Thursday, 9th February, 2023
Thursday, 9th February, 2023

Social safety net budget should widen: AmCham

The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) has asked for a two-fold increase in allocations for employment generation and poverty reduction in the national budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

“Disruption and discontinuation of businesses, created unemployment and increased the level of poverty that calls for establishing a robust social safety net system. The government should double the allocation to these sectors to counter poverty and income inequality,” Amcham said in a press release on Thursday to express its reaction on the proposed budget.

The trade body also recommended that the government announce a special package for the education sector considering the adverse condition faced by educational institutions in the country to enhance the quality of primary and secondary systems to keep pace with the contemporary age.

Appreciating the additional Tk10,000 crore allocation for the health sector, the organisation expressed its hope that the allocated fund will be utilised properly and in a transparent manner.

The government was forced to formulate the national budget for FY22 amidst the 2ndwave and global movement restrictions caused by Covid-19 – creating disruption in daily economic activities – with the challenge of saving lives while creating more avenues for livelihoods to cope with the fallout by the pandemic, Amcham pointed out.

“Against such a backdrop, we recommend focusing on crisis management, prioritizing spending on health, education, enhancing social protection and building on the resilience demonstrated by the agriculture sector. Alongside, we expect immediate support for MSMEs, government infrastructure developments, air-ocean transport business that may face serious consequences days ahead to attract foreign direct investment (FDI),” read the Amcham press release undersigned by its president Syed Ershad Ahmed.

Mentioning that no significant economic growth is conceivable without a sustained agricultural growth and food security, Amcham said this sector must receive more subsidies and incentives ensuring food security and employment generation.

The trade body, however, appreciated the reduction of the price of agriculture equipment and hybrid vehicles.

Amcham further said that it strongly recommends the National Board of Revenue (NBR) have two separate wings – one for policy formulation and another for policy implementation. It also suggested reducing the discretionary power of field officials of the revenue board to boost confidence of investors and businesses at the same time to focus more on expanding the tax net.

The other recommendations made by Amcham include “modernization” of the Customs Act, 1969 with the launch of a provision for full implementation of Revised Kyoto Convention and introduction of World Customs Organization (WCO) SAFE Framework of Standards, reduction of corporate tax by at least 5%, introduction of e-payment and e-TDS systems for submission of tax returns, and payment of 5% incentive on payments for industries that will ensure more transparency to the NBR.

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