Press Release

5-Year Trade Licence in the Offing — BUILD Trade and Investment Working Meeting at Ministry of Commerce

The Ministry of Commerce has accepted the proposal of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) for issuing trade licences for at least five years instead of one-year renewal culture to improve the ease of doing business.

BUILD came up with the proposal at the 9th Trade and Investment Working Committee (T&IWC) Meeting of BUILD. Ministry of Commerce and BUILD jointly organised the meeting at the Bangladesh Secretariat on September 28, 2022. Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Senior Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce and Md. Saiful Islam, President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), co-chaired the working committee meeting.

BUILD CEO Ferdaus Ara Begum said that we had studied the City Corporation Ideal Tax Schedule 2016 and Municipal Taxation Rules and saw no legal bar in issuing trade licences for five years.

Echoing the proposal, Mohammed Nora Alam Siddique, Joint Secretary of the Local Government Division, said it could be implemented for municipalities and city corporations. However, we need to review if Union Parishad can issue it under its present status.

Addressing the event, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Senior Secretary to the Commerce Ministry, said that we need to focus more on the recommendations of the previous meeting, which are yet to be implemented. Following the call of non-RMG sectors, we can formulate the sectoral sub-contracting rules, and we will engage with the National Board of Revenue to increase the de-minimis value.

Taking part in the discussion, MCCI President called for introducing NID as the singular document for trade licence issuance following global practices.

Referring to BUILD’s study on Improved Business Environment and Simplification of Company Registration Process, BUILD Chairperson Nihad Kabir suggested formulating a policy for availing certified copies from the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies And Firms (RJSC&F). The fill-up process of Model AOA (Article of Association) and MOA (Memorandum of Association) can be simplified to make the company registration process business-friendly.

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BUILD Presents a National Logistics Development Policy Framework at Prime Minister’s Office

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) presented the National Logistics Development Policy (NLDP) Framework on 31 August 2022 at the third meeting of the Logistics Infrastructure Development Working Committee co-chaired by Md. Tofazzel Hossain Miah, Senior Secretary of Prime Minister’s Office, and Abul Kasem Khan, Former Chairperson of BUILD. Zakia Sultana, Secretary, Ministry of Industries, was also present.

Welcoming the stakeholders from the public and private sectors, Md. Tofazzel Hossain Miah appreciated the role of the Ministry of Industries for including logistics as the thrust sector, which was approved in the cabinet recently and is holistically a new component following the recommendations of the committee secretarial services of which is being given by BUILD. The benefits of including logistics as a Thrust Sector will theoretically work out, and this would be a paradigm shift for the country in the future.

We want to draft the logistics policy as the next step, and once the policy is in place, we will go for implementation, boosting the growth, said he.

Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO, BUILD, in her keynote presentation, informed that there is no alternative to the development of a synchronised multimodal logistics management system to reach USD 2.5 trillion economy size and USD 1.02 trillion in investment by 2041 as logistics has been treated as the key factor to take investment decisions. Besides, implementing the National Logistics Development Policy could be a way to ensure sustainable growth of the logistics sub-sectors.

Md Jashimuddin, President, FBCCI, informed that once the draft is shared with them, they will work to gather their comments on the policy and will be ready to extend all support.

Abul Kasem Khan, Co-Chair of the committee, extended thanks to everybody for working together on the policy, which is very much required as logistics is the number one issue for supporting business.

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Call for Enhanced Support for CMSME Financing for Sustenance After COVID-19

Deputy Governor, Bangladesh Bank Abu Farah Md. Nasser said, “Our key focus is to control both the import and inflation and promote local production for generating employment. For this, we have announced a new Credit Guarantee Scheme (CGS) on Refinancing against Term Loan of BDT 250 billion, of which 75% for cottage micro and small and the remaining for medium enterprises.”

The Deputy Governor spoke at the 10th Financial Sector Development Working Committee (FSDWC) Meeting organized by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) on August 17, 2022. Abu Farah Md. Nasser, Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank (BB), and Rizwan Rahman, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), co-chaired the meeting.

He further said that an open interest cap would pile more stress on small-business owners struggling with debt and add more cost to production, thus highly influencing the cost of business. He said that Bangladesh Bank is trying to combat inflation and, at the same time, ensure employment generation where CMSMEs play a vital role.

DCCI President Rizwan Rahman said that WEs should be aware of all policy changes of the regulators, and the women chambers should shoulder responsibilities to come forward in educating their members about all existing regulatory benefits they can avail. He recognized that we need to change our focus from collateral-based finance to cash flow-based finance which BB is doing now.

BUILD CEO Ferdaus Ara Begum delivered two presentations on Constraints of Availing Financial Support of Women Entrepreneurs and Overseas Equity Investment Rules 2022. The studies covered four refinancing schemes and four financial schemes by BB. It also analyzed several schemes by Banks and Financial institutions in collaboration with Fintech firms. The study also covered several CGS facilities announced by the Central Bank.

She urged the central bank to enhance support for the CMSMEs after COVID-19 with collateral/individual collateral or third party collateral or social collateral since they do not have assets for collateral. She also said that under the CMSME Loan Categorization of Bangladesh Bank, trading and some non-traditional sectors come up so that the financial institutions can fund them. They cannot get funds since they are not under CMSME Loan Categorization.

For the ease of availing of finance, she underscored the need for advisory support, documentation support, format for Financial reports etc. Earlier, she informed me that out of 13 policies recommended in the last meeting; eight have already been implemented.

Md. Amirul Islam, Deputy Director of Bangladesh Bank, appreciated the study on Equity Investment of BUILD and informed that BB has already given permission USD 70 million and repatriated USD 40 million and told some policies of BB for supporting investments other than exporters.

SMEF GM Farzana Khan said that SMEF has already identified 177 clusters, and a definition will be included in the upcoming industrial policy, which is aligned with BB definitions. Wasfi Tamim, CEO, Bangladesh Center of Excellence, said that we need robust monitoring in place. Our focus should not be only on the total value but on the number of enterprises that benefit from the central bank’s financial scheme. Among other Md. Jahangir Alam Chowdhury of the University of Dhaka, Fauzia Hoque FCA, AKM Monirul Hoque from Bangladesh Insurance Association, Khairul Majid Mahmud, former Director, DCCI, Md. Mazedul Hoque, Kamruzzaman Khan from Lanka Bangla, and Naim Rahat of Dana Fintec spoke on the occasion.

The working committee meeting was participated by the committee members, representatives of the central bank, ICAB, BSEC, Ministry of Finance, a number of scheduled banks, academicians, business chambers and associations, entrepreneurs from the private sector, and so on.
The Financial Sector Development Working Committee (FSDWC) of BUILD aims to hear from the private sector and demonstrate the financial industry with the commitment to providing a conducive business environment. FSDWC endeavours to meet the needs of an evolving financial sector in the country.

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Experts Call for an Amendment of Patent Law to Ensure Smooth Transition for Pharma Industry After LDC Graduation

The Bangladesh Patent Law 2022 should be amended in line with the changing scenario for the local pharmaceutical industry after the country’s LDC graduation, experts said at a seminar in the capital today. Simultaneously, they called for close collaboration between the concerned government agencies and the private sector in the amendment process. Such an observation came during a seminar on ‘Preparedness of Pharmaceutical Sector for LDC Graduation’ jointly organised by Support to Sustainable Graduation Project (SSGP) of Economic Relations Division (ERD) and Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) in the capital today.

Hon’ble Adviser to the Prime Minister on Private Industry and Investment Mr Salman F. Rahman was the chief guest of the seminar. Secretary of the Ministry of Industries Ms Zakia Sultana, Chairperson of BUILD Ms Nihad Kabir and the President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Mr Rizwan Rahman, attended the event as special guests. ERD Secretary Ms Sharifa Khan chaired the seminar.

The burgeoning pharmaceutical sector of Bangladesh has witnessed exponential growth over the last few decades. The TRIPS waiver for least developed countries (LDCs) under the WTO-TRIPS agreement is one of the key drivers of such impressive growth. The industry has strong potential to accelerate its growth and create a bold footprint in the global market. Appropriate measures following an action-oriented roadmap are critical to tapping these opportunities and shielding against the erosion of waivers under the TRIPS agreement in the wake of the LDC graduation of Bangladesh in November 2026. In this context, the seminar was organised to take stock of the initiatives and preparedness that are already underway to address the challenges of the loss of TRIPS waivers.

Hon’ble Adviser to the Prime Minister Mr Salman F. Rahman, in his speech, called for engaging lobbyist firms in the World Trade Organization (WTO) to continue the TRIPS waiver for Bangladesh after graduation. He also emphasised the quick operationalisation of API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) parks. He called for immediate closure of the mailbox system, created back in 2008 for submitting patent applications, as the mailbox system has lost its relevance in the present context.

Enclosed are the press releases (in English and Bangla) for your kind consideration. Please feel free to contact us for any queries.

Meeting Between BUILD and JICA

The Chief Representative of JICA Bangladesh, Hayakawa Yuho, paid a courtesy visit to the BUILD office on 30 May 2021. The CEO of BUILD, Ferdaus Ara Begum, provided a rundown on how two organisations might begin working together on projects and explore opportunities with the private sector.

Mr Yuho informed that a new phase of the JICA technical cooperation project will be implemented for supporting BEZA, which will assist the development of BEZA and further development of OSS (One Stop Services) for specific Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Chief Representative of JICA Bangladesh pointed out the vast potential of the Bangladesh market and assured the audience that JICA would provide all the necessary support for the development. Further, he expressed a keen interest in receiving support from BUILD to connect with the private sector of the country in order to understand the pulse of the private sector.

BUILD and JICA will make a joint collaboration in the days coming ahead, and the meeting highlighted investment and the overall business climates of the country.

Seto Shoha, Representative, MIDI Economic Zone Development, Port and Private Sector Development; Asif Hasan, Program Officer, JICA; Syed Azim, Consultant, BUILD; Saquib Quereshi, Technical Expert; and BUILD team members attended the meeting.

Enclosed is the press release (in English) for your kind consideration. Please feel free to contact us for any queries.

Capacity Building of Women Tenderers Underscored at Public Procurement and the e-GP System Seminar

A seminar titled” Public Procurement and the e-GP system” was held on 26th May to make aware the details of tender participation procedures for women entrepreneurs and how to be a successful tenderer to increase participation of women-owned businesses (WoB) in public procurement. Government procures a vast amount of goods, works, and services every year through public tenders, but the participation of WoB in that respect is very insignificant.

A presentation on public procurement and e-GP system issues was made by Mr Md. Faruque Hossain, Former Secretary and Procurement Policy Consultant, World Bank. He majorly covered public procurement procedures, e-GP system, Tenderer Criteria, Tender Security and validity, Tender Submission, Brief on Standard Document requirements, responsive document preparation etc.

In Bangladesh, about 45% of the budget is spent on public procurement, and the participation of MSMEs is very insignificant. BUILD is working closely with CPTU to bring in some reforms in the Public Procurement Act and Rules so that women entrepreneurs’ involvement increases in the future. It is worth mentioning that the Ministry of Industries will enact a Subcontracting Act 2022, which will ensure open tender and an earmarked amount from the CMSME.

In the open floor session, WEs voiced constraints they face in participating in public procurement, and the e-GP system and Mr Hossain responded to them. He referred to SDG 12 on sustainable production and consumption, in which indicator 12.7 mentioned sustainable public procurement and its implementation, so we would need to talk in this respect.

Mr Shish Haider Chowdhury, Director (Joint Secretary), appreciated the joint endeavour of BUILD for organizing such an important program and ensuring future support.

Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO of BUILD, moderated the session and informed the participants that in some countries, they simplified PPR policies to increase participation of WE. Citing the example of Chile, she mentioned that women’s participation had been raised by 36.5% with the simplification of policies. She added that WoB could be hired directly for procurement under $600. A similar threshold can also be announced in Bangladesh, she said. Referring to SDG5, she mentioned that we need to adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation to promote gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.

In total, 54 participants attended the seminar, including representatives from concerned government officials such as MOI, MOWCA, CPTU, etc., and women tenderers and representatives from regional women’s chambers. The participants shared their views and insights regarding increasing the participation of WOB in public procurement.

Enclosed are the press releases (in English and Bangla) for your kind consideration. Please feel free to contact us for any queries.

Consultation Session on Harmonising Terminology of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and International Trade Centre (ITC)–SheTrades Programme, in collaboration with Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), decided to work together in order to develop and adopt the globally recognised ISO standard definition of Women Entrepreneurship (ISO IWA 34:2021) in Bangladesh. In this context, a virtual discussion programme was arranged on 19 April 2022 to discuss a clear and universally agreed-upon definition of women-owned and women-led businesses in the country — different institutions are using multiple terminologies.

Along with Selima Ahmad MP and BWCCI President, Representatives of the Ministry of Industries, several Chamber Presidents, and women entrepreneurs joined the virtual programme to share their views on the subject issue.

In the keynote presentation, Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO of BUILD, mentioned that despite the contribution of women entrepreneurs to the economy, today, they are deprived of fair opportunities and scope. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of gender-disaggregated data in our country. Adopting a global definition can allow Women entrepreneurs (WEs) to be integrated with the international business and exploit the benefits of policies announced by the government. She highlighted the importance of adopting the ISO standard global definition. She illuminated that collecting sex-disaggregated data at the national level could help evidence-based policymaking and international comparison. WEs could also get access to public procurement. She also shared examples of several countries accepting ISO definition and what benefits they have received.

In his speech, Edison Yap, Associate Economic Affairs Officer, SheTrades Initiative, International Trade Centre, informed that the sector has been suffering from policy support because of the non-existence of harmonised global definition of women entrepreneurs. ITC, ISO and others have prepared four WE definitions to ensure institutional recognition of their economic activities. Adopting and integrating the ISO IWA 34:2021 standard of WEs definition in Bangladesh will make the segmented entrepreneurs eligible to avail of policy and monetary assistance. Countries should set the definition by considering the nation’s business environment and the demand of the women entrepreneurs’ community.

Selima Ahmad MP informed that the Bangladesh Bank and the Ministry of Industries had provided definitions of women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. We need to consider the term women-owned business and the percentage of ownership while setting up the definition. She assured to provide every possible support from the end of Parliament to formulate a globally recognised and harmonised definition of WEs.

Enclosed is the press release (in English) for your kind consideration. Please feel free to contact us for any queries.

BSTI-BUILD Dialogue Emphasised Quality Management of Rooftop Solar Equipment

Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI) is working with other government institutions as well as the private sector to upgrade the country’s testing, certification and quality compliance regime in the area of rooftop solar power, said Dr Md Nazrul Anwar, Director General of BSTI. He informed that 69 new labs are going to be established of which 21 for physical testing targeting 2041. He added there are 229 products for which compulsory certification is required. The dialogue was organised by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) with IFC’s Partnership for Cleaner Textile (PaCT) project. He mentioned that BSTI has already introduced the Bangladesh Standards (BDS) for four critical equipment of rooftop solar power and has made it compulsory to get certification from BSTI for the sale or marketing of these products.

Ferdaus Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer of BUILD, welcomed the audience and thanked BSTI for its reforms. She stressed that for complying with the emerging challenges and upcoming targets for the renewable energy sector, the quality and regulatory issues must be addressed for rooftop solar plants. It would, for example, be essential to get the manufacturers, importers and businesses involved in rooftop solar equipment supply registered with a relevant government agency such as the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA).

In a presentation on quality management issues in rooftop solar power, Md Tahmid Zami, Additional Research Director (ARD) of BUILD, mentioned that the existing laboratories that test rooftop solar equipment every so often lacks the technology and capacity for testing specific components, especially the ones that have higher capacity.

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Nihad Kabir Joins BUILD as Chairperson for 2022–23

Nihad Kabir, Barrister-at-Law, Senior Advocate, former President of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has taken over as the Chairperson of the Trustee Board of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) for the year 2022-23. She succeeds Abul Kasem Khan, former President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), who was the Chairperson of BUILD for 2020-21.

Nihad Kabir is a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. She is a Senior Partner of Syed Ishtiaq Ahmad and Associates, one of the country’s most prominent law firms. Aside from her role as an independent director on the board of Square Textiles Limited, Kabir also serves as a director of the Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL). She has previously chaired the Boards of BRAC EPL Stock Brokerage Limited and BRAC EPL Investment Limited and has been a board member of Bkash, BRAC Bank and several other listed companies. She is a Senior Fellow and Board member of BIDS, a member of the Board of Governors of the Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre, and Chairperson of Ain o Salish Kendra, a legal aid institution.

Kabir has been a member of the National Pay and Services Commission and the National Education Policy Committee, Government of Bangladesh. She was also the Chairperson of BUILD for 2017.

Abul Kasem Khan, former Chairperson, BUILD, will continue as a nominated Trustee Board Member from DCCI, while Syed Mohammad Tanvir, Director, CCCI is a nominated Trustee Board Member from CCCI for the years 2022-2023.

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Export Sector Roadmaps for Plastic and Light Engineering Growth Projections Needs Alignment With Upcoming Export Policy

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and the Ministry of Commerce jointly organized a validation workshop to finalize the Export Roadmaps on Plastic and Light Engineering Sectors on January 18, 2022. Mr Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, attended the meeting as the Chief Guest.

Held in Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project office, BUILD shared two presentations on Export Roadmaps on Plastic and Light Engineering Sectors, respectively.

Senior Secretary, Ministry of Commerce endorsed the projection of BUILD for the plastic sector roadmap to be the 40th largest exporter by 2030. In order to meet the target, he asked the stakeholders regarding the need to support since the government is keen to see higher export growth through relevant policy interventions. He also directed relevant agencies to accomplish their tasks outlined in the action plan ahead of the deadline.

Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Senior Secretary of Commerce, mentioned that Viet Nam could enhance its light engineering and bicycle export because they secured significant FDI. After 2026 when Bangladesh graduates from LDC status, the government will not extend cash subsidy but provide support in the forms of research, knowledge, logistics, and so on. Bangladesh needs to shift its product concentration to sectors like light engineering to move upwards in its industrialization pathway gradually. As Bangladesh will upgrade from being the 43rd largest economy to the 25-26th economy in 2030, greater FDI may be attracted, and the ease of doing business may be gradually improved. With proper factor analysis, the projected target for 2030 can be upgraded.

Enclosed are the press releases (in English and Bangla) for your kind consideration. Please feel free to contact us for any queries.