Allotment of BEZA, BEPZA, BHTPA plots: Women to own 30pc stakes

Some 30 per cent of plots and spaces in economic and export-processing zones and hi-tech parks have to be reserved, from now on, for country’s women entrepreneurs.

Officials said the government has handed such a decision to Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) and Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA).

The prime ministers’ office (PMO) took the decision in a recent meeting with BEZA, BEPZA and BHTPA officials, they added.

The move aims to increase the participation of the womenfolk in the country’s economic activities, especially in the industrial sector, undertaking some ‘revolutionary’ steps.

The government wants to increase women’s participation in the industrial sector, now witnessing a steady expansion under the economic zoning endeavours.

“As part of the move, BEZA, BEPZA and BHTPA will have to earmark about 30 per cent of their plots and spaces for women entrepreneurs,” a PMO official said.

“Besides, the government plans to set up a special economic zone or a hi-tech park in the country exclusively for women entrepreneurs,” he said.

BEZA, BEPZA and BHTPA will take necessary measures accordingly, sources concerned said.

Presently, there is no specific allocation in the proposed economic zones, export-processing zones and hi-tech parks.

“The government wants to make women more useful in the economy, especially in the industrial sector, for the country’s overall economic growth,” said a high official engaged in investment promotion.

Only 13.30 per cent women hold higher posts or policymaking positions in the country’s industrial and service sectors, according to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) data.

In the industrial sector, 2,243 women are holding top or policymaking positions in the urban area while 2,741 in the service sector, the BBS data show. Overall women’s participation in the country’s economic sector is yet to reach a desired level. But their participation in different business sectors is gradually increasing. A good number of women have been holding top/policy posts in the industrial and service sectors, the officials said.

As part of the move, five economic zones were selected for piloting in 2012. At present the number of economic zones stands at 74. Two more are underway for final approval.

BEZA also awarded prequalification licences to 13 local private companies and final licences were given in favour of two EZs. More EZs are now in prequalification stages.

A hi-tech park is being set up in Kaliakoir upazila of Gazipur district. Besides, the government has already moved to build more hi-tech parks in the country.