Small businesses don’t benefit from stimulus packages

The government’s stimulus packages to deal with the coronavirus fallout is nothing but gilding the lily. Big investors who apparently do not need help, are the ones benefiting from the government stimulus fund.

Both small and big entrepreneurs counted losses due to the coronavirus outbreak. Almost all the industries and businesses came to halt during the three-month lockdown.

According to the economists, bigger entrepreneurs can overcome natural or man-made crises as they have large capital. However, small investors need loans or incentives as they do not have sufficient capital. But the stimulus packages announced by the government to tackle the impact of coronavirus has largely been grabbed up by the big entrepreneurs. Beside various difficulties, bank authorities have bias for big investors that has led to the discrimination.

Bangladesh government announced 20 stimulus packages of Tk 1111.37 billion. Among them, Tk 857.5 billion will be distributed through banking channels as loans.

According to bank records, Sonali Bank disbursed Tk 12.66 billion (77.63 per cent of the target), Janata Bank disbursed Tk 4.58 billion (93.47 per cent), Agrani Bank disbursed Tk 6.82 billion (66.66 per cent), Rupali Bank disbursed Tk 3.03 billion (37.13 per cent) and Basic Bank disbursed 340 million (32 per cent) under the arrangement.

Big industries and service sectors that have been allocated with loan packages of Tk 330 billion have already received Tk 256.48 billion till 20 September. The rate of disbursement is almost 78 per cent.

Sonali Bank has also paid Tk 10 billion to Bangladesh Biman Airlines from this package. Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory received Tk 1.15billion, City Sugar Industries Tk 500 million and Abul Khair Steel received Tk 350 million.

No one is denying that the big entrepreneurs need loans. These industries are definitely playing an important role in regaining the export market. But the more labour-dependent small enterprises also need to be saved

On the other hand, cottage, micro and medium or CMSME entrepreneurs rarely get loans. Many small and medium entrepreneurs said that even after submitting the required documents, they did not get any response from the banks. Farmers are suffering in the same way, failing to get agricultural loans.

The issue that small and medium enterprises are deprived of incentive packages has drawn the attention of government functionaries. In a virtual meeting of the finance ministry recently, the Bank and Financial Institutions Division directed the state-owned commercial and specialised banks to disburse 00 per cent of the loans under the stimulus package.

No one is denying that the big entrepreneurs need loans. These industries are definitely playing an important role in regaining the export market. But the more labour-dependent small enterprises also need to be saved. We hope that the finance ministry will not end its responsibility with directives, but also ensure that the banks disburse loans as per the instructions.

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