Export may face setback sans quick vaccination, apprehend stakeholders

FE REPORT | Monday, 14 June 2021

Speakers stressed on Sunday the need for quick vaccination to develop people's immunity; otherwise the country's export may face a setback.

They emphasised further widening of tax net, facilitating private investment, and quality expenditure on health, education and agriculture.

They also said there is a need for providing financial support to the new poor, created mostly in the urban areas due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The speakers said these while speaking at a post-budget discussion on reflections on the budget 2021-22, organised by the Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF). The ERF organised the webinar in partnership with the RAPID and the Asia Foundation.

Planning Minister M A Mannan joined the programme as the chief guest.

FBCCI President Md. Jashim Uddin, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Faruque Hassan, and RAPID Chairman Dr. M Abdur Razzaque were panelists.

RAPID Executive Director Professor Dr. Abu Eusuf made a presentation at the event.

ERF President Sharmin Rinvi chaired the programme, while its general secretary Rashedul Islam moderated it.

The planning minister said there is confusion about the figure or number of new poor in the country. Many organisations have raised many numbers, and the variations of figures are so wide.

He, however, said the government has a responsibility to address the issue.

In the past the poor did not get justice, but this time the government is serious about maintaining justice with the poor. The government is also serious about rural development.

Echoing with the speakers on the importance of the vaccination, Mr. Mannan said vaccination is very important.

"This is a very serious issue, as the buyers who purchase our clothes will feel fear, if there is no herd immunity in the country," he added.

The FBCCI president said the budget has duly given the right attention to some sectors.

He also noted that vaccination is very important for the businesses. "We may face troubles, if the required number of vaccination administrations is not made".

Mr. Jashim said they are raising their voices on two key issues - advance income tax (AIT) and VAT - which are making their doing business costly.

"AIT should be withdrawn, but the fate is that there are even 20 per cent AIT in the proposed budget."

He also said the government has reduced the corporate tax by two and a half per cent, but the provision of higher AIT will make doing business expensive.

The FBCCI chief also suggested scrapping the advance VAT on imports of raw materials.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) should be strengthened in order to collect more revenue, he added.

The BGMEA president said actually Bangladesh now has low private investment. "There is no new private investment during the past one and a half years."

Mr. Hasan said Bangladesh has been growing on the back of good performance in the export sector, remittance and public investment. But public investment does not actually create new employment.

The BGMEA chief mentioned that clothing is a sector, where all types of people get jobs, whereas banking and insurance sectors hire only educated people.

Dr. M Abdur Razzaque said there are some statistics, which do not make sense.

The private investment in terms of GDP remained between 31-33 per cent, but the GDP rate is expanding much faster.

The full coverage of cash incentives to the poor is yet to be completed, which contradicts with the government policy, he noted.

Dr. Abu Eusuf said many areas of the budget are quite ok, like - deficit, external funding, and 'Made in Bangladesh' campaign.

He, however, said there is a need for massive reforms in the health sector.

The government could allocate funds for around 10 million new poor by giving Tk 20 billion from block allocation.

He opined that the budget had no relation to the challenges that Bangladesh would face after the LDC graduation.

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