Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin is the new president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the apex trade body of Bangladesh. In a tête-à-tête with Ainul Haque Pramanik at his office amid an extremely busy schedule, the FBCCI boss shares his thoughts and aspirations about business growth of the country.
A successful businessman, entrepreneur and social activist, Mohiuddin was born in Dhaka in 1955. He completed his graduation in Commerce with honors in Accountancy and post-graduation in Commerce from Dhaka University. Now, he is the managing director of the Onus Group. He has successfully diversified his business in various sectors like RMG, real estate, shipping and dredging.
“The business community wants to see sustainable and balanced development reducing economical discrimination to build Bangladesh a developed country by 2041,” he says. “We will have to take the country’s economy to the positive direction to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal by 2041.”
Stressing mostly on the political stability for the development, he says: “The country’s overall development will not be paved if its politics, economy and business community are not led to the same direction. Hartal is a lethal weapon of politics that creates hindrance on the way of sustainable economic development.”
“I expect that the political parties will shun the path of violent politics for the sake of the country’s economic growth and prosperity,” he added, stressing the need to boost business, trade and commerce, industrialization, investment and employment.
On migrant workers
Mohiuddin says the capacity of Bangladesh is still limited in the manpower export due to the lack of skilled labour force. “Many people going abroad for jobs having no training or knowledge. We can significantly increase the remittance with proper training of these workers”.
He was reflecting on the sliding remittance inflow rate. Weak global economic growth and fiscal tightening in the Middle East are continuing to hurt the key source of foreign exchange in Bangladesh. Some $1.09 billion flew in as remittance, up 1.9 percent from March but down 8.4 percent year-on-year, according to Bangladesh Bank statistics. In fiscal 2016-17, remittance inflow has been lower in every month from a year earlier, meaning the full-year receipts could be way below last fiscal year’s $14.93 billion.
Underscoring the need for comprehensive efforts in creating a skilled labor force, the FBCCi chief said there are some challenges to it – mostly infrastructural and implementation-wise. “As a result, we still cannot create any brand image of our local products in the international market. Readymade Garment goods are the highest export items of our country till now,” he said.
On the need of energy
“There is no alternative to power for developing a country, the FBCCI chief reflects. “Adequate electricity with affordable price is needed to boost trade and commerce and stable policy. Implementation of the short and mid-term measures in the power sector will have to be strengthened to boost the economic growth.”
It has already been noticed that the reserve of natural gas is depleting gradually. On the other hand, no new gas field is being explored. This is alarming for trade and commerce, he comments.
About exploring new markets for Bangladeshi products
“A war like situation is prevailing across all the Middle East countries and thus we are not yet seeing any tangible progress of our products except ready-made garments in the international markets. There are some potential industries like e-commerce, information technology and leather industry in Bangladesh. We will have to put an emphasis in such industries to strengthen diversification of products for the international market.”
We are highly dependent on Europe and North American for export destination. There are some potentialities in exoprt destinations like Latin America, Africa and Commonwealth Independent Countries (CIS).
“We will have to put our concerted effort to add new export destination for our business growth.”