ICCB 25th Annual Council held

BD both battling pandemic and economic fallout

Bangladesh recorded one of the fastest growth rates in the world in the past few years with a stable economic performance that has helped to reduce poverty and social inequalities, said ICC Bangladesh President Mahbubur Rahman while presenting the Executive Board at the ICC Bangladesh  25th Annual  Council held virtually on 14 December.  Quoting ILO Report, Mahbubur Rahman said that  Bangladesh is now faced with battling both the pandemic and its economic fallout. In such a situation economic risks are not only limited to short term, but also extends to major future productivity losses both through labour and capital. The economic crisis is likely to trigger a series of corporate and household debt defaults turning into a financial crisis as well mentioned the ICC Bangladesh Report.

Like most other emerging economies, Bangladesh has to tackle a number of key issues in order to achieve the desired GDP growth : which include healthcare, sustainable export, FDI and remittance flow. In Bangladesh there are around 7.8 million enterprises and 90 percent of them are micro (including cottage) enterprises. This sector contributes around 25 percent to the GDP, amounting to around $79 billion. The high cost of doing business affecting the SMEs. Besides, many SMEs have been suffering tremendous setbacks in terms of production, marketing and sales. The SME sector generates 30 per cent of the total employment in the country as well, said ICCB President Mahbubur Rahman.

Bangladesh’s graduation from the LDC status by 2024 will lead to the loss of trade preference in major export destinations and loss of other preferences. So, Bangladesh must focus on FTAs with major trading countries, Mr. Rahman mentioned.

The Executive Board Report also said the second wave of COVID-19 has already started in Europe and US which will further prolong the economic downturn. Like most other emerging economies, Bangladesh will also be affected and will have to tackle a number of key issues in order to achieve the desired GDP growth, which include healthcare, sustainable export, saving MSMEs, sending back stranded expatriate workers  to their workplace to maintain the remittance inflow and attracting more FDIs. Besides, in order to maintain sustainable growth and to keep the supply chains functional and cost effective, it is very important to save MSMEs ( micro, small and medium enterprises).

The pandemic has created a massive economic contraction that will be followed by a financial crisis in many parts of the globe, as nonperforming corporate loans accumulate alongside bankruptcies. Sovereign defaults in the developing world are also poised to spike. This crisis will follow a path similar to the last crisis and the crisis will hit lower-income households and countries harder than their wealthier counterparts, the report observed.

The G20, along with the WHO, IMF, World Bank Group, United Nations and other international organizations, are mobilized to take active steps to overcome the pandemic, and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is collaborating as a trusted business advisor with many of these engaged stakeholders.

The Report mentioned that as part of this campaign, ICC Hq has released a call to action encouraging governments to ensure that stimulus efforts flow rapidly into the real economy and provide direct and immediate support to MSMEs and their workers to ensure their continued operation. Given the cross-border nature of supply chains, such stimulus and safeguard measures should be taken in a coordinated manner at both the national and international levels. Countries around the world are implementing economic and fiscal policy stimuli, including emergency tax measures to support their economies under the COVID-19 pandemic. In this respect, ICC has highlighted a number of key tax measures that the governments can take to “Save Our SMEs” and relieve cash flow stress during the crisis period.

The Council approved the Auditor’s Report of 2019 and appointed Auditor for the year 2020.

The Annual Council paid tribute to business icon Latfiur Rahman, founding member and Vice President of ICC Bangladesh and a number of personalities including former ICC Bangladesh Executive Board Member Waliur Rahman Bhuiyan, OBE and Eminent Lawyer Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq; renowned educationist Mrs. Niloufer Nanzur, wife of Apex Group Chairman Syed Manzur Elahi and National Professors Dr. Jamilur Reza Choudhury and Prof. Anisuzzaman. May Allah grant them eternal peace in heaven.

The Annual Council was attended, among others, by  ICCB Vice President Rokia A. Rahman, Apex Group Chairman Syed Manzur Elahi, DCCI President Shams Mahmud; CCCI President Mahbubul Alam; BIA President Sheikh Kabir Hossain; NCCI President Tareq Rahman; ICCB Board Members : A. S. M. Quasem, Aftab ul Islam, A. K. Azad, Abdul Hai Sarker, Md. Fazlul Hoque, Kutubuddin Ahmed, Mir Nasir Hossain, Mohammad Hatem, Simeen Rahman & Tapan Chowdhury; ICCB Secretary General Ataur Rahman; Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre CEO Muhammad A. (Rumee) Ali; ICCB Members : Syed  Waseque Md. Ali, Managing Director, First Security Islami Bank; Syed Mahbubur Rahman, Managing Director & CEO, Mutual Trust Bank; Md. Abdul Halim Chowdhury, Managing Director & CEO, Pubali Bank; Muhammed Shahidul Islam, Managing Director, Shahjalal Islami Bank; Md. Mahbub-ul-Alam, Managing Director & CEO, Islami Bank Bangladesh; Md. Rafiqul Alam, Managing Director, BASIC Bank; Md. Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, Managing Director, Mercantile Bank; Khawza Manzer Nadeem, Managing Director, United Insurance Company; Mohammad Haroon Patwary, Managing Director, Eastern Insurance Company; Mominul Islam, Managing Director, IPDC Finance; Abul Kasem Khan, Managing Director, A. K. Khan Telecom Ltd.; Mohammed Abdul Jabbar, Managing Director, DBL Ceramics Ltd.; Rizwan-Ur Rahman, Managing Director & CEO, ETBL Securities & Exchange Ltd.; Mohd. Arshad Ali, Managing Director, The Merchants Limited; Mohammad Shahjahan Khan, Managing Director, S. S. Shipping  & Trading Ltd.; Anis A. Khan, Advisor of the Board, Tyser Risk Management Bangladesh Limited (TRMBL); Kedar Lele, CEO & Managing Director, Unilever Bangladesh Limited; Kazi Sanaul Hoq, Managing Director (In-charge), Dhaka Stock Exchange Ltd.; Syed Ali Jowher Rizvi, Managing Director, Summit Alliance Port Limited; Md. Khalilur Rahman, Managing Director, National Housing Finance and Investments Limited; Imran Ahmed, Managing Director, Duncan Brothers (Bangladesh) Limited; Mr.Gulam Rahman, Vice Chairman, Eastlamd Insurance Company Ltd. & K A M Majedur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, A. K. Khan & Company Ltd..