a year ago

Finance minister’s budget dialogue: Businesses seek fiscal protection

Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal

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Bangladesh's trade leaders demanded "logical duty-tax protection" for local industry and investment as the finance minister consulted them Monday on fiscal measures in making the coming budget amid persisting odds.

At a virtually held pre-budget meeting with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, they also sought tax waiver or bond facility to support domestic production and export diversification.

The country's apex trade body -- the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) -- placed the pleas in a package of suggestions which include keeping supply and price of essential commodities stable, expansion of tax net by modernising tax policy, and lowering economic inequality by enhancing income and employment generation.

"Though the national economy now stands on a strong base, the business-friendly environment of the country needs to be made further stronger to successfully face the challenges arising in post-pandemic era and from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war," FBCCI president Jashim Uddin said at the event.

He also said to enhance competitiveness of Bangladeshi business the cost of doing business has to be lessened. Infrastructure development, investment protection, raising port's capacity, investment-friendly money and duty management, lowering transportation costs, and energy and power sector also need to be given special priority.

President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Faruque Hassan, at the meet, talked about circular economy, and reducing source tax as cost of doing business increased due to raising gas and electricity prices, among other issues.

President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Md. Sameer Sattar said the main challenge for next budget would be raising the tax-to-GDP (gross domestic products) ratio.

"And to this end, the budget for fiscal year 2023-24 has to take measures to mobilise more resources," he said.

Mr Sattar made a point that some 48 per cent of economic activities of the country are taking place in Dhaka and Chittagong while a total of 90-percent tax is collected from these business heartlands.

He suggests that the government should increase resources and hire smart officers and keep their works under strict monitoring to enhance revenue collection.

The revenue-enhancing suggestion relates to the government move to frame an incrementally bigger budget, in an approximate size of over Tk 7.0 trillion.

The DCCI president also drew attention of the central bank governor, who was present at the meeting, to supervise the scheduled banks so that cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) get funds from the government re-finance scheme to remain afloat.

Heads of a number of chambers and associations also spoke at the event.

According to some meeting participants, the minister did not make any comment on the demands raised by the business-community leaders. However, he said the demands "will be taken into consideration with due importance".

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