Women entrepreneurs have come a long way despite facing social and economic barriers. They have significant contributions in the country's socio-economic development. To promote further female entrepreneurs need government policy support and especially budgetary allocations.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal placed the national budget for the Fiscal Year 2019-20 in the parliament on Thursday where he made some benefits for women entrepreneurs including VAT exemptions from show rooms.Mousumi Islam, President, Association of Grassroots Women Entrepreneurs Bangladesh (AGWEB) recently talked to the Daily Sun (DS) about her thoughts on this year’s budget. The excerpts are given below:
DS: Do you think this year’s proposed budget is beneficial for grassroots women entrepreneurs?
Mousumi : Certainly the proposed budget is full of hope for grassroots women entrepreneurs. The proposals can benefit us directly and indirectly. No doubt, if applied, it will bring some new positive changes and less challenges for grassroots women entrepreneurs.
DS: Which part of the budget is most beneficial for women entrepreneurs?
Mousumi : When it comes for direct benefits, I must mention the income tax threshold for women is quite generous. But it’s quite remarkable to have the Showroom’s of Women Entrepreneurs free from Musak. And the portion of budget dedicated for start-ups certainly gives grassroots a chance to stand up and prove their worth among thousands of high rising companies.
DS: After grassroots women, who will be the most benefitted you think?Mousumi : I think, women in general will benefitted from the proposed budget. Everyone talks about the turn of black money into white through procedures. But in long term it will reduce the power of money without legitimate sources and businesses with legitimate sources of money will rise. As a result, it vice versa helps grassroots.
Also, it has given emphasis on encouraging local industries like RMG, Textiles, Fan and Motors and compressor. Not to mention, reduced price of Bakery goods is a good sign too.
So, I think women in general and local industries will be most beneficial after grassroots.
DS: You are a business women yourself, as an industrialist, which parts you think should have given more emphasis?
Mousumi : No doubt, the VAT rates introduced in this budget is very complex, and takes time to understand. For doing business smoothly and encouraging foreign investors, it should have been more simplified and for implementing, adjustment times should be adequate. Also, I think, to encourage local industries related to health sector, the duties of medical equipment should have been increased in the proposal. Although pharmaceuticals have been given attention, more emphasis could be given to ensure constant growth.
Besides, social safety net has been emphasized but monitoring is compulsory for its successful implementation.
DS: Any other thoughts?
Mousumi : The proposed budget has shown interest to take attention to local industries. We welcome the thought and receive it positively. Still, nobody wants the increase of food items. Especially, milk powder and oil. Because it is an “if” that the local industries may success to meet the demands of local population. Even this is also alarming for root level bakery business in some ways. Although given benefits, it may hamper their growth in long run.
Still, the budget all over reflects the long cherished goals of grassroots entrepreneurs.