The Financial Express

Businesses advocate alternatives to lockdown, seeking tax cut, stimulus

| Updated: April 19, 2021 21:02:51

- Picture used for illustrative purpose - Picture used for illustrative purpose

Country's apex trade body leader on Sunday urged the government to weigh alternatives to lockdown considering its adverse impact on the economy and the people in general.

"Lockdown cannot be a sustainable measure to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic," president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Sheikh Fazle Fahim told a joint NBR-FBCCI virtual meeting of the budget consultative committee.

"We would request the finance minister to focus on 'healthcare management' and 'infection prevention' to manage pandemic situation," he said, arguing that lockdown puts a lot of pressure on the economy and people in general, mentally and physically.

He further argued that the lockdown globally proved not to be a sustainable solution in managing the Covid-19.

The FBCCI president pointed out that the members of the apex trade body have urged the authorities concerned to restrict the banks from imposing hidden charges.

He also urged the government to introduce alternative credit rating to ensure increased access to finance and requested providing 1.0 per cent incentive to the banks those came forward to implement the stimulus packages.

Mr Fahim stressed on revisiting the banks' business model to do away with the unproductive costs and expand services to the rural areas for ensuring inclusive banking.

He said the credit risk guarantee should be continued even after the Covid-19 and introduce it in the other sectors, including insurance.

He also suggested abolishing the advanced income tax (AIT) gradually in next two years and reducing the corporate tax by 2.5 per cent like last year.

"Corporate tax for the listed companies should be reduced gradually," he added.

The FBCCI president sought a fund for mapping out the individual businesses those are not yet included in the chambers or formal associations.

He urged the government to provide 5.0 per cent grant on the disbursed amount of stimulus packages to the large industries, 50 per cent grant for the agriculture and SMEs sectors.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Faruque Hassan demanded to exempt all local products and services for readymade garments industry from VAT and return submission.

He also demanded halving the tax at source on export from 0.50 per cent to 0.25 per cent and continue the facilities for next five years.

President of Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA) Md Jashim Uddin said recycling sector should be made free from all VAT and taxes to encourage recycling. He also demanded withdrawal of supplementary duty on packaging.

President of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association Mohammad Ali Khokon demanded 3.0 per cent VAT on manmade fibre like other fibres. He urged the government to reduce import tax on spare parts for capital machinery.

He also demanded zero tax on raw materials for manmade fibre.

Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) president Rupali Chowdhury said the government has to create a database for small businesses that are out of banks' coverage and formal sector, and suggested finding a way to help them in this pandemic situation.

Pran-RFL CEO Ahsan Khan Chowdhury urged the government to abolish 15 per cent tax on puffed rice. He also demanded reduction of import tax on sugar.

President of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) Syed Almas Kabir sought tax exemption on all digital transactions. He demanded imposing minimum tax on cyber security products to help secure digital and IT-enabled services.

President of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh Shomi Kaiser also demanded tax exemption on digital transactions to help grow e-commerce.

Bangladesh Motorcycle Assemblers and Manufacturers Association (BMAMA) president Motiur Rahman sought time extension for reinvestment of profit.

Bangladesh Dyed Yarn Exporters Association president Salahuddin Alamgir demanded extension of Export Development Fund (EDF) for dying and yarn factories.

Afzal Rashid Choudhury of Sylhet Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SMCCI) urged the government to stop import of tea as the country produces more tea than demand. He said the tea growers should get an interest rate as low as any other agriculture sector.

Benazir Ahmed of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) demanded incentives for the sector.

Representatives from Chapainawabganj Chamber, Rajshahi Chamber, Chittagong Chamber, among others, spoke at the virtual discussion.

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