Vat exemption for women entrepreneurs on showroom rent
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal proposed an allocation of Tk1,61,247 crore, which is 5.56% of GDP, and 30.82% of the proposed budget for FY2019-20, for the development of women in the country.
The government will assign 43 ministries and divisions to implement the allocation.
The budget proposal also saw an increase in the allocation for Ministry of Women and Children Affairs to Tk3,749 crore for FY2019-20, from Tk3,457 crore (revised) in the last fiscal.
At the same time, the proposed budget also calls for a Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption on showroom rent for women entrepreneurs for 2019-20 fiscal.
Last year, former finance minister AMA Muhith proposed an allocation of Tk1,37,742 crore for the development of women.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Salma Ali, human rights lawyer, and former executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association, said the size of budget for women might seem big but the major focus should be on the proper implementation of the allocation.
“We have a number of laws to protect women from violence. But, we do need more from the budget allocation to establish the infrastructure needed to implement these laws.”
Saying that a good share of the gender budget should be used to set up one-stop crisis centers, she also said a fair share of the allocation should also be used for training members of law enforcement agencies in handling gender-based issues.
Every project on women should have at least one non-governmental expert to monitor the project activities neutrally, she added.
“What we lack is having people who have a good understanding of gender equality in the projects which are for women,” the lawyer said.
Meanwhile, Dr Tania Haque, professor for women and gender studies department of Dhaka University, said the government should allocate budget for Bangladesh-specific research on unpaid domestic and caregiving work to determine how much of the female population of the country contribute to the economy.
“Working women need day-care facilities for their children but do not have access to such resources for child care when they are at work.”
“But, what about the senior citizens that women have to take care of?” she questioned.
She recommended the government should allocate a budget for forming an adult day-care system, so that women can have a balanced work-life.
She added, the government should emphasize on qualitative data to plan a gender responsive budget for Bangladesh.
As per the UN Women, United Nations entity responsible for promoting women’s empowerment and gender equality, a gender-responsive budgeting is not about creating separate budgets for women, or solely increasing spending on women’s programs.
Rather, gender-responsive budgeting seeks to ensure that the collection, and allocation of public resources is carried out in ways that are effective, and contribute to advancing gender equality, and women’s empowerment.
It should be based on in-depth analysis that identifies effective interventions for implementing policies and laws that advance women’s rights.