The Commerce Ministry and Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) recently recognised 136 business people for their contribution to Bangladesh’s economy. Minister of Commerce Tofail Ahmed presented the Commercially Important Persons (CIP) 2015 awards in 19 categories in a ceremony at the Radisson Hotel in Dhaka.

During the event 136 received the cards in the export category for 2015 while 42 cards were awarded to the Directors of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in the trade category as ex-officio members. The Commerce Ministry and the Export Promotion Bureau jointly organised the event.

“We need to be more caring about the businesspeople so that they can export more,” said Ahmed while speaking at the event. He said the government has already increased cash incentives for different sectors to facilitate exports. The Minister urged banks to cut the lending rate to the single-digit in practice, not just in papers, so that businesses can really borrow at lower interest rates.“Bangladesh has earned $41bn in exports including services this year. The projected earning in three years is to rise by 15 per cent to $60bn. By next year we hope to export $44 bn worth of good,” he said.

Azizul Islam, the Chairman and Managing Director of Alif Garments, was awarded for his work in woven garments. “People will be inspired to do more and do it better after this recognition,” he said. “This has now given them more responsibility to keep the economy going.” Among those others awarded were Hasan Ahmed, Managing Director of Popular Jute Exchange Ltd. for raw jute; Ananta Jalil (AJ), Chairman and Managing Director, AJI Group; Mohammad Monsur, Noman Group etc. The volume and value of shipments, tax payment, compliances, initiatives aimed at saving the environment and corporate social responsibility are considered while selecting the CIPs. The CIPs will enjoy some privileges from the government until the next winners are named.

They will be able to use the cards as the entry pass to enter the secretariat and will be invited to state- and municipality-sponsored events, according to a gazette. They will get priority while reserving seats for travelling via railways, airways and waterways. The Foreign Ministry will also write to embassies or high commissions for visa purposes if a CIP plans to travel abroad for business purposes. The CIPs will be able to use the VIP lounges at the airports and their spouses and children will get priority in booking seats at public hospitals. Commerce Secretary Shubhashish Bose and EPB Vicechairman Bijoy Bhattacharjee also spoke during the event.