Although the proposed budget talks of initiatives to protect the domestic industry by waiving various taxes, there is actually nothing new for the cottage, small, micro entrepreneurs.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has proposed to increase the tax-free turnover limit for women entrepreneurs from the existing Tk50 lakh to Tk70 lakh, but the tax rate for them has not been reduced. Therefore, even if this announcement of the finance minister promises temporary happiness, there will be no benefit if it is not implemented properly at the field level.
Small and medium enterprises, which have been damaged most by the Covid-19, were the most discussed topic before the budget. Taking initiatives to create a business-friendly environment for women entrepreneurs and implementing them was much discussed, but there is no proposal in this regard in the proposed budget.
Investment in this sector has been low during the Covid-19 crisis. People have lost their jobs. Entrepreneurs have squandered their accumulated capital. The economy has suffered.
The SMEs will not get the benefits of the concessions that the government has given, including reducing corporate taxes, to create jobs by attracting investment.
The bulk of these benefits are for corporate large industrial groups, but there is no alternative to focusing on the SME sector to create employment and revive the economy.
As we have seen, last year many small entrepreneurs or women entrepreneurs have started small businesses. Some of them operate businesses through Facebook. Far from giving them benefits, the government has no account for them, but the number of such entrepreneurs is slowly increasing.
Moushomi Islam is the president of the Association of Grassroots Women Entrepreneur Bangladesh