Deals signed with India for welfare of people, region

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NEW DELHI : Coming down heavily on BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia for her comments that the government has sold the country by signing agreements with India, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said here today that whatever deals the two countries inked are for the overall welfare of the people and the region.

“Those who are saying that the country has been sold by signing agreements with India are actually ‘insane’ and whatever agreements we signed with India are for overall welfare and development of the people and the region,” she told a business programme at Hotel Tajmahal here this afternoon.
Sheikh Hasina told the businessmen: “You the businessmen say whether we have sold the country or achieved through it (signing deals).”

Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICC) and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers and Commerce of Industry (FBCCI) jointly arranged the programme.

The premier urged the Indian entrepreneurs to bring their businesses and investments in Bangladesh to improve the life and livelihood of the people of the region.

“Our aim is to create an innovative and pragmatic economy which would ensure an inclusive society and job opportunities … I’m sure, together we can bring in a difference in the life and livelihood of the people of our region,”

The prime minister said Bangladesh is a stable country and is marching forward on a right path and also enjoys an excellent relationship with India with a vision to develop together.

“You’re rich and that’s why I urge you to take this opportunity to bring your businesses and investments in Bangladesh,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the Indian business community can take full advantage of Bangladesh’s steady economic growth, high demographic dividend, competitive business cost and large consumer base.

“We have an Indo-Bangla investment agreement in place to protect your investment … we’re providing attractive packages including 100% repatriation of profit and invested capital,” she said.

The prime minister said currently, Bangladesh is getting benefits of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from 38 countries of the world including EU, Japan, Australia and Canada.

“You can also avail duty-free and quota-free benefits extended to Bangladesh from countries such asChina, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Chile. We have a large domestic market of around 160 million people,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is setting up 100 special economic zones to boost industrialization and to attract foreign investment. “Special economic zones in Mongla, Bheramara and Mirshorai have been exclusively dedicated for Indian investors,” she said.

The premier said the government has set up high-tech parks for attracting investments in the technology sector and also established the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA).

“To facilitate further investments, One Stop Service Act is currently being finalized,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said energy security continues to remain an important element of our business. Our power generation capacity is now 15,726 megawatt. We plan to achieve 24,000 megawatt by 2021.

The prime minister said Bangladesh is investing in infrastructural development projects like the Padma Multipurpose Bridge and Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

“I encourage Indian investors to consider investments in Bangladesh in infrastructure projects, power and energy, manufacturing and transport sectors,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said: “Today, we are witnessing major political and economic uncertainties. At the same time, we are experiencing prosperity and economic gains in Asian countries. Presently, South Asia is recognized as the fastest growing region of world.”

To materialize the dream of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of a ‘Sonar Bangla’, she said, Bangladesh is making significant socioeconomic progress.

“We are on track to become middle income Digital Bangladesh by 2021 and developed country by 2041. PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) in its report titled ‘The World in 2050’ has predicted that India will be world’s 3rd largest economy, while Bangladesh will be the 29th economy by 2030,” she said.

The prime minister said Bangladesh achieved over 7.1% GDP growth last year. “We expect that the GDP growth will increasingly reach 8% by 2020. Per capita income has gone up to 1,466 US dollars. Our foreign exchange reserve currently stands at over 30 billion dollars. We received over 2 billion US dollars of FDI and planned to raise the FDI level to 9.6 billion dollars by 2020,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh’s export earnings were over 34 billion US dollars in 2015-16. “With increasingly diversified export basket, we are planning to enhance annual export earnings to 54 billion US dollars by 2020. Target has also been set for $5 billion ICT exports by 2021,” she said.

Pointing out her government’s foreign policy “friendship to all, malice to none”, the premier said her government is taking the country towards development and prosperity by upholding the policy.

Indian minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dr Darmendra Pradhan, chairman of Indian conglomerate and former president of the Association of Chambers of India Adi Godrej and incumbent president of Swandeep Jaiodia, president of FBCCI Abdul Matlub Ahmed and ex-president of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Harsh Mariwala spoke, among others, at the meeting.

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