Overseas investment to be allowed

Finance minister assures drug makers
Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said drug makers will be allowed to make overseas investment on a case-by-case basis.

The assurance came at a seminar in the capital yesterday where the sector leaders raise such a demand pointing to a number of problems the pharmaceutical industry now faces.

The minister said the government might relax regulations to allow local makers of medicine to facilitate capital export. “We will permit capital export, but it should be on a case-by-case basis.”

Held at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel, the seminar, Pharma Vision 2015, was organised by Bangladesh Association of Pharma Industries.

Bapi President Salman F Rahman was in the chair.

About 194 local companies, currently in operation, account for 97 percent production of the national consumption, while the rest 3 percent is imported.

Abdul Muktadir, Bapi’s general secretary, said although Bangladesh sells pharmaceutical products to 80 countries, the country’s export earning from the sector has been dismal due to the current foreign exchange regulation.

“The regulation does not allow us to invest outside the country. Besides, we need to take permission for overseas expenses from Bangladesh Bank through authorised dealer, which is too time-consuming,” he pointed out.

The finance minister asked the authorities concerned to be strict about issuing licences to drug makers to avert any trend of making spurious medicines.

Dr Modasser Ali, health adviser to the prime minister, said the government will take steps to solve the problems the local pharmaceuticals sector.

Industries Minister Dilip Barua expressed his hope that API Park in Munshiganj, to be inaugurated by early next year, would bring new opportunities for the sector.

Mashiur Rahman, adviser to the prime minister on economic affairs, the barriers standing in the way of local pharmaceuticals industry need to be looked at.

The health minister said the sector should be given assistance in registering products with foreign markets, promoting their products and sending sample to tap opportunities.