The Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA) has proposed the establishment of a large economic zone (EZ) on 874 acres of land on the outskirts of the capital city, Nawabganj.
BEZA has placed a project titled ‘Establishing Nawabganj Economic Zone’ at the Planning Commission to this effect at an estimated cost of Tk 19.15 billion for getting approval from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec).
A link road will also be constructed in Sirajdikhan upazila to make commutations with the economic zone easier, officials concerned informed, adding that an additional 12.516 acres of land acquisition will also be required for this.
The estimated project cost of Tk 19.15 billion will be collected by borrowing from the finance division.
The moves came as part of the government’s long-term plan to set up 100 economic zones across the country in a bid to increase the manufacturing sector’s share in GDP alongside streamlining haphazard industrial development.
BEZA officials said the proposed economic zone is a priority project of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The project has been proposed to be implemented during the July 2023 to June 2026 period.
BEZA thinks that the project will be a profitable project for the government as it is very close to the capital city, Dhaka.
In an assessment, public sector project watchdog IMED has found that the absence of a feasibility study is a major cause of project delay and cost escalation.
An international consultant firm has carried out a pre-feasibility study on the project's land acquisition and onsite and offsite infrastructure construction.
The whole feasibility study will be carried out after the project is approved, according to the proposal.
The government seeks to set up 100 economic zones on 30,000 hectares of land in the next 15 years and every district will have more than one economic zone.
For this purpose, the government is attempting to set up four types of economic zones - public, private, public-private partnership, and foreign - to attract local and foreign investment.
Special facilities like tax holiday, tax exemption on income, duty-free machinery import and incentives have been announced to attract investment from both local investors and foreign investors.
Many countries have expressed interest in investing in the economic zones, including China, Japan, India, Taiwan, Philippines, the UK, and many others, while large local companies are inclined to invest in private economic zones.
BEZA says the country’s industrial sector has been developed haphazardly in Dhaka, Narayanganj, Savar and Gazipur on arable land. The economic zones are expected to streamline this.
The country has a long-term vision of becoming a developed nation by 2041, where the government thinks economic zones will play a key role. In the next 15 years, $40 billion additional export earnings are expected to come from these economic zones.