First of all, I feel privileged and humbled to be the Guest of Honour at this important session of the Convention of the NRB Engineers more so as I myself have been a NRB for almost past 38 years of my life. I am also thrilled to welcome you all most warmly to the new investment-friendly Bangladesh built by our dynamic leader, Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
I am pleased to see this important Convention is organized and being held at a time when the world has embraced on the new wave of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). The frontier technologies in 4IR may reshape the future of humanity and mankind in a significant way. Country like ours will have to face huge challenges to address and get used to them and also to avail of the opportunities that they offer to speed up the pace of our ongoing development journey.
I, therefore find this Convention a timely initiative to assemble the most brilliant techno-savvy minds, experts, practitioners and prospective investors of Bangladesh origin. The Bridge to Bangladesh (B2B) Foundation deserves commendation for taking the initiative to organize this event in partnership with important Ministries, Investment Authorities and relevant Departments of the Government. This partnership is a vindication to the fact that the Government of Sheikh Hasina is ready to welcome NRBs by creating enabling environment for their proactive involvement in the country. I may add that I was privy to participate at the NRBs/PBOs Conferences in Dhaka in 2006, 2009 and last one in 2017. The 2017 NRB Conference was a successful one as it was participated by government officials and following it, with the help of our former Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, a high-powered NRB Taskforce was established under the Honorable Prime Minister’s Office with PM’s Chief Coordinator Abul Kalam Azad and Principal Secretary to PM, Nojibur Rahman as the main operators. In order to involve NRBs in nation building efforts, the Conference adopted a resolution that it would observe a NRB Day or Probashi Debosh on 30th December each year and since then it is being observed in major cities like London, New York, Washington DC, Paris, Rome, Riyadh, Sydney, LA, Toronto, Dubai, Bahrain, etc. i.e. across nations. The objective of the Probashi Debosh is to encourage NRBs/PBOs to involve Bangladeshi NRBs/PBOs in the development trajectory of the country. In addition, a consultant report was also published on the issue and proposals were made for adopting ‘RIPEN’ strategy (R for remittance, I for Investment, P for Philanthropy, E for exchange of experience and expertise and N for Networking) or PIE strategy for encouraging NRBs/PBOs in the development efforts.
I am particularly happy that my Ministry – Ministry of Foreign Affairs is also an important partner for today’s event. I may add that even at the conceptual stage of this conference, our Embassy in Washington DC and Permanent Mission and Consulate-General in New York worked with B2B Foundation to organize Town Hall Meetings to create awareness about the Convention.
Achieving SDGs, while leaving no one behind, will require new development strategies and innovative resource mobilization, as well as the creative use of both existing and emerging technologies. More than 100 million people of the country would be living in urban areas by 2030 and they will require all kind of goods and services that we can estimate today. In addition, nearly 59% of our population is below the age of 25 years and one-third of the nation’s population is between 18-34 years of age. To get demographic dividends, we would need to provide them gainful employment plus quality education and skills training. We should be prepared and able to meet their requirements. To meet their requirements, we need more and more investment, affordable and appropriate technology transfer and we should increase and diversify our exports. Therefore, Honorable Prime Minister proposes to establish 100 Special Economic Zones for investment purpose by 2030 that would create 10 million additional employments.
Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamt of a “Sonar Bangla”. We are so pleased that his very able daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is leading the process of realizing his dream. The progress during last 10 years has already brought us within the reach of building his “Sonar Bangla”. Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina the Government has set up a number of milestones to achieve Bangabandhu’s “Sonar Bangla”:
First, the county achieved the developing county status last year;
Second, by 2021, we expect to be an upper middle-income country;
Third, by 2023, we expect the GDP growth rate to be increased to 10 per cent by realizing the goals of the Awami League 2018 Election Manifesto - “Bangladesh on March Towards Prosperity”.
Fourth, by 2030, we propose to achieve Sustainable Development Goals; and
Finally, by 2041, we would like to be a developed country, Insha Allah.
And above all, under her guidance and with her visionary leadership, we have also developed a 100-year Development Plan called Delta Plan 2100. We should be proud for the fact that Bangladesh is the only country in the world that has developed a 100-year Development Plan.
As we all recognize, NRBs are important contributor to the overall development process of the country in many ways, including by continuously sending remittances. Today’s progress and achievement in Bangladesh owes significantly to the important contribution made by NRBs. Having said this, I emphasize the fact that you all present here today are of a very special group of NRBs. Over the years, most of you studied abroad and earned state of the art expertise and made contribution to innovation and well-being of people both home and abroad. Now, it is time for you to be active partners of our development trajectory.
In our journey to become an upper middle-income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041, I would like to inform you of some concrete actions that the government has taken in order to facilitate and solidify our partnership with you.
First, we have established a dedicated Division dealing with Investment, Trade and Technology to realize the Hon’ble Prime Minster’s Vision of Economic Diplomacy. This division would provide customize support to all foreign investors, including NRB or PBO Investors.
Second, Ministry of Foreign Affairs would have a Mechanism for NRB Outreach and Coordination through our Embassies abroad for NRB/PBO Engagement in the development efforts of the country. My Ministry will also be part of the in-country Coordination with Prime Minister’s Office, External Resources Division, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), all the Investment Authorities, Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment for effective and maximum engagement of NRBs in our development process.
Third, we are developing a system for Digital Consular Service for all Bangladeshis both home and abroad. It would have a dedicated “Window” for NRB Investors in the system to serve them better.
Fourth, the Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina successfully negotiated with India and Myanmar to demarcate our maritime boundary. Now we have a huge area of ocean that can be exploited and explored for Investment and economic benefits. This is one important area where NRBs can also consider for potential investments. My Ministry has a dedicated Division to deal with maritime issues, including investment in the Blue Seas. In this connection, I like to add that we are working closely with the European Union to explore huge resources in our Economic Zones in the sea.
Fifth, Ministry of Foreign Affairs would also be collaborating with PMO and ERD to establish a National Centre for Innovation and Knowledge Management focusing on collaboration among South-South countries as well as involving other stakeholders – businesses, development partners, academia, philanthropy, NGOs, and researchers. I personally think that technical experts like you with your network could be useful and important part of it in an appropriate way. This Center would play an important role in achieving our national development Goals of 2021, 2030 and 2041 through innovation and knowledge management.
I would like to conclude by reminding us all that in our neighborhood, Non-Resident Indian and Non-Resident Chinese contributed hugely to advance their respective countries to their current stage of development. The Government of Sheikh Hasina has created a conducive and enabling environment for involving NRBs in our development process by creating a number of investment authorities and bodies and bringing changes in the relevant Laws/Acts as well as establishing One-Stop-Service for ease of doing business.
We hope that you all would be encouraged by such investment-friendly environment and be partners of our development journey on a win-win basis. I have no doubt that together we can surely build the “Sonar Bangla”, the dream of our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheiklh Mujibur Rahman. Please rest assured of our highest support to your engagement in the development efforts of the country. I wish you all successful deliberations and discussions in the sessions.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let us keep our dream alive, let us keep our hope alive.
Long Live Bangladesh!