While a former World Bank economist points out the country’s economy is weakening due to prevailing high rates of inflation and a dwindling foreign exchange reserve, the Indian High Commissioner said, as a genuine friend, Bangladesh will get India’s support for increasing foreign trade and investments.
The Bangladesh-India relationship is not a strategic partnership but a genuine friendship, noted Pranay Verma while speaking as the Chief Guest at the annual conference of the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB).
“We want Bangladesh to increase her exports to the Indian market,” he said. “Bangladesh can also export goods to 3rd countries using Kolkata and Delhi airports, and Dhaka and both governments are making necessary preparations in this regard.”
The IBFB president, Humayun Rashid, demanded easy visas for Bangladeshi businessmen as they can enhance efforts and exploit scopes for increasing trade and investments with India, the neighboring big market for Bangladesh.
In response, the Indian envoy mentioned that his country had provided 1.5 million visas to Bangladeshis last year.
“Efforts are being made to increase the quality of visa services,” Verma said. “India will provide preferential services to Bangladeshi investors,” he said.
Dr. Zahid Hussain, the former lead economist of the World Bank’s Dhaka office, was the special guest speaker at IBFB’s annual conference this year.
He presented a weakening state of the country’s economy, with export earnings not growing satisfactorily while remittance earnings are also declining, even though more people are going abroad now with jobs.
He noted the country’s net foreign exchange reserve has now squeezed to US$18 billion declining by 1 billion per month on an average and price of the dollar against the Bangladeshi taka has increased by 28 percent in just one year or so.
“The Forex Reserve has decreased by $100 million per month in the last 24 months due to the government’s unconventional policies,” he said. “The price of goods will not come down until the fixation of the currency price is left to the open market.”
The economist observed that restrictions on the import of goods have been strengthened due to the dollar crisis, but such barriers have rather created crises in the supply of goods and raw materials, pushing up inflation while slowing down industrial production and investments.
Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury, the founding president of the IBFB; Hafizur Rahman Khan, the former president; Lutfunnisa Saudia Khan; and Shahjahan Siddiqui, the vice presidents of the organization, also spoke at the conference.