Specialised economic zone is needed in Bogra for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Besides, 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.These observations emerged from the Centre for Policy Dialogue’s (CPD) pre-budget dialogue titled “Development of Small and Medium Enterprises of the Bogra Region: Challenges and Initiatives”, held on 24 March 2016 at Parjatan Motel Conference Hall, Bogra. The dialogue was organised by the CPD jointly with National Association of Small and Cottage Industries of Bangladesh (NASCIB) and Sacheton Nagorik Committee (SANAC) – Bogra, a unit of Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB). 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 allocations for SMEs in National Budgets during FY2005 to FY2015 and major challenges facing the SMEs, particularly in the SMEs clusters in Bogra. He put emphasis on issues of raising competitiveness, access to finance and regulatory regime governing SME development in Bangladesh.
Deputy Commissioner of Bogra Mr Ashraful Islam, present at the event as Special Guest, informed the audience that the district administration will provide necessary support to the SME entrepreneurs in Bogra and will ensure that the entrepreneurs received all the necessary services.Mr Abdul Mannan, MP, Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Agriculture was the Chief Guest at the event. He stressed the need for setting up specilaised cold storage facility in remote areas in Bogra. 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. He observed that recommendations emerging from the dialogue will help policy makers in designing appropriate fiscal-institutional policies particularly in view of preparing district budgets.
Dr Hosne Ara Begum, Chief Executive Officer of TMSS urged for raising allocations for various investments in Bogra region, particularly mentioning the need for gas connection to the SMEs. She also emphasised the need for more investment in regional infrastructure development.
Many participants complained that SME entrepreneurs did not receive concessional loans even when these were supposed to be made available to them. A number of participants 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 Special Economic Zone should be established, with all necessary infrastructure, utility and support services, which was to be dedicated for SMEs only.
CPD Executive Director Professor Mustafizur Rahman observed that the various proposals emerging from the dialogue covering institutional, fiscal, regulatory initiatives and budgetary support will help CPD in its preparation of budget proposals for upcoming FY2016-17 budget.
Mr 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 program was chaired by Mr Bazlul Karim Bahar, President, SANAC – Bogra. Advocate Mahbubur Rahman, Mayor, Bogra Municipality spoke as Special Guest of the event. Mr Md Masudur Rahman Milon, President of Bogra Chamber of Commerce & Industry was present as Guest of Honour at the event.
The floor discussion was participated by SMEs entrepreneurs, representatives of SME associations, NGOs, trade unions, bankers, economists, academicians and local elected representatives among others.