About 72pc firms yet to receive stimulus package: SANEM

About 72pc firms yet to receive stimulus package: SANEM

Around 72 per cent of the firms surveyed are yet to receive any stimulus package, said a of South Asian Network of Economic Modelling survey.

The major challenges include lack of package for the industry, lengthy procedure, difficulty in bank-related services, and difficulty in information. There has not been any significant improvement in these areas, it mentioned.

The survey report added that the small firms were largely out of stimulus package coverage. Only 8 per cent of the firms have received the stimulus package out of the 301 micro and small firms surveyed. In the case of large firms, out of 157 firms surveyed, 41 per cent received the stimulus package.

SANEM in collaboration with the Asia Foundation presented the results from the second round of a nation-wide firm-level survey on ‘COVID-19 and Business Confidence in Bangladesh: Towards Economic Recovery.’

‘Corruption, poor trade logistics, unfavourable tax system, access to finance, and management of ineffective management of the COVID-19 health crisis appear to be the major challenges,’ the survey also said.

Some 71 per cent of the surveyed firms think that Bangladesh is on the path to economic recovery, only 6 per cent consider it a strong recovery, and 57% and 37% think it is a moderate and weak recovery, respectively.

The results of the survey, conducted over the month of October, were disclosed through a webinar on Saturday.

Economists said effective implementation of the stimulus package is critically important for quick recovery of the COVID-19 hit economy.

Selim Raihan, executive director of SANEM stressed on the importance of proper implementation and disbursement of stimulus packages for SMEs.

‘Although business confidence for the next quarter has improved slightly, it is clear from the study that businesses are still quite sceptical of the future,’ the professor of economics at Dhaka University, added.

Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh noted that entrepreneurs were showing caution and rightfully so. Availing finance is a much bigger challenge for small and medium enterprises unlike large companies who have access to international finance.

‘Therefore, the government needs to implement a second stimulus package with a focus particularly on SMEs,’ he also said.

In comparison to the first round of the quarterly survey which included 303 firms, a larger and more representative sample of 502 firms across 37 districts participated in the second round. Out of the 502 firms, 252 belonged to the manufacturing sector whereas 250 belonged to the service sector.

The main objective of this ongoing project is to assess the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business confidence and outlook in Bangladesh. In order to capture this information, firms were asked to express their opinion on six key issues: profitability, investment, employment, wage, business cost, and sales/exports.

M Masrur Reaz, chairman of Policy Exchange of Bangladesh, Abul Kasem Khan, managing director of AK Khan Telecom Limited; Asif Ibrahim, chairman of Chittagong Stock Exchange and Maliha M Quadir, founder and managing director of Shohoz Limited, among others, also spoke there.