Tuesday, 31 January, 2023

Zakia calls for promoting light engineering sector with targeted action

Zakia calls for promoting light engineering sector with targeted action

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Industries Secretary Zakia Sultana on Monday called for promoting the light engineering (LE) sector with targeted action plans.

She made the call at the 8th meeting of the SME Development Working Committee of the Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) held today in the capital.

Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO, BUILD, presented an analysis titled "Light Engineering Industry Development Policy 2022" at the meeting. 

From the private sector, Mahbubul Alam, president, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), co-chaired the meeting and urged the ministry to keep supporting the sector that has high potentials as it contributes 3 percent of GDP. 

While co-chairing the committee, the industries secretary said, "We would extensively support the light engineering sector while exploring ways to set up a separate industrial park in BSCIC for the sector and giving special incentives to the sector that shares the domestic market worth $12 billion."

Underscoring the need for promoting grassroots entrepreneurs of the sector, she said "We will set out specific priorities in line with the Light Engineering Policy, which can be achieved at the earliest."

Echoing with the policy's objectives as raised by the BUILD keynote, focusing on 4IR and ICT, Zakia also informed that the ministry is already working to promote the sector following the agenda of Smart Bangladesh as per the vision of the Prime Minister.

Speaking as the keynote speaker, Ferdaus Ara Begum said, "Only five countries such as China, USA, India, Singapore and Japan import about $2.51 trillion, and Bangladesh enjoys market access in all these destinations. If we export at least 1 percent to these places, we can export about $25 billion from the sector."

Appreciating the active role of the Ministry of Industries in formulating the Light Engineering (LE) Industry Development Policy 2022, Ferdous Ara pointed out, "We've room to improve the policy by developing strategy and action plans considering the situation of post-graduation, Made in Bangladesh Campaign for the sector."

Further, she urged the Ministry to consider a dedicated industrial park and industrial cluster, an e-commerce platform for LE entrepreneurs, re-skilling and up-skilling to form a technologically skilled workforce, enforcement of AI, rationalisation of raw material import duty and encourage TT export, strategy to attract domestic and foreign investment to organise the sector. 

She also recommended setting up a year-wise GDP and export target along with a well-defined action plan to implement development strategies for this sector.

Referring to different policies where the importance of LE has been highlighted, Ferdous informed about the LE Road Map prepared by BUILD for Ministry of Commerce, where the export projection for the sector in 2030 is $12.56 billion, with specific action plans that need supportive financing for implementation. 

Dr Md Mafizur Rahman, managing director of SME Foundation, informed in the meeting that SME Foundation is currently formulating a cluster development guideline which will work in cluster development and promote SMEs in the LE sector. 

Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon, president, NASCIB, emphasized identifying specific sub-sectors of the light engineering sector and planning incentives accordingly. He also recommended creating a common platform to provide information regarding access to finance. 

Mohammad Monjurul Islam, additional director of Bangladesh Bank, said, "We're very much willing to support the sector during its growing stage, and we'll see how they can gain financial benefits under the collateral scheme."

Dr Nadia Binte Amin, president of WEND, raised that they are deprived of financial assistance from the government-announced stimulus package to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic. 

Manzur Ahmed, adviser, FBCCI, said that all industrial policies would need to be mandatory and, in that respect, an Industrial Protection Act can be framed where different chapters will be included in other sectors. 

Following the recommendations of BUILD study, Aledul Amin, director of Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners Association (BEIOA) said that the Subcontracting Act is needed at the earliest while industrial plots at affordable costs for safeguarding the interest the of sector.

Participants from the Ministry of Industries, ICT Division, SME Foundation, Business Promotion Council, Bangladesh Bank, UNIDO, BEIOA, and Bangladesh Skill Development Institute attended the meeting.