The Financial Express

Steps beyond budget important for boosting private investment

| Updated: June 15, 2021 10:38:48

Steps beyond budget important for boosting private investment

Issues such as infrastructure development, high cost of doing business and good governance should be addressed to boost private investment, as corporate tax cuts alone would not serve the purpose.

Experts and analysts made the observation while taking part in a budget discussion, held virtually, on Saturday.

They alleged the majority of the small businesses did not get financial support from the government. Only 20-25 per cent of them were benefited from the Tk 200-billion stimulus package, they claimed.

The package was meant for cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises (CMSMEs), but the businesses believe most of the funds actually went to the medium-scale factories.

The experts suggested separating the policy-making from the implementation departments of the revenue board to ensure transparency and objectivity.

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), the country's oldest private think tank, organised the discussion.

CPD chairman Prof Rehman Sobhan presided over the dialogue while planning minister MA Mannan attended the event as the chief guest.

Awami League lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury, former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, BNP lawmaker barrister Rumeen Farhana, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Md Jashim Uddin, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI) president barrister Nihad Kabir and National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh president Mirza Nurul Ghani Shovon also attended as distinguished discussants.

Mr Mannan said the issue of quality expenditure has some relevance.

"We had initiated a move to expand the IMED [implementation, monitoring and evaluation division] across the country to oversee development activities, but it was obstructed by bureaucracy despite the fact that the prime minister had given her consent to it."

The minister said the VAT Act-2012 had immense potential to boost revenue.

"If it was implemented properly, revenue collection would have increased significantly. We're a deficit country, if we had enough revenue, we could consider more cuts in corporate taxes," he said.

Terming the present government business-friendly, Mr Mannan said tradespeople have also described the proposed budget as business-friendly.

CPD distinguished fellow Prof Dr Mustafizur Rahman moderated the dialogue where its executive director Dr Fahmida Khatun made the keynote presentation.

Mr Saber Hossain Chowdhury stressed the need for using accurate data for policy-making, adding that public health issues are a constitutional right in the country.

Mr Jashim Uddin said the government has rightly reduced taxes for some sectors, adding that the 'Made in Bangladesh' campaign is also a good initiative for the country.

He, however, said the system of deducting advance income tax should be scrapped as it makes business expensive.

Barrister Nihad Kabir said reduction in the corporate tax is a necessary condition for boosting the investment but it is not a sufficient condition.

The corporate tax should be reduced gradually to 20-22 per cent to boost investment, he proposed.

"Now, many have been arguing that the budget has incentivised the businesses much, but I think the argument is not true."

She said the government might use information technology to boost tax receipts. BASIS president Syed Almas Kabir said the existing tax holiday for some IT-related industries should have been extended up to 2030.

Some IT industries, including the cloud-based one, enjoy tax holiday. This facility will remain effective up to 2024.

During the event, health economist Dr SA Hamid said at least 80 per cent of the population need to be vaccinated to develop herd immunity.

"We need to do it within the next one year otherwise all our development efforts will fail", he maintained.

Mr Shovon said he never believed that 72-per cent CMSMEs benefitted from the stimulus package, hinting that medium-sized factories might have received it.

Md Salauddin Azim of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association said the government should promote man-made fibre through providing incentives.

"We've asked the government to provide a 10-per cent incentive for such industry as it will ensure a sustainable clothing sector."

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