Foreign investors come back in big way: Muhith

Foreign investors come back in big way: Muhith

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Finance Minister AMA Muhith on Saturday said the foreign investors have come back in a big way to invest in Bangladesh after the January 5 election though the domestic investors are still reluctant.
“I’m very happy. They’re (foreign investors) coming. They’ve come back in a big way in about three months,” he said adding that the foreign investors had shied away without investing here in November and December last.The Finance Minister said this while interacting with the leaders and members of the Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF) at a pre-budget discussion at the Secretariat.
Muhith said it was not clear to him why the domestic investors are not taking the advantage though they are investing in Malaysia, Dubai, the UK and America for buying houses and other purposes.
He apparently disagreed with the media reports and others’ opinion that the country is experiencing lower investment due to political instability and lack of confidence among the investors.
“I don’t know how far it’s true,” the Finance Minister said adding political instability is usual everywhere but investment takes place there.
Muhith explained his view further saying, “The matter – lack of confidence– I don’t understand this because at this moment Bangladesh is a very good market.”
He said it is usual to have investment as the domestic demand is still high here but it remains unclear to him why the domestic investment is not taking place.
“Though it’s not clear to me, in reality, it’s happening. What can I do?” Muhith said and sought suggestions for how they pursue investment in a market which is ‘sufficiently large’ at this moment.
The Finance Minister said land is a serious problem in Bangladesh and there will be a special allocation for earmarking land in the next budget.
“We’ll have substantial allocations…if we can provide land, we hope, the investment problems will get resolved, and there’ll be change in investment scenario.”
On capital market, Muhith said the capital market got back stability, and mentioned that it has been government’s primary goal to see investment through the capital market.
“Now, I believe, investment will come from the capital market.” He said shares of the profitable state-owned enterprises (SoEs) would be offloaded this time. “It has remained pending. This will be done this time. We’ve started the process.”
On reducing bank interest rate, the Finance Minister said they do not fix the interest rate rather market determines it. He said many businessmen complained about higher interest rate but they forget it when they sit in the bank’s board of directors.
Muhith assured that there will be no shift from the present stance on discontinuing amnesty for undisclosed money.
“There’ll be no change in decision. It has done nothing (since its introduction). Last year, the provision for whitening undisclosed money was substantially minimized, he added.
Muhith also admitted that there had not been that much success in PPP (public-private partnership) initiative.
“I’ve a plan …we’ll build a large convention center somewhere in Keraniganj and Mawa,” he said adding that there will be a link road from airport to Keraniganj to be built under PPP.
Muhith also said the government will give priority to manpower development. “There’ll be special allocation for the development of children, too.”
ERF president Sultan Mahmud, General Secretary Sajjadur Rahman and former ERF President Khawza Mainuddin, among other, gave a number of suggestions for the coming budgets which were appreciated by the Finance Minister.
Finance Secretary Fazle Kabir, Chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) M Ghulam Rahman and Planning Secretary Bhuiyan Shafiqul Islam were, among others, present. – UNB

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