81 businesspeople get CIP status

The commerce ministry yesterday awarded the commercially important person (CIP) status to 81 business-people for 2009 to recognise their outstanding performance in business, especially exports.

Of them, 49 people were awarded in the export category and 32 in ex-officio category of different trade bodies, said Monoj Kumar Roy, chief of the selection committee at the awards ceremony at Sonargaon Hotel.

The CIP status in the export category is awarded for sector-wise performance. This year, state-owned Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) invited applications from 22 sectors. EPB sets a sector-wise export ceiling, but loan defaults, payment of income tax and other details are taken into account in selection, a senior EPB official said.

Under the CIP guideline of 2006, 125 persons were supposed to be given the CIP status in exports and 40 persons in the ex-officio category. But that was not done, as the government took into account loan defaults and non-payment of income tax by some applicants.

"But I hope the export target of $18.5 billion for 2010-11 will be exceeded for market diversification and the efforts of the businessmen," said Roy.

Addressing the businesspeople, Commerce Minister Faruk Khan said the government will soon make a policy to allow businessmen to invest oversees.

He asked the businessmen to be more compliant with the requirements of international buyers, and allow formation of workers' welfare committees in industrial units as trade union is not allowed now.

The minister emphasised that the bank interest rate should be brought down to a single digit.

AK Azad, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), urged the government to offer equal facilities to the local investors as given to foreign investors in gas and power.

Azad called for strict monitoring of the stockmarket to avert a repeat of the 1996 share market debacle. "People have little choice for investment. As a result, they are investing in the stockmarket, but majority of the shares are now overpriced."

Former FBCCI president Annisul Huq said Bangladesh is actually a magical country, as the country has performed extraordinarily in exports over the last few decades. "But, we need development of infrastructure to maintain growth."

Commerce Secretary Md Ghulam Hussain said distribution of the CIP awards was delayed mainly because of late clearances on business profiles from different government bodies, such as Bangladesh Bank and National Board of Revenue.

The CIP status recipients will enjoy different facilities like entrance to the secretariat without a special pass, invitation to national programmes and municipal corporations, priority in ticket booking in Biman for overseas travel, reservation of seats in government transport forms, like railways, road and waterways, and VIP status at the airport.

Earlier this year, the government awarded the CIP status to 39 businesspersons in 2009 in the industrial category.

Commerce Minister Faruk Khan poses with commercially important persons yesterday.

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