The finance minister and a key adviser of the prime minister yesterday came up with big promises to improve the business climate, reduce the interest rate on lending, bring down bad loans, boost revenue income and develop the capital market.
They vowed to carry on the promises for boosting economic growth and to live up to the expectations of the private sector.
“We have to reduce the interest rate or else doing business will be tough,” Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters after a meeting with prominent business leaders at the NEC auditorium in the capital.
Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Advisor Salman F Rahman accompanied the minister at the meeting, which had more than two dozen business leaders. The business leaders placed their problems at the meeting.
“We will not impose any tax target on the National Board of Revenue. Rather, they will let us know what they can achieve,” said Kamal, also a chartered account.
Tax office will be set up at 492 upazilas across the country to increase revenue, he said. “But that will be done without hiking the rates.”
The finance minister also vowed to reduce the non-performing loans. “Otherwise, the banking sector will be weakened.”
More such meetings will be held between the government and the private sector in the days ahead.
“No one will go empty-handed. We will work in a win-win partnership.”
But, they have to help the government to achieve its revenue target of Tk 296,000 crore for this fiscal year in exchange of the government's initiatives.
“A frustration is observed amongst the businesses as we assured every year that we would fulfil their demands, but those are yet to be implemented.”
Their core demands are to bring down the existing high interest rate on lending and decrease the tax rates to a sensible level, he said.
The business leaders said there were some problems in doing business in the steel, cement, pharmaceuticals and some other sectors.
“Salman F Rahman has already started working with the Bangladesh Investment development Authority to improve the ease of doing business and you will see within three months what the outcome will be,” the finance minister added.
The government wants the economy to flourish by increasing the periphery of investment that will generate employment, said Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
To help the government fulfil its revenue target, a business-friendly environment must be ensured. Mohiuddin went on to call for lowering of the interest rate without further ado. Otherwise, the investment momentum will come off.
“The minister has informed that the multiple rate of VAT would be established. But he has not given any indication when the rate will be effective,” he added.
Bangladesh Bank Governor Fazle Kabir, Finance Secretary Abdur Rouf Talukder and NBR Chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan were present at the meeting.
Leaders of the FBCCI, the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka Stock Exchange, leather and footwear manufacturers, agricultural businesses, real estate sectors and government stakeholders attended the meeting.