Bangladesh desperately seeks foreign investment but legal tangle, bureaucratic trap and occasional political turmoil are standing in the way of the prospective foreign investors.
With a view to attracting the foreign investors, Bangladesh is ensuring series of stimulations, providing cheap labour and there is a prospect for GSP facilities in Europe. But in sharp contrast, a number of obstacles prevail from the airport to Investment Board, from Titas to environment department and from the availability of land to water. Along with this legal tangle, bureaucratic trap and occasional political unrest are standing as obstacles to the prospective foreign entrepreneurs. As a result, pushing Bangladesh behind, the less potential Vietnam, Cambodia, Tunisia and Myanmar are being showered with foreign investments.
According to sources concerned, a foreigner willing to invest in Bangladesh, after arriving here, goes to the Investment Board to register the investment proposal subject to the availability of assurance for getting land, gas, power and water. But he faces great trouble as the investment officials are unwilling to speak with guarantee of anything. Then starts the phase of running from one office to another as a foreign investor requires 26 types of clearances and licences. Years pass off, but the process does not end. Being frustrated, some of the foreigners return home while some others still stay and continue their efforts.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith is disappointed at the direct foreign investment situation. He said it appears that FDI is not welcomed in our country.
Sources point out that there is no ‘One-Stop Service’ and Investment Board appears to be a ‘Full Stop Centre.’ In Myanmar, all services are available under a single roof and the country has received $810 crore as FDI in 2014-15. On the other hand, in Bangladesh foreigners have to move from office to office and FDI in eight months stands at $32 crore only. It took 10 years for Korean EPZ to get the environment clearance. President of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Aftab ul Islam said
Bangladesh has no success in economic diplomacy. A report prepared with information from the investors and willing investors identified 13 obstacles and said if these are not removed the foreign investors will turn back their faces from Bangladesh.
Speaking about the problems of the foreign investors, the businessmen of the country said the Investment Board is busy arranging road shows abroad instead of ensuring services to the entrepreneurs by removing the obstacles. The officials of the board were found enthusiastic over the last few years for undertaking foreign visits to different places including Hong Kong, Germany, London and India in the name of roadshows. They are giving Full Stop Service instead of One Stop Service. Foreigners are losing interest in investing in Bangladesh due to lack of information and services from the Investment Board. Under the circumstances, the obstacles existing on the way of investment should be removed at the earliest.