Businesses yesterday called for policy assistance, policy continuity and corporate tax cuts in the upcoming budget for fiscal 2022-23 to help them thrive in the post-pandemic world.
“We want policy assistance — please give us the same opportunities as the foreign investors,” said Mostofa Kamal, chairman of Meghna Group of Industries at the dialogue, at the dialogue organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce (DCCI), Bangla daily Samakal and TV channel Channel 24.
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The foreign investors make profits and repatriate the sum to their home countries.
“But those of us who invest here for the long-term, we face barriers from the regulatory bodies and many government offices. They treat us negatively instead of receiving us positively,” he added.
Md. Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, a former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries, acknowledged harassment faced by businesses at the hands of the regulatory bodies.
“Authoritarian attitude should be changed and policy consistency is very important for a smooth business environment,” he said, adding that all players from the sector are treated the same way when just is found to be at fault.
Syed Manzur Elahi, chairman of Apex Group and former adviser to the caretaker government, called for improving the ease of doing business and reducing the cost of doing business for a conducive trade and investment ecosystem in the country.
Planning Minister MA Mannan, who was the chief guest at the event, acknowledged the bureaucratic red tapes.
“Authoritarian, this is the word [that] the government officials love. There are numerous problems that can be resolved in an instant,” he said, while calling for a shift away from the bureaucratic culture.
The government should back the automobile industry as it has in the case of the garment industry over the last three to four decades, said Taskeen Ahmed, managing director of Ifad Group.
“If we want export diversification as the government always insists, we have to focus on light engineering and information technology. We need a clear or at least a semi long-term road map for the automobile industry,” he said.
FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin urged the National Board of Revenue to consult with the private sector before changing any rule or statutory regulatory orders as sudden changes become a hassle for the business community.
Any policy should be for at least five years, said Md. Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.
DCCI President Rizwan Rahman proposed reducing the corporate tax rate by 2.5 percentage points for both the listed and non-listed companies and the tax on income of corporate dividends by 10 percentage points to 10 percent in the next budget.
Mozammel Hossain, the acting editor of Samakal, called for reducing the corporate tax for the newspaper industry and for relaxing value-added tax and advance income tax for newspaper import.