The country’s business leaders on Thursday said that the $41-billion export earnings target set by the government for the fiscal year of 2020-21 could be achieved if the government provides necessary policy support to the exporters considering the ongoing disruption in global business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They made the suggestion at a virtual event through which commerce minister Tipu Munshi announced the earnings target from goods for FY21.
The earnings target for FY21 is 21.75 per cent higher than $33.67 billion set for FY20.
Tipu announced an export earnings target from the service sector at $7 billion for FY21 with a year-on-year growth of 9.46 per cent.
‘The government-set export earnings target for FY21 is achievable but there are two conditions needed to be fulfilled to achieve it. One is the government will have to allocate low-cost funds for the worker payment for three more months and the other is it will have to ensure easy access to the stimulus package announced by the prime minister for the industry,’ Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Rubana Huq said.
She said that COVID 19 created many challenges for the readymade garment sector, but it also created opportunities.
‘Chinese exports to the US have decreased by 52 per cent and if we can capture a portion of the business, Bangladesh’s exports will increase significantly,’ Rubana said.
She also demanded policy support for the small and medium enterprise as they were not getting access to stimulus packages and proposed developing a workers’ assistance scheme.
Mohammad Hatem, first vice-president of the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, demanded a 20-per cent cash incentive on RMG export to achieve the government-set export target for FY21.
He said that it would be possible to achieve the export target if the government provided policy support as both prices of and demand for products shrank on the global market.
Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that the export target was achievable but all the stakeholders would have to work collectively.
He said that the FBCCI was working to ensure that SMEs and entrepreneurs of promising sectors including information technology get easy access to the stimulus package to fight against the COVID 19 fallout.
FBCCI vice-president Md Siddiqur Rahman demanded a low-cost fund for the RMG sector to pay workers’ wages for three more months.
‘The government provided a low-cost fund of Tk 5,000 crore to pay wages for April, May and June to the export sector’s workers but the sector needs more allocation for three more months,’ he said.
Siddiqur said that the government provided up to 20 per cent cash incentive against export of some of the products but the performance of those products were not satisfactory.
‘The government should investigate whether the incentive was misused,’ he said.
The commerce minister announced export earnings target from RMG products of $33.37 billion for FY21, which is 20.88 per cent higher than the earnings of $27.95 billion in FY20.
Md Saiful Islam, president of the Leather Goods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh, demanded running the central effluent treatment plant at the Savar Tannery Estate and allowing companies to establish effluent treatment plant by their own to fulfil the international compliance requirement.
He also demanded policy support from the government to meet the export target announced by the commerce ministry.
The government set export earnings target from leather and leather goods at $920 million for FY21 with a year-on-year growth of 15.34 per cent.
Syed Almas Kabir, president of the Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services, demanded a 20-per cent cash incentive against the export of software and information services.
He said that the ‘new normal’ situation created new opportunities for the sector but the entrepreneurs of the IT sector were not getting access to the stimulus package.
Prime minister’s private industry and investment affairs adviser Salman F Rahman said that the commerce ministry rightly estimated a high target and it would be achievable with the collective efforts of all stakeholders.
It is possible to achieve more than the target as the pandemic not only posed challenges, it also created a huge opportunity, he said.
Salman said that the COVID 19 created an opportunity to tap the export market of personal protective equipment and IT.
‘We should go for product diversification but should not ignore RMG,’ he said.
‘We set export growth nearly 22 per cent for FY21 and it is achievable as the growth is quite higher than the earnings in just concluded FY20 but not higher than the earnings in FY19,’ Tipu said.
He hoped that the global situation would be normal by the end of this year and exports would rebound.
The commerce minister said that the government would consider the demands made by the exporters.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Trade & Commerce