Recession Turns NRB Investors' Gaze Homeward
Wednesday, 11 March 2009

A group of American-based Bangladeshis are looking for major investment opportunities 'back home', in the wake of the worst US recession in decades.

"The US has been most affected by the economic meltdown; industries are collapsing there forcing thousands out of jobs," says Farasath Ali, who heads a visiting delegation of US-based NRBs.

"Bangladeshi investors abroad are also hit severely," Ali told Monday.

The delegation met finance minister AMA Muhith earlier in the day, requesting the government to build an investment-friendly atmosphere in the country for an estimated 100 NRB investors.

Ali told after the meeting that Bangladeshi investors in the US were looking to bring hundreds of millions of dollars over if given the chance.

"For example, entrepreuner Shantanu Das says he is ready to invest Tk 3,500 crore (about half a billion dollars) any moment in the country," he said.

Das, or5iginally from Sylhet, has large investments in US, mainly in the IT sector; he also has a partnership in a business with cofounder of the Microsoft Corporation Bill Gates, said Ali.

"The Obama administration's announcement of an economic recovery package does not seem to bring any relief; an acute unstable economic situation has been prevailing."

"Investors from other countries are pulling their investments out of the US and turning back to heir respective countries," said Ali, a New York-based restaurateur who owns the popular 'Great Indian Restaurant' as well as a knitwear business.

"Like Das, some 500 Bangladeshi expatriates running small or large businesses are inclined to invest in Bangladesh right now," said Ali.

"Some 100 expatriates have major investments in the US, in restaurant, garments and IT sectors, as well as in the share markets and real estate," said Ali, who is senior vice president of the ruling Awami League's US arm.

The delegation, in its meeting with the finance minister, proposed an 'expatriate bank'.

"The finance minister was very positive about it," said Ali.

Muhith asked the expatriates whether they could manage some Tk 600 crore capital to set up the bank, he said.

"If we are given permission to set up the bank, through "a consortium" of expatriates from the USA, UK and other countries, we could manage the money," said Ali, who is originally from Moulavibazar.

The delegation also urged the government to resume Dhaka-New York flights.

"We calso offered to take over the flight management if the government leaves it to the private sector," said Ali.


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