Comprehensive policy for SME development soon, says PM
The government would formulate a comprehensive policy in the foreseeable future in order to promote and develop the country's small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia Sunday disclosed this while addressing a ceremony as the chief guest, organised to honour the recipients of the DCCI Business Award 2005.
"We've mapped out necessary policy and strategy to develop this sector," Khaleda told her business audience.
"The Taskforce on the SMEs has already submitted its report to the government and we've implemented their recommendations. The recommendations include, among others, the establishment of an SME Advisory Panel and an SME cell at the Industries Ministry," she added.
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) organised the ceremony at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre in the city.
Finance and Planning Minister M Saifur Rahman, Minister for Industries Motiur Rahman Nizami and Commerce Minister Altaf Hossain Choudhury attended the ceremony as the special guests.
President of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Mir Nasir Hossain, DCCI President Sayeeful Islam and Senior Vice President Manzur-ur-Rahman also spoke on the occasion.
Mentioning that her government has identified the SME as the thrust sector, Khaleda said around 90 percent of the country's entrepreneurs are involved in this sub-sector and their value addition is nearly 30 per cent.
"Even the UN report on the Millennium has also recognised the importance of SMEs in tackling the poverty worldwide," the Prime Minister said.
Strengthening the credit operation by commercial banks, a Tk 1.0 billion scheme to refinance the banks and financial institutions in the central bank, and the loans from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are among the steps taken by the present government for the development of the SMEs, Khaleda said.
Stressing the need for the promotion and the expansion of the SMEs, Saifur Rahman said this sector could generate large-scale employment and spur economic growth.
"You can't go faster with microfinance. We've to promote small entrepreneurs," Saifur said, terming the SMEs pro-employment sector.
In response to the observation made by the DCCI chief, the Finance Minister said the Bangladeshi entrepreneurs must come up with "innovation and cost-effectiveness" to ride out the storm of competition in what he called "deregulated situation".
He called upon the businesses to maintain the quality of products to face the challenges of global competition.
Saifur, who spearheaded the free market economy in the early 90s, referred to the cases of hundreds of sick industrial units in the country and said it was protection that made them sick.
On this score, he cited the example of the country's thriving local pharmaceutical industry, saying that they were exporting medicines to many countries around the world because of the high quality of their products.
"If you manufacture high quality products, you don't need protection," the Finance Minister told the business gathering, defending the government's liberal economic policy.
Turning to the issue of political unrest, the Finance Minister said despite this teething problem, foreigners were coming to Bangladesh to invest.
But he acknowledged that the "full productivity" could not be reaped due to political instability.
"We could do better if the situation was somewhat easy," he maintained.
He made an appeal to the business community to thwart the "evil attempt" designed to destroy the country's healthy economy.
Without naming the political party, Commerce Minister Altaf Hossain Choudhury said it was planning to hold a grand rally of 25 lakh people.
"The venue of the Outer Stadium has the capacity to hold at best 30,000 people. How can they accommodate such a vast audience," the minister said, slating for the agitational programme.
In his speech, the DCCI President called for holding a meeting between the trade bodies and the Prime Minister every month on a regular basis to discuss issues pertaining to trade, commerce and industry.
Meantime, the DCCI Business Award 2005 was given in three categories - the most innovative small and medium entrepreneurs, the best women entrepreneurs and the most young entrepreneurs.
The chamber selected nine best entrepreneurs from across the country in three categories, namely best innovative entrepreneur, best woman entrepreneur and best young entrepreneur. Three entrepreneurs from each group were selected grading gold, silver and bronze medals.
Jinat Fatema, the proprietor of Jahan Metal, was adjudged first among the best innovative entrepreneur group for manufacturing daily-need utensils from unused tin and broken glass.