Monthly Archives: October 2011

Policy, law friendly to foreign investors: analysts

Policy, law friendly to foreign investors: analysts

Gowher Rizvi, middle, the prime minister's adviser on international affairs, speaks at a discussion on law and business, on the sidelines of the German Trade Show at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka yesterday. Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised the three-day show that ended yesterday.Photo: STAR

Star Business report

Bangladesh’s policies and laws are favourable to foreign investors, and government institutions have shown signs of improvement in delivering services, analysts said yesterday.

But more steps are needed to help attract investment from abroad, they said at a discussion on “law and business” on the sidelines of the German Trade Show that ended at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka yesterday.

Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce and Industry organised the programme. Gowher Rizvi, the prime minister’s adviser on international affairs, was present.

“If you want to attract investment, many urgent things are needed to address,” said Omar Sadat, a lawyer of the Supreme Court, citing complex bureaucratic procedures.

Although the Board of Investment has a one-stop service desk, people have to move from one desk to another to get their files cleared, said the lawyer.

“One of my foreign clients went to the one-stop centre, and he came back telling me that it was a ‘full-stop’ desk,” Sadat said.

Two BoI officials, who were present at the programme, rejected the perception and said the investment promotion office rather clears files of investors within hours if papers are okay.

Discussants said Bangladesh has liberal investment policies for foreign investors compared with many other countries.

The facilities include tax exemption from 5-7 years, support to import capital machinery, scope to invest in manufacturing, infrastructure to other services sectors, opportunity to take profit and investment out of the country and repatriate dividends by paying taxes.

Bangladesh also promises a big market for investors. Its geographical location is another advantage for foreign investors, who can get all types of workers and professionals at cheaper rates, said Omar H Khan, another Supreme Court lawyer.

Khan said registering a new firm and opening branch or liaison offices are also easier. “If you have all papers ready, you can get registration in 15 days,” he said.

Khan said now many tasks can be done online.

Talking on the issue of law and order, Rizvi said despite concerns, nothing bad happens to foreign investors and their investment.

“I think Bangladesh as a country is like a dog with a bad name,” said Rizvi, referring to the negative image of the country. He said the bad image has probably been formed in the past three to four decades due to military intervention and assassination.

Although Bangladesh suffers from weaknesses in infrastructure, the field for investment is wider, Rizvi said. Investors can pour money in infrastructure under public private partnership, he said.

“When you think of Bangladesh you should not be thinking of just Bangladesh as a market. It is also a gateway to India,” he said, citing the recent trade arrangement and duty-free export opportunity of a number of apparel items.

Borhan Uddin Khan, an ex-dean of Dhaka University, said it is true that courts have many cases pending and there is a lack of judges.

But the DU teacher said laws related to businesses have been changed to make business friendly.

Ahmad Nasiruddin Mahmood, a member of the BoI, said it does not take so long for registration of a business. “If papers are okay, you submit in the morning and get it in the afternoon.”


Bio-mass potential in Bangladesh

Bio-mass potential in Bangladesh

Partha Pradip Sarkar

Bangladesh is an agriculture based country where more than 65 per cent of the people live in rural areas. Recent study shows that 70 per cent of total energy consumption comes from biomass. Typically, agricultural residues vastly meet the household energy demands in rural and semi-urban areas. This is practiced mainly because of the fact that around 65 per cent of our economic activities are based on agriculture.  The rain fed ecosystem on the other hand produces huge amounts of biomass resources e.g. agriculture residues(crop/tree residue,  rice husk, , jute stick) , animal waste(cow dung, human excreta), wood/tree leaves,  municipal waste, vegetation,  sugarcane bagasse, water hyacinth, poultry droppings , garbage  etc.

Bangladesh has good potential of harvesting bio-diesel/bio-fuel from cultivating Jatropha Curcas (JC). But JC cultivation is not yet taking place commercially.  We have tremendous potential of utilising briquetting technology because of the availability of raw materials, like rice husk, wheat straw, saw- dust etc. Survey shows that about 3,538,400 million tons of rice husk, 17,760 million tons of saw-dust, 1,470,300 million tons of wheat straw, 2,607,000 million tons of bagasse and 22,900 million tons of rice straw can run  more than 18,000 briquetting machines, although at present only about 1,000 machines are operating. Thus far it is reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

Biomass resources Agricultural residues

Agricultural residues contribute significantly to the biomass sector of Bangladesh. Crop production generates considerable amounts of residue that can be used as energy source. Crop residues can be distinguished into field residue and process residue. Field residue is left in the field after harvesting, which is scattered over a wide area, and is generally used as fertiliser. Process residues are generated during crop processing, e.g. milling. They are available at a central location. Besides being an energy source, crop residues are used for several other purposes such as fodder and raw manufacturing material. Paddy straw, rice husks, maize, wheat, coconut, groundnut, mastered oil tree, beans, vegetables trees, jute, sugar cane etc. are the major agricultural residues.

Agriculture in Bangladesh has grown at 3.2 per cent annually from 1991-2005 and the dominant source of this growth has been the crop sub-sector growing at 2.3 per cent per annum.  Total food grains production, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) in 1991/92 was 19.32 million metric tons, which has gradually increased to 29.77 million tons in 2007/08, 6.13 per cent higher than the previous year’s production.

Rice husk is a unique biomass fuel having good calorific value (heat value: about 14,000 KJ) per kg & is also ‘carbon-neutral’.  Bangladesh is a major rice producing country. It produces on average about 40,000,000 MT of paddy and about 8,000,000 MT of husk per year (K Islam 2008).   Bangladesh has over 100,000 rice mills all over the country which use both thermal energy (of steam produced by burning rice husk for parboiling of rice) & electric power (from grid) for entire operation of the mill (milling, boiler pumps, lighting etc.) Power generation through biomass gasification from rice husks could be a wonderful option in rice mills all over Bangladesh.

Forest residues

About 17.8 per cent of total area of the country has forest cover (BBS 1993). Broadly speaking, Bangladesh’s forests can be divided into four types: (1) mangrove forests in the coastal delta, (2) hill forests in the interior, (3) sal (shorea robusta) forests in smaller areas inland, 4) social forests. It is estimated that Bangladesh loses its forest lands by about 3.3 per cent every year (World Bank 1994) because of illegal wood logging for collecting firewood (tobacco curing, cooking) and making furniture. This rate of forest depletion is truly unsustainable. However, efficient use of forest residues could be a renewable source of energy in any given part of Bangladesh. Forest residue comprises of small branches, leaves, corn stove etc. These residues are organic by-products from different types of forestry and agricultural harvesting activities. Bangladesh has good potential of harvesting bio-energy from forest residues by setting up biomass gassifier in forest regions to produce power.

Animal dung

Presently, there are about 23.4 million cattle, 0.82 million buffaloes, 33.5 million goats, 1.11 million sheep, 138.2 million chickens and 13 million ducks (DLS 2000). It has been reported by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS 1999) that 52 per cent of male cattle, 62.3 per cent of female cattle and 60.9 per cent of cattle older than 3 years old are raised by small and medium-sized farms. The estimated biogas potential by using cow dung from cattle population in Bangladesh is about 29 per cent of the total cooking fuel demand (Bala & Hussain, 1989). So far animal dung based biomass energy production (biogas) and power generation may decentralise energy and power solutions in remote (off-grid) areas of Bangladesh.

Moreover, slaughter house waste based biogas plants may also be a potential solution for small scale power generation or household cooking fuel. Local government engineering department is already working in this new arena with the cooperation of German Technical Cooperation (GIZ).

Poultry waste

There are about 1, 50,000 commercial poultry farms (broiler and layer farms) and nearly 130 parent stock farms in Bangladesh (ICDDRB, 2008) with a total of 42 million chickens, (Waste concern, 2005) producing around 3079 metric tons of poultry manure daily. Based on this large amount of poultry manure and litters (faeces with bedding materials), bio-gas and bio-gas based electricity can easily be produced by setting-up community size bio-gas plants. But this practice has been started only in a limited scale, although it has tremendous potential in rural/semi-urban areas.

Municipal and industrial solid wastes

At present, there are 522 urban centres in the country including 311 municipalities and 9 City Corporations (UMSU, LGED, 2011).  Statistics shows that in 2004, a daily total of 16,382 tons of solid waste was being produced in urban centres (Source: ADBI and ADB, 2000) which have good commercial potential to transform into biogas and generate power as alternative power sources.

Sugarcane bagasse

Bangladesh, having about 15 sugar mills, annually produces around 2,700,000 million tons of bagasse which is sufficient to produce power with minimum investment. In the north-western region, which is starved for energy, the sugar mills would be a great energy resource. This is also an advantage as all the 15 sugar-producing units were installed in the region.

Cultivation of Jatropha Curcas (JC) trees for bio-fuel production

The JC shrub has the ability to bear fruit for approximately 25 years, with each fruit containing an average of three seeds (Hussain, 2007).  When the sheath and the shell of the seed are removed, the remaining kernel is the source of viscous oil.  Using calculations from Dr Hussain’s study concerning JC’s compatibility in Bangladesh, oil yield per seed is between 25 per cent and 37 per cent.  Considering that, 6 to 15 tons of seed are contained within one hectare of land, it means that approximately (taking an average of 30 per cent oil yield and 10 tons per hectare) 3000 litters of oil can be obtained per hectare of land (Hussain, 2007).

BAU is currently the primary national institution which has contributed to research concerning JC.  Dr Daulat Hussain & Md Parvez Islam, setup the university’s Jatropha Plantation Group which has carried out extensive research concerning the shrub’s national potential.  A study carried out by this team, named Proposal on Jatropha: model farm and business plantation farm for seed and oil production in Bangladesh, contains a detailed analysis of the cultivation and processing methods applicable to Bangladesh (Hussain, 2007).  P Islam revealed that the potential for JC cultivation in Bangladesh was promising.   The shrub showed similar growth patterns to that in neighbouring India and machinery was easily adaptable.  He emphasised that the lack of government initiatives and foreign direct investment were two of the main setbacks.


In response to meeting the energy demand from sustainable sources,   green energy technology implementation is essential. It will reduce the pace of deforestation, encourage animal husbandry, encourage poultry industry and diversify agricultural farming, new tree plantations and other farming. It will obviously generate income and create jobs for the rural poor, ensure food security, etc.  All efforts will allow Bangladesh to have a healthier living standard with better livelihood.  So far more biomass energy related intervention is highly desirable in Bangladesh.

The writer is project manager, Sustainable Rural Energy (SRE), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED)

Robi, QUBEE sign infrastructure deal

Robi, QUBEE sign infrastructure deal
Author / Source : STAFF REPORTER

Dhaka, Oct 29: Mobile phone operator Robi Axiata Limited has recently signed a bilateral infrastructure sharing agreement with WIMAX operator QUBEE. Managing director and chief executive officer of Robi, Michael Kuehner and chief executive officer of QUBEE Jerry Mobbs signed the agreement at the Robi corporate office in the city recently.

Under the deal, Robi expects to have more sharing and cooperation in coming days.

Through this agreement, QUBEE will utilise the existing infrastructures of Robi efficiently and cost effectively.

This will also help to realize the Digital Bangladesh dream in line with the government vision.

From Robi, chief strategy officer Tatsu Kono, vice-president, corporate strategy Ahmed Armaan Siddiqui, general manager, wholesale business Md. Mizanur Rahman.From QUBEE, chief financial officer DS Faisal Hyder, chief technology officer Md Shafiqul Islam were present on the occasion.

Indo-Bangla trade crosses $5b mark$5b-mark_379_1_3_1_20.html

Indo-Bangla trade crosses $5b mark
Our Correspondent

Brahmanbaria volume between Bangladesh and India has improved significantly and crossed $ 5 billion mark recently.

Though a large portion of the benefit still tilted in favour of India, but Bangladesh export to India has increased manifold.

Bangladesh exported goods worth $512.5 million to India in 2010-11, posting a 68-percent rise compared to the previous year. Indian export to Bangladesh stood at $4586.8 million in the same period, 43 percent up from the previous year.

India’s biggest export destination is Bangladesh.

Bangladesh mainly exports raw jute, jute goods, fish, mineral distillates, fruits, garments, copper, minerals, cotton waste, iron/steel and articles, knitwear, leather, ceramic, to India.

Indian export items to Bangladesh include cotton( raw, yarn, fabrics), vehicles and parts, other than rail rolling stock, animal feed/food waste, boilers, machinery/ mechanical appliances, cereals, iron and steel, organic chemicals, electrical machinery and equipment, vegetables, roots and tubes, mineral fuels/waxes/bituminous products, plastics/articles, tanning chemicals, man-made fibres, rubber/articles, coffee, tea and spices.

Under the South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta) pact, Bangladesh enjoys tariff concession from India on 480 items which can enter in Indian market with zero duty.

To minimize the trade gap between the two neighbouring countries, India recently allowed duty-free access of 46 textile items from Bangladesh.

Under “Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement” and “Convention for Avoidance of Double Taxation” between the two countries, 225 Indian firms proposed for FDI of $558.77 as 100 percent owned or joint venture.

Given the geographical proximity, warm and friendly ties, availability of workforce and investment-friendly atmosphere, the quantum of Indian investment and trade with Bangladesh is further expected to improve for mutual benefit.

Textile exposition kicks off in December

Ready Made Garments
Textile exposition kicks off in December
Refayet Ullah Mirdha

The annual Bangladesh Apparel and Textile Exposition (BATEXPO)-2011 will kick off on December 8 to attract international buyers of local garment products, said an office bearer of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA).

The three-day annual event of the trade body of the garment sector will be held at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre at the city’s Agargaon to exhibit the local and international garment products.

Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, first vice-president of BGMEA, said the local and foreign entrepreneurs will showcase garment, fabrics and machinery at least in 120 stalls.

“This is the 22nd version of such mega exposition to be participated by major global brands,” Chowdhury said. Generally, the Prime Minister inaugurates the event and leader of the opposition in the parliament attends the closing ceremony,” he said.

Like previous years, some important seminars will also be held on the sidelines of the event, where scholars from home and abroad are scheduled to speak on issues like country’s readymade garment sector and market diversification.

BGMEA has been organising the fair mainly to link the country’s garment sector with the international buyers and investors in the country.

The organisers said the event of this year has a special significance to them as a major export destination, the EU, is going through a debt crisis, for which the export of garment products might suffer.

The growth of export of garment products witnessed a slowdown during the first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year.

During this period, knitwear export grew by 18.26 percent and woven 24.82 percent compared to the same period last fiscal year. In fiscal 2010-11, Bangladesh exported knitwear worth $6.90 billion and woven $3.71 billion to the EU alone.

BGCCI to sign up for Germany’s apex trade body

BGCCI to sign up for Germany’s apex trade body
Star Business Report

Bangladesh German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BGCCI) will become a member of Germany’s apex trade body, DIHK, by the year-end, which will give the local chamber wider access to global business networks.

DIHK (Deutscher Industrie-und Handelskammertag) is the umbrella organisation of the 80 chambers of industry and commerce in Germany. DIHK, one of the world’s largest business networks, is present at 120 locations in 80 countries. DIHK speaks for more than three million entrepreneurs, according the organisation’s website.

More than 140 advisers work for the organisation to give support to companies seeking innovative solutions.

“Our access to business information will widen thanks to the membership of DIHK,” BGCCI President Saiful Islam said.

Tap potential of generating power from sea waves: Expert

Tap potential of generating power from sea waves: Expert

DHAKA, Oct 28 (BSS) – The country could meet its demand for electricity to a large extent by utilising the untapped potential of generating 7,000 megawatts energy from tidal and sea waves, an oceanographer said here today.

“Bangladesh has 710 nautical mile coastal lines which could be used for generating 700 megawatts electricity from tidal and waves,” said Abdul Matin Mondal, a governing body member of National Oceanographic and Maritime Institute (NOAMI), told BSS.

Mondal said an estimated Taka 75 crore is needed to generate one megawatt electricity through solar panels, while it costs only Taka 4 crore for the wave energy generation.

Referring to a feasibility study of a project styled ‘Tidal and Wave Power Generation (TWPG)’, he said three coastal areas — Sandwip of Satar Khal, Mongla at Pussur River and Baghkhali River at Cox’s Bazar — have been selected for tidal and wave power generation.

These areas were found to be suitable for extracting electricity as tidal ranges during spring tides vary from 4 m to 6 m, required for tidal power generation, he added.

“I think similar behaviour tidal pattern of other places of the country’s south and south east coast waters would also be viable for electricity production,” he added.

The tidal analyst said the project titled ‘Electricity Generation from Sea Wave (EGSW)’ is being implemented under NOAMI with the financial support from the Ministry of Science and ICT.

He said NOAMI, a professional scientific organisation deals with ocean science, has arranged a workshop early this week at Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) to share key findings of the study.

Referring to the keynote paper presented in the workshop, Mondal said the NOAMI has of late generated electricity on wave basis at Kalatoli point of Cox’s Bazar where six bulbs (AC) and as many ceiling fans were operated from the sea wave.

“Denmark has a deep interest in development of wave energy generation in Bangladesh, a place where I sees wave as a most potential source of future energy,” he quoted Danish Ambassador in Dhaka Svend Olling as saying in the workshop.

NOAMI is planning to operate small electricity- run vehicles and charge mobile phone through sea wave, Mondal said insisting on the government to start power production through sea wave using the technology with involvement of private sector.

Experts see green future for Bangladesh through renewable power generation and the country should look seriously for energy solutions like solar, wind and sea wave beyond the conventional sources.