The government would make an all-out effort to attract 'big bang' private investment to the proposed special economic zones (SEZs).
The Board of Investment (BoI) has initiated a move to entice potential private entrepreneurs to invest in the SEZs, thus shaping up the new concept.
The investment promotion agency has already planned to arrange a two-day national workshop in early next month to encourage the potential private investors to strike deals with the government for the purpose, official sources at the BoI said.
Private investors, donor representatives, and government officials will be invited to discuss the modalities of the SEZs in the workshop, scheduled for February 07-08.
Sources said the government would initially develop the Kaliakoir hi-tech park under a donor-funded project in a bid to attract huge investment from global technological giants.
The Kaliakoir high-tech park, long entangled in bureaucratic red tape, will be developed with funding from a pool of donors, including the World Bank, sources added.
The investment for the park, the first of its kind in Bangladesh, will come from a US$200 million, to be allocated for setting up the SEZs in the country. The amount will be provided under the Private Sector Development Project (PSDP), which is designed in the light of the poverty reduction strategy.
The country's donor groups recently showed their interest to provide the fund for the establishment of three SEZs.
"Kaliakoir high-tech park tops our priority list," an official of the BoI said.
"It will be easier for the government to establish the country's first ever SEZ at Kaliakoir. Once developed, the park may encourage information technology giants like the IBM and Intel to put multi-billion dollars into setting up manufacturing plants," the official hoped.
The government is expected to entrust the responsibility of charting out a plan with two consulting agencies for the development of the park for which a land area of 257 acres has already been acquired.
"We can begin the work for the new hi-tech park immediately after getting positive response from potential investors," the official said.
But official sources blamed a section of officials of the Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for its lukewarm response to the plan.
"In fact, they (ICT ministry) have lack of understanding…such a proposal should come from the ministry concerned, but it remains largely apathetic," sources added.
If established, the SEZs, albeit a new concept, will help improve the country's infrastructure sector, officials said.
The PSDP is the brainchild of a consortium of donors, including the WB (WB), the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), the European Commission, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). And the government agreed to move it forward for the promotion of private sector, considered the "motor of growth".
The PSDP is being undertaken with a broader goal of generating large-scale employment, thus making a significant dent in the country's desperate poverty.
Unlike the existing Export Processing Zones (EPZs), a SEZ is a particular area that has economic laws different from the country's usual legal framework. SEZs are expected to attract both domestic and foreign investment in a big way.
Official sources said the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) and the Infrastructure Investment Facilitation Centre (IIFC) would serve as consulting agencies to accelerate the project.
Private sector experts say the establishment of SEZs has yielded positive results in many countries around the world, including China, India, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Mauritius.