SME entrepreneurs were facing difficulties in getting access to the government's stimulus packages
Experts on Sunday said simplifying the process for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to receive stimulus loans from the government would greatly benefit economic recovery.
They also said that SME entrepreneurs were facing difficulties in getting access to the government's stimulus packages, despite disbursement across the country.
The challenges included lack of knowledge and ability to meet the requirements for paperwork, absence in customer-bank relation, size of the businesses, and the lengthy and complicated process of getting the stimulus or incentives, they said.
The remarks were made at a virtual dialogue titled "Redesigning a 2nd Stimulus Package for Economic Recovery of CMSMEs."
Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) organized the webinar.
The speakers also said that these factors increase the cost of entrepreneurs in getting loans and it is necessary to simplify the process of getting loans from the stimulus package.
Bangladesh Bank General Manager (SME and Special Programs Department) Husne Ara Shikha, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Rizwan Rahman, SME Foundation Managing Director Md Mafizur Rahman, International Labor Organization (ILO) Program Officer Mohammad Nazmul Avi Hossain, Development Coordinating Officer of UN Resident Coordinating Office (UNRCCO) Majedul Islam spoke in the program, while Abul Kasem Khan, chairperson of BUILD, chaired the program.
M Masrur Reaz, chairman, Policy Exchange Bangladesh, presented the keynote.
The keynote focused on the global and national impact of Covid-19, and noted that revenue of the SME sector decreased 66%, and 39% of the SMEs have cut down their staff salaries.
He also mentioned the documentation deficiencies, bank client relations, business size, collateral and guarantor terms, discriminatory behavior of bank officials, overall allocation for the sector, lack of knowledge and capacity are the main hindrances in getting incentives.
In this situation, it is important to solve these problems to make it easier for SMEs to get incentive packages.
Husne Ara Shikha, general manager (SME and special program) at Bangladesh Bank, said that cottage and micro entrepreneurs should be considered separately to increase their participation in the incentive package.
Abul Kashem, chairperson of BUILD, stressed on the need to facilitate the process of obtaining loans in Bangladesh as in other developing countries.
“It is very difficult for them to manage 25 documents and get help from financial institutions to run a business. We recommend creating a dynamic database for SMEs using upgraded data analytics, so that it can be standardized compared with other countries,” he added.
Rizwan Rahman, president of DCCI, called to clarify the definition of SMEs.
Moreover, he said to reconsider economic and mathematical considerations. He called for emphasis on cash flow-based financial transactions to help SMEs.
Salekeen Ibrahim, Head of SME, Eastern Bank, Indrajith Sur, Head of Emerging Corporate, BRAC Bank, Monowara Hakim, President of Chittagong Women's Chamber of Commerce and Industry were also present along with others.