The industries ministry yesterday handed over special cards to 35 commercially important persons, known as CIP, for their contribution to job creation and economic growth.
Industries Minister Dilip Barua gave away the cards to the recipients for 2012 at a ceremony at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka.
The CIPs were selected in six categories -- ex-officio, large-scale industries, medium-scale industries, small-scale industries, micro-scale industries and services sector industries.
The recipients are entitled to some privileges for a year from the issuing of the card. They will get entry to the secretariat without a special pass, and will be invited to national programmes and functions of municipal corporations.
They will get priority in ticket booking from Biman -- the national flag carrier -- for overseas travel, and reservation of seats in government transports. They will also enjoy special status at domestic airports.
The foreign minister will issue a letter of introduction in favour of the CIPs for helping them get visa easily in case of foreign trips.
The CIP cardholders, their spouse and children will also get priority in getting cabins for treatment in public hospitals. They could also be made members of any policymaking committee on industries.
AK Azad, currently the president of Bangladesh Chamber of Industries, who won the CIP status as the president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said: "The industrialists are not getting the status out of anybody's mercy. We have earned it."
He said although the recipients are entitled to many privileges, they receive only a few. "But I think getting the recognition is a major achievement."
He urged the government to solve gas and power crises, improve the state of Dhaka-Chittagong highway and provide enough security to the transportation of goods.
These steps will help double the country's export from the present $24 billion within a few years, he added.
Rupali Chowdhury, managing director of Berger Paints Bangladesh, said: "It's not a big issue whether the CIP status brings any privilege or not. The recognition is the main thing."
At the function, some CIPs expressed anger for not getting privileges they are entitled to.
State Minister for Industries Omor Faruk Chowdhury said his CIP status was revoked on political grounds. "But I can assure you that such thing will not happen to you during the tenure of the present government."
He requested the industries minister to send a letter to concerned departments reminding them of the privileges a CIP is entitled to.
FBCCI President Kazi Akramuddin Ahmed said leading financial services firm JP Morgan and global investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs have rated Bangladesh highly because of the work of its industrialists.
Additional Industries Secretary M Farhad Uddin said the industrialists are being awarded the status for spurring economic growth and creating jobs for thousands others.
The minister called for collective effort to solve the problems the country's industrial sector is facing.
He also urged the industrialists to ensure the interests of the workers at their factories.