Denmark with Bangladesh in addressing dev challenges

Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mikael H Winther has said Bangladeshi people are very focused on developing their country but there are some ‘serious challenges’ ahead, including having a favourable business climate in place, to march ahead on a higher development road, reports UNB.
“You’re improving your country in a very visible way. So, I think everybody who is skeptical (about further progress) they should reconsider their skepticism,” Winther told the news agency in an interview at his residence here.
Talking about the challenges, the ambassador who passed his most of diplomatic career in Asia, said creating a favourable business climate for foreign and local investors is one of the challenges.
The ambassador who arrived here barely a month back laid emphasis on making business regulations ‘easier’ for a healthy and sound investment so that foreign companies, including the Danish ones, feel comfort in doing business in Bangladesh.
“Regulations are necessary to make sure the development benefits reach people and people do not damage the environment. But, you shouldn’t prevent good companies to conduct their businesses,” said the Danish envoy assuring Bangladesh of helping in every possible ways establish stronger engagements and share experiences.
Sharing his understanding from reading about Bangladesh and talking to people, Winther mentioned some areas like bureaucracy, lack of transparency, unpredictability in legislations, changes of framework that make companies uncertain on what they can count on that need to be addressed.
Stressing the importance of a lasting political stability, the Ambassador said there has to be a favourable political situation which will encourage foreign companies to come to and invest in Bangladesh.
“Again, Bangladesh can’t achieve these goals alone. You need to engage in the world and let countries engage in Bangladesh,” he said adding, “We hopefully can reach a level where Bangladesh can attract much more investment and businesses.”
Winther who served an extended term of almost six years in Thailand before taking up his assignment in Dhaka said Bangladesh needs to allow more private sector investment but also needs, in his view, to improve the business climate for foreign businesses to achieve development goals.
Appreciating security measures taken by the government, the Danish envoy said security is also something that their companies are concerned about. “Stable economic and political environments are important but security is also very important for them. They don’t dare coming if they’re afraid of their own security or afraid of their investment,” he said.
The Danish diplomat who has been an associate professor at Copenhagen University and Copenhagen Business School said they try to brief their companies on government actions. “We encourage the Bangladesh government to remain open to us as much as possible.”
On combating terrorism, he said, “Global terrorism is something threatening to all of us. This issue cannot be handled alone. We need to work together. We’ll remain open to each other.”
Winther said they together with his colleagues from other countries, including European countries, try to advise Bangladesh government on where the ‘sticky issues’ and difficulties are and how those can be addressed.
Emphasising ‘inclusive growth’, the Ambassador said he is very ‘occupied’ with the concept of inclusive growth as growing economically is not enough if poor people do not get its benefits.
“Increasing inequality (in any country) makes people unhappy and when they’ll be unhappy with the government then political instability will prevail making whole things difficult.”
Mentioning that Bangladesh has been an incredible experience for them, the envoy said they will continue helping and developing the countryside people living in rural areas.
“We’ve an emphasis on rural development. We’re doing everything we can to reach out to the poorest people,” the Ambassador insisted.
The diplomat wants to go beyond traditional diplomacy and wants to be a person ‘approachable’ to all.
“If you aren’t friendly, people will turn away from you and you cannot do your job,” he said adding that he wants to get closer to people’s needs as he believes when one goes out to countryside he or she gets much better understanding of people.
The Danish envoy said he does not want to do his job only in a formal way. “Talking only with government people and diplomats, I don’t think, I’ll be able to know this country. I won’t be able to sense what people really think of,” he explained.
Asked about his plan on women empowerment issues, he said though he is a male Ambassador he is still very strongly engaged in gender issues and women empowerment.
“A society is much richer when women have opportunities. Making women visible and their empowerment is very important to us.”
Winther said he will focus more on engagement between the two countries on all possible fronts by promoting Danish companies. “We’ve experience that the more you are open for other companies from other countries the more people will benefit in an economic growth.”
Appreciating Bangladeshi people, he said, “Bangladesh, I think, needs much more positive stories to define.”
He said Bangladesh and Denmark have very good economic and commercial relations with development cooperation moving into more business-to-business cooperation. Responding to a question on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he said Denmark also wants to be partner in Bangladesh’s efforts to achieve the goals.
On overall relations between the two countries, he said, “My own feeling is that we’ve been very successful. I’ve been very amazed when I speak to Bangladeshi people how much knowledge they have about Danida, a very strong brand name here.”
Danida is the term used for Denmark’s development cooperation, which is an area of activity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.

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