News Desk: Entrepreneurs of Small and Medium Enterprises at a seminar in Chattogram said that corruption became a part of the culture in Bangladesh for a long time, which appeared contradictory to the government’s zero tolerance policy against corruption.
A corruption-free Bangladesh is only possible if all the stakeholders are willing to work together, according to the entrepreneurs.
They demanded a common platform to combat corruption with the participation of SMEs owners.
The observations came at a seminar organised by the Centre for Governance Studies (CGS), a think tank based in Bangladesh in association with the Centre for International Private Enterprises (CIPE), a Washington based organisation at a hotel in Chattogram city recently, said a press release.
Entrepreneurs opined that more seminars on anti-corruption required at the root level to bring fruitful outcomes and wished for a public discussion session with the accused authorities concerned to tackle corruption.
The participants of the programme shared their experience of corruption while first starting their business.
According to the discussants, if business owners cannot pay tax for some reason, they are asked to pay bribes to maintain ‘Good Relations’ with authority.
The practice of paying bribes has been normalised in the name of ‘Office Expenses’ while obtaining the trade licence, they said, adding that renewing licence requires twice as much as the actual amount.
According to women entrepreneurs, they faced corruption and irregularities in every sphere, but complaining to higher authorities or law enforcement agencies goes in vain due to their lack of interest in cooperation.
They suggested a reduction of VAT and tax exemptions for the first two years of business for SMEs in order to reduce corruption and help the SME sector grow as it is difficult to make profit in business in the first two years.