Post-Budget Discussion: “Budget and Business Outlook”

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The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh

(AmCham) held a “Post-Budget Panel Discussion” on June 10, 2024 at the SHERATON Hotel, Banani, Dhaka.

Mr. Mahbubul Alam, President, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI) attended the discussion as the “Chief Guest”. Dr. M. Masrur Reaz, Chairman, Policy Exchange of Bangladesh moderated the panel discussion where Dr. Muhammad Abdul Mazid, Former Chairman, National Board of Revenue (NBR), Ms. Nihad Kabir, Former President, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Mr. Ashraf Ahmed President, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI), Mr. Md. Moinul Huq, AmCham Executive Committee Member & Citi Country Officer, Bangladesh, Citibank, N.A. and Mr. Reaz Islam, Chief Executive Officer, L-R Global Bangladesh Asset Management Company Limited partook as the designated panelists.

Dr. M. Masrur Reaz, Chairman, Policy Exchange of Bangladesh presented the brief overview on the FY 2024-25 budget. Mr. Al Mamun M Rashel, Treasurer, AmCham and Country Manager & Managing Director, NATco Bangladesh shared some remarks on National Budget FY 2023-24. The National Budget FY 2024–25 outlines strong and versatile development strategies for Smart Bangladesh. To maintain promising GDP growth, the government, policymakers, and the central bank must work together to implement effective measures to control inflation and mitigate its impact. We believe the budget formulation and implementation should be handled by separate entities to maintain the sanctity and address the key challenges that include declining foreign exchange reserves, the balance of payment deficit, energy sector demand-supply imbalances and the struggling banking sector. Addressing these requires a holistic approach, including monetary policy adjustment, fiscal discipline, FDI and export promotion, and fostering long-term structural changes through stakeholder engagement. AmCham recommended prioritizing on the following matters:

● Foreign Exchange Reserve ● Alternatives to Increase Export Revenue ● Adjustment of the Tax-free Threshold ● Tax and VAT Policy ● Social Safety Nets ● Duties on EPZ and Hitech Parks ● Renewable Energy to Offload Existing Supply Chain ● Reducing Per Capita Liability ● Focused Project on Climate Vulnerability.

Mr. Mahbubul Alam, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) said, “This policy should be for a minimum of five years, Many local and foreign investors will not be interested in new investments without a long-term plan. Without a long-term policy, businessmen cannot plan properly, resulting in losses.”

He also highlighted the need for a hassle-free tax and VAT system and urged the private sector to take an active role in implementing the budget. Additionally, he pointed out the necessity of formalising the large informal sector and improving the electricity transmission line to ensure uninterrupted power for industries. The FBCCI president further suggested increasing the tax-free limit to Tk 4.5 lakh due to the decrease in per capita income and emphasised the importance of increasing export diversity.

A good number of AmCham members including the Executive Committee Members, foreign dignitaries, business leaders, media representatives and other distinguished guests attended. Ms. Rubaba Dowla, AmCham Executive Committee Member & Country Managing Director- Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Oracle Bangladesh Limited offered the vote of thanks.

Keynote – OVERVIEW OF NATIONAL BUDGET 2024-25

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