Prioritize labour-based small entrepreneurs to disburse incentives: Speakers at CRI's Webinar

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Published on June 27, 2020
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Labor-intensive small entrepreneurs should be given priority during the disbursement of government announced Tk 20,000 crore incentive package for small and medium entrepreneurships, suggested analysts at a dialogue.

“If these entrepreneurs can reinitiate their businesses, employments will be catalyzed,” Policy Research Institute (PRI) Executive Director Ahsan Mansur told the webinar dialogue on Wednesday night.

Awami League’s research wing Centre for Research and Information (CRI) hosted the dialogue on ‘Job Creation in the COVID-19’.

Special Envoy for the United Nations Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) Abul Kalam Azad, Lead Private Sector Specialist in the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group (WBG) Syed Akhtar Mahmood, Executive Director of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) Ferdaus Ara Begum and Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) Deputy Managing Director Md Fazlul Kader and ACI logistics limited (shwapno) executive director Sabbir Hasan Nasir joined the dialogue online as discussants.

Introductory note was delivered by Imran Ahmed, a former research fellow at McKinsey and Deputy Executive Director at Shakti Foundation.

“The readymade garments sector is left with no order.

Even if 70 percent of the past orders come back, 30 percent of the workers will lose their jobs.

Small factories may be shut down as well,” PRI executive director Ahsan Mansur said.

Hailing the government for announcing the BDT 20,000 crore package to reinvigorate the SME sector, he said job openings in small and medium industries and export arenas such as garments sector should be created to gear up employment scopes.

“They don’t even need a huge amount of money.

Only Tk 10 lac to 20 lac will be sufficient for them to start their activities. They will also be able to reinstate the employees who lost their jobs,” he said.

This economic analyst also recommended conducting more publicity of the government project titled ‘My village, my town’, which he spoke highly of.

Imran Ahmed said new employment scopes can be created by extending policy support to the labor-intensive industry and projects and disbursing cash to the entrepreneurs who are out of banking transactions even in this crisis period.

Ferdaus Ara Begum said cottage industries contribute most employment scopes among SME.

Referring to a survey, she said the sale in this industry has dipped by 30 percent in last April and showed some progress in May.

“Only 80 crore Tk out of the government-announced package of 20,000 crore Taka has been disbursed to date while thousands of applicants are waiting,” she said.

Begum said cottage industry entrepreneurs can’t receive loans from the banking sector, therefore, the loan distribution could be made at the expected level, had it been conducted through the SME Foundation, NGOs, or organizations of this kind.

Md Fazlul Kader said PKSF has already signed an agreement with 200 partner NGOs to raise awareness among general people.

“If small entrepreneurs in rural areas are made more skilled through training, more employment opportunities will be created,” he said Sabbir Hasan Nasir said those who are returning to villages from cities due to COVID-19 will have only one way to make a living, which is agriculture.

They must be entitled to loans on easy terms and conditions.

He said if agricultural products can be taken under the purview of the modern commercial system, farmers will be benefitted the most. It is rarely observed in Bangladesh, he added.

Nasir said at present, the modern agricultural market only accounts for 1.6 pc while if it can be uplifted to 40 pc, then 1 lac superstores will come under the purview of modern business. Twelve lacs of employment scopes will be created then, he added.

Syed Akhtar Mahmood said the government must be vigilante of whether the incentive package reaches to the ones who are entitled to it.

He laid stress on whether this incentive expedites productivity and employment.

Abul Kalam Azad said the current government created 100 economic zones.

Here allocations have been made for labor-intensive sectors and especially garments sectors, he said adding that through the coordination of these economic zones, more employment scopes can be made.

“The main purpose of ‘My village, my town’ is to take the amenities of towns to villages.

The government is helping villagers enjoy Wi-Fi and other digital facilities.

This is paving the path for new entrepreneurs and employment scopes,” he added.