Set up industries in poor regions to reduce inequality: IBFB

 Business Report

The International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) yesterday urged the government to set up industries in the country’s poor regions to reduce inequality and give them an equal share of economic development.

“Rangpur and Rajshahi are the poorest regions compared to Chittagong, Dhaka and Sylhet,” said Hafizur Rahman Khan, president of the IBFB.

“In this backdrop, the government should undertake special initiatives and allocate budgets to bring upazilas and districts of the regions under the mainstream economy,” said Khan, also the chairman of Runner Group.

He was giving a keynote presentation at a press conference organised by the IBFB at Runner Building in the capital’s Tejgaon industrial area to give views on the proposed budget for 2018-19.

Khan also demanded the government allocate 55 percent of the budget outlay to the development sector and the rest as the revenue expenditure in a bid to ensure development.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith has proposed the figures to be 38.67 percent and 61.32 percent respectively, he said. He alleged that the revenue expenditure got the majority allocation, was never revised and was spent as usual while the ministries could not utilise the development budget every year.

The government can’t implement the budget due to a lack of efficiency, Khan said.

“So, the government should form an independent body involving the private sector to monitor budget implementation and improve the efficiency,” he said.

If there is emphasis on accountability, the budget’s implementation will expedite, he said.

The IBFB president said the increase of source tax from 0.7 percent to 1 percent on readymade garment exports would lead to difficulties for further development in the sector.

He also demanded reducing dependency on indirect tax, increasing tax net coverage, raising individual tax-free ceiling to Tk 3 lakh from Tk 2.5 lakh, and refraining from raising corporate tax rate on the garment sector to 15 percent from 12 percent now. Muhammad Abdul Mazid, a director of the IBFB and a former chairman of the National Board of Revenue, said the government should identify inefficiencies in budget implementation, reform policies and increase monitoring on their execution.

Humayun Rashid, vice president for finance of the IBFB, expressed hope over big investment and foreign direct investment coming in, saying that the government would be able to provide power and energy to investors.

Md Omor Shafayat Kausar, vice president of the IBFB, and Syed Mustafizur Rahman and MS Siddiqui, directors of the IBFB, were also present.