BEZA gets $26b investment proposals

Abu Sufian

Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), established in 2010 under the initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has already proved its credibility by getting around US$26 billion in investment proposals so far.

Out of the investment proposals, around $5.40 billion has already been invested in different Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

BEZA was established by the government in 2010 under the ‘Bangladesh Economic Zones Act, 2010,’ and the authority commenced its work in 2015 to establish 100 economic zones across the country.

To achieve the goal of a developed Bangladesh by 2041, BEZA is working towards producing goods and services for the local and export markets worth $40 billion, with new employment for 10 million people in the EZs.

BEZA is establishing economic zones in all potential areas in Bangladesh including backward and underdeveloped regions with a view to encouraging rapid economic development through increase

and diversification of industry, employment, production and export’, reports BSS.

BEZA functions as a promoter and service provider to ensure sustainable development and improve the quality of life for people

by establishing international standard economic zones in the country. BEZA so far approved the establishment of 97 economic zones across the country. Out of the 97 approved EZs, 29 were private zones.

A total of 41 industries were established in 12 zones and the establishment of another 50 industries are progressing fast.

In the zones, around 45,000 employment opportunities have already been created while the development of 29 other zones was in progress.

BEZA Executive Chairman Shaikh Yusuf Harun said the initiative has successfully attracted the attention of local and foreign investors,

and investment gained momentum by now. Due to a liberalised policy, including fiscal and non-fiscal incentive packages, BEZA is receiving a huge amount of foreign investment, he added.

He said BEZA already made commendable progress in establishing the zones through various methods, including public-private partnerships, government-to-government agreements, and solely under government initiative.

“Our policy to provide support to investors under one roof through a one-stop service has been improving the ease of doing business situation,

and the influx of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will increase further in the economic zones,” he mentioned. Despite global economic and geopolitical tensions, he informed

that many foreign companies expressed their interest in setting up their manufacturing units in Bangladesh, and hopefully, the influx of FDI would exceed expectations in the coming days.

The economic zones authority with 61,000 acres of land bank, dedicated one-stop services, and full-fledged policy support

by the government has already captured the attention of local and foreign investors, he mentioned. He invited more local and foreign investors and said

that the authority offered an attractive package for the developers of the Economic Zones as well as for the manufacturing unit investors.

Investors in the zones would receive exemptions from taxes, customs or excise duties, and non-fiscal incentives such as no FDI ceiling, issuance of work permits, and recommendations for residence or citizenship, he added.

Among the fiscal benefits, investors in EZs will receive a 100 per cent income tax exemption for the first three years,

and 80 per cent to 20 per cent exemption from the 4th to the 10th year, 100 per cent tax exemption on dividends for 10 years,

exemption from capital gains tax for 10 years, exemption from royalties, technical know-how, and technical assistance fees for 10 years, and VAT exemption on gas, electricity, and water.

Investors in EZs would also benefit from various non-fiscal incentives, including duty-free import and export of raw materials,

separate customs procedures in EZs, 100 per cent repatriation of dividends earned from investments, and 100 per cent repatriation of sales proceeds from investments.

Yusuf Harun said the comprehensive package offered by BEZA to investors would enhance the country’s investment climate,

attracting a significant amount of FDI to the zones. He informed that investors from China, India, the UK, Germany, Australia, Japan, the USA, and Norway had already invested in 12 operational economic zones.

“We have received FDI proposals beyond our expectations, despite the global economic slowdown, and we anticipate a substantial influx of foreign investment in economic zones established on a government-to-government basis,” he added.

BEZA has allocated land for the Japanese Economic Zone in Arihajar Upazila, Narayanganj District, a special economic zone for India in Mongla,

and the Chinese Economic and Industrial Zone in Anwara, Chattogram. Another economic zone for India will be established in Kushtia.

To facilitate investment, BEZA established a one-stop service centre to provide services to investors, including trade licences, land registration, mutation, environmental clearance, and utility services under one roof.

Investors are receiving 125 services from OSS, of which 53 services are being provided online. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN) in Chattogram was the government’s first initiative to establish a planned industrial zone in the country.

It is the largest economic zone in the country, and BEZA intends to transform it into a smart city with civic amenities.

BEZA is developing the industrial city with a view to encouraging rapid economic development through the increase and diversification of industry,

employment, production and export. The industrial city is being developed on around 30,000 acres of land touching three upazilas- Mirsarai, Sitakundu

and Sonagazi- under Chattogram and Feni districts respectively. It is located on the mouth of river Feni covering 25 kilometers of coastlines of Sandeep channel of the Bay of Bengal. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone of the EZ on February 28, 2016.

BEZA has developed a comprehensive master plan including incorporating a seaport, rail connectivity, marine drive, residential area, tourism park, power plant, hospital, school and university for developing this self-contained industrial city.

Various types of industries, including garments and its supporting industries, agro-products and agro-processing products,

integrated textiles, leather and leather goods, shipbuilding, motorbike assembly, food and beverage, pint and chemical, paper and products, plastics,

light engineering (including auto-parts and bicycles), pharmaceutical products, power and solar park are being set up in the industrial city.

The city is expected to create employment opportunities for 1.5 million people within the next 15 years and ensure $15 billion in exports from this industrial enclave. As of now,

five industries have commenced commercial production in BSMSN, with 21 industries still under construction.

Meghna Economic Zone, Abdul Monem Economic Zone, and Bay Economic Zone made substantial progress in attracting significant FDI.

A total of 770 acres of land were allocated to four companies in the Maheshkhali Economic Zones of Cox’s Bazar district. In the Srihatta Economic Zone, 227 acres of land have been allocated to six companies with a proposed investment of $1.5 billion.

In Jamalpur Economic Zone, BEZA allocated 201 acres of land to 23 companies with a proposed investment worth $270 million.

BEZA is also developing a tourism park, namely Sabrang Tourism Park, in Teknaf, with a total land area of 940 acres.

The authority has already allocated 112.29 acres of land to 27 investors, including three foreign companies, with a proposed investment worth $413 million.

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