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Land no problem if investors come: Minister ‘High interest rates, land scarcity main bar’

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Staff reporter
Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Wednesday assured the businessmen that there will be no problem for land in setting up plants if they come up with foreign joint venture projects.
“Please, bring your projects in joint venture with foreign investors and place your proposal for land at specific locations, the government will provide you land,” he told businessmen at views-exchange meeting on preparation of the 7th 5-year plan at the NEC Conference Room in city’s Agargaon.
The business people, however, said high interest rates, lack of adequate infrastructures like power, gas and communications, and also scarcity of undisputed land are the main impediments for local and foreign investment.
In response, the Planning Minister said the bank interest rates are high because of the non-performing loans for which some businessmen are responsible.
“There is a section of businessmen, who take loans from banks for investment, but finally they do not pay back their loans and become defaulters,” he added,
Mustafa Kamal said he is hopeful that the bank interest rates would come down in near future with the improvement of the situation.
About the demand of the businessmen to reduce the bank spread, he said Bangladesh Bank is responsible to look after the matter. “But bank spread should not be more than 3 percent.”
He said the government has been very positive about the development of infrastructures as there is a vision to become a middle income country by 2021.
The government will provide all sorts of facilities to promote investment by local as well as foreign entrepreneurs to create employment and reduce poverty, the Planning Minister said. “We want a sustainable development.”
Most of the top business body leaders were found absent in the views- exchange meeting.
Taking part in the discussion, Bangladesh Finished Leather Exporters Association chairman Engineer Abu Taher said there is a US$ 220 billion global market for finished leathers and Bangladesh can tap this huge market if adequate support is made available for this sector.
He demanded soft bank loans with 5-6 percent interest for the tanneries to relocate their factories to the newly established tannery estate in Savar.
The Cargo Vessel Owners Association representative said the government should promote the ship building industry with more incentives so that they could build ships and vessels for local companies.
Bangladesh Association of Software Industries and Information Services (BASIS) leader Mustafizur Rahman Sohel said the country needs about one million IT trained manpower for the promotion of software export industries. But currently the country has only 300,000 people.
He said there is a huge potential for this sector to export software.