Budget to focus on protecting domestic industries, says PM


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday said the upcoming national budget will focus on raising the purchasing capacity of the commoners and protecting domestic industries as two cardinal economic priorities of her new government in the present perspective, reports UNB.

“Saturday we sat in a pre-budget meeting in the presence of Finance Minister, Finance Adviser and Planning Minister at my residence. The budget will focus on increasing the buying capacity of the commoners and protecting the country’s industries,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina unveiled her government’s budget plan when a delegation of Bangladesh Grey and Finished Fabrics Mills and Exporters’ Association (BGFFMEA) led by its president Harun-or-Rashid called on her at the Prime Minister’s Office. Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad was present at the meeting.

She also said if possible, the government would resume operation of all the closed mills and factories, as she personally as well as her government is against closing down industries.

The Prime Minister further laid emphasis on planned industrialisation so that the country does not lose limited croplands.

“We are going to set up special economic zones. If we are able to set up industries in particular areas, then our agricultural lands will be saved,” she told her business delegation.

Highlighting the government’s commitment for keeping all industries fully functional, the PM said the government has already decided to rerun Chittagong Chemical Complex.

Lamenting the shutdown of Adamjee Jute Mills, the biggest industrial unit in the country, she said the previous Awami League government did not have any plan to shut down the jute mills.

Mentioning the government-offered special business package to cushion the businesses against the global financial crunch, the Prime Minister said all industrial sectors of the country will be benefited from the bailout package.

The government Sunday announced a Tk 34.24 billion stimulus package, including export incentives worth Tk 4.50 billion, for the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year to enable the business community to face the impact of the global recession.

Sheikh Hasina also laid emphasis on well-coordinated public-private partnership in all industrial and business sectors for rapid development of the country.

She also underscored the need for building agro-based industries in the country. “Both agriculture and industry will go hand in hand and be developed together,” she said.

At the meeting, the BGFFMEA delegation handed over to the PM a cheque for Tk 1.0 million for the welfare of the victims of the Feb 25-26 carnage at the BDR headquarters.

When the delegation members highly praised the Prime Minister for her government’s success in reducing the price of rice and some other essentials, she said the government would also be fully aware so that the farmers do not suffer loss for price downslide.

“We will start procuring rice from the farmers at such price as will certainly be higher than their production cost. Farmers’ benefit is our priority,” she said.

The Prime Minister urged the industrialists to be active in saving the rivers surrounding the capital from pollution.

The delegation members suggested the Prime Minister to form a high-level taskforce to protect the environment from the industrial and municipal wastes.

The BGFFMEA leaders blamed the country’s leading banks for not providing necessary cooperation to the mills and industries.

Several delegation members informed the Prime Minister that many members of the boards of directors of Sonali, Janata and Agrani, and some other private banks are “seriously involved in Jamaat and BNP politics.”

“The BNP-Jamaat men are intentionally not allowing us to take loans and other facilities from the banks,” the team said.

The BGFFMEA delegation placed 10-point demand to ensure increased production in their mills and factories.

The demands include fixing specific duty on imported suiting and shirting clothes at $4.0 and $5.0 respectively on 58-60-inch and 43-45-inch width, fixing long-term bank-loan interest rate at maximum 6.0 per cent, 15.0 per cent alternative cash incentives until 2013, allocation of Tk 45.00 billion to establish 30 composite textile mills, introduction of bank loans for the import of diesel generator.

Source: The Daily Financial Express, 20 April 2009

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