Singaporean state minister for foreign and home affairs Zulkifli Masagos who concluded his six-day visit to Bangladesh yesterday openly invited businessmen from Bangladesh to be pro-active in availing of the opportunities as offered under the city-state’s liberaltrade policy.
Singapore’s rise under the dynamic leadership of Lee Kuan Yewis a subject worth studying. That his influence was mesmerising is known, what is however little known or recognised is the corps of leadership that has successfully taken the good work ahead. Maintaining the momentum of socio-economic progress is what counts at the end of the day. Lee Kuan Yew’s successors have done it quite creditably. When it comes to trade, commerce, industry, tourism, transport, housing and even law and order or good governance, Singapore certainly has a lesson for not only countries like Bangladesh but also for many others in a different league all across the globe. How the small island has addressed its scarcity of land for human settlement and even managed to accommodate a significant number of manufacturing units should be a good subject for study here.
It is clear from the words of the Singaporean minister that Bangladesh has failed to explore the avenues of augmenting that country’s investment in Bangladesh. Currently the two countries’ economic ties are confined mostly to trade and commerce where Bangladesh is a major importer with import valued nearly at US$1.7 billion against its export worth only a paltry amount of US$179.23 million, according to the latest estimate. How surprising it is that despite the interest shown by Singapore’s investors, their investment in this country is yet to materialise! When investors from other South-east Asian countries could be attracted to invest here, exclusion of Singaporean investors is simply inexplicable. Can it be that the tiny city-state was not thought to be a highly prospective candidate for such investments? Their experience and expertise would have contributed handsomely to the industrial and economic development of Bangladesh.
The striking similarities between the two countries in matters of scarcity of land with an oversize population could be studied on a miniature scale if the issues were taken up case by case in the context of Singapore. That would have revealed how they have tackled the problems. What is true for them within a small boundary is equally so for Bangladesh in a larger context.
Bangladesh could not seize the opportunity earlier but the state minister from Singapore has sounded quite optimistic that not everything has come to an end. Singapore’s liberal policies have been a key to its socio-economic progress. Bangladesh too can boast market reforms and deregulation — measures that matches the expectation of foreign investors. Its energy, particularly electricity, poses a serious problem. Critical as it proves, it is worth exploring the avenues of overcoming the problem preferably with cooperation from Singapore’s investors. Other pressing areas are not difficult to identify and they should be taken up for addressing according to their priorities.
Source : FE INSIDE – Editorial –Lesson from Singapore, 7.9.2012.
Senior minister of state for foreign and home affairs of Singapore Zulkifli Masagos speaks at a programme organised by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in honour of him in Dhaka on Tuesday. MCCI president Amjad Khan Chowdhury presided over the function. — New Age photo