Industries minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) database would be updated soon to reflect the benefits of the incentive package announced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to protect the country's SME sector affected by Covid-19.
He said the SME Foundation and the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics would update the database with the help of the industries ministry. He hoped this would provide incentives to the real affected SME at the grassroots level.
The industries minister was addressing a virtual dialogue titled "Covid-19 Economic Crisis and SME Industry of Bangladesh" as a guest speaker.
"Resurgent Bangladesh", a policy development joint venture of the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Chittagong Stock Exchange, Build and Policy Exchange, organised the dialogue on Tuesday.
Speakers at the dialogue lauded the huge incentive package announced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to protect the small and medium enterprises affected by Covid-19.
They said even though the incentive package was announced very quickly, the SME entrepreneurs were not getting the benefits due to banking complications.
Besides, there is no opportunity to avail the announced packages for a large number of industrial and business ventures in the informal sector due to incentives provided through banking channels. They demanded government-announced incentives for grassroots informal, cottage, small-scale industries and businesses through the banking channel as well as through the non-banking sector, including micro-financing institutes (MFIs).
To this end, the speakers suggested creating a realistic database for cottage, small and medium enterprises quickly, setting up one-stop service centres at district level through BSIC/SME Foundation to support SME entrepreneurs outside the banking channel, separate incentives for traditional cottage and small-scale industries, and creating a digital marketplace.
They emphasised the need to reform the existing monetary policy as well as to establish an effective linkage between foreign direct investment and local SME entrepreneurs to build an innovative SMS industry.
The industries minister said monitoring activities have already been launched at the district level to ensure the benefits of the incentives announced by the prime minister for the real affected SME entrepreneurs at the grassroots level.
A verification and selection committee, formed under the leadership of deputy commissioners to identify the real victims, has started its work. The biggest challenge in the Covid-19 situation is to retain existing employment as well as create new employment. The SME sector can play an important role as the lifeblood of the economy in meeting this challenge.
Humayun added that the present government has taken practical steps to keep economic activities and industrialisation going even in the Covid-19 situation. Apart from this, efforts are being made to involve the returning manpower in the productive SME sector.
Covid-19 has created an opportunity to relocate foreign manufacturing industries to Bangladesh under the changed circumstances. This has brought new opportunities for the domestic SME sector.
He sought the help of all concerned including SME entrepreneurs to make use of this possibility. He assured the organisers that the government would take immediate steps to implement the logical recommendations of the dialogue.
Build's chairperson Abul Kashem Khan welcomed the dialogue while Policy Exchange chairman Masroor Riaz conducted the programme. Build CEO Ferdous Ara Begum presented the keynote paper.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies senior research fellow Dr Manzoor Hossain, managing director of SME Foundation Shafiqul Islam, managing director of Creation Rashedul Karim Munna, CEO of Tarang Kohinoor Yasmin, former chief secretary and managing director of PKSF Abdul Karim, Dr Nasir Uddin Ahmed, Asif Ibrahim, Barrister Nihad Kabir, SM Rashidul Islam, general secretary of Economic Reporters Forum (ERF), Rubina Hossain, women entrepreneur Humaira Chowdhury and other SME entrepreneurs, business leaders, development researchers and media personnel took part in the discussion. President of DCCI Shams Mahmud presented the recommendations of the dialogue.