Businesses seek further credit

Business associations in a pre-budget discussion with the finance ministry on Thursday asked for more loans like those they received under the Tk 1.24 lakh crore stimulus packages announced in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak in the past year.

As the COVID-19 is persisting in the country as elsewhere across the world the representatives of the business bodies urged that credit facilities should be extended, said finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal while briefing reporters after the virtual discussion.     

‘They also asked for more tax- and duty-related benefits,’ he said without elaborating the demands placed by 12 business associations.

According to Finance Division officials, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association demanded that the number of instalments should be re-fixed at 30 in place of the 18 fixed originally for paying back the Tk 10,500 crore credit received by the export-oriented readymade garment exporters at a subsidised service rate for paying workers’ wages from the packages.

While the stimulus package of Tk 33,000 crore for large industries and services was almost fully distributed some 60 per cent of the Tk 20,000 crore package for cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises was disbursed until January 31, said the Finance Division officials.

Asked to comment on the new demands from the business leaders, Mustafa Kamal said that they (the businesses) always wanted more.

The government would accept only those demands that would benefit the country, he said.

He also said that prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who had announced the 23 stimulus packages, would decide whether the loan packages could be extended.

Replying to another question, the finance minister said that the businesses demanded that the government should check illegal money-generating scopes now existing in many sectors, including the real estate business. 

This was the first of this year’s pre-budget discussions, participated by representatives of the following associations.

Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, BGMEA, BKMEA, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association,  Bangladesh Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Women Entrepreneurs of Bangladesh,  and e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh.      

The second virtual discussion will be held on April 11 with economists.

The Finance Division in the past year avoided its pre-budget discussions due to the COVID-19 outbreak.