The event was held having Honorable Planning Minister Mr. M.A. Mannan, M.P, as Chief Guest
at Hotel Sheraton Dhaka (Banani) where Mr. A.B. Mirza Md. Azizul Islam, Former Adviser to the Care-taker Government and Mr. Ahsan H. Mansur (keynote presenter), Executive Director, Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh (PRI) spoke on the occasion as panelists. The discussion was moderated by the AmCham President Mr. Syed Ershad Ahmed. A good number of AmCham members, foreign dignitaries, and other distinguished guests attended the meeting. The program was organized in association with Chevron Bangladesh and International Beverages Private Limited (Coca-Cola).
Since Bangladesh is poised to prepare itself for post pandemic recovery strategy as well as keeping up the momentum for the economy returning to double-digit growth amidst unpredictability of the geopolitical environment, we recommend to tackle the twin challenges focusing on crisis management, prioritizing expenditures and Foreign Exchange Reserve, inflation control, infrastructure developments to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as private sector, policy assistance and continuity to emphasize on key procedural matters in following notes:
● Agricultural allocation and Inflation Control : Since food safety ensures a moderate inflation amidst global phenomenon, we expect Agriculture to receive more incentives ensuring unchanged food production. We would appreciate more price reduction of Agricultural equipment and hybrid vehicle.
● Foreign Exchange Reserve: No significant economic growth is conceivable without a sustained Foreign Exchange reserve growth. Hence, instead of gross import ban, we should speed up the foreign-funded projects’ implementation and reconsider own funded projects having a sizeable import component.
● Employment Generation & Social Safety: Since informal sector employs more than 85% of the workforce, the government should increase allocation to these sectors including women & youth-led micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), innovation and start-ups to counter poverty and income inequality by establishing a robust social safety net system.
● Automation & Contemporary Regulations: We strongly recommend the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to adopt automation in all possible levels at the same time to focus more on expanding Tax net. We suggest introducing the e-payment and e-TDS system and Digital Payments incentives to ensure accountability and transparency throughout the process.
● Corporate & Advance Income Tax: We appreciate the recent reduction of corporate tax; however, request the government to continue gradual reduction days ahead and that AIT adjustment and VAT should be withdrawn from industrial raw materials’ import to enhance domestic production capacity.
● Climate vulnerability and green economy : Specific measures and corresponding budgetary allocation are essential for the climate resilience livelihood in geographically vulnerable areas. All projects going anti-environment and against the notion of green economy should be abandoned.
● Remittance & undisclosed wealth : Given that remittance, a major source of foreign currency, we are not in favor of the system of repatriation of embezzled wealth mixing in disguise with the earnings of hardworking taxpayers of Bangladesh.
● Effective Logistics System : During pandemic and in recent days we observed how we are struggling to manage this sector. We strongly recommend effective modernization managing all ports’ operation and allowance of bonded warehouse facility for non-RMG exports too.
AmCham believes budget execution is what matters in the end and that should be measured both for quantity and quality. We at AmCham Bangladesh with a diverse membership base and outlook focusing on global, national or business ecosystem at large, attempt to develop an approach that might help the business & regulatory leadership set the priorities on right strategies making rapid and inevitable remedies during these days ahead. The Keynote was prepared by Dr Ahsan H. Mansur, Chairperson – BRAC Bank & Executive Director – PRI to kick start the discussion.