Attracting NRB resources and expertise

In some developing countries, the non-residents in the population who live and work abroad, are cultivated for their resources. The expatriates are regarded and sought after as sources of funds in foreign currencies to undertake economic activities in their countries of origin. Unfortunately, Bangladesh has not been able to tap this lucrative source of finance, expertise and investment to give a boost to its economy although compared to many developing countries Bangladesh has more of its people living and working abroad. Why these non resident Bangladeshis ( NRBs) are not coming forward in sufficient number to invest in Bangladesh for their own gain and for the economic growth of the country can be explained by the image problem that this country suffers and the ground level unfavourable environment as perceived by many NRBs. There is also no mechanism, yet, to tap non financial NRB resources such as their knowledge, know-how and expertise for fast development of different economic sectors.
Understandably, no investor will want to invest in a situation where he or she is not assured the minimum returns on investments. Creation of this overall environment on behalf of the investors is the responsibility of all but more so of the government. The law and order conditions and corruption are considered as strong disincentives to investment in Bangladesh. Everybody in this country may have a role to play in fighting corruption and improving law and order. However, it should be obvious that mainly the government alone only can render the most effective and valuable service in this regard because government has the monopoly of law enforcement. Government has got some good results by deploying the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). But investors probably expect more focused security facilities for their enterprises which the sense often as lacking.
Foreign investments usually flow greater to places where infrastructural supports are good. There are specific fields where the NRBs might want to substantially invest in Bangladesh but they feel not motivated due to the lack of adequately qualified or trained people or the absence of vital infrastructures. For example, information technology (IT) is a highly prospective thrust area for Bangladesh. Non-resident Bangladeshis in many cases have good expertise on IT and they probably want to return to Bangladesh to invest and work in the IT sector with the aim of exporting IT products. But they would be discouraged by the present state of the country’s telecommunications capacities. Bangladesh has been connected to the international information highway with submarine cable connections. But the development of tertiary facilities that must combine with such a connection for its effective utilization, is still lagging behind.
It seems if only the government here could put its act together by fulfilling the minimum conditions for NRBs to invest, then such investments would be forthcoming. The government was supposed to float special bonds for sale to NRBs to mobilise their funds for industrialisaion. . But this is yet to happen.
A conference participated well by the NRBs has just ended its deliberations. It was sponsored by the government of Bangladesh (GOB). Many useful ideas were suggested by the participants in this conference. GOB needs to examine the merit of each of them and then should form strategies based on them as well as its own ideas, to form a proper policy framework or a strategic vision to attract NRB funds and expertise successfully.


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