Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said women and marginal entrepreneurs have to be given priority in disbursement of the government's pandemic incentive package.
He said this at a programme organised by the SME Foundation to hand over Bank Asia loan checks to entrepreneurs in the conference room of the industries ministry on Thursday, says a press release.
SME Foundation Managing Director, Md Mofizur Rahman, presided over the programme attended by the industries minister as chief guest. State Minister for Industries, Kamal Ahmed Majumder, and Industries Secretary Zakia Sultana, were special guests at the event.
President and Managing Director of Bank Asia, Md Arfan Ali, and Deputy Managing Director Md Ziaul Hasan Mollah, among others, also addressed the event where Bank Asia distributed checks worth Tk63.90 lakh two six entrepreneurs, including two women.
At the programme, the industries minister said, "We have to keep in mind that millions of entrepreneurs across the country have been affected by the pandemic. We have to stand by these entrepreneurs. The incentive package money should be distributed among entrepreneurs as soon as possible."
He said that in order to ensure the same entrepreneur is not given the incentive benefit repeatedly, entrepreneurs who did not get the first round of the benefit package, should be contacted now to provide them loan facilities from this latest package. In this case, women entrepreneurs should be given special priority.
He called on entrepreneurs to take the economy forward with conducting business honestly.
State Minister Kamal Ahmed Majumder said the government announced a number of packages to speed up the country's economic recovery from the adverse impact of the pandemic as well as to protect the SME sector. A new package of Tk1,500 crore has been announced for the expansion of lending in rural areas to improve living standards of the marginalised.
"The incentives are aimed at expanding the scope of credit for various organisations working on micro-entrepreneurship as well as rural development, taking steps for the development of women entrepreneurs, and continuing to achieve poverty reduction targets. The SME Foundation has set a target of 30 June, to disburse the funds released this year.
SME Foundation Managing Director, Md Mofizur Rahman, said, of the Tk300 crore allocated for the SME Foundation, Tk100 crore will be distributed in the current financial year and Tk200 crore in the next financial year. All instructions given by the government will be followed in the disbursement of loans, and the SME Foundation has already signed agreements with 11 banks and non-banking financial institutions to disburse the loans. The foundation has also started the process of signing agreements with Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank, and several other public and private banks and financial institutions, to provide entrepreneurs from remote areas with loans.
The SME Foundation chief expressed his gratitude to Bank Asia for its pioneering role in the disbursement of incentive package loans.
Small and medium entrepreneurs will get loans at 4% interest under the incentive package. Entrepreneurs will get a minimum of Tk1 lakh to a maximum of Tk 75 lakh in loans. Loans can be repaid in a maximum of 24 equal monthly installments, based on the banker-customer relationship.
Rural and marginal entrepreneurs who have not received loans in the first phase of the incentive package will be given priority in this round of loans. The target is to distribute 25%-30% of the total loan packages, among women entrepreneurs.