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Monday, April 13, 2009

New import policy to focus on financial crisis

The Daily Star

Commerce Minister Faruk Khan said yesterday the next import policy for 2009-12 would target measures to tackle the global financial crisis, ensuring a hassle-free business atmosphere and protect the local industries.

The government will follow the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in making the new policy to achieve the goals, as the country is an active member of the agency, Khan said.

Terming the government business-friendly, Khan said the policy would take measures to stop harassment of businessmen.

Khan asked the business community not to be profiteers as the profit-maximising mindset goes against the interests of consumers.

The minister was speaking at the "Consultative Committee Meeting on Import Policy 2009" at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel. Secretaries from different ministries, officials from government agencies and departments, businessmen, policy analysts, leaders from trade bodies and associations, importers, exporters and industrialists attended the meeting to give opinions on the upcoming import policy.

Khan said the upcoming import policy, which is scheduled to come into effect from July 1, after the expiry of the present policy (2006-09), would not follow a direct protectionism policy.

But the local industries will be protected through other alternative measures like lowering the bank interest rates, he said.

The government will tighten restrictions on the import of melamine-mixed milk and tainted-milk and on the "import of the things which go against the moral sentiments of people", Khan said.

The minister said the government would relax the policy options on the import of books and other educational materials.

The government is expected to make a 'specialised' policy on importing computers and computer accessories and solar panels to help build a Digital Bangladesh, an election pledge of the government, the minister said.

Khan said he would also sit with the officials of the National Board of Revenue, Bangladesh Bank and other agencies to finalise the draft of the import policy.

If necessary, the government will further alter the policy by issuing the statutory regulatory orders to help businessmen, Khan said.

At the meeting, Manzur Ahmed, adviser to the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), urged the government to make basic changes in the import policy, as it is "too liberal".

Commerce Secretary Feroz Ahmed said it is not possible now to adopt a protectionist policy in the free-market economy. "Local industries could be protected through alternative measures," he said.

At the meeting, 295 recommendations from 196 trade organisations, persons and businessmen have been filed for the import policy.



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