Govt keen to open closed industries under PPP

The government wants to make sick and closed state-owned industrial units operational under public-private partnership (PPP), said Industries Minister Dilip Barua yesterday.

“It needs to be made clear that we will not hand over fully functioning SoEs (state-owned enterprises) to private sector, but we want to make sick and sleeping SoEs operational under PPP,” said Barua at a seminar on SME Development: Status and Strategies on the sidelines of a four-day SME fair that began on Sunday.

His statement came as he offered a clarification of one of his previous announcements regarding privatisation of SoEs.

“We should not get bogged down to the issue that we will not privatise SoEs,” he told the seminar organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

More than 80 companies, including 30 banks and financial institutions, are displaying their products ranging from textile, foods, leather goods, plastic, electrical instruments, agro-machinery, generators, ceramic and melamine, herbal medicines, software, cosmetics, furniture and jewellery.

Discussants suggested a uniform definition of SME (small and medium enterprise), and stressed launching a database on the sector’s status and contribution to the national economy. Issues like infrastructure development, industrial estate and reduction of bank interest rate were also discussed at the seminar.

Barua referred to higher price of edible oil on the domestic market and said it could have been kept at a tolerable level if state-owned vegetable oil mill had been functional. “We should think everything dialectically. We should not see everything through one-way traffic,” he said.

The minister said introduction of PPP in making sick state-owned industrial units operational would start after framing a policy. “But we will go for such move after consultation with stakeholders concerned,” he said.

He also said the government has given top priority to the development of SMEs in order to attain the goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2021. “We are considering SME as engine of growth as the sector helps generate employments and reduce poverty,” he said.

The minister said the SMEs face such problems as a lack of access to finance, high bank interest rate, higher duty on imports, and complex banking formalities.

“We have already suggested bringing down bank interest rate to a single digit to boost industrialisation. I personally think that high interest rate is one of the major obstacles to industrialisation,” he said.

“In order to ensure backup support for the local enterprises, we have recommended necessary adjustment and readjustment in our national revenue policy,” he said.

Source: The Daily Star, 26 May 2009


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