Dhaka, Bangladesh
Experts urge banks to accelerate stimulus disbursement

Experts urge banks to accelerate stimulus disbursement

Business Desk Business people and experts on Wednesday urged the banks to expedite disbursement of the stimulus packages to stave off the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the country's business and economy. They also urged bringing unbanked entrepreneurs from across the country into the banking fold, saying banks could provide unbanked cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) with loans after receiving recommendations from the trade bodies concerned. The need to create an integrated database for implementing the stimulus packages was also stressed at a programme. Such opinions emerged at a policy dialogue webinar, entitled "Post-Pandemic Status of CMSMEs and Effectiveness of Stimulus Packages", jointly organized by the Citizen’s Platform for SDGs and Bangladesh and Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD). Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, convener of the Citizen's Platform for SDGs and Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), moderated the webinar. Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun was the chief guest. President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) Shams Mahmud, Chairman of Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) Asif Ibrahim, President of Rangpur Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry Anwara Ferdousi, President of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Syed Almas Kabir and Managing Director of Frontier Technology Limited Humaira Chowdhury spoke at the event. Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of Apex Footwear Limited and core group member, Citizen's Platform, was the special commentator at the webinar. Chairperson of BUILD Abul Kasem Khan, who presented the keynote presentation, said only Tk4,120 crore, or 20.05% of the Tk20,000 crore stimulus announced for CMSMEs, had been disbursed so far. He urged the banks to expedite the disbursement process in the interest of the CMSMEs, hit hard by the pandemic. Support from the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), SME Foundation and the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation could be sought for speeding up the disbursement process, he added. Suraiya Begum, an entrepreneur from Dinajpur, said she was yet to receive any stimulus loan from the government. "Despite Pohela Boishakh and the two Eids gone by, most of my products have remained unsold this year," she lamented. Shams Mahmud, DCCI president, recommended that banks take liquidity-based financing instead of asset-based financing, simplify VAT and TAX collection and audit process and adopt entrepreneur-friendly loan programs through the SME Foundation. Syed Nasim Manzur said that the government should consider paying salary, Tax, VAT and subsidiary on utility bills for CMSMEs to minimize their Covid-19 impact. BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir said that additional flexible and supportive credit guarantee schemes (CGS) could be devised for cottage and micro entrepreneurs in the IT sector. Humaira Chowdhury urged the government to issue a notification for reducing office/factory rent by half for at least six months to ease the problems faced by entrepreneurs. Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said that an integrated database was in the works, which would make it easier to determine the number of real industrial entrepreneurs in the country.

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