Minister backs demand for rate cuts
Commerce Minister Faruk Khan yesterday assured business leaders that he would suggest the taskforce proposes lowering bank interest rate at 11-12 percent.
The Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry demanded a rate cut to ensure a continuous credit flow for the private sector, especially for small and medium enterprises, in the face of global recession.
During a meeting at the chamber's office in Dhaka, the MCCI asked for adopting a comprehensive supportive strategy in line with the proposals it placed before the minister.
It sought that the government take measures to ensure easy access to bank loans, raise public spending, lower the cost of doing business, keep the law and order under control and enhance port efficiencies.
The trade body in a recent meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also submitted a set of recommendations to tackle the recession.
Fearing a gloomy economy, MCCI President Abdul Hafiz Choudhury pointed to the 2.5 percent decline in Bangladesh's overall exports until February.
Other Asian countries like India, China and Pakistan are facing sharper downturns in their exports, he also pointed out.
"So, in such a critical situation, a continuous credit flow at low interest should be ensured to prevent any shutdowns," Choudhury said.
He also said public spending on infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, human resource development, rural infrastructures and non-farm support activities should be increased through a continuous review of the Annual Development Programme (ADP).
The metropolitan chamber chief put emphasis on the capacity building of the banking sector through reducing non-performing loans, improving services and strengthening prudential regulations.
Choudhury demanded government's zero tolerance to any extortion by the miscreants in the guise of political activists.
Urging a responsible behaviour with regard to any public statement on any militancy in garment factories, the MCCI president said, “We must not create a situation where labour unrest can get a boost.”
On Chittagong Port trade unionism, the chamber opined that such activities should be limited to three unions out of 32 organisations for the sake of smooth operation of the port.
The chamber chief also urged the government for immediately execute the administrative initiatives taken by the immediate past caretaker government to make the port more efficient.
Former MCCI president Latifur Rahman pointed to the present state of regional trade and urged the government to start negotiating with India to seal a pact on free trade to raise the bilateral trade volume.
“Chittagong Port would be automated as early as possible,” the minister assured the businesspeople, adding that solar power pumps would be ensured for the farmers to reduce dependency on electricity.
"No further extortion in the country,” Faruk Khan affirmed.
Mahbubur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh chapter of International Chamber of Commerce, Syed Nasim Manzur, MCCI vice-president Barrister Rafiqul Haque, an MCCI member, and Syed Manzur Elahi, former MCCI president, were also present at the meeting.