Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal did not do anything to bring reforms in the banking sector since coming to office 11 months back, FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim said yesterday.
The bank interest rate has gone up to such an extent that it is acting as a barrier to running business, he told the inauguration of a three-day international “Ceramic Expo Bangladesh 2019”.
The president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) also criticised the chairman and officials of the National Board of Revenue, saying they lack efficiency.
The prime minister gives much respect to businesspeople but some government officials do not provide due cooperation which is a barrier to doing business, he said.
He cited an example of importers having to pay 30 percent supplementary duty for the around 30 percent moisture that exists in the raw materials used in manufacturing ceramics.
The business community is facing deep trouble in running their operations due to the high bank interest rates, the highest in the world, added Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi.
“People cannot run their businesses with high interest at 12 and 14 percent,” he told the launch of the fair organised by the Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BCMEA) at International Convention City Bashundhara.
“If interest rate does not come down to a single digit, then NPLs (non-performing loans) will go up,” said Munshi.
The minister mentioned that the difference between deposit and lending rates in the country was very high compared to those in other parts of the world.
“There is a maximum difference of three to four percentage points elsewhere in the world,” he said.
The banking sector enjoys a lot of benefits from the government but they are not reducing the bank loan interest rate, added Munshi.
The minister emphasised the need to bring down the interest rate of bank loans to a single digit for businesses to gain a boost.
He also said the country’s ceramic sector had potential similar to the readymade garment sector as manufacturers were producing world-class ceramics.
Presiding over the event, Md Shirajul Islam Mollah, president of the BCMEA, demanded increasing incentive on ceramic exports from the current 10 percent to 25 percent.
“We do not require bonded warehouse facility as the industry requires a lot of raw materials and storing it in warehouses would require huge amounts of space,” he said.
Irfan Uddin, general secretary of the BCMEA, said local manufacturers cater to 85 percent of the country’s demand while only 15 percent high-end ceramic products were imported from Japan, China and Taiwan.
Over 120 participants along with 300 international delegates are taking part in the exhibition with ceramics and allied products of 150 brands, including 98 foreign companies from 20 countries, including host Bangladesh.
According to Uddin, the country’s ceramics sector invested Tk 8,500 crore and created 5 lakh direct and indirect jobs.