project's fund, and some of these financial institutions have introduced new financial products for SMEs with longer maturity of up to eight years. Also, approximately eight-hundred SMEs, of which one hundred and sixty are women SMEs, could receive trainings on business management to turn their ideas into actual business. I am confident that by combining proper financial products with proper trainings, SMEs can engage in sustainable business. I would like to appreciate great efforts made by the Bangladesh Bank, and banks and NBFIs concerned which have made it possible to create a much better enabling environment for SMEs in this country.
I would like to mention another unprecedented collaboration between the Bangladesh Bank and JICA; that is, an emergency program for safe working environment of RMG factories initiated in October, 2013. Although the program had to go through many obstacles due to its novelty, the first RMG factory got completely retrofitted with Japanese technology in January 2016.
Ladies and gentlemen,
JICA's engagement with the Bangladesh Bank, financial institutions and SMEs is advancing into a new phase. The Bangladesh Bank and JICA have initiated Urban Building Safety Project and Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Project whose loan agreements were signed in December 2015 to provide concessional financing to RMG and other businesses for retrofitting their vulnerable buildings and Japanese and Bangladeshi enterprises for promoting foreign direct investment.
Regarding the SME sector, JICA will initiate a Technical Cooperation Project with the Ministry of Industries, the Bangladesh Industrial Technical Assistance Center and the SME Foundation to nurture so-called supporting industries such as light engineering and plastic and metallic processing, thereby enhancing competitiveness of the entire manufacturing sector. The SMEs are expected not only to obtain various supports from the technical cooperation project but also to avail financing from the remaining revolving fund under FSPDSME, which we may call an "Eco-System to nurture SMEs." I believe this is the right way to achieve sustainable development of SMEs that Japan has also continued to follow until now.
Finally, I hope the Government of Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Bank and financial institutions will continue to pave the way for dynamic socio-economic development hand in hand through innovative ideas and strong commitment to make the country free from poverty and blessed with joy and happiness.
Shobaike Annek Donnobad. Thank you.