A section of economists and businesses at a dialogue in the city strongly opposed Friday the Tata's investment plan in Bangladesh and urged the government not to accept its conditions, report agencies.
Bangladesh will have to provide a seven-fold subsidy if the government accepts the Tata's condition relating to gas supply for 20 years, they pointed out.
The domestic investors if offered incentives as demanded by the Tata can invest more than what Tata has proposed, the participants said at a dialogue styled "Investment proposal of Tata and the future of Bangladesh economy".
The discussants urged the government to assess the long-term social impact of the Tata's foreign direct investment (FDI) and not to be lured by the "Hot Money".
Samaj Rupantar Adhyayan Kendra organised the dialogue at the Jatiya Press Club with its chairperson Prof Sirajul Islam Chowdhury in the chair. Engineer Enamul Haque moderated it.
Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA) general secretary Abul Barakat, economists Abu Ahmed and Anu Mohammad, former director of FBCCI Abdul Haque, Salimullah Khan, Tipu Biswas, and Bangladesh Steel Mills Owners Association president Badiul Alam and general secretary Mahmudul Alam Masud, among others, took part in the discussion.
Terming all the Tata conditions as destructive for the country's economy, speakers urged the government to mobilise resources, in case of any urgent need, through releasing 'bond' or `share' in the market instead of accepting the multi-billion dollar investment proposal of Tata.
Anu Mohammad in his introductory remarks alleged that the governments in Bangladesh have a common tendency to conceal the terms and conditions of international agreements.
"It is much more illogical to ensure over three trillion cft of gas as well as coal and handing over thousands of acres of land to Tata for an investment of Tk 120 billion," the economist added.
Abu Ahmed underscored the need for public participation in the investment proposed by Tata for ensuring their ownership.
Strongly criticising the bureaucrats for their poor performance at the negotiation table, he said: "Tata will have to purchase gas at an international market price, not at the rate to be decided at the negotiating table."
Ahmed demanded that the details of the agreement between the government and Tata be made public.
Abul Barakat maintained the government was "going to sign a suicidal agreement" with Tata.
Gas export, to some extent, is rather better option as the Tata's gas consumption would be more than double compared to what Unocal proposed to export through pipeline, he said.
Regarding the Tata's investment in the country's steel and fertiliser sector, the president of the Bangladesh Steel Mill Owners Association said the government is going to facilitate a foreign company neglecting 400 domestic steel industrial units who have already invested Tk 50 billion.
He said around 400 steel and re-rolling mills in the country would face severe competition and might lose the battle if Tata is provided with the various facilities.
"Given the government support, the steel and re-rolling millers alone can invest more than Tata," they said.
Sirajul Islam Chowdhury said Bangladesh need investment as tens of thousands of people are still jobless here.
"But how is it possible to provide Tata with gas and coal for many years in the circumstances when we are shutting down our industrial units one after another due to shortage of gas?"
Blaming a section of the local media for what he said their soft attitude towards the Tata investment proposal, he said Tata might use the media to get their investment plan approved.
Chowdhury urged the owners of media organisations and the journalists to remain alert about the "negative" intention of the outside investors.