On the 3rd of December 2012, the Nordic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and the Royal Norwegian Embassy hosted the NCCI Annual Night at GP House in Dhaka. The event was attended by many representatives from Nordic and Bangladeshi companies, other chambers of commerce, as well as the Ambassadors from Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Arild Klokkerhaug, president of NCCI, in opening the event reminded the audience of the Nordic companies wishing to be goodwill ambassadors for Bangladesh as a strong business destination. Picking up on the recent debate within the NCCI on a series of challenges to effective and transparent business practices, dilemmas and expectations of the international business community, a special panel of high level persons took this discussion a big step further with a clear message: Transparency and ethical business practices is the way forward and the private sector needs to proactively drive this process.
Mr. Latifur Rahman (CEO Transcom Group), Ms. Jahrat Adit Chowdhury (Head of Corporate Affairs GPIT), Mr. Mahbubur Rahman (President International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh) and Mr A.M. Kazemi (Former Deputy Governor of Bangladesh Bank and Senior Adviser to the Governor of Bangladesh Bank) took part in an interactive debate, moderated by Mr. Shameem Raihanuddin (Managing Director of Eshna Consulting Ltd) who inspired the panelists to offer frank observations and share their views with an excited audience.
Mr. Latifur Rahman was awarded an honorary membership of NCCI in recognition of his contributions towards the development of Bangladeshi business in the global arena. Here with President of the NCCI, Aril Klokkerhaug
Immediately following the debate, Mr. Latifur Rahman, who was earlier this year awarded the Oslo Business for Peace Award, was awarded an honorary membership of NCCI in recognition of his contributions towards the development of Bangladeshi business in the global arena.
“When you see others take shortcuts it is tempting to emulate, but it will catch up with you,” Mr. Rahman stated, adding that “there are problems, but we [Bangladeshi investors] invest 100% in this country. Either I’ve lost my mind, or I believe there is potential.”
The general perception of the panel was that Bangladesh had improved and developed tremendously over the last 20-30 years. It was however, pointed out that Bangladesh had dropped a few places on “Doing Business Indexes” this year and that further improvements were necessary in order to attract more foreign direct investment.
“In my experience I have seen officials corrupted by businesses who want to move faster. Let’s not move like that.” cautioned Mr. Kazemi, who called for improvement in government income and salaries for public officials, coupled with capacity building.
The speakers called for a proactive move from the private sector for creating a win-win investment environment in Bangladesh, while also stressing the need for investor-friendly business policies and regulations from the government.
“One things is complaining, another is to adjust and contribute” added Ms. Chowdhury. She emphasised that while progress is being made, Bangladesh “cannot wait 35 years.”
The Norwegian Ambassador Ragne Birte Lund thanked the panellists for sharing their wisdom, will and commitment with the audience. The debate had been inspiring and provided a solid foundation for a continued dialogue, with potential for expansion to larger forums.
The Norwegian baroque ensemble Trio Nightingale ended the formal program with a concert showcasing baroque, renaissance, rococo and folk music. The ensemble was in Bangladesh for a week as part of the on-going music cooperation between Norway and Bangladesh, organised by Concerts Norway and supported by the Embassy. Finally, the evening was capped with an informal dinner allowing for socializing among the participants.
The panel debate was also a follow up of “Bangladesh Frontier Forum” in Oslo in April 2012, and the NCCI workshop in October titled “Challenges and Solutions for Effective and Transparent Business Practice”.
Trio Nightingale ended the formal program with a concert showcasing baroque, renaissance, rococo and folk music