State-owned Banksmay be utilized disbursing stimulus funds to MSMEs: DCCI

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) had a discussion with the Finance Minister of Bangladesh A H M Mustafa Kamal, FCA, MP to discuss the ongoing economic situation prevailing in the country due to coronavirus pandemic.

Shams Mahmud, President of DCCI appreciated the proactive steps taken by the honorable Prime Minister and the Finance Ministry announcing the stimulus packages especially for micro, small & medium enterprises (MSMEs). The DCCI President mentioned that in spite of the measures being announced, cottage, MSMEs may facehurdlesin getting required access to finance from banks under the packages announced.

Most of the cottage, SMEs, MSMEs and cash-transaction-based tradersmay be deprived in getting stimulus fundsfrom the banks because of the requirements of having loansand due to lack of good relation with the banks which large businesses always maintain but they are compliant in doing businesses.As a way forward, DCCI proposes to utilizeState-owned Commercial Banks (SOBs) to disburse stimulus funds particularly for MSMEs. DCCI also proposes to the Finance Ministry to chalk out a plan for a considered gradual opening up of different business sectors. Also external international financial organizations need to be pursued to bring in low cost funds to inject into the stimulus packages. The discussion between the Finance Minister and DCCI also covered the issues of food security for the vulnerable groups and financial assistance to the workers in the informal sectors.

New MSMEs with an operational time of maximum 2 (two) yearsshould be waived business license renewal fees, utility bills, other charges related to bank and import &export related port charges.They also need to be offered business recovery fund as working capital under re-financing scheme for two years with 1 (one) percent interest rate. Since,keeping social distance need to be continued now,e-commerce based MSMEs are playing vital role in this crisis moment. He thus proposes to provide VAT and Tax exemptions or cash incentives to the MSMEs to engage more in e-commerce ecosystem. Informal businesses like floating traders, hawkers, floating shops, grocers and sole traders need to be brought under the social safety network and low-cost survival business recovery emergency fund can be given for their survival.

Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal, FCA, MP underscored the measures taken by the government and also emphasized the point that the Finance Ministry has adopted a policy for bringing out an inclusive, transparent financial stimulus packages with people from all sectors in mind. The Finance Ministry is also engaging with foreign development partners in order for bringing in funds at a low cost to further boost the stimulus packages. The Finance Minister also mentioned the programs undertaken by the government to ensure food security. All these measures are being undertaken in a transparent way with clear identifications to ensure transparency.

DCCI President Shams Mahmud thanked the Finance Minister and the efforts of the Ministry during this unprecedented time and taking the time to engage and take suggestions from all stakeholders.

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