[ FIRST PAGE ] 2018-08-11
Foreign investors may get CIP status in Bangladesh
Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan

Foreign investors in the country may also become eligible for getting the prestigious Commercially Important Person (CIP) status, according to the latest policy that is currently in the final stage of formulation.

At the same time, the new policy may create provision for a separate CIP category for the service sector, officials concerned have revealed.

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) officials will hold a formal meeting tomorrow (Sunday), where the inclusion of these two new categories of CIPs is likely to be discussed, they added.

"We are planning to extend the CIP status to the eligible foreign investors," MoC Additional Secretary Md. Obaidul Azam told the FE.

"Its purpose is to bring more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country, including overseas investment in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs)."

Under the strategy, eligible businesspeople from a fully-foreign owned entity having investment in Bangladesh or a joint venture company with majority foreign equity can also become eligible for CIP status, he informed.

At present, FDI constitutes a meagre portion of Bangladesh's total investment. The FDI flow in the country has also been quite erratic and very low compared to some other countries in the region, like Vietnam.

Statistics available with the Bangladesh Bank (BB) showed that net inflow of FDI in the country stood at US$ 2.15 billion in 2017, declining 7.72 per cent from $ 2.33 billion a year ago.

"Extending CIP status can be helpful in encouraging foreign investment, especially in the SEZs," he noted.

Meanwhile, the new policy may also make way for a separate category for the service sector to encourage more service-related export.

Under the existing government policy, formulated in 2013, CIP status is awarded in two categories - 'goods and services' and 'trade-bodies'.

"However, we are planning to have a separate category for the service sector. We think the measure will encourage more service sector export from the country," Mr. Azam further said.

The service sector currently forms an insignificant portion of Bangladesh's total export.

In the fiscal year 2016-17, the service sector contributed $3.42 billion to the country's total export of $ 34.83 billion. It means that only around 10 per cent of the country's total export came from the service sector.

The CIP status holders are entitled to enjoy different state privileges for one year from issuance of the status.

The CIP cardholders receive special pass and vehicle stickers for entering the Bangladesh Secretariat. They also get invitations in various state programmes.

The CIPs also get assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for getting visa for their overseas business travels.

They are also allowed to use VIP lounge of the airports while getting priority booking in railways and national flag carrier airlines.

The cardholders, their spouses and children enjoy privileges in getting cabins in the public hospitals.

A total of 164 individuals got the CIP status last year, out of whom, 131 got the status in 'goods and services' category, while 33 others got in 'trade-bodies' category.
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