Small and medium industries, reeled under the pandemic impact, need much support to make a turnaround, experts have said.
The government has to expand support for SMEs, which is the lifeline for the country's economy, and this informal sector will generate much employment, they add.
The proposed budget is business-friendly and its tax policy is the major strength for it, they said at a virtual discussion titled "Budget and business outlook of Bangladesh during 2020-2021" on Sunday, organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh.
But the government should emphasise the budget implementation and use of allocation properly, the speakers pointed out
Planning Minister MA Manna said, "There are some challenges and difficulties to implement the budget. For the proper implementation of the budget, there are a lot of gaps and a lack of capacity."
"As I am in the driving seat to implement the development budget, we are aware of the difficulties. Also, the government emphasises implementing allocation properly. In the 21st century, we need to reform our rules and laws."
He said, "To get relief from the pandemic, we need a vaccine. The government is trying to manage it through alternative sources within a short time."
Atiur Rahman, former governor of the Bangladesh Bank and chairperson of Unnayan Shamannay, said, "The proposed budget is business-friendly and its tax policy is the biggest force. Targeting employment generation, the budget has focused on the overall protection of the people along with industries and businesses."
"But there was an opportunity to expand other initiatives, including cash assistance, for emergency protection of endangered people," he added.
"Although the allocation for education has been significantly increased, it seems that more attention should be paid to the sector to ensure that poor students do not lag behind due to the digital divide."
Now, not money but survival is the main consideration. The main question is how to vaccinate 60-70% of the people faster, Atiur said.
Ahsan H Mansur, executive director at the Policy Research Institute, said, "SMEs are suffering badly because of the pandemic, they are the largest employer except agriculture. So, we need to do much for them. Every country has extended their support to SMEs."
"Also, we need to do something for the new poor, who fell below the poverty line amid the pandemic. The government should take such an initiative, in which the new poor get temporary support," he added.
He thanked the government for cutting corporate tax and giving an emphasis on the expansion of the vaccination programme but expressed his disappointment over the imposition of tax on mobile financial services.
He said, "We need a roadmap for executing the vaccination programme. If the government targets 25 lakh doses a month, it will take eight years to vaccinate all. The target should be expanded and fixed as per the roadmap."
Aftab UL Islam, former president of AmCham and Bangladesh Bank's director Aftab Ul Islam, said, "SMEs have a great role in employment generation. Due to the Covid-19, they are fighting for survival. A recent study says 80% of SMEs failed to continue their business operation."
Sayed Earshad Ahmed, president of American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh moderated the discussion.
Rajashekaran from City Bank NA, A Gafur from Abul Monem group, Syed Kamal from MasterCard, Naser Ezaz Bijoy from Standard Chartered Bank and Tapos Mondal from Coca-Cola also spoke at the event.