Govt to bring freelancers under registration

The government is going to start a registration process for freelancers so that they can get their due recognition, avail bank loans and other facilities. 

Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman said this while addressing as chief guest of the inaugural session of a workshop titled ‘The Role of Media in Promoting SME Development and Sustainability’ at Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF) in the city on Saturday.

Salman F Rahman said, “One day a young man came to me and said that I am a freelancer. I developed a webpage for an institution owned by an Australian women. She paid me USD 500. But, the bank is not paying me. The bank wants to know what my relationship with that woman is and why she sent the money. Besides, we (freelancers) face various problems starting from marriage to getting out children admitted to school. That’s why I want institutional recognition for freelancers.”

“After receiving many such complaints, I had meetings with the State Minister for ICT and representatives of Bangladesh Bank as well as other banks. From there we took an initiative to set up a database for freelancers. The work on this database is in the final stages now. Once it is done, every freelancer will be able to get registered. Following this registration process the banks will not make any queries regarding the source of the money to the registered freelancers. Besides, they can easily do other tasks with this certificate”, he added.

He also said, “Some 6 to 7 lakh IT freelancers are working in the country. If we can get them registered, one billion Dollar will be added annually in foreign remittance.”

He also said that concerted efforts are needed to develop skilled human resources in the country to face the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution.

“We will have to work more for skills development to face the challenges of the 4th industrial revolution,” he said, the adviser termed the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as the foundation of any economy and underscored the need for putting more emphasis on flourishing of the country’s SME sector.

Industries Secretary Md Abdul Halim, Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Chairman Md Mostaque Hassan and First Secretary, Team Leader, Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Development of the Delegation of the EU to Bangladesh Manfred Fernholz spoke at the function as special guests with ERF President Saiful Islam Dilal in the chair. ERF General Secretary SM Rashedul Islam also expressed his thoughts.

Team Leader, Technical Assistance to Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) Ali Sabet projected a presentation on the topic.

The workshop was organized by the Poverty Reduction through Inclusive and Sustainable Markets (PRISM) project funded by EU.

Salman said in line with the visions and directives from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, BSCIC has been strengthened and reorganized over the years. Moreover, he hinted that one-stop service would be incorporated in the operations of the corporation in future.

Turning to the good news of moving eight notches up by Bangladesh in the recent ease of doing business index revealed by the World Bank, he said although there has been advancement, but the country is still lagging behind in the ease of doing business index and competitive index.

“We will definitely improve further as there have been some reforms. The government is working to improve in all the indexes in the coming days and we hope to step into the double digit in the ease of doing business index by 2021,” he added.

Citing some of the success stories of the country’s SMEs like the backward linkage industries to the RMG sector, Salman said, these backward linkage industries directly exported products worth $1 billion to countries like Vietnam, China, Turkey and South Korea alongside their deemed export and this is a very good achievement.

Industries Secretary Md Abdul Halim said that gazette notification on the new SME policy will be published soon.

He said that the government is eying to raise the contributions of the industrial sector to 40 percent of GDP by 2030 as well as raising the contribution of the SME sector to the industrial sector to 28 percent.

Mentioning that the central ETP at the Savar Tannery Industrial Estate is likely to become operational by December, Halim informed that the new leather industry policy is eying to fetch $5 billion by 2024 from leather and leather goods exports.

BSCIC Chairman Md Mostaque Hassan said that the government is looking forward to creating some 1 crore employment opportunities through setting up some 50 industrial parks on 20,000 acres of land by 2030.

Manfred Fernholz said that the EU is the largest trade, development and humanitarian partner of Bangladesh, adding, “We’ll continue to support Bangladesh for better trade, boosting human and labour rights and thus, contributing to the overall development of Bangladesh.”

Noting that the promotion and importance of SMEs is quite high in Bangladesh like in other countries of the world, he said, these are playing an important role in alleviating people from poverty.