The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) has assured of its help in availing special loans from the government's Tk20,000 crore financial incentive package for the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs).
Its President Sheikh Fazle Fahim gave the assurance in a virtual exchange of views with businesspeople and representatives of the light engineering sector, said a press release issued on Tuesday.
Highlighting how small enterprises and new entrepreneurs of varying sectors have been hit the hardest by the ongoing pandemic, Fahim said, "Although Nazrul Islam Mazumder, the president of the bank owners' association, had assured me of reaching out to the Bank MD Association for assisting the SME sector as per the government circular with the cooperation of FBCCI chambers and association, the bank head offices did not set up any help desk nor did they provide any clear instructions for the branches about the matter."
He said the non-cooperation had been reported to Finance Minister AHM Mostafa Kamal and senior government officials.
Even after the finance minister had announced the financial incentive package, things were not going as expected, said Fahim. "I think the banks will come up with this issue and it will be resolved very soon."
Abdul Matlub Ahmad, chairman of the Nitol-Niloy Group and a former FBCCI president, said, "The country's small traders are currently starving. We need to address their suffering. These small traders will starve to death if they rely only on the government's Tk20,000 crore incentive package. So, the federation has to focus on delivering the package to the CMSME sector by May and June."
Leaders of the light engineering associations said that in addition to increasing the product purchasing power of the sector, VAT and taxes should be exempted because they were hit the hardest.
Besides, the government needed to announce a financial package for the next 10 years or five years for this sector so that tax on raw materials could be increased at any time, they said.
They also think that a specific policy needs to be formulated to manage the light engineering sector.
Abdur Razzak, president of Bangladesh Engineering Industry Owners Association, Zubair A Zaman, president of Bangladesh Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association, Rafiqul Alam Khan, president of Bangladesh Metal Wire and Warrenails Merchants Association, Md Aslam Ali, president of Bangladesh Sub-Contracting Industry Owners Association, Abdul Malek, president of Foundry Owners Association of Bangladesh, Mirza Nazrul Gani Shovon, president of National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh, MA Rahman, president of Bangladesh Automobiles Workshop Owners Association, Abdul Motaleb Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Assemblers and Manufacturers Association, and Ali Zaman, president of the Small and Medium Enterprise Owners Association of Bangladesh were present in the exchange of views with businessmen of the light engineering sector.
Earlier, the FBCCI president exchanged views online with the women's chambers on providing loan facilities to women entrepreneurs in different districts.
Outlining the disruption of businesses across all sectors with the advent of coronavirus, he conveyed that the country faced a major obstacle in its economic development.
When the leaders of the women's chambers raised various allegations about availing loans, the FBCCI president said, "I urge everyone to apply for the loans with proper documents. If any bank delays the disbursement of loans, then their names are to be submitted to us. We will intervene."
The meeting was attended by Swarnalatha Roy, president of the Sylhet Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Monowara Hakim Ali, president of the Chittagong Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Opu Akhtar, president of Barishal Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Anwara Ferdous, president of Rangpur Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Fatima Zohra Akhtar, president of Kishoreganj Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Monija Masud, president of Sherpur Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries, and Hasina Newaj and Rasasti Nazreen, leaders of Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industries.