Nurul Huda, The New Nation
Japan had two round of talks with Board of Investment (BOI) to find solution to problems experienced by Japanese investors in Bangladesh. The third round of talk with the BOI Task force will be held soon to review the progress in this regard. Japanese ambassador in the capital Shiro Sadoshima said this in an interview with The New Nation at his office on Monday.
The number of Japanese investors in Bangladesh is 162 with a total investment of about $ 1.3 billion. In this context, he said, UNIQLO, a leading Japanese garment company which sells 100 million pieces of special
type of under garments annually through its outlets across the world, has decided to increase its purchase from Dhaka. China alone supplies half of its requirement while Vietnam supplies one third. UNIQLO, he said, has decided to procure the item in equal quantity from Bangladesh, China and Vietnam. The present share of Bangladesh, he said, is one sixth of the total quantity.
NIPRO, a big medical equipment manufacturing company, the ambassador said, has decided to make an investment of $ 25 million for production of some of its equipment. Honda, he said, which is engaged in assembly and intends to go for manufacture soon. He said, many Japanese businessmen are keen to invest in Bangladesh in production sector but in view of prevailing confrontational politics and violence, they feel discouraged. Expressing concern over the prevailing situation in the country, ambassador Shiro Sadoshima reiterated that “Divergences of opinions should be bridged peacefully through dialogues among all the parties and groups.”
The issues which Japan has raised to the task force, set up at the initiative of the prime minister, include inadequate supply of electricity and gas, shortage of developed industrial land, traffic jams, capacity of Information Communication Technology (ICT) network. Besides, he said, Japan stressed the need for consistency and continuity of energy policy, industrial policy and investment policy.
The public security issue, the ambassador said, has also been raised to the BOI . Other issues raised , he said, also includes corruption, quality of services and also lack of workers skills. Japan, he said, also took up the issue of inconsistencies in processing visa and work permit while pressing for a one-stop service by BOI or Bangladesh Export Processing Zone. Japan, he said, suggested for further simplification of transfer settlement of non-trade business transactions from Bangladesh to other countries. Citing example of hindrances, he said, in six months Japanese companies had to face delay in settlement of more than 1200 cases in 2010.
Responding to a question if there is possibility of any high level exchange of visit between Dhaka and Tokyo soon, he replied in the negative saying both the countries were moving towards elections.
A total of about 1500 Bangladeshi students, ambassador Shiro Sadoshima said, were studying in different disciplines in Japan as against only 500 Indians. Replying to another question, he said, most of the students return to Dhaka on completion of their courses but in some cases some of them stay back to teach in Japanese institutions. Japanese financed projects, he said, have not so far ran into major scandal. “By and large we are satisfied the way our money is spent,” he said. About 3000 scholarships so far received by Bangladeshis for under graduate courses, research work and training in different fields.
About 1121 Japanese Overseas Volunteers (JOVC) have worked in Bangladesh since 1972. JOVC volunteers work for two years to provide services in agriculture, rural development, vocational training and health sectors. Of the total volunteers 429 were women and now 74 of them are providing their services in different places of Bangladesh.
Some of the recently signed agreements with the government of Bangladesh, the ambassador said include The Kanchpur-Meghna- Gumati second bridges construction and existing bridges rehabilitation project, Karnaphuli water supply project (phase-2),Northern Bangladesh integrated development project and renewable energy development project, Dhaka mass rapid transit (MRT) development project, Bheramara combined cycle power plant development project, national power transmission network development project and project for ground water investigation and development of ground water source.
Japan, the ambassador said, has so far provided funds for construction of 550 bridges including the multi-million dollar Jamuna bridge. Japan, he said, Japan has been concentrating more on energy, transportation and infrastructure development.
Japan’s loan aid to Bangladesh stood at $7808 million while grant-in aid $4711 million so far, he said.