FBCCI urges govt to extend support to import-substitute industries

Published : 08 Jun 2023 10:08 PM | Updated : 08 Jun 2023 10:08 PM

Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Md Jashim Uddin on Wednesday urged the government to extend policy support towards import-substitute industries in the country to lessen import pressure on foreign exchange.

The FBCCI president made the call while addressing a post-budget discussion as a special guest organized by the Economic Reporters' Forum (ERF) jointly with RAPID and Asia Foundation held at the ERF auditorium at Paltan in the capital. Planning Minister MA Mannan was present at the function as the chief guest.

Speaking on the occasion, Planning Minister MA Mannan noted that the target of keeping inflation within 6 percent in the proposed budget for FY24 would be very hard given the current conditions.  "The government has announced withdrawing some subsidies, but agriculture and food subsidies will be retained as those are beneficial," said the minister. He said initiatives have been taken to increase direct tax collection while people are being given their own homes through the Ashrayan scheme. "Apart from income opportunities, they are getting clean water and safe sanitation," added Mannan.

 Regarding the current market situation, the planning minister said Kolkata and Agartala are not very far so the disparity between the markets should not be this high.

There is a problem somewhere in the Bangladeshi market, he observed.

Mannan said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was also in favour of building stocks of import-dependent products. The prime minister has given a directive to build the stock of the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) at the departmental level. 

Due to adequate stock of rice, the market is now normal. Similarly, other products also need to be stocked.

The FBCCI President said massive import control initiatives would affect industrial production. "So, the Bangladesh Bank's move only to cut imports is not a solution to reduce stress on the dollar," he noted. The FBCCI chief alleged that the banks are taking Taka 114 to 115 per dollar from the traders like looting goods while there is no institution to look into the matter.

 He said in the proposed budget, there is no such reflection of attaining the SDGs, the target of the 8th Five Year Plan for increasing private investment, and skilled manpower creation in the country.

Jashim said although available energy and power at an affordable cost are the most important elements to grow investment, businessmen are not getting uninterrupted gas after paying a higher rate of Taka 30 per unit. "This is not so investment friendly," he pointed out.

The FBCCI president suggested that the taskforce, consisting of FBCCI and NBR to discuss various problems and complaints, should meet regularly.

He said the budget has set a higher target for revenue collection, but there is an absence of a detailed plan from where and how the revenue would be collected.  Apart from this, Jashim emphasized increasing the capacity of the NBR. He said that in digital Bangladesh, NBR should also be digitized while income tax and VAT should be collected digitally.  The main article was presented by the chairman of the research organisation RAPID Md Abdur Razzaq. Besides, Abu Yusuf, professor of the Economics Department of Dhaka University; Ferdous Ara Begum, CEO of Build; Shaukat Hossain Masum, head of Daily Prothom Alo's online department, spoke at the event. 

ERF President Refayet Ullah Mridha delivered the welcome address in the discussion meeting moderated by ERF general secretary Abul Kashem.