MAC: Mines and Communities

UK coal company cold-shouldered by leading Banladesh businessman

Published by MAC on 2008-01-31

UK coal company cold-shouldered by leading Banladesh businessman

31st January 2008

A leading Bangladesh businessman has condemned the administration's current contract with UK-listed Global Coal Resources (aka Asia Energy).

Phulbari Coalmine Project: Deal with Asian Energy against interest of country: Mir Nasir

Pulack Ghatack, The New Nation, Internet Edition

31st January 2008

Former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) Mir Nasir Hossain said the agreement with the Asian Energy Company on Phulbari coalmine project goes against interest of Bangladesh and it should be reviewed.

"The existing agreement with the Asia Energy on Fulbari coalmine project is [an] unjust one and it goes against national interest of Bangladesh. I strongly favour review of this agreement," he said while talking to this correspondent in an exclusive interview.

Bangladesh, to keep pace with its GDP growth, needs gas exploration to meet increasing demand for energy. The question of electricity generation and industrial growth is tagged with it, he said.

He said that the country would become industrialised in near future as its trading capital has been transforming into industrial capital. "Few years back we could not think about local investment as high as Tk 500 crore to Tk600 crore. But now many of us are investing to this tune."

He said a group of big businessmen of the country can emerge in the form of consortiums to invest in multibillion take projects for the betterment of the country. "You can see lot of local business consortiums are coming to invest in large projects like coal and gas exploration."

Focusing on the utilisation of national resources including natural gas and coal he said people of Bangladesh are the owners of its resources. Their opinion should be considered seriously. About open mining coal extraction, he said the issue needs extensive policy debate before taking any decision in this regard. The coal policy should be drawn to protect national interest. "I cannot be biased to say that open mining is impossible. But, the country should evaluate the cost-benefit ratio before approving any open mining project," he said.

About the existing business situation he said, "It is a transition period when investment cannot be hoped. When everything is set, policy is set and the situation is hopeful for business - people go for investment. Investment will increase in future if good governance is established."

"A situation was created in the country when real businessmen were not being able to do business for the lack of good governance. But after the 1/11 change some activities of the new Government damaged the business environment. They secured godowns and evicted many small traders. But some things became transparent with the initiatives taken by this Government."

Though businessmen suffered the immediate shock, they will benefit in future, as reform in rules and regulations about taxation, licencing and permissions are underway, he said.

Mir Nasir said building of the Better Business Forum and formation of a Regulatory Reform Commission is a welcome move to remove barriers to business.

The country now needs political stability. If politics stabilises and if the country does not face hartal [strikes] or any destructive political programmes in future , investment will get momentum shortly.

The business leader called upon his community to increase import of essential items and supply those in the market for minimum profit. "We should remember that the country is passing a transition period. As businessmen we have social responsibilities. We have our duties to our future generation. So businessman should act effectively in favour of the nation."

He identified the price hike of essential commodities as the main challenge before the Government at present. He blamed international price hike for this situation and at the same time pointed out the Government's failure in timely food procurement.

"The annual budget of 2007-08 has a plan to procure 8 lakh [800,000] metric tons of rice from home and abroad. But the Government procured only one lakh metric ton rice in the first half of the fiscal year. For that reason the Government failed to intervene into the market at the time of sharp rise of food prices."

He suggested regular intensive monitoring of the local and international markets by the Commerce Ministry to check any further crisis and take timely action. Indiscriminate monitoring does not work.

"We should [ensure] that the market forces are working properly. Price is determined by supply and demand situation. So sufficient supply should be ensured. The private sector should be encouraged to supply properly."

The food prices not only increased in the international market, there is also shortage of supply in the international market, he said. "We should intensify agriculture to build up a food security. [If not] there are chances of greater danger in future."

A law should be framed on hoarding of food items, he suggested. "The law will make it transparent how much hoarding is permissible and for how long. Consumer protection law is also urgent," he said.

Mir Nasir Hossain is Director of Mir Akhter Hossain Ltd (one of the leading Construction Mir Nasir firms in Bangladesh), Managing Director of Mir Ceramic Ltd and Mir Holdings Ltd, Director of Agrani Insurance Co. Ltd. and Peninsula Housing and Development Ltd, and Proprietor of Fair Trading.

He is in the following lines of business: construction Industry, export & import, banking, insurance, transport, information technology, ceramic tiles manufacturing industry, etc.

Mir Nasir Hossain is the senior Vice president of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In business leadership he has a very rich background having been Director, FBCCI for five terms; President, Faridpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) for 2004-2006 and Director of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry for seven terms earlier for 2004-2006 and for two terms previously.

As Chairman of SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry Arbitration Committee he framed the SAARC CCI Arbitration Rule which was approved at the SAARC-CCI meeting in Male in the year 1998. He was Past District Governor, Lions Club International District 315A1, Bangladesh and Past Council Chairman, Lions Club International Multiple District 315, Bangladesh.

In social activities, he is President, Faridpur Diabetic Association, Life Member of Red Crescent Society, School for Mentally Retarded Students, Dr. Zahid Memorial Shishu Hospital, Faridpur and different Orphanages, Bangladesh Lions Foundation, etc.

Mir Nasir graduated B.Com. (Hons) M.Com and was placed in the 1st class from Dhaka University. He was born on February 1, 1951.


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