RMG workers at a factory
RMG workers at a factoryUNB

Bangladesh economy is on its track to recovery from the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, according to around 71 per cent of businessmen.

While 15 per cent of them think the recovery is weak while 40 per cent talk about a moderate recovery.

The findings came out during a survey on business confidence in Bangladesh.

The South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (Sanem) in collaboration with the Asia Foundation conducted the survey in January and published the Business Confidence Index (BCI) on Tuesday.

Chief executives from 502 firms participated in the telephone survey.

Sanem’s BCI based on the third round of survey conducted in the January-March quarter of 2021 was 57.90 per cent while 55.24 per cent in the second round during the October-December quarter of 2020 and the 51.06 per cent in the first round during the July-September quarter.

The scores reveal that business confidence has been growing over the period. Sectors such as pharmaceuticals, financial and textile sectors have been recovering faster, the survey found.

Sanem executive director professor Selim Raihan presented the findings at a virtual discussion.

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69 per cent out of stimulus

The survey mainly focused on the impacts of government-announced stimulus package for the pandemic-hit business communities. Among the respondents, 69 per cent are still not benefited by the stimulus while nine per cent did not get any information about the facilities.

Only 22 per cent of the affected businesses received assistance by the stimulus package, the survey found.

The respondents briefed about the reasons behind inaccessibility to the stimulus. The stimulus was not an aid but a loan. Many businesses remained out of the list in the sector-wise stimulus. The other reasons are data deficiency, prolonged procedures, complex banking service, limited loan and requirement for bribery.

Moreover, those who received the financial support also said about the challenges they had faced. The challenges were prolonged procedures, complex banking service, poor information about application process, limited loan and bribery.

The large business firms availing the stimulus has been recovering faster than the firms that could not.

Among the respondents, nearly half of the 144 large firms, 28 per cent of the 54 medium-range firms and only 10 per cent of the 304 micro and small firms could avail the government-announced loans.

During the second round of survey, 72 per cent of the responding businesses said they did not receive the loans.

Discussion

In the discussion, Selim Rayhan said that the BCI had not improved a lot because of the second wave of COVID-19 as the shipment of goods in the major export destinations in the US and the Europe was severely affected.

He said that business recovery and confidence were not accelerated because of weak demand for goods in the domestic market.

Amid the mass level COVID-19 vaccination, the BCI would improve significantly, he expressed his hope.

Former vice-president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Asif Ibrahim said that regular banking activities helped large firms avail the loans easily.

“Seventy per cent of my business has recovered from the pandemic shock. My business has recovered by 70 per cent,” said Abul Kashem Khan, former president of DCCI and director at AK Khan Group.

He added that businesses have limited access to financial support in the country. Enterprises having no relation with banks cannot avail loans.

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