Despite the fact that the proposed budget has outlined the beginning of the economy's journey to the next level, it lacks the much-needed importance on the resilience of the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs) and the vast rural economy, speakers said at a virtual seminar on Saturday.
The speakers at the webinar on "The National Budget for 2021-22: Private Sector Perspective" jointly organised by the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) also urged the government to spend more on healthcare, especially on vaccination against the resurging Covid-19 which is hindering economic resilience.
The benefit of vaccinating the entire adult population would be reflected through the private sector's output, hence the government could allocate more for the vaccination programme, said Dr M Masrur Reaz, chairman of Policy Exchange of Bangladesh.
Towfiqul Islam Khan, a senior research fellow at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) was the keynote speaker at the webinar chaired and moderated by IBFB President Humayun Rahsid, while BEI President Ambassador M Humayun Kabir was the welcome speaker and Lutfunnisa Saudia Khan, vice-president (finance) of IBFB, delivered the vote of thanks.
Md Jashim Uddin, president of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), attended the seminar as the guest of honor.
Lutfunnisa Saudia Khan said the private sector higher education should be affordable and the proposal to make it more expensive through taxing the institutions should be reconsidered.
Planning Minister MA Mannan spoke at the event as the chief guest, while among the designated discussants, Dr Muhammad Abdul Mazid, former chairman of the National Board of Revenue, Mohammad Mahfuz Kabir, research director at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), MS Siddiqui, legal economist and vice-president of IBFB, presented their analysis on what the proposed budget got and what are still missing.
Hailing the proposed tax cuts, advance tax reduction for some major industries to ease the burden on businesses alongside proposing the tax holidays and value-added tax waivers for the establishment of higher-value industries, the speakers recommended measures to better prepare for post-LDC competence, and also the post-pandemic resilience.
Among others, Hafizur Rahman Khan, immediate past president of IBFB, Dr Md Ali Afzal, director of IBFB, Lt Gen M Harun-Ar-Rashid, Bir Protik (retd), chairman of Governmental Relation and Advocacy Committee of IBFB, and Professor Dr Hosne Ara Begum, founder executive director at TMSS, spoke at the webinar.