Just imagine Jeff Bezos asking the US government for a 100-million-dollar budgetary allocation to create Amazon so that it could sell products online across the world. Or imagine Jack Ma taking China's budget money to create Alibaba.
Sounds absurd? Sure, it's absurd. They are entrepreneurs. They make things. They take risks. They invest. They succeed or they fail. They don't take government's allocation to create their business. If their business works, they pay taxes to the government and they create jobs.
The business people can ask for government policy support—especially when their ventures are out of the box and the existing legal framework do not support them.
But for the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) that represents the world's second biggest garments export industry, asking for a Tk100 crore budgetary allocation to create a platform like Amazon appears to be shamelessly natural.
The BGMEA is indeed facing a very hard time due to the global pandemic and it needs government policy support, including a stimulus package. The world still does not know when the pandemic will end and when the demand for readymade garments will return to normalcy. Some factory owners are in dire straits, while some are being able to make ends meet. The BGMEA would surely do "everything possible" to help the sector stay afloat and thrive.
But for the trade body "everything possible" means mostly looking to the government for various financial incentives and tax cuts. Now they are asking for budgetary allocation to create a portal. They have even calculated a budget of Tk100 crore to create this portal. Who made this calculation and on what basis?
Typically, for any other trade body, it should have been the members who contribute to create such an online portal. The BGMEA can initiate the effort to build the portal and if they do not have the cash, they can take loans from banks on the basis of actual need. Obviously, this portal will generate income and perhaps cut business costs for both customers and the BGMEA members.
We know there are many proud and visionary RMG manufacturers in the country who do not beg for money on all occasions. They invent new ways to solve a problem. The BGMEA can turn to these entrepreneurs to build its so-called 100 crore online platform.
Or perhaps, beyond our knowledge, the BGMEA members have become very poor and we are being insensitive by criticising this move. Perhaps they are so poor that they should also ask for budgetary allocation for mobile phone bills of its members. Without overseas calls, they can't secure good business. They can also ask for car allowance for its members or house rent. They can also ask the government for free plots to set up factories.