Commerce Ministry launches $40m fund under EC4J project | The Asian Age Online, Bangladesh

The Ministry of Commerce has launched a $40 million new fund under the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project for infrastructure investments in order to create around 90,000 fresh jobs and to boost export of leather and leather goods, footwear, plastics and light engineering sectors.Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi on Wednesday joined the launching ceremony as the chief guest through a virtual platform while Commerce Secretary Md Jafar Uddin, representative from the World Bank and business leaders from the concerned sectors, among others, joined it, reports BSS.

In his speech, Tipu Munshi urged the exporters to come forward for increasing the country’s export as the government is providing all sorts of support to the exporters, reports BSS. “The present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is business-friendly. Bangladesh has the potential to move ahead in competitive export trade. Bangladesh’s export trade is moving forward,” he added.The commerce minister said Bangladesh’s main export products are Ready-made garments, leather and leather products, footwear, light engineering and plastics products.

To diversify the products, he said, the Ministry of Commerce is supporting the Export Competitiveness for Jobs (EC4J) project. Under this project, he said, the program titled Public Investment Facility for Infrastructure Constraints (PIFIC) has been launched. PIFIC has approximately $40 million available in grants and technical assistance, which is expected to cover 15-20 infrastructure projects within industrial clusters around the country.

The types of projects for which investment grants are available include water treatment plants and upgraded water connections in an industrial area, waste recycling facilities in public-private joint ventures, specialized warehouses, last-mile transmission of electric power, and enhanced local connectivity etc.It also includes upgraded telecom connectivity, upgraded access roads, service centers in clusters and industrial parks related general facilities etc. This grant will only be applicable when at least a cluster of industries will benefit from it and not for the benefit of a single industry.

The purpose is to remove infrastructural barriers to increase productivity and export-capacity in the above four potential sectors for growth of production, employment and exports. To this end, PIFIC is accepting applications from industrial associations, business groups, or consortiums of industrial clusters.Processing of Applications: Suitable applications for financing infrastructure investment will be selected by PIFIC. Upon such selection, it will also provide guidance and actively assist the nominated candidates in formulating a complete project proposal.

Services provided by the PIFIC program will include feasibility study, project evaluation, technical design, preparation of procurement documents and monitoring service during project implementation period. Subsequently all these agreements will be continued under the EC4J project.Leather products, footwear (leather and non-leather), plastic, and light engineering industries have been selected on a priority basis in the country’s Export Policy and the Seventh Five-Year Plan.If the PIFIC program is successfully implemented, these potential sectors will contribute to the implementation of the country’s export diversification plan, and will facilitate the access to international markets.

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