Indian High Commission in Bangladesh in collaboration with India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI) jointly organised a webinar on Thursday and discussed challenges and possible ways to facilitate bilateral trade and business between Bangladesh and India amidst the Covid-19 scenario.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das spoke to the industry leaders and conveyed that bilateral trade has been showing significant growth in the last few months and the truck exchanges at ICP Petrapole-Benapole showed positive trends in the month of March 2020.
She said all stakeholders have to work together to tide over the difficulties being faced by business firms on both sides due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Riva Ganguly said the two governments are working together to fight the pandemic and with their resilient economies and robust business environment, both the countries will not only be able to deal with present challenges but also identify new opportunities.
She urged the business leaders to come forward with innovative ideas in response to the emerging economic scenario.
As a follow-up action of the announcement made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the videoconference of Saarc leaders on March 15, a videoconference of senior trade officials of Saarc countries was held on April 8 to discuss the impact of travel restrictions and the larger Covid-19 situation on intra-regional trade.
Abdul Matlub Ahmed, president of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce mentioned that though the business community is facing temporary setbacks presently, he is hopeful that businesses will emerge stronger from this adversity.
He emphasised on the need of more integration, cohesion, capacity-building and knowledge-sharing in the South Asian region to build a robust trade network.
Industry leaders from Pran Group, Iffad Group, SBI Bangladesh, Indofil and CEAT amongst others put forward their ideas on the new challenges to global trade and the regional scenario across various sectors of economy.
The business leaders appreciated the initiative taken by the High Commission of India and IBCCI to reach out to the industry leaders in these unprecedented times.
The High Commissioner expressed the hope that given the excellent state of India-Bangladesh bilateral relations, they will soon be able to take concrete steps to come over the present situation.
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has proposed utilising state-owned commercial banks (SOBs) to disburse stimulus funds particularly for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The DCCI also proposed to Finance Ministry to work out a plan for a considered gradual reopening of different business sectors.
The DCCI leaders had a discussion with Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on the ongoing economic situation in the country due to coronavirus pandemic.
DCCI President Shams Mahmud appreciated the proactive steps taken by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Finance Ministry announcing the stimulus packages, especially for MSMEs.
Although measures are being announced, Shams Mahmud mentioned, cottage, MSMEs may face hurdles in getting required access to finance from banks under the packages already announced.
Most of the cottage, SMEs, MSMEs and cash-transaction-based traders may be deprived of getting stimulus funds from the banks because of the requirement of having loans and for lack of good relation with the banks which large businesses always maintain but they are compliant in doing businesses, said the chamber body on Wednesday.
The DCCI said an external international financial organisation needs to be pursued to bring in low-cost funds to inject into the stimulus packages.
The discussion between the Finance Minister and the DCCI also covered the issues of food security for vulnerable groups and financial assistance for the workers in informal sectors.
New MSMEs with an operational time of maximum two years should be waived business license renewal fees, utility bills, other charges-related to bank and import-export related port charges.
They also need to be offered business recovery fund as working capital under re-financing schemes for two years with 1 percent interest rate, according to the DCCI.
Since maintaining social distance needs to be continued for now, e-commerce-based MSMEs are playing a vital role at this crisis moment.
The DCCI President proposed providing VAT and tax exemptions or cash incentives to the MSMEs to engage in e-commerce ecosystem more.
Informal businesses like floating traders, hawkers, floating shops, grocers and sole traders need to be brought under the social safety network and low-cost survival business recovery emergency fund can be given for their survival.
Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal underscored the measures taken by the government and also emphasised the point that his ministry has adopted a policy for bringing out an inclusive, transparent financial stimulus packages with people from all sectors in mind.
The Finance Ministry is also engaging with foreign development partners in order to bring in funds at a low cost to further boost the stimulus packages.
The Finance Minister mentioned the programmes undertaken by the government to ensure food security. All these measures are being taken in a transparent manner with clear identifications to ensure transparency.
The 23rd annual general meeting (AGM) of mobile phone operator Grameenphone was successfully held on Tuesday by using the digital platform.
It arranged the virtual meeting this year in compliance with the directives set by Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission and considering the health and safety of all shareholders, staff and others during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
As the concept is new in Bangladesh, Grameenphone designed and developed this digital platform to run the 23rd virtual AGM of the company to provide continuous and meaningful shareholder engagement and participation, said a press release.
Petter B Furberg, Chair of Grameenphone Board; Yasir Azman, Grameenphone CEO; along with other board members and senior officials of the company were present at the virtual AGM conducted by Company Secretary SM Imdadul Haque.
The Board of Directors also announced a final dividend for the year of 2019 in cash at the rate of 40 percent of the paid-up capital or Tk 4 per share of Tk 10 each.
With this cash dividend pay-out, the total cash dividend stands at 130 percent of the paid-up capital, including the previous 90 percent interim cash dividend pay-out, amounting to 50.86 percent of profit after tax for previous year.
Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC) has started selling sugar as part of its initiative to supply better quality sugar to consumers ahead of Ramadan.
According to sources at the BSFIC, sugar is now sold from the country’s 15 sugar mills to free-cells aiming to supply sugar at a rate fixed by the government, said a handout.
Each metric tonne of sugar is sold at TK 60,000, the handout said.
Besides, sugar will be supplied to the dealers registered under the corporation.
As per the demand, each one-kg packet of sugar will be sold at Tk 65 at super shops like Agora, Swapna, Meenabazar, CSD and Pran in Dhaka city.
The sugar packets will be also available at the basement of Sugar Industries Bhaban in Dilkusa of the capital.
Besides, BSFIC will also monitor market so that consumers can buy sugar at a fair price, the handout added.
Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has said they have so far cleared salaries and wages of around 95.89 percent workers for the month of March.
In a message, the apex trade body of the country's apparel industry on Saturday said some 23,70,917 workers out of total 24,72,417 (factories under BGMEA) have been paid.
Out of total 2274 factories, some 2071 factories(91.07 percent factories) cleared salaries and wages so far, it said.
On April 15, BGMEA President Rubana Huq assured of ensuring maximum workers payments of March within April 16.
"BGMEA strongly wants to assure all that workers will be paid for March. So Bgmea requests all its workers to have faith and rest assured that March salary will be paid," she said in a statement.
Recent Corona virus situation has created a crisis nobody has experienced before. Readymade garment manufacturing units are also facing unprecedented challenge of existence. At the outbreak of COVID 19 crisis BGMEA have requested all members to clear March salary on time.