Small or big, any foreign investment needs approval

Golam Mowla
Published : 07:30, Jan 28, 2020 | Updated : 07:30, Jan 28, 2020

REUTERS/FILE PHOTOFor travel overseas, adults can take up to $12,000 without permission from Bangladesh Bank. But to invest $100 in a foreign country, permission from the central bank is essential.
Central bank says that at this moment, investment within the country is more important and therefore, investment overseas is always discouraged. Recently, ACI had to take permission from Bangladesh Bank to invest $ 100 or Tk 8,400 in USA.
Earlier, with central bank permission, IT organization, Spectrum Engineering, invested Sing $10,500 (Tk 636,000) in Singapore.
It’s believed that since permission from the central bank is complex, many tend to launder money.
Regarding such restrictions, an official of the central bank says: “Bangladesh now has 100 economic zones and investors are being lured with facilities. Once money is invested here, employment will be generated and so, any investment overseas is discouraged.”
Bangladesh Bank spokesperson and executive director, Sirajul Islam, said: “Whatever the amount, permission from the central bank is needed to invest overseas.”
A notice issued by the foreign currency division of the Bangladesh Bank, says: “For travelling to any country, an adult can take up to $ 12,000 of which $ 5,000 can be taken in cash form while the rest can be spent using credit cards. Even children below 12 can take $ 5,000 in a year. But no policy has been formulated as yet about foreign investment and so, from 2013 till now, several businessmen were allowed to invest abroad.”
There is an allegation that BNP mayoral candidate Tabith Awal invested in a company in Singapore without permission from the central bank.
Senior research fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development and Research (BIDS) Dr Naznin Ahmed, said: “There is nothing wrong in investing in open market economies; since foreigners are investing here, we should also be allowed to invest outside. There can be foreign currency income through overseas investment too.”
As per Bangladesh Bank, since 2013, seven institutes got approval to invest abroad and they were given permission on condition that they will bring back the profit to Bangladesh and will not involve in money laundering.
The first permission was to Mobil-Jamuna which was given permission to invest $ 10,000 in Myanmar.
The biggest overseas investment permission was given to DBL Group which invested $ 8 million in Ethiopia in Africa.
Incepta Pharmaceuticals invested £ 10,000 in the UK while BSRM Steel got permission to open a steel factory in Kenya. Under the repatriation quota, the Bangladesh Bank gave permission to invest $ 4.67 million in Kenya.