Business leaders resolutely endorse Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, expressing unwavering support for her continued leadership. Their overwhelming backing was vocalized at the Business Conference on Building Smart Bangladesh, hosted by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) in Dhaka. The conference, held on July 15, 2023, coincided with the EU Election Exploratory Mission’s consultations with political parties, aligning efforts in preparation for the forthcoming general election.
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While extending their support to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the forthcoming elections and opposing the opposition’s call for a caretaker government, these influential business figures also raised specific business concerns that need urgent attention. The highlighted issues encompassed enhancements in energy supply, addressing the challenges encountered by revenue officials and customs personnel at the Chattogram port. Additionally, the business community expressed appreciation for the prime minister’s dedication to infrastructure development and recognized the discernible advancements made across different sectors.
Moreover, the business community applauded the prime minister for her dedicated efforts in advancing infrastructure development and acknowledged the visible progress made in diverse sectors. Nevertheless, they underscored the importance of continued advancement, with a specific focus on the construction of an elevated expressway along the Dhaka-Chattogram highways.
“We want to see you as the prime minister again” – FBCCI President
The President of FBCCI, Jashim Uddin, lauded Prime Minister Hasina for her pivotal role in propelling Bangladesh’s development. He voiced the unified demand of business leaders to confront all challenges under her leadership, stressing the paramountcy of her continuity as Bangladesh’s prime minister. Uddin affirmed, “We need your leadership. We want to see you as the prime minister of Bangladesh once again.”
Faruque Hassan, President of BGMEA, expressed gratitude for the presence of a visionary leader like Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and pledged unwavering support to her and her government. He remarked, “We are fortunate to have a visionary leader like you. We stand by you and your government.”
Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Chairman of Bashundhara Group, acknowledged the widespread support of the business community for the Prime Minister and expressed unwavering confidence in this support. He emphasized the unity of the business community with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, underscoring that the upcoming elections will adhere to the constitution.
Sobhan highlighted the achievements made under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership and cautioned against undermining democracy, stating, “Sheikh Hasina’s alternative is Sheikh Hasina.” He recalled the past incidents of arson attacks and political instability that had severe repercussions for the people’s livelihoods and emphasized that democracy should not be used as a means to justify any actions.
Business community supports constitutional elections sector improvement
“The business community is with you, and elections will be held as per the constitution,” affirmed the Chairman of the Bashundhara Group. Mahbubur Rahman, President of the International Chamber of Commerce, Bangladesh, praised the government’s visionary “Smart Bangladesh” plan and emphasised the need to enhance production capacity. He stressed the importance of increasing the supply of electricity and fuel, making the power and energy sector a top priority.
Addressing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Rahman expressed concerns about the proposal to grant judicial powers to tax department officials, questioning the necessity of the court if such powers are bestowed upon them. He emphasised the need for comprehensive tax sector reforms rather than empowering tax officials with judicial authority.
“To realize the ‘Smart Bangladesh’ plan, there should be a focus on increasing the supply of electricity and fuel, making the power and energy sector a top priority,” stated Mahbubur Rahman, President of ICC.
Furthermore, he proposed the construction of an elevated expressway instead of an eight-lane highway on the Dhaka-Chittagong route.
Stability brings prosperity
AK Azad, former President of FBCCI, acknowledged the stability and prosperity brought by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. He expressed the view that her government is needed continuously for the betterment of the country.
Naser Ejaz Bijoy, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Bangladesh, described Bangladesh as a remarkable story of capability and confidence. He noted a significant shift in the leadership of foreign companies operating in Bangladesh, with more CEOs being nationals compared to the past. This transformation reflects the increasing capacity of Bangladesh.
Bijoy regarded the last 14 years as a golden age for Bangladesh, highlighting improvements in economic indicators such as the national budget, per capita income, and GDP growth. He also mentioned a decline in poverty rates, increased exports, expanded power generation capacity, and comparatively secure foreign exchange reserves. He emphasized the importance of import austerity and businesses actively contributing to reducing defaulted loans.
Bijoy also stressed the importance of maintaining a smooth continuity of policies and leadership to sustain the achieved progress and propel the nation towards further advancement.
Bijoy underscored the importance of continuity in governance and leadership, stating that it is vital for sustaining the progress achieved and promoting further development in the country.
Mostafa Kamal, Chairman of the Meghna Group, hailed the past 14 years as a golden era for Bangladesh, citing remarkable achievements in poverty reduction, export earnings, power generation, foreign exchange reserves, and other critical areas of development.
Abdul Muktadir, President of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries, praised the unprecedented development accomplished by Bangladesh over the last 15 years and expressed optimism for its continuation. He specifically highlighted the country’s ability to produce 98% of its medicines and expressed hope for future advancements in manufacturing the necessary raw materials for medicines and vaccines, envisioning Bangladesh as a pharma-exporting nation. Muktadir emphasized the importance of skilled manpower, reliable energy supply, and access to low-interest capital for fostering cooperation, while also emphasizing the need for the government’s resolute determination and leadership to persist.
Leaders expressed optimism for Bangladesh’s future
Samir Sattar, President of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, underscored the significance of a stable political environment and strong political leadership in driving development. He attributed Bangladesh’s unprecedented socio-economic progress, including increased per capita income, remittance flow, and export earnings, to the stable political environment experienced in the past 15 years. Sattar expressed his support for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s continued leadership. Mohammad Ali, President of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association, underscored the expansion of export earnings, remittances, and the overall size of the economy. He voiced his support for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ongoing leadership.
Saiful Islam, President of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, emphasized the importance of a stable and business-friendly environment. He drew attention to Bangladesh’s progress in the Ease of Doing Business Index and stressed the need for infrastructure development. Islam also mentioned the potential of the Blue Economy in terms of petrochemicals and mineral resources, citing Singapore’s stability and continuity of government as an example to aspire to.
Barrister Nihad Kabir reaffirmed her support for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and recognized the positive influence of her leadership on various sectors, including transportation.
Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, Chairman of Pran-RFL Group, recognized the crucial role of agriculture during the Covid-19 crisis and highlighted the growing demand for food in Bangladesh. He expressed confidence in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership to guide the country towards progress and encouraged her not to worry about the dollar crisis, assuring that it would soon pass.
Anwarul Alam Chowdhury Parvez, President of the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries, praised the remarkable transformation of Bangladesh into a Digital Bangladesh over the course of the past 14 years. He acknowledged the positive impact of short-term and long-term policies, particularly in mitigating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and highlighted Bangladesh’s recognition as a middle-income country.
Sheikh Nasir Uddin, Chairman of Akij Group, expressed concern about the decline of the jute sector due to increased prices of jute yarn and the consumer shift towards plastic. He emphasized the need for policy support, including domestic production of jute seeds, to increase production and create modern jute-based products that can generate higher export value.
AKM Salim Osman, President of the BKMEA, expressed confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership and assured that there would be no problems for businessmen as long as she is present. He mentioned the acceptance of rising gas and electricity prices, trusting that the issues would be resolved.
Optimistic leaders look to a bright future for Bangladesh
Anwar-Ul Alam Chowdhury Parvez, President of the Bangladesh Chamber of Industries, highlighted Bangladesh’s significance as a valuable partner to powerful countries worldwide. He emphasized that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is the one who can lead the country forward.
Sheikh Nasir Uddin, former President of the Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association, revealed his intentions to invest Tk2,000 crore in Moksedpur, Gopalganj, with Tk500 crore already committed to the project.
Helal Uddin, President of the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association, expressed confidence in the upcoming election, stating that it would be fair and impartial under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership. He urged the prime minister to establish a new ministry to regulate the commodity market and expressed continuous support from the business community.
Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon, President of the National Association of Small Cottage Industries of Bangladesh, expressed gratitude to the prime minister for allocating Tk50,000 crore to the SME sector during the Covid-19 period.
Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, former President of the FBCCI, encouraged the audience to show support for the prime minister and expressed the belief that electing her in the future would lead to a smart Bangladesh.
Mir Nasir Hossain, another former President of the FBCCI, praised the remarkable progress made by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the past 14 years, considering it incredible and unmatched in the world. He expressed hope that the prime minister would continue leading Bangladesh towards further development in the coming day.