Vol. 5 Num 816 Tue. September 12, 2006  

PM asks banks to lower lending rate for SMEs
Week-long SME fair kicks off

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia yesterday reiterated her call to commercial banks and financial institutions to take special credit programmes and lower the rate of interest as much as possible for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) besides opening separate window at every branch.

"We must give up those politics or social and economic policies, which do not help our development," she said addressing the inaugural function of the SMEs Fair-2006 at Bangladesh-China Conference Centre in Dhaka.

Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) has organised the third weeklong SME fair. The fair has 82 stalls with different products.

The prime minister formally inaugurated the exhibition by cutting a ribbon and went round various stalls.

Entrepreneurs of Bangladesh are hard-working and innovative, she said. For promotion of women entrepreneurs, she said, 10 per cent of Bangladesh Bank's small entrepreneur fund has been reserved for women.

Khaleda said the immediate goal of her government is poverty alleviation while the main target is attaining self-sufficiency in all sectors.

"To this end, we are pursuing the policy of giving importance to identify potential sectors and help their development and flourishing," she added.

President of the FBCCI Mir Nasir Hossain and Vice Presidents Mohammad Ali and Dewan Sultan Ahmed also addressed the function.

Referring to the challenges of local industries in stiff competition in the free market economy, the prime minister said the country's export base would have to be more efficient to be more competitive in the international market.

For this, she suggested application of improved technology, diversification and improvement of quality of goods and exploration of new markets. The role of the private sector is prime in this regard along with the role of the government as a facilitator, she said.

She said the role of the SME sector is very important in industrialisation and economic development of the country. Therefore, the government is giving special importance to this sector, she added.

She hoped that the fair would play a dynamic role in expanding the market and improving quality of local products. It will also help the foreign investors and importers in getting an idea of Bangladeshi goods and enhancing foreign investment.

"Such fair can make far-reaching contribution to flourish the industry and the commerce in the country," she observed.

Stressing the need for a time-befitting policy to accelerate the pace of industrialisation, Khaleda said, the government has given priority to the SME sector in the new industrial policy.

Quoting statistics, she said the country has at present 60 lakh small and medium industrial units employing about three crore people. About 90 per cent of the country's total export earning comes from this sector, she added.

The prime minister said, "SME Development Policy-2005" has been formulated on the basis of the recommendations of the taskforce on SME sector development.

"SME Advisory Panel" has also been formed for implementation of the policy and the panel's recommendations are under consideration of the government, she said, adding that the government has already formed SME Women Entrepreneurs Forum and taken steps to set up SME Foundation for development of the sector.

The prime minister highlighted some of her government's successes in the industry sector, including attaining more than 10 per cent industrial growth and generation of 17 lakh new employment in the industry sector.

Private investment in first four and a half years of the present government is more than double compared to that of the corresponding period of the previous regime, she said.

The industry and investment-friendly policy of the government, social stability, improved law and order and cooperation between public and private sectors are the reasons behind the successes, she observed.

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia visits a stall at the SME fair after its inauguration at Bangladesh-China Conference Centre in Dhaka yesterday. PHOTO: PID