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2019-04-20 10:41:42 BdST

Light engineering sector seeks policy support for expansion

The country's light engineering sector has sought policy support for its expansion with ensuring quality and sustainability.

The leaders of the sector have started preparing a set of proposals in this regard, focusing on proper investment, modern technologies and product diversification for incorporating in the expected policy, insiders have said.

Light engineering is considered as the mother of others industries. Over 90 per cent units meet domestic needs and the market size is estimated to be around Tk 600 billion, according to Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners' Association (BEIOA).

Some 10,000 types of products, especially spare parts of different sectors like agriculture, garments, textile and jute mills, paper mills, poultry farms etc. are manufactured in the light engineering units.

But the small and medium enterprises are facing obstacles like lack of advanced technologies, skilled workers and, market promotion and products diversification, said Abdur Razzaque, president of the BEIOA.

"So we need a separate policy," he said, adding that they have taken a move to draft a series of proposals, which will be submitted to the government by June next for consideration.

"We will accommodate the experiences from the countries like India and Taiwan, having modern light engineering practices, before finalising a draft policy," he added.

They would also organise a validation workshop with the experts and stakeholders in the sector to enrich the draft policy with accommodating their opinion, Mr. Razzaque added.

He said that Bangladesh still depends on import to meet the local demand for the light engineering products despite the sector has huge potential. "We can meet only 25 per cent of the local demand and the rest are imported."

If the existing problems can be solved, the BEIOA leader thought, the demand for all types of international standard products could be met locally, which would help reduce the dependence on import. After meeting the local needs, the sector would also be able to export these items, he added.

Currently, around 40,000 factories in the sector are operating in the country and 30 per cent of them manufacture capital machinery and spare parts while 70 per cent are engaged in repairing works, the BEIOA data showed. More than 1.0 million workers are engaged in this sector.

When asked, Mr Razzaque said that maximum of the factories were developed haphazardly in different parts of the country. He suggested developing different industrial parks in the light engineering hubs spread across the country to help ensure a compliant and sustainable sector.

Talking to the FE, a senior official at the Ministry of Industries said they have a plan to formulate a policy for the sector. If the BEIOA formulates a draft, it would help prepare the guideline.

Officials, however, said that an industrial park is underway for the light engineering and electrical products manufacturing sectors.

Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) is implementing the project on 50 acres of land in Munshiganj district. Some 300 factories will be accommodated in this park, BSCIC officials said.

The Export Promotion Bureau (BPB) data showed that engineering products earned about US$ 356 million in the fiscal year 2017-18.

Export earnings from the sector stood at $510 million in FY 2015-16 and $ 689 million in FY 2016-17. The sector's export earning is expected to reach $ 9.0 billion by 2030 and $15 billion by 2041, according to Bangladesh Industrial Technical Assistance Centre (BITAC).

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