Call to expedite lending for smaller enterprises

Oct deadline looms as 80pc funds remain undisbursed

FE REPORT | Thursday, 1 October 2020

An aggressive strategy for full implementation of loan disbursement to the cottage, micro, small and medium enterprises needs to be ensured to attain the October deadline.

Almost 80 per cent such fund remained unutilised as of August.

The suggestion came up in a paper presented by the BUILD on Wednesday at a virtual discussion on "Post-Pandemic Status of CMSMEs and Effectiveness of Stimulus Packages."

Quoting a survey finding conducted by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, paper presenter Abul Kasem Khan said nearly 60 per cent smaller firms find the loan disbursement process from stimulus package to be complex while 18 per cent of them lack relationships with banks.

Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun joined the programme as chief guest.

The programme was jointly organised by Citizen's Platform for SDGs, Bangladesh and Business, Initiative, Leading, Development (BUILD).

Distinguished Fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) DrDebapriya Bhattacharya moderated the discussion.

Among others, CPD Distinguished Fellow Professor Mustafizur Rahman, eminent business personality and former president of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (MCCI) Syed Nasim Manzur and President of the Chittagong Stock Exchange (CSE) Syed Asif Ibrahim delivered speeches on the occasion.

In his speech, Mr Manzur said apart from the contribution of the CMSMEs, the sector's role in creation of jobs is also important.

Highlighting some problems facing such enterprises, including capital shortfall due mainly to the significant fall in their sales, Mr. Manzur suggested 'alternative channels' like local MFIs and NGOs and engagement of local chambers and communities to look into the matters.

The BUILD, in the meantime, said flexible credit guarantee and alternative channels to disburse loans should be explored.

It argued the utility, tax, and VAT may be paid by the entrepreneurs of the CMSMEs in equal installments for the period of six months to 12 months as they have been hard hit by the pandemic.

Speaking as chief guest, Mr Humayun said according to the policy, the activities of the incentive package announced by the government will be implemented.

On formulating a comprehensive policy for the CMSMEs, the industries minister sought the active participation of the private sector and think-tanks in formulating it to address the problems of the sector.

He said the government is working on moving the national economy forward by keeping the wheels of small and medium industries running.

He said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced a huge incentive package at the beginning of coronavirus outbreak in the country..

He called upon banks and financial institutions to sanction incentive funds considering the capabilities of the entrepreneurs in the sector, lifting the collateral obligation.

During the discussion, entrepreneurs have demanded the creation of an integrated database as a matter of urgency for the effective implementation of the incentive package announced by the government for the industrial sector to address the loss due to COVID-19.

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