The proposed Industrial Policy 2021 should focus on creating a vibrant private sector to enhance the country’s competitiveness in the global market even after its graduation from LDC group, speakers observed at a webinar.
The LDC graduation challenges can be offset through product diversification, improving skills, policy reforms, technology adoption, redefining SME and facilitate import substitute industry to increase industry sector’s share in GDP to 40 percent, they said.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun joined the session as chief guest while State Minister for Industries Kamal Ahmed Mojumder attended as special guest.
“We will be able to reach 40 percent contribution to GDP from the industrial sector. This government is industry-friendly and before formulation of industrial policy, we consulted with the private sector,” said Industries Minister.
He stressed coordinated efforts to implement one stop service of BIDA, create employment opportunities, establish skilled backward and forward linkage industry, and expand domestic industry.
Terming the SME as the lifeline of the economy, he assured that it should get maximum facility in both fiscal or non-fiscal formats.
“The government is planning to create skilled human resources in the ICT sector of Bangladesh to grab the benefits of the 4th industrial revolution,” he said.
“Sustainable industrialization and necessary policy reforms and infrastructure development will be considered for the next industrial policy as these are key to boosting local and foreign investment in the country,” he noted.
Moreover, economic zones, industrial parks, cluster-based industrial zone, one-stop service will be established in the comparatively underdeveloped areas, the state minister said.
DCCI president Rizwan Rahman called for redefining the SMEs to ensure adequate access to finance and policy support to small and cottage industries.
He sought extension of the moratorium period for SME loans.
“Bangladesh can follow the example of Vietnam to prepare a comprehensive industrial policy,” DCCI chief pointed out.
According to him, research and development, innovation and e-commerce can play a vital role in future.
He said the government should address the sectors properly in the new industrial policy.
“Signing free trade agreements (FTA) with potential countries and enhancing trade negotiation skills of the country are very crucial.”
Husne Ara Shikha, general manager at SMESPD of Bangladesh Bank, said there should be specific definitions of cluster and startup included in the industrial policy.
“Manufacturing and service sectors are already included in the industrial policy, but trading is not included. Micro merchants should also be included in service industry sector,” she said.
“Industrial sector’s contribution to the GDP is now 35 percent, of which, only 9 percent comes from large industries and the rest comes from the SMEs,” she informed.
In his keynote paper, Md. Salim Ullah, senior assistant secretary (policy) at Ministry of Industries, said Bangladesh needs to take measures for import-substitute industrial development while export-oriented industrialisation will promote economic shift.
He said that the industrial policy will focus on how to increase the contribution of industrial sector to GDP from 35 percent to 40 percent.
Md. Selim Ullah said reducing poverty and unemployment by creating skilled manpower for industrial sector should also be addressed in the policy.
“Product diversification of potential exportable items, capacity building of industrial sector to face the challenges after LDC graduation will also get special attention in the next policy,” he said.
Manwar Hossain, managing director of Anwar Group, said, “Stability of policies is very much needed to progress.”
“We should concentrate where we have strengths. If we step up skill training for migrant workers, they will gain more capacity to contribute to the national economy,” he said.
ASM Mainuddin Monem, managing director of Abdul Monem Ltd, called for aggressive product diversification and technological advancement.
“After LDC’s graduation, cost of production will increase. So, we have to address this issue.” He said.
Saying that the land policy in the country is not friendly enough, he called for reforms in the policy, especially for the EZs.
He emphasised the need to complete the work of at least 10 EZs out of planned 100 with focus on fiscal incentives, quick infrastructure development and utility connections.