November 2, 2023
DHAKA – Businesses in Bangladesh said that Chattogram has the potential to become a major trading hub that acts as a vital engine for economic growth in the country and its neighbouring regions.
But to make this happen, Bangladesh has to overcome prevailing challenges in its education, environment, health and industrial sectors.
Besides, there is a need for taking planned and strategic infrastructure development projects keeping economic sustainability in mind, they added.
They also urged for the formation of an organised development forum for Chattogram comprising businesses, academia and policy makers, and a roadmap for planned industrialisation in the area.
To unfold this vision, local businesses leaders, administration and visionaries have to work together and drive economic change, they said at a dialogue on “Advancing Economic Sustainability in Chattogram”.
The discussion was held on the sidelines of “BSRM Presents Lead Speak Chattogram” at the Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View on Monday.
Valor of Bangladesh, an information management platform dedicated to policy analysis and forecasting, organised the event sponsored by BSRM, Seven Rings Cement, Maslin Capital and Eastern Bank.
The panel discussion was moderated by Suraiya Zannath, the lead governance specialist (financial management) for South Asia of World Bank.
She opined that a lot has been achieved in terms of infrastructural development in Chattogram.
However, the subsequent economic benefits may not be felt in the near future as the cost-cutting impact of the development was not thought through, Zannath said.
With this backdrop, Aameir Alihussain, managing director of BSRM Group, emphasised on ensuring integrated thinking and solutions for infrastructure projects.
He then pointed out how auxiliary infrastructure needs to be included in any development plan.
For example, the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel will take time to provide the expected benefit as nearby economic zones and the road to Matarbari and Cox’s Bazar are not yet complete.
Also, Chattogram still lacks facilities such as sewage treatment plants, adequate water supply, a smooth transport network and enough open spaces, which are necessary for making it a sustainable city.
Additionally, smooth services need to be ensured at local government offices, he said.
As such, Alihussain underscored the need for a development roadmap that should include steps to create holistic residential and industrial planning in Chattogram.
Syed M Tanvir, managing director of Pacific Jeans, said the port city has significant prospects to become a manufacturing hub for all types of products.
Citing how they expect the economy to grow by a trillion US dollars by 2032, he said Chattogram could contribute almost 50 percent of the country’s GDP by that year.
This is because economic zones like the Mirsarai and Chinese economic zones are expected to greatly increase the region’s industrial output once complete.
“Chattogram has great potential in all sectors but we need to prioritise and look at sectors that can actually grow,” Tanvir added.
Mohammad Zahirul Islam, director of PHP Family, Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, managing director of LankaBangla Securities, and Mohammed Abdullah Mamun, a professor of the department of management at the University of Chittagong, also participated in the discussion.
Earlier, Valor of Bangladesh Trustees Raihan Shamsi, chairman of DevoTech Technology Park, and Meer Sajed Ul Basher, advisor to Maslin Capital, presented two keynote papers.