The Light Engineering Sector in Bangladesh (LES) has been recognized as an important and fast growing sector of the country which has potency to play a significant role in the economic development along with a vast scope of employment generation. The LES is now providing critical support to industrial, agricultural and construction sectors by manufacturing a wide range of spare parts, castings, moulds and dices, oil and gas pipeline fittings and light machinery, as well as repairing those. This sector as provides backup support to cement, paper, jute, textile, sugar, food processing, railway, shipping, garments capital machineries by repairing and maintaining.
A study conducted by BUET - Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology estimates that the light engineering sector in bangladesh comprises of around 40,000 enterprises employing around 8,00,000 people across the country. A recent study conducted by International Finance Corporation (IFC) in partnership with UK Department for International Development and Norwegian government shows that LES in Bangladesh has in its employment 6,00,000 people involved in more than 50,000 micro enterprises and more than 10,000 Small and Medium Enterprises. To give the sector an impetus, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared “Light Engineering goods” as the “Product of the Year” for 2020.
This sector is currently producing more than 3,800 types of quality machinery, spares and accessories including automobile spare parts, railway engine and railway line spare parts, bicycles and cycle rickshaws, machine tools, jute and textiles machines and spare parts, chemical industry machines and spare parts, sugar and food industry machines and spare parts, engineering and metal industry spare parts, ship industry spare parts and agricultural machine accessories and spares. Around 137 items are already being exported to 17 different countries in the world.
Small workshops, run by self-motivated entrepreneurs who never got any institutional or governmental support, are currently manufacturing products worth TK. 250 billion with local technology as import-substituting spare parts for automobiles and major industrial sectors. Most of the industries are located in Dhaka, Chittagong, Narayanganj, Bogra, Gazipur, Kishoreganj, Jessore and other places in the country. Study says, around 7 million technically educated and skilled people and innovative entrepreneurs are actively engaged in this sector.
Bangladesh could not only meet the local demands but also earn billions of dollars by exporting light engineering products. Experts have long been saying that the growing light engineering industry’s current turnover could be ten times more if the sector gets proper government support. More than 90 percent of the light engineering industries are meeting local needs. Many spare parts could be produced here in Bangladesh for many factories of the giant economies of the world. According to the estimates of the financial year 2016-2017, the exports from this industry were more than $ 86 Crore.
Many Light Engineering Industries in the country have set up high-tech machines with financial support from the government and have been providing quality spares and different tools to big industries. A number of high-quality light engineering products including spare parts of paper and cement mills, bicycles, fancy light fittings, construction equipment, batteries, voltage stabilizers, iron chains, cast iron articles, carbon rods, automobile spares, electronic items, and stainless steel wares were already going to foreign markets on direct and subcontract orders.
The entrepreneurs and workers of the Dholaikhal brand have minimized foreign dependence by providing instruments and parts through sub-contracts in various government-owned enterprises. Nearly two hundred types of machineries, including engine parts, car parts in the country have become the 'Dholaikhal brand' with huge potential for production and marketing. More than eight lac peoples are involved in this sector at present. The Dholaikhal brand's craftsmen are seamlessly preparing everything from bicycles to cars, tractors, cranes, re-rolling mills and even train buggies.
The light industry is called the mother industry. The light engineering sector produces basically the equipment and machinery needed to set up an industry. Many foreign investors were showing interest in investing with the light engineering sector in bangladesh under joint collaboration.