The Export Readiness Fund (ERF) with an initial amount of $10 million was formally launched on Sunday for boosting export of the country’s four promising sectors.
This programme, a support scheme of the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project, funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Ministry of Commerce, was launched to boost the export of four promising sectors namely leather and leather goods, footwear, plastic and light engineering.Commerce Secretary Dr M Jafar Uddin formally launched the programme at a hotel in the capital.
FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim spoke on the occasion as special guest while President of the Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) Md Saiful Islam, President of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers & Exporters Association (BPGMEA) Md Jashim Uddin and President of Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners Association (BEIOA) Abdur Razzaque, among others, spoke on the occasion.
EC4J Project Director and Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Md Obaidul Azam gave the address of welcome while private sector specialist of the World Bank Group Hosna Ferdous Sumi, ERF Team Leader Elwood Pye also spoke.
The ERF grants under Window 1 will cover relatively brief technical assessments at the firm-level to identify gaps and actions required to improve compliance with ESQ standards, including firm’s own management capabilities for meeting and maintaining compliance.
In window 1, the maximum grant limit will be up to $5,000 per enterprise, for which the enterprise will bear 10 percent and the remaining 90 percent will be paid as a grant from the project. The grant will be a maximum of 90 percent of the ESQ assessment cost or $5,000, whichever is the lower.
Subsequently, there will be a later call under ERF for windows 2 and 3 which will provide grants to firms for services and equipments to help them upgrade ESQ standards in their factory. Grants will be up to $40,000 and $200,000 respectively.Speaking on the occasion, the Commerce Secretary said that capable and interested entrepreneurs would be given matching grant to meet the environmental, social and qualitative standards of as per the desire of the foreign buyers. He also urged the businessmen and entrepreneurs to avail the matching grant and thus boost their export operations.
Jafar also opined that this ERF would play a special role in boosting the supply of Bangladeshi products at the global export market.
FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim said it is not good for a country to become dependent on sole export iteam. “We’re witnessing that our export income is not up to our expectations for the last few months. That’s why we must have to cut dependency on the ready-made garment (RMG). I hope this ERF will play a special role towards export products diversification through reducing dependency on RMG.”
He also informed that an export strategy paper is being formulated on behalf of the FBCCI to diversify export products.
EC4J Project Director Md Obaidul Azam said the main goal of the ERF programme is to make the entrepreneurs of these four sectors much more compliant and export competitive.