Businesses on Sunday demanded strict punishment for the "willful" loan defaulters who made access to formal finance for genuine businessmen costly and difficult.
Terming such frauds 'black sheep', they said the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) will not take their responsibility.
The demand came at an exchange of views meeting in the city where the FBCCI's future plan of action for the next five years was presented.
President of the Bangladesh Crockery and Aluminum Associations Md. Manir Hossain came down heavily on the loan defaulters, saying the state has been giving subsidy to banks to make up the NPL (non-performing loan).
He said genuine businessmen are not getting formal finance as people responsible for higher NPL (non-performing loan) made their access to finance difficult and costly.
"We'll get bank finance if such subsidy is stopped and the loan defaulters are punished," he said.
But the loan defaulters are being respected in the country and genuine businessman who regularly pay back loans are not being treated properly, he said.
"We're forced to pay 13 to 15 per cent of interest rates instead of 9.0 per cent because of the defaulters," he said, adding the banks are yet to reduce their lending rate although they brought down deposit rate to as low as 6.0 per cent.
Vice-president of the Bangladesh Sugar Traders Association Md Abul Hossain said both the Prime Minister assured the business community of bringing down the lending rate to single-digit, but that has not been implemented yet.
"We took loan at 9.0 per cent of interest rates but the real rate is over 13 per cent. In the process, many businesses are incurring losses," he said.
He was also critical of the existing VAT structure, saying the revenue board, under pressure from the government to collect more revenues, has been asking people to pay VAT, though they have no eligibility.
"Even traders having less than 1.0 per cent of income were asked to pay 15 per cent VAT. This is nothing but make the business community suffer. The FBCCI should raise these issues," he said.
FBCCI senior vice president Sheikh Fazle Fahim said they met officials concerned over the matter of non-compliance of the lending rate and informed them that state-owned banks are implementing it.
"We held several meetings over single-digit lending rate with all banks and we will sit again. Hopefully, we'll get a solution to it," he added.
He also said the federation will only stand by the businessmen who became defaulters due to unfavourable conditions like higher lending rate and other things.
"We'll not take responsibility of the willful defaulters," he added.
FBCCI president Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said the lending rate reached at an intolerable level, which has been hurting the business seriously.
"The volume of NPL crossed Tk 1.0 trillion. We demand exemplary punishment to those who siphoned off billions of taka from the banking channel," he said.
He said they do not want to see any unscrupulous businessman at the top level of the government. "We cannot be blamed for 1-2 per cent of the black sheep (willful loan defaulters)."
"If a class for rescheduling of defaulted loans over Tk 5.0 billion under the name of 'restructured loan' facility is created, then why our small and medium enterprises will not get it. We want equal treatment for all," the FBCCI president said.
He was also critical of some traders who are hatching conspiracy in connivance with some revenue officials to avoid the package VAT of Tk 28,000. "Please stop this unethical practice. Don't do it. It's our responsibility to contribute," he added.
About the proposed VAT Act, the FBCCI president said they sat with the NBR high-ups last week and requested its chairman to apply multiple slabs of VAT instead of the uniform rate of 15 per cent.
Some of the business people, however, requested the federation to work on reinstating the package VAT system so that businesses sustain lesser pain.
To enhance the tax-GDP ratio, they suggested enhancing taxpayer's base instead of raising tax and duty structures.
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