PHP Group is an older conglomerate which has intensive backward-integrated production processes in steel, glass and ship-recycling sectors. The ship recycling feeds the local steel production sector (re-bars, angle iron and cold-rolled zinc-coated steel sheet for roofing use).
Their facilities in the ship-recycling sector have adopted "green eco-conscious processes" as per the UN " Hong Kong Convention on ship breaking" which addresses labor safety and environmental protections and they have also received the "Maritime Award" for ecological Ship recycling. Workers (for a change from usual practice in the subcontinent) follow US OSHA-type safety regimes (boots, helmets, eye/ear/breathing protection apparatus) and use mechanized cranes, material handling device/processes for handling heavy engineering items and large ship-plates, stressing worker safety. Some footage also shown for downstream industries like passenger vehicle assembly (where their cold-rolled steel sheets are used for stamped auto body components), glass processing etc.
News Report says the patriarch (Sufi Mizanur Rahman) started with the equivalent of Taka 1483 (about $16.47) and now they have a combined group turnover close to about $5 Billion yearly.
Sorry News Report in Bengali (Bangla, local language) only
Leonardo is expanding its share of the growing Bangladeshi helicopter market with the announcement, during Singapore Air Show, of the upcoming delivery of five helicopters to Bashundhara Airways, comprising three AW109 Trekkers and two AW119Kx. The helicopters will be used for EMS, utility, law-enforcement, surveillance, VIP, corporate & passenger transport applications and will bring Leonardo’s market share to exceed 30%.
Furthermore, Bashundhara Airways has been appointed exclusive distributor of Leonardo civil helicopters in Bangladesh and has established a Service Centre for the Country. The appointment marks another step in Leonardo’s ongoing expansion of its customer support network around the world, establishing centers close to customers to provide quicker and better services.
Leonardo already has an established presence in Bangladesh with government customers operating helicopters – including twin-engine AW139s with the Bangladesh Air Force and AW109Ms with the Navy – and other defence and security systems.
Top Bangladeshi private power company Summit has acquired around one fourth of a power project of an Indian power company in Tripura, marking the first footprint of any Bangladeshi company on investing in a foreign power venture.
Summit bagged 23.5% of the ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) in July last year committing to invest about US$50 million in its 750mw gas fired power plant in Tripura. Summit is now awaiting approval of the central government.
"I think this would be the first purchase by any Bangladeshi-owned company investing in a power plant abroad," said Chairman of Summit Group Muhammed Aziz Khan, adding that he expected the shares would be transferred to his company Summit India (Tripura) in a month or two.
This is the very power plant that Bangladesh had helped OTPC build a decade back by allowing transshipment of its heavy equipment through Bangladesh. Now this company is set to build another 350-megawatt power plant from gas, transmission assets and renewable potentials.
Summit is also in talks with another company over a deal to invest, purchase and import renewable energy to Bangladesh from India at a competitive rate. These cross border renewable deals are backed by The World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and are part of policies of the two governments.
The company that now has a huge stake in Bangladesh's energy industry is also trying to secure a Liquefied Natural gas (LNG) deal with an American company on a long-term basis at a reasonably low cost.
Aziz Khan, in conversation with The Business Standard, also reflected on how his home-grown infrastructure company of the nineties was becoming a multinational entity.
The company moved its headquarters to Singapore six-seven years back with a view to expand its activities beyond Bangladesh, which still remains its business hotspot and where Summit plans to invest another $3 billion by 2025. Moving to Singapore has made it easier for Summit to get finances, he said.
In 2017, Summit won a bid in India to develop a port in Kolkata. It bagged another deal recently to run another port in Patna -- which is now under construction.
"For the last four years, we have been operating the Kolkata port that we implemented under the build-own-operate-transfer model by winning a tender from the Inland Waterways Authorities of India,'' said the Summit Group chairman.
"I think that nobody [in Bangladesh] has invested in ports or infrastructure abroad before," said Khan.
Summit has 20 power plants in Bangladesh with a capacity to generate 1,942MW electricity—representing around 8% of the country's total power generation capacity -- and another 600 mw under construction.
The infrastructure conglomerate also has a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) for supplying 500mmcf LNG per day.
Summit shifts to Singapore to broaden the horizon
"We have shifted our head office to Singapore to broaden the horizon from containment to go to India and other sub continental countries," Aziz Khan said.
Khan said that implementing a power plant in Bangladesh is a very difficult task because of the high interest of capital and lack of funding.
He said that the Summit Group has so far invested $2.5billion in Bangladesh.
"For implementing a project, you need to have 30% capital and 70% debt. But I did not have that money. So, I had to take a loan," he said.
"From that calculation, I had to manage around $900million. But you didn't hear that I defrauded any banks or people. So, I had to get this capital. Then, I had to manage a $2.1 billion loan, and there is no allegation that I'm not repaying the loan either," Khan added.
"It was possible due to the low cost of capital. We took a $350 million loan from Standard Chartered Bank at 3.5% fixed interest against the Switzerland state bank's guarantee.
"But implementation of large projects would not be possible by paying 10-12% interest rate to the local financiers. The private sector does not get the opportunity to obtain loans at an interest rate of 1% like the government," he said.
"Being a private sector company, we get a loan at 3.5% and our average interest rate is 4.5% against the current $800million loan. And 80% of this loan book is from foreign companies or lenders," he said.
Khan said others are not getting the commercial loan because of their own company's governance and the credit rating of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's credit rating is also a reason behind the shift of the head office to Singapore, said the Summit Group chairman. "Cost of the fund depends on the credit rating. If you want big spending, you need to go to a big market and Singapore is a big market," he said.
Bangladesh's credit rating is still BB minus (BB-), while Singapore is a triple-A or double-A rating country.
"So, we get double-A if we do the credit rating in Singapore, but if we do it here in Bangladesh, we won't be able to get it above BB minus," he said.
Another reason for the shift to Singapore was to hire skilled manpower for large projects, said Aziz Khan.
"Getting management is very tough here in Bangladesh because nobody has done big business. You cannot find someone who has done a 580MW power plant implementation, but that is available all over the world," he added.
Summit invests with American company for long term LNG solution
Summit Group, the trailblazer in the power and energy sector in Bangladesh, is now eying a long term LNG solution.
Talking about the new horizon of the business, Aziz Khan, said, "We are now discussing investment in LNG liquefaction and transportation processes with American companies. If we are successful, we will be able to supply LNG at a lower price."
"Recently, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Commonwealth LNG to collaborate in the supply of LNG to Asia, including Bangladesh," he said.
The scope of the MoU includes contracting for 1 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) of LNG offtake, for a term of up to 20 years, from Commonwealth's 8.4 MTPA facility currently under development in Cameron, Louisiana.
Building the third FSRU of the country
Summit Group is also looking to establish its second and the country's third FSRU at Moheshkhali coast to regasify another 500 MMCF LNG.
In this regard, Aziz Khan said, "We have applied for the second FSRU and we have heard that it has been positively taken by the government.
"Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited (RPGCL), the state-run company responsible for LNG operation, is going to call us for negotiation," he added.
The Summit Group chairman also said that this was not by their persuasion, but the country needed it and Petrobangla understood that.
Petrobangla wanted to build an on-shore terminal but they could not acquire the land for it yet, he said.
"Even if they get the land, it will take time to develop the land and they have to dig at an 18-metre depth for storage, but the country does not have that time," Khan further added.
The capacity of the new FSRU will be 170,000 cubic metres, which would be 30% higher than the existing one.
Will LNG remain affordable?
Currently, the country has a demand for around 3500mmcf to 4000mmcf of gas per day, whereas it gets only 2500mmcf from local gas fields, so a gap remains there.
The margin of the demand gap will be bigger once the 100 economic zones, undertaken by the government, come into operation.
"And as the reserve of natural gas deflates gradually, the demand-supply gap of gas has to be fulfilled by LNG," said Khan.
The next infrastructure necessary for Bangladesh is how to bring LNG and how to continue to supply the most needed energy for the continuous and sustainable development of Bangladesh, he added.
But in the last one year LNG price was wildly volatile and went up to $36 per MMBtu.
Talking about affordability, Khan said, "To get the lower price, we have to go to a long term contract, instead of spot purchase."
Khan also said that his new FSRU would be able to provide LNG at cheaper rates than the existing ones. And it is possible if one invests in liquefaction and transportation of LNG, he said.
Top Bangladeshi private power company Summit has acquired around one fourth of a power project of an Indian power company in Tripura, marking the first footprint of any Bangladeshi company on investing in a foreign power venture. Summit bagged 23.5% of the ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) in...
There are now many Home textile factories in Bangladesh as well. Here is one that seems quite large in scale of operations and their description,
" ACS Textiles, a name emblematic of trust and superior quality in Home Textiles, is a 100% British investment.
As a state-of-the-art, composite manufacturing facility, with weaving, dyeing, printing, finishing, and packaging services, all offered under a single expansive roof, ACS stands as one of the largest of its kind in the industry.
ACS Textiles is a quality conscious company, reliant on ethically sound, internationally recognized policies. We produce top quality bedding and linen sheets ranging from 200-400 thread count percale sheets. Featuring also, high quality satin and duvets with Egyptian and organic cotton. ACS Textiles is a trailblazer in the textile industry, whether it be seer sucker fabrics, jacquard or intricate embroidery, our facilities are equipped to produce the most innovative textiles of our times.
Staying true to our name in quality and innovation, we offer a wide-range of towel products. ACS Textiles BD Ltd. has come a long way since its establishment in 2004, and over the years has built a global reputation for excellence, if matched by others, then only by a few in the global textile network.
The manufacturing facility employs over 6000 people, and averages at about 30,000 pieces of superior quality textile products per day.
Our products have found their market in European countries, such as Italy, France, and the UK. Our influence reaches the markets of Scandinavian Europe with our design studio in Sweden.
2008 saw ACS expanding its export clientele to include Australia and North America.
Our excellence is recognized not only by our customers, but by official international authorities for quality standards – "OEKO-Tex Standard 100" certification further endorses our unswerving commitment to quality. "
DBL Group is a family owned business which started in 1991.
The first company was named as Dulal Brothers Limited. Over the years, the organization evolved into a diversified conglomerate in Bangladesh. The businesses include Apparels, Textiles, Textile Printing, Washing, Garments Accessories, Packaging, Ceramic Tiles, Pharmaceuticals, Dredging, Semiconductor Design (VLSI), ICT, and Telecommunications.
With a dedicated workforce of 38,000 employees, the annual turnover for the year 2018-19 was USD 600 Million. The organization has financial investments from IFC of the World Bank, DEG-KfW (Germany), and Swedfund (Sweden).
DBL engaged in its first offshore business in Ethiopia for Apparels and Textiles, creating employment opportunities for 4,500 people.
DBL is well reputed locally and globally for its diverse set of sustainability activities, working with international development organizations such as CARE, DEG, IFC, GIZ, ILO, and UNICEF. DBL’s activities are in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and have been recognized internationally by the UN Global Compact and the Business Call to Action (BCtA) of the UN Development Program (UNDP).
DBL is a signatory to the Global Compact and has been publishing its sustainability reports since 2014 following the GRI guidelines. DBL is Trustee Board member of CSR Center, founding member of Global Compact Network Bangladesh, member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)- Bangladesh, Premier Corporate Member of Textile Institute, Manchester and member of World Economic Forum.
Envoy Textile Limited is the fastest growing textile group in Bangladesh.
Envoy is the world’s very first LEED Certified Platinum Denim Manufacturing Facility.
A 100% export oriented manufacturing company started commercial operation in 2008 and became a Public Limited company in 2012.
The first Denim Facility in Bangladesh to use Rope Dyed Technology,
Envoy has a production capacity of 4.5 million yards each month.
Being a backward integrated facility Envoy has its own spinning facility capable to produce 62 tonnes of yarn per day.
Envoy Textiles operates on sustainable production process, such as Fibers from sustainable sourcing such as Organic, PCW, BCI, etc.,
Ozone finishing process which reduces environmental impact,
Aero Finish to enhance fabric stretching with durability,
state of the art Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) saving 100 million liters of natural water every year,
E-Lab which equipped with environment friendly Laser and Ozone Wash machines, and many more.
Envoy Textiles, also focused on employee welfare and CSR activities.
Envoy Textiles has setup a “Pediatric Intensive Care Unit” for burn patients at the Dhaka Medical Hospital owned by Bangladesh Government. Not only It is one of kind but also the only such facility in the country.
Bangladesh Government has recognized and honored Envoy Textiles on many occasions, such as 6 times winner of National Export Trophy, President’s Award for Industrial Development in Bangladesh, Highest Tax Payer Award, etc.
I find it curious that whenever Indians praise Bangladesh, they have this perverse slant of drawing in Pakistan to cherry pick and show Pakistan's performance which is supposedly worse than India, in any sphere. Anyway - just ignore those comments.
See Sonar Bangla shine and leave behind India, Pakistan on economic & social indices
ECONOMY at 50, PART 4: With a per capita income at a whopping $2554, poverty is down; exports are up and GDP is fueled by both agriculture and manufacturing; but the downside is a growing nexus between politics and business
Poverty is not created by poor people. It is the system that produces poverty, says Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, at the heart of the economic miracle that started in the ’70s.
United Nations Foundation
Mani Shankar Aiyar | Published 13.01.22, 03:13 PM
There is justifiable pride all around at Bangladesh’s remarkable performance in both the economic and social development dimensions. “Pakistan and India don’t matter. We have done better than both!” The figures speak for themselves.
The renowned Bangladesh economist, Rehman Sobhan, Amartya Sen’s great friend since their undergraduate days together at Cambridge, hands to me a lecture he has delivered at the Centre for Policy Dialogue on 6 December 2021 titled
“Promises Kept and Promises to Keep”.
It dramatically summarizes where East Pakistan stood vis-à-vis the West wing on the eve of Liberation and how Bangladesh @ 50 compares to Pakistan today. Its per capita income has zoomed from around $90 at Liberation to $2554 now. Thus, where per capita income in nominal US dollars then lagged 61 per cent behind Pakistan, it is now 64 per cent higher! Today, its savings ratio is nearly three times that of Pakistan and its investment ratio double. This is reflected in the “more robust rate of expansion of infrastructure”, well-illustrated by power capacity and electricity generation, which were behind West Pakistan at Liberation, being “around 40 per cent higher than Pakistan” half a century on. Bangladesh has, I am told, the highest concentration of rural roads in the world. The average annual growth rate of GDP, I am informed by the Foreign Minister, has steadily risen from a low of 3.2% in the period of military dictatorship from 1975 to 1990 to 4% in the following period of elected coalition governments, 1990-2008, to a crackling 6.6% in Sheikh Hasina’s premiership since 2009.
Exports have risen from around 8 billion US dollars at Liberation to a whopping 411 billion dollars now. Foreign exchange reserves have shot up from $15 (that’s right, fifteen dollars only as Pakistan sequestered the rest) to around $45 billion now. Driving this export boom are principally Readymade Garments (RMG) which account for around 80% of the country’s export earnings. This is ironic because in the ‘50s and ‘60s, as rising costs resulted in Western and Japanese RMG pricing themselves out of the global RMG market, it was India and Brazil who most fought for the transition from GATT’s highly restrictive Long-Term Arrangement in Cotton Textiles to the far more liberal Multi-Fibre Agreement (an exercise in which I was involved as a junior diplomat), but it was eventually not the relatively developed ‘developing’ countries but ‘Least Developed Countries’ (LDC) like Bangladesh who cornered the vacated market.
The story begins with the South Koreans taking 134 Bangladeshis for training in supervision and management of RMG units. (All 134 trainees went on to become highly successful entrepreneurs in their own right). This was followed by South Korean investment and technology, genius in design and product development, initiating the Bangladesh RMG industry to take advantage of tariff benefits that were denied to relatively more developed countries like South Korea. (This also explains the somewhat startling proliferation of Korean restaurants in Dhaka).
Rising levels of literacy and education among Bangladeshi women, and liberation from conservative mindsets brought on by the Liberation of the country, provided a readily available labor force, of whom 47 million were women, that extended from cottage industry in rural Bangladesh to shiny new modern factories in urban areas.
There was much carping criticism in the western world about safety standards, wages and social security conditions for Bangladeshi RMG workers, but these issues have been stilled by appropriate action. Government policy also greatly helped. Bonded warehouses, where intermediate goods could be held for up to six months, and back-to-back Master Letters of Credit, greatly lowered the need for working capital. Cash incentives, that have risen from 25% to 30%, did the rest.
This inducted into RMG an army of youthful businessmen, who had earlier looked to Government and then to NGOs for sustenance, to discover the joy of unleashing their “animal spirits” in start-up enterprises. It also led to some industrial diversification into household consumption items like soap and toiletries as also into heavy industry like steel where output has risen in five decades from 100,000 tonnes to an impressive 8 million tonnes.
The construction boom has also encouraged cement production. And rising incomes have spurred a growing demand for factory-refined sugar. There is indeed even an export-oriented ship-building industry. In consequence, the GDP profile has changed significantly from being agri-dominated to “Manufacturing, including Construction” contributing a full one-third of GDP. The “middle class” has filled out to an estimated 20 million, old Dhaka residential areas like Dhanmondi virtually erased by high rise offices and upscale apartments and the roads unbelievably jammed with fancy SUVs competing for space with cyclists and rickshaws – and hapless pedestrians.
All this new development is backed by strong agricultural performance. The output of rice, the staple food, has soared by four times to 40 million tonne, feeding the growth in population over the last fifty years from around 75 million to 170 million. Cropping intensity has doubled and then risen to three times the pre-Liberation levels. Fish output has more than matched agriculture, with Bangladesh emerging as the fourth largest fish exporter in the world. Fruit and vegetables are plentiful. Sanitation is much better. Tap water is within easy reach of most. Electricity has reached every village. “There is no rural-urban divide”, all sectors of the economy are growing.
One unanticipated fall-out of this is that where at Liberation the Bangladesh economy was principally accented on jute, now jute is hardly mentioned. An attempt to resuscitate and expand the earlier small jute industry that attempted to compete against the far larger and more efficiently run jute mills of Barrackpore is now being revived by the public sector Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation, in the expectation that the new global emphasis on “green” goods will restore jute as the preferred packing material and product development could lead to an exponential rise in global demand for consumer items like shoulder bags and even designer dresses made of jute.
Remittances by Bangladeshi laborers – “partners in development” is the favored phrase – are another major contributor to Bangladesh’s prosperity. The inflow hit a record high of $24.77 billion in fiscal 2020-21. The Bangladeshi is clearly up and ready to go anywhere and undertake any employment to improve living conditions and prospects for his family back home. So much so, that on a visit to Venice some years ago I found I could not get an Italian pizza as all the restaurant cooks are Bangladeshi!
"Poverty is down from 70% to under 25%. “Everyone in villages is sitting in a chair. No one is half-naked”, proudly says the Foreign Minister. Birth rates have been slashed from 2.98 to 1.3 by, among other measures, co-opting the village mullah into the endeavor.
The miracle started in the mid-70s with Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank. As he explains his philosophy, epigrams and aphorisms drop like gems and diamonds from his lips: “Poverty is not created by poor people. It is the system that produces poverty”. How?
“The banking system gives money to those who have lots of money. The rich come to them. We went to the poor. They went to men. We went to women. They went to urban areas. We set up 3000 branches in rural areas. They insisted on collateral and are now drowning in unpaid loans. We trusted the poor and have got back 97% of our loans.” Because the banks would not come to the aid of the poor, the poor became the victim of “loan sharks”.
“We looked back,” he says, “and understood that humankind started as hunters and gatherers fending for themselves. Why not then revive that spirit? All the poor need to get started as entrepreneurs is small loans of $5 and $10. Even $20 is, for them, a huge sum. We saw that the key is finance, small amounts of ready money that galvanize creativity and ideas for micro-businesses.
Charity doesn’t ask back for what it gives. On the other hand, ‘social business’ recycles loans because it gets repaid.” Yunus’ betes noire are ‘conventional economists’ who think ‘jobs’ and ‘employment’ are the road out of poverty when, in fact, “it is micro-entrepreneurship that truly liberates the poor from poverty.”
So, as “finance is the oxygen of entrepreneurship,” Grameen Bank made that, and not the maximizing of profits, its goal. Also, “mobilization of the people” is no part of the agenda of banks and “traditional economists” but is central to the concept of “social business” pioneered by Grameen Bank. And that is how 80,000 business ventures have been initiated. Grameen Bank today lends over $3 billion a year with a 98 per cent recovery rate to over 9 million borrowers, 97 per cent of whom are women, living in every single village of Bangladesh.
Yunus has also set up a Grameen Venture Capital Fund where equity and training are made available to foster job-creators not job seekers. “Power is people. People is women!” is his slogan. Someone else tells me that women are required to salute Yunus when they walk into his presence. When asked why he insists on this, Yunus disarmingly explains that saluting forces women to look up; otherwise, they spend their lives looking down, feeling ashamed of their womanhood, humiliated, and lacking in self-confidence.
Yunus concludes: “The Liberation War opened all the doors. It was the big push. Nothing remained untouchable anymore. It unleashed young people’s energies.”
In terms of human development, Bangladesh at 0.32 on the Human Development Index is markedly ahead of Pakistan struggling at 0.563. Indeed, Bangladesh is so far ahead of both Pakistan and India in progress on the Human Development Index (that includes health, fertility rates, maternal and child mortality, nutrition, education, women’s liberation, etc.) as to now be included among the 10th fastest growing performers in the world.
On the Gender Development Index, Bangladesh at 0.904 is way ahead of Pakistan’s score of 0.745 and (shame on us!) well above the Indian score of 0.820. In consequence of such sustained economic and social development, the UNDP’s multidimensional poverty index shows Pakistan’s poverty rate at 38.3 per cent; India’s at 27.9 per cent; and Bangladesh at 24.6 percent (in 2018 – the inter-country disparities are probably greater after the Covid pandemic, handled marvellously well by Bangladesh despite our not providing the vaccines we had promised and for which they had paid). “Our people are not only better off than they were; they are much better off,” says a professor at Dhaka University. “Every successive generation has had higher living standard than those of the previous generation”. The glow of satisfaction is not to be missed.
There is, however, a downside to this economic and social miracle: the growing and apparently irreversible nexus between politics and business. A freedom fighter remarks that this has brought about a “sea-change” in the character of the Awami League, “it is now a business-oriented party”. He goes on, “Crony capitalism of a fairly extreme form has resulted in a bank default crisis that is driving out the good guys who are losing out”.
He rues that “the system is going to perpetuate itself as there is an absence of competition. Low tax rates, and implicit and explicit government transfers to the higher echelons, far exceed subsidies for the poor. Every regulator,” he says in dismay, “is now a rent-seeker. Entrepreneurship has entered government service! If cronyism has not been encouraged, capitalism would have been much more successful”.
While, as one Group CEO remarked, “we simply incorporate the bribes we have to pay into our costs of production and marketing,” Rehman Sobhan is concerned in his 6 December lecture (referred to in a previous Part of this series) that such blatant, pervasive corruption has meant that “Bangladesh’s intake of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) remains well below South East Asia levels and poor even by South Asian standards”.
There is also concern over growing inequalities. “In the 1970s,” remarks one economist, “everyone was equitably poor”. Now the Gini coefficient that measures inequality has zoomed from 0.30 then to around 0.45 now. So much so that Bangladesh appears to be a “test case” for Branko Marcovic’s proposition that:
In every political system, even a democracy, the rich tend to hold more political power. The danger is that this political power will be used to promote policies that further cement the economic power of the rich. The higher the inequality, the more likely we are to move away from democracy to plutocracy.
(The Guardian, London, 2 May 2017. Marcovic is a leading world authority on inequality and, at the time of writing, was the visiting presidential professor at the City University of New York)
The apprehension is that Bangladesh is already trending away from democracy in the direction of becoming a plutocracy. (Just as in India, alas).
Story of Partex Group spinoff Star Condensed Milk and Powder Milk. Partex Group was formed by one of East Pakistan's legacy Bengali Industrialists Mr. M. A. Hashem in the 1960's and he spun off the company into five divisions (Particle board, textiles, tissue and paper goods, condensed milk etc.) owned by his five sons. Just the yearly turnover of the Star Brand condensed and powder Milk division (including textile business) is Tk. 200 Billion (about $2.2 Billion) yearly.
Local Brands bringing in a spate of IoT (app) enabled smart appliances to The locally hosted International Trade Fair in Purbachal this year which includes smart TV's, Aircons and smart refrigerators among other appliances - everything pretty much app and IoT-enabled. Among local brands Walton, Minister and Vision have large and varied selection of appliances.
Development of oncology drugs in Bangladesh: A success story
Just 12 years ago, Bangladesh was a 100 percent importer of oncology drugs. Today, it is an exporter that also meets local needs. This was possible due to the efforts of local pharmaceutical companies, their far-sighted vision and the trust patients have in local products.
In the past 10 years, pharmaceutical companies such as Beacon, Eskayef, Renata, Incepta, Healthcare, and Techno Pharma have come to manufacture more than 110 types of oncological drugs. Just six to seven years ago, around 50 percent of the lifesaving medications had to be imported, posing risks of unavailability, high costs and price fluctuations. Now local pharmaceuticals not only meet 80 percent of the country's demand but also export to at least 140 countries, beginning their journey with limited scale shipments in 2015. Local companies manufacture 99 percent of the oncology drugs but some patients still use imported drugs or unofficially import them.
"People laughed at me in 2002 when I had taken an initiative to manufacture oncology products. Finally, my plans came to fruition in 2009. Now the patients can get drugs at a reasonable price," said Md. Ebadul Karim, managing director of Beacon Pharmaceuticals Limited. In the past, only financially solvent patients were able to get treatment due to the high cost of drugs and low-income patients would have to wait till the last moment, he said. According to Karim, Beacon not only manufactures oncology drugs but it also provides support of BDT three crore per annum to the poor patients and provides diagnostic support. He further said neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka have a government financial support system for cancer patients. The Bangladesh government can provide similar facilities for cancer patients, he said. Beacon is planning to establish a palliative care centre so that the patients do not have to suffer so much.
"We help the patients lead a quality life after taking treatment," he noted. With a mission to deliver world class anti-cancer products at an affordable price, Eskayef Oncology started its journey in 2018 with many pioneering technologies. Recently, Eskayef Oncology touched another milestone as it has become one of the few Asian companies to get the approval from the prestigious global regulatory body European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU GMP) for manufacturing anti-cancer medicines. Eskayef's Oncology Manufacturing Facility is the country's first entity that has secured approval from the EU GMP, which is recognised by 27 nations of the EU and considered a passport for entry into the global market.
Eskayef is currently producing both oral and injectable anti-cancer medicines maintaining the standards of the EU regulator. "This recognition will help our drugs enter the EU market and other countries," Dr. Mohammad Mujahidul Islam, Executive Director, Marketing & Sales of Eskayef, said. He also added, "Eskayef is currently exporting its high-quality medicines to 54 countries. With all the latest technologies, facilities and our earnest commitment, Eskayef Oncology is determined to serve the people of Bangladesh and the world with its affordable and global-standard anti-cancer products." Now, the export of oncology drugs is bigger than domestic market demand. To put things into perspective, Bangladesh exported cancer drugs worth over Tk 500 crore in 2019, and the export of these products in 2020 was almost the same although they are yet to receive the full export details, industry insiders said.
Meanwhile local cancer drug sales amounted to about Tk 500 crore. Demand is growing by 15 percent on average every year, according to the manufacturers. Along with conventional chemotherapy drugs, local pharmaceutical companies manufacture the latest oncology products such as oral therapy, immunotherapy, monoclonal antibodies, oral targeted therapies, and liposomal technology products, said the director for global business development of Beacon, Monjurul Alam. He informed that Bangladesh's export of cancer drugs was increasing by around 30 to 35 percent year-on-year. Oncology products were beyond the purchasing power of patients in the past but prices went down by 40 percent when Beacon started production through compliance with high standards, he said.
Patients in Bangladesh now spend around Tk 500 crore per year for cancer treatment while it would cost at least Tk 2,000 crore if oncology drugs were imported, according to Alam. Bangladesh's drugs are winning the global market for their quality and low prices; the medicines are cheaper than those provided by the developed world, he added. Beacon now manufactures 110 different drugs for all kinds of cancer and exports them to 134 countries. Alam said there is no difference between the generic and original oncology drugs as the local pharmaceutical companies have built world-class manufacturing plants with sophisticated European equipment.
Locally produced cancer drugs are of international standards and cheaper than imported ones, which is helping cancer treatment in Bangladesh, Md Azizul Islam, consultant physician general and specialist of medicine and oncology at Bangladesh Armed Forces, said earlier. He believes it will not be long until local pharmaceutical companies manufacture all types of cancer drugs.
CANCER PATIENTS AND TREATMENT FACILITIES
According to Bangladesh Pharmaceutical Journal, with the increasing rate of people being affected by cancer in Bangladesh, the disease has become a national concern. Anti-cancer drugs play a significant and crucial role in cancer treatment regimen. Inadequate access to essential anti-cancer medicines may impose serious public health problems in Bangladesh. According to National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), there are 13 to 15 lakh cancer patients in Bangladesh, with about two lakh patients newly diagnosed with cancer each year. Lung cancer and mouth-oropharynx cancer rank as the top two prevalent cancers in males. Other types of cancer are esophagus cancer and stomach cancer. In women, cervix, uterus, and breast cancer are most prevalent.
Other cancer types, which affect women, are mouth and oropharynx cancer, lung cancer, and esophagus cancer. There are around 150 qualified clinical oncologists and 16 pediatric oncologists working in the different parts of the country. Regular cancer treatment is available in 19 hospitals and 465 hospital beds are attached as indoor or daycare facilities for chemotherapy in the oncology/radiotherapy departments. There are about 15 linear accelerators, 12 Co-60 teletherapy, and 12 brachytherapy units currently available. There are approximately 56 cancer chemotherapeutic agents in Bangladesh.
Posted on: 16-Jan-2022
Post Creator: Prothom Alo
Eskayef Oncology manufacturing facility gets EU GMP approval
The oncology manufacturing facility of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals, one of the finest medicine manufacturing companies in Bangladesh, has obtained the approval of European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU GMP) for maintaining its standard in production of oncology drugs. As a result, the people of Bangladesh can now get world class medicines in the country to treatment cancer patients. Eskayef Pharmaceuticals is the first ever Bangladeshi company to get the approval of EU GMP, a highly prestigious standard that a medicines manufacturer must meet in their production processes. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) coordinates inspections to verify compliance with these standards. All the 27 member states of European Union (EU) acknowledge the EU GMP certificate. A very few Asian pharmaceutical companies could avail the approval so far.
This approval has huge global influence and is regarded as a ‘passport’ to enter the global market. Speaking to Prothom Alo, Eskayef managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) Simeen Rahman said, “There’s a huge fear among people about cancer. Many people lose their will to live when they learn they are cancer patients. But detection of cancer does not mean the end of life. It has treatment. It is possible to be cured through proper treatment.”
"We are pledge-bound to supply world class cancer drugs in the country at a reasonable price. We have some highly regarded oncology and hematology experts. We’re also working to bring latest medicines to Bangladesh to treat the cancer patients", Simeen Rahman, Eskayef managing director and CEO.
She said, “In most of the cases, cancer treatment is expensive. Family sometimes becomes destitute treating a cancer patient. That’s why we always wanted to ensure world class treatment for cancer patients in Bangladesh.” The oncology unit of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals is situated at Rupganj, Narayanganj. Both the injection and oral medicines of SKF have the EU GMP approval. This suggests Eskayef could maintain the European standard in commercial production and standard maintenance of oncology medicines.
The company hopes this approval will help it export Eskayef oncology medicines to other countries around the globe. Simeen Rahman said, “Eskayef Oncology has always been working to manufacture cancer medicine. We believe cancer can be prevented if it is treated with world class medicines at the right time. We are pledge-bound to supply world class cancer medicines in the country at a reasonable price. We have some highly regarded oncology and hematology experts. We’re also working to bring latest medicines to Bangladesh to treat the cancer patients.”
National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH) director professor Qazi Mushtaq Hussain said it is indeed a matter of honour for Bangladesh as a local company has won this acknowledgement for manufacturing cancer drugs.
Physicians said Eskayef Pharmaceutical’s approval from EU GMP is a matter of prestige for Bangladesh. Speaking to Prothom Alo, National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH) director professor Qazi Mushtaq Hussain said it is indeed a matter of honour for Bangladesh as a local company has won this acknowledgement for manufacturing cancer drugs. This will dispel all the doubts, if there is any, about our quality of medicines and treatment. This is comforting for the people and medical treatment.” The state-of-the-art oncology manufacturing facility of Eskayef Pharmaceuticals was opened in 2018 with the technical help of Europe-based Telstar Life Science Solutions, t. Head of radiotherapy and oncology department at Dhaka Medical College Hospital professor Swapan Bandopadhyay told Prothom Alo, “This is wonderful news for the people of Bangladesh and oncology physicians. People get the best results from this kind of success.” He further said they (SKF) won the approval because of maintaining their standard. This is a huge achievement.
This EU GMP approval will create confidence of the physicians and the people. Head of oncology department at Delta Medical College in the capital professor Kazi Manzur Kader said this is huge advancement for the country’s medicine manufacturing industry. He said, “We import most of the cancer medicines. This is wonderful news for the patients that quality cancer medicines are now being manufactured at home.” Eskayef authorities said Eskayef Oncology is the first in Bangladesh to use isolator technology to ensure safety of the medicine at its every step of production. The company imports quality raw materials from the European countries. Eskayef Oncology has 31 help centres across the country from where the patients and their relatives can get any information on medicines and of other importance. Eskayef Oncology is currently manufacturing medicines of various types of cancer including breast cancer, blood cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, renal cancer, hepatocellular cancer and head-neck cancer.
Novo Nordisk signs MoU with Eskayef for advanced insulin manufacturing
In a moment of historical significance, Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Ltd of Bangladesh for state-of-the-art technology transfer for advanced insulin manufacturing. “This is a defining moment for Novo Nordisk in Bangladesh,” said Sebnem Avsar Tuna, corporate vice president of the company’s Oceania and South East Asia regions, at a ceremony held to mark the signing of the MoU at a local hotel in Dhaka.
Under this agreement, for the first time ever Danish advanced technology for manufacturing state-of-the-art insulin devices of Novo Nordisk will be undertaken outside of Denmark.
“This is a great moment for Eskayef,” said Latifur Rahman, chairman of Transcom Ltd and Eskayef Pharmaceuticals. “But more importantly, it is a proud moment for Bangladesh. Novo Nordisk is the world leader in insulin.
Although Eskayef has been manufacturing vials, the Penfill insulin injector has been produced exclusively in Denmark. Now, for the first time, Novo Nordisk has decided to partner with Eskayef to manufacture Penfill injector in Bangladesh.” Latifur Rahman said that this achievement marked the level of advancement in Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry, with 95 per cent of the country’s requirements being met locally. He expressed confidence that Bangladesh would be a major player in the global export market for pharmaceuticals within the next few years.
State minister for health Zahid Malik MP said while contagious diseases like polio and cholera had been eliminated from the country, people’s financial solvency had given rise to non-communicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes. “Officially seven million people are affected with diabetes in the country, but the number is probably much higher,” he said. He lauded the joint venture between Novo Nordisk and Eskayef for the manufacture of advanced insulin devices, recommending that this should be affordable for the diabetic patients in the country. Danish ambassador in Bangladesh Mikael Hemniti Winther hailed the signing of the MoU as an example of strengthening of cooperation and friendship between Bangladesh and Denmark. “This is the beginning of something new and we hope there is even more coming up ahead,” he said.
The MoU was signed by Anand Shetty, Novo Nordisk managing director, and Simeen Hossain, managing director and CEO of the Eskayef Pharmaceuticals Limited, on behalf of their respective sides. Also present on the occasion were Lars Bo Smidt, corporate vice president of Novo Nordisk, Dr AK Azad Khan, president of the Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (DAB), DG Drug Administration major general Mustafizur Rahman and others.