If the government simplifies business policies, it will ultimately increase trade and investment, said industrialists and businesspeople.
Addressing a pre-budget discussion at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital on Thursday, they called on the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to play a greater role in paving the way to more investment.
The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), the Daily Samakal, and Channel 24, jointly organised the "Pre-budget Discussion 2022-23: Expectations of the Private Sector".
At the discussion, businessmen and industrialists expressed their expectations regarding the budget for the next financial year, which will be placed by the government next June.
Mostafa Kamal, chairman of the Meghna Group of Industries, one of the largest industrial groups in the country, pointed out the obstacles to doing business in the country. "It takes too much time to complete the processing of a file. I needed the clearance of a government department and submitted the required documents. But even after three years, the government department said my file was being processed according to government rules. Finally, it took seven years to complete the process," he said.
Addressing the government, he said, "Businessmen also make mistakes and do not know many things, but make the policy easier for them. Starting with the deed writer, it has become difficult everywhere for businessmen."
Referring to a positive policy of the government, he said the number of ships has increased from 37 to 87 in a year after reduction of taxes on the shipping industry.
Mostafa Kamal said, "Businessmen are indomitable. If policies to do business are simplified and discrimination eliminated, entrepreneurs will move forward at a fast pace."
Other business leaders present at the event called for simplification of business policies, stopping VAT and tax related harassment and simplifying the process of paying VAT and taxes. They also urged the government not to change any tax related policy for at least five years.
DCCI President Rizwan Rahman moderated the discussion attended by Planning Minister MA Mannan as special guest.
Referring to the arbitrary powers of NBR officials, former FBCCI president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said all businessmen are being harassed because of a few thieves. He said the NBR has to come out of its authoritarian attitude.
Emphasising the need for consistency in NBR policy, he said the economic zones are not ready yet but VAT has already been imposed.
Planning Minister MA Mannan also supported Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin's statement regarding the authoritarian attitude of government offices.
He said, "Government officials want a submissive attitude from those seeking services. Why is the regulator's name the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority? Why is it not the Bangladesh Investment Promotion Agency?"
Addressing the government, Apex Group Chairman Syed Manzur Elahi said, "Make the way of doing business easier. Foreign Direct Investment or FDI will come and local industries will also get opportunities. Talking to me, students of Dhaka University want to know what they should do. They do not want jobs, but want to run small businesses. Around 25-30 lakh people enter professional careers every year. Many of them will start businesses and we need to make it easier for them to do business."
Naser Ezaz Bijoy, president of the Foreign Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry, called for a long-term roadmap in various government policies. He said, "An effective tax rate is more important than tax reduction, because after a lot of expenses, the effective tax rate becomes higher."
In order to strengthen CMSMEs, DCCI President Rizwan Rahman proposed starting turnover-based loans instead of collateral based loans for the CMSME sector.
He said increasing investment, employment generation, widening the tax and VAT net, export diversification, infrastructure development, and the continuation of a business-friendly environment should get priority and greater attention in the upcoming budget.
FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin emphasised providing equal benefits to all sectors.
Alamgir Hossain, a former NBR member, said the budget should be business and investment friendly.