Press Release

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.

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BUILD Webinar on Exploring Growth Opportunities: Production and Export of Medical and Personal Protective Equipment (MPPE)

The Government of Bangladesh is committed to providing all-out support to promote the Medical and Personal Protective Equipment (MPPE) industry in Bangladesh as an important sector for attaining export diversification and deeper industrialisation, said Mr Tipu Munshi MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Commerce in his speech as the Chief Guest of a webinar titled “Exploring Growth Opportunities: Production and Export of Medical and Personal Protective Equipment”. The event was organised by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) on 13 December 2021 to share the findings of the studies and gather ideas and insights from the stakeholders.

The Commerce Minister added that the Ministry of Commerce would take necessary steps to ensure that enabling policies and regulations are put in place for the sector. While the COVID-19 has posed a significant challenge to the development dynamic of Bangladesh, the country has weathered the challenges and is now set to resume its accelerated growth pathway towards its transition to a developed economy.

Bangladesh needs to develop the MPPE industry strategically, set targets, extend the right incentives, ensure public-private cooperation, and follow up closely on the progress and constraints, emphasised Tapan Kanti Ghosh, Secretary, Ministry of Commerce.

Recognising export diversification is a major challenge for the Bangladesh economy as the country seeks to alleviate its heavy dependence on the RMG sector; BUILD Chairperson Abul Kasem Khan mentioned that the best strategy to begin diversification is to build on our strength. He stated five key areas to focus on to develop the sector: right products, proper incentives, appropriate policies, knowledge and skills, as well as proper technology and logistical system.

Ms Nuzhat Anwar, Acting Country Manager, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, International Finance Corporation (IFC), said that businesses need to find innovative and sustainable ways to boost their production and export revenue to recover from the impacts of COVID19. IFC is providing the necessary support to bridge knowledge gaps in the Medical and Personal Protective Equipment (MPPE) sector in order to enhance private sector growth and support economic recovery.”

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National Logistics Strategy Underscored at BUILD’s Logistics Infrastructure Development Working With PMO

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and Prime Minister’s Office jointly organised the Logistics Infrastructure Development Working Committee meeting on 13 November 2021. The virtual meeting was co-chaired by Md. Tofazzel Hossain Miah, Secretary of Prime Minister’s Office, and Abul Kasem Khan, Chairperson of BUILD.

Md. Tofazzel Hossain Miah started by attesting that Bangladesh cannot move forward without supporting the private sector during this worldwide economic transition period. He added, “Private Sector is the engine of growth for Bangladesh,” He said logistics needs more investment, and the existing policy needs reforms so that more investment is made. He recommended that the sector should be based on technology and skill. Adding that the private sector should also assist with value-backed data, he emphasised advocacy for logistics. He maintained that the most apposite in these times policy-wise would be to have a structured policy framework that may steer regulatory reforms as well as policy interventions, paving the way for a “logistics environment”.

Abul Kasem Khan, Chairperson of BUILD, informed that developing countries invest 9-10% of their GDP in improving their logistics environment. Success stories of China, India, and Vietnam stand out as best practices in logistics. The return on investment is one of the highest in the world. Structural reform is required to mitigate key bottlenecks of the logistics system in Bangladesh. The logistics sector should be declared as a thrust sector besides a high priority sector, and proper incentives should be declared to attract local and foreign investment.

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Vulnerable Less-Skilled In-Country Returnee Migrants and MSMEs Need More Support

In-country returnee migrants are among the most vulnerable communities amid COVID-19 in the country, observed Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO, BUILD. She said that around 4.5 lacs external migrants have returned to the country amid the pandemic, somehow might have some savings. In contrast, in-country migrants are more vulnerable and almost jobless. She was speaking in a virtual dialogue on Enhancing Opportunities for In-country Returnee Migrants and MSMEs: A Case of Southwest Bangladesh on 20 September 2021 organised by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) in collaboration with PROKAS, British Council and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), UK. While there are programs for overseas returnee migrants, in-country migrants are often under the radar for dedicated stimulus support. She also shed light on the BUILD study on the domestic in-country returnee migrants in the Mongla-Bagerhat region.

The objectives of the dialogue were to share the findings of the BUILD’s survey about in-country returnee migrants from Southwest Bangladesh with relevant stakeholders, understand their views, and discuss and deliberate on potential courses of action for improving the situation.

Sharifa Khan, Secretary (Industry and Energy Division), Planning Commission as the Chief Guest of the dialogue, said that new employment opportunity is a major factor of in-country migration in the country. She referred to the Reintegration of Returnee Migrants program of the government of BDT 427 crore to provide skill-based training and financial support to the returnee migrants in FY 2020-21. She said that the vulnerable in-returnee migrants could be included in the program. She also referred to the rigorous countrywide training programs under Bangladesh Industrial Technical Assistance Centre (BITAC), which can facilitate the unemployed male and female people in the country. She said that the government had announced several programs under financial support and skill development programs for the marginal inhabitants and other targeted groups. She noted that the internal and external affected migrants could communicate with the Wage Earners’ Welfare Board (WEWB) to receive support. She also raised the aspect of migration opportunities and requested to produce specific proposals so that they could be adequately reached.

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Redesigned 2nd Round Stimulus Package Addressing Demand and New Employment Creation

The bank-client relationship is not the only criteria for the stimulus package; instead, the loan can be given based on books of accounts as per the circular observed by Abu Farah Md. Nasser, Deputy Governor, Bangladesh Bank. He spoke at the 9th Financial Sector Development Working Committee (FSDWC) Meeting organised virtually by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) on September 22, 2021. Abu Farah Md. Nasser, Deputy Governor, Bangladesh Bank (BB), and N. K. A. Mobin, Acting President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), co-chaired the meeting.

The Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank also observed that currently, banks like Brac Bank are improving the modalities of SME banking. CGS has been implemented for the collateral-free loan. In each division of the country, collateral-free loan lending has been prioritised. 10% collateral-free loan has been directed to provide to the women entrepreneurs. 8% of the total loan has to be gone to the women entrepreneurs at 5% interest. 1% incentive has been announced for both women entrepreneurs and banks for recognising good borrowers. Abu Farah Md. Nasser informed the meeting that the Ministry of Industries has already been requested to bring alternatives for trade licenses for the cottage, micro, and small enterprises to resolve the trade license issue in lending. He informed that Bangladesh Bank had introduced a new BDT 500 crore collateral-free loan scheme through agent banking, MFS, and bank sub-branch to finance rural and ultra-poor individuals and businesses. The scheme would follow the model of Leno financing to process loan applications in the shortest possible time and funding at the grassroots level. He further added that the central bank had implemented policies to ensure banks’ liquidity support and reduce the burden of the cost of funds for the private sector, especially CMSMEs. He also mentioned the initiative of Central Bank and World Bank in setting up an independent entity for payment gateway for CMSMEs. He emphasised the proactive initiatives of Bangladesh Bank and the country’s scheduled banks that up to June 2020, BDT 2,43,000 crore disbursement has been made to the SMEs by Banks.

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BUILD’s Proposal to Relax GTF Loan Criteria Has Been Implemented

Bangladesh Bank manages the Green Transformation Fund (GTF) of USD 200 million and EUR 200 million. The GTF is intended to facilitate access to financing in foreign exchange by all manufacturer-exporters of all sectors to facilitate green or environment-friendly initiatives and harness green transformation.

Bangladesh Bank via FE Circular Letter No.23 has relaxed two conditions for state-owned commercial banks to participate in green transformation fund. Firstly, state-owned commercial banks (SCBs) with more than 10% Non-Performing Loans (NPL) will be able to borrow from GTF. Secondly, SCBs that have shortfalls in loan or investment provision, capital and liquidity will also be eligible to borrow from this fund.

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) through the 7th Financial Sector Development Working Committee (FSDWC) meeting in 2019 and 3rd Sustainability and Green Growth Working Committee (SGGWC) meeting in 2021 proposed Bangladesh Bank to relax the loan policy for the state-owned commercial banks for GTF as a lot of textiles, and non-textile firms are the clients of these banks.

BUILD believes that the relaxation of loan policy for the SCBs will facilitate the private sector exporters to gain competitive advantages, ensure environmental compliance, and be sustainable. According to Bangladesh Bank, USD 89.69 million has been disbursed from GTF so far. BUILD hopes that the loan policy relaxation for SCBs will expedite more loan disbursement in the near future.

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Virtual Workshop on Export Trade Procedures for Women-Owned Entrepreneurs

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank Group under BICF II funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), organised a virtual workshop on Step by Step Export Trade Procedures and Online applications of getting better services for Dinajpur Women Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DWCCI). The key objective of the virtual workshop was to aware the women entrepreneurs on how to enter into the export trade. High officials from the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Custom House, Dhaka East, and private sector officials of the trade-related agencies participated in the workshop, which was organised on 22 August 2021.

Ms Ferdaus Ara Begum, CEO, Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD), welcomed all the participants. She thanked DWCCI for their eagerness to respond first to have programs to raise awareness of their members on the trade procedures. She said that the country’s economy, amounting to 350 billion USD, is highly dependent on export. It is necessary to increase export revenue to create more employment. Bangladesh is maintaining its export target comparing to other countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Trade-related procedures are embracing online platforms day by day in the country. The women entrepreneurs must be aware of the trade-related procedures where increasingly IT solutions are introduced to make it instant and simple. Dinajpur has a high concentration on exportable agricultural products, poultry, handicrafts, fashion wear etc. and WoB are coming up in several new ventures, which is a good sign.

Kanis Fatama, Senior Research Associate and Shahriar Rawshon, Research Associate, BUILD jointly presented the keynote titled Women-Owned Entrepreneurs (WOE) on Export Trade. In reference to IFC (2016) data, the women-owned businesses (WOB) constitute six lac out of the 8 million businesses in Bangladesh. It is hoped that the full functioning of the Economic Zone at Dinajpur will make a vibrant contribution to the local economy. The presentation covered detailed step by step export procedures, time and costs engaged in getting permission, certificate, approvals etc. in areas of trade license, membership from the local chamber, online licensing module, export registration certificate, export permit, bank account opening, TIN certificate, VAT registration, customs procedure as well as incentives announced by the government to encourage export.

Exporters are awarded Cash Incentives, Bonded Warehouse Facility and Duty Exemption & Duty drawbacks upon their export earnings to ensure their export competitiveness in the export market. In the end, detailed case studies on (1) export of fresh vegetables from Bangladesh to the Middle East and (2) export of jute goods from Bangladesh to the EU were presented to provide an accurate and practical scenario of the export procedure from Bangladesh.

In the open session, moderated by CEO, BUILD, a number of WOB participated; Ms Shadia Khanom, Member, DWCCI, said that she is doing online business in the handicrafts sector. She hoped to expand her business depending on customers’ demand; she has her Facebook ID and posts her goods on her page to attract customers.

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Condolence Message From BUILD Chairperson for the Passing Away of Alhaj Anwar Hossain, Founder Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries

Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) is deeply saddened by the passing away of Alhaj Anwar Hossain, (Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji’un), Founder Chairman of Anwar Group of Industries, Former Member of Parliament (MP), a renowned industrialist and business icon of the country. He was a great gift to the Bangladesh private sector and a role model for all of us. The country will undoubtedly remember him as a great innovator and rare entrepreneur who made remarkable contributions to the country’s economy.

Chairperson, Trustee Board Members, Management and Staff of BUILD deeply mourn and express deep shock and sorrow to the family of Mr Hossain. His sincere contribution to the nation will always be remembered with great admiration and gratitude.

We recall with respect his contribution to trade and commerce, employment generation, industrialization, entrepreneurship and social development will always be remembered and cherished. He was instrumental in the development of business, trade and economy of the country. His dedication and commitment to the development of the private sector were truly inspirational and unique. May his institutional legacy last forever.

We convey our sincere condolences to the family members. We pray to Almighty Allah to grant him peace and give strength to the family to overcome this irreparable loss. Ameen.

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