Bogra – A specialised economic zone is needed in Bogra exclusively for the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), speakers said in a pre-budget dialogue in Bogra on Thursday.Besides, they said, appropriate infrastructure and communication development is must to support and encourage entrepreneurs in this sector.The government should focus on necessary budgetary allocations and fiscal-monetary incentives to support the growth of SMEs in Bogra. Special attention should be given to addressing the problems facing the women SME entrepreneurs, the discussants observed.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue’s (CPD) jointly with National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB) and Sacheton Nagorik Committee (SANAC), Bogra arranged the pre-budget dialogue titled ‘Development of Small and Medium Enterprises of the Bogra Region: Challenges and Initiatives’ held at Parjatan Motel Conference Hall, Bogra.The dialogue was organised as part of CPD’s annual activities related to the national budget under its flagship programme on Independent Review of Bangladesh’s Development (IRBD).Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Additional Research Director, CPD presented the keynote on “National Budget and Decentralised Development of SMEs: A Case Study of SME Clusters in Bogra” at the dialogue.The presentation focused on allocation trends for SMEs in the national budgets from FY2004-05 to FY2014-15 and major challenges facing the SME sector, particularly in the SME clusters in Bogra.He put emphasis on issues of raising competitiveness, access to finance and regulatory regime governing SME development in Bangladesh.Abdul Mannan, MP, Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Agriculture, stressed the need for setting up specialised cold storage facility in remote areas in Bogra.Speaking as the chief guest he also highlighted the need for effective coordination between NASCIB and Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) which will help entrepreneurs to address some of the key challenges facing the sector.Mannan observed that recommendations emerging from the dialogue will help policymakers in designing appropriate fiscal-institutional policies particularly in view of preparing district budgets.Deputy Commissioner of Bogra Ashraf Uddin, present at the event as Special Guest, informed the audience that the district administration is committed to provide all the necessary support and services to flourish the SME sector in Bogra.Dr Hosne Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer of TMSS highlighted the need for gas connection to the SMEs. She also emphasised on the need for more investment in infrastructure in Bogra.CPD Executive Director Prof Mustafizur Rahman said various proposals emerging from this dialogue covering institutional, fiscal, regulatory initiatives and budgetary support will help CPD in its preparation of budget proposals for the upcoming FY2016-17 budget.Participants at the dialogue observed that in many cases they were not receiving the concessional loans even when they were entitled as SME entrepreneurs.They also highlighted the need for a common and well-coordinated platform which could play an important role in promoting the interests of SMEs in Bogra.There was a common demand that a special economic zone should be established, with all necessary infrastructure, utility and support services, which was to be dedicated for SMEs only.T Zaman Niketa, President, NASCIB – Bogra, in his statement, highlighted some of the problems and challenges faced by SMEs in Bogra and urged the authorities to look into this with due urgency.The programme was chaired by AKM Bazlul Karim Bahar, President, SANAC – Bogra chapter, with Advocate AKM Mahbubur Rahman, Mayor, Bogra Municipality as Special Guest; and Mr Md Masudur Rahman Milon, President of Bogra Chamber of Commerce and Industry as guest of honour.The floor discussion was participated by SME entrepreneurs, representatives of SME associations, NGO officials, trade union members, bankers, economists, academicians and local elected representatives among others.(UNB)