Entrepreneurs and businessmen want tax benefits in the upcoming national budget saying, due to a decline in people's income during the pandemic, they could not do business in the last two Eid festivals when they usually make up for a big part of their annual sales.
They made the demand at a virtual media briefing on "National budget for 2021-22: What should be there for the disadvantaged people" organised by the Citizen Platform for SDGs on Sunday.
Syed Nasim Manzur, managing director of Apex Footwear, called upon the authorities to end the difficulties in accessing the finance and increase the limit of marketing expenses.
He said the cost limit for promotional expenses has been set at 0.5%, which is nowhere in the world.
"FMCG companies' budget is allocated by 5-10%. Now people's income has decreased. Marketing needs to be emphasised in order to attract buyers. For this, the existing limit has to be increased," he added.
Syed Nasim Manzur called for reducing the advance tax from the existing 20% and value-added tax (VAT) from 15% at present for e-commerce.
Again, he asked for bringing down the advanced tax from 5% at present to its previous level of 3% for all the sectors of the country.
"A fund has to be set up for long-term industrial loans. It is a long-term need for a sustainable industry, new technology, new products, and new markets, which will benefit the industry and the country," he added.
The purchasing power, marketing and consumption of products have declined in both the domestic and international markets due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said, "The European Union is the prime destination of Bangladeshi garments, leather, and frozen food. People's purchasing power in these countries has weakened, which has led to a decline in exports."
The businessman said Apex Footwear manufactures and markets a wide variety of shoes.
He said sales of goods in the retail market have declined by 46% compared to 2019. In urban areas, it has decreased by 34%. Purchasing power has declined due to a lack of money in people's hands.
Praising the reduction in interest rates, Syed Nasim Manzur said, "Reducing interest rates on loans has been a great task to sustain exports. Without this, there would have been a massive collapse in the corporate sector."
Asif Ibrahim, chairman of the Chattogram Stock Exchange, highlighted the decline in imports and exports, the drop in foreign investment and the loss of trade and commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"In the pandemic, the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector has suffered the most. A study has found that the income fell by 66%. Many workers are being laid off. Employment will be a big concern in the next budget," he added.
Asif Ibrahim demanded that the authorities reduce the corporate tax from 25% at present to 20% for listed companies in the next budget in order to attract good companies to the capital market.
He thinks if the facility is ensured, good companies will be interested in entering the capital market.
He also called for including a provision allowing companies to pay corporate tax at the rate of 10% for five years from the time of their listing by raising money from SME platforms of stock exchanges.