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‘Forex policy reform to swell ITES export’

Published : 05 Nov 2021 10:03 PM | Updated : 07 Nov 2021 08:05 PM

The government has set a target of USD five billion in export by 2025 in the Software and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) sector.

This was revealed by Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) president Syed Almas Kabir, who told Bangladesh Post, “In order to achieve the target the government has already introduced a 10 percent cash incentive on the income earned in this sector .BASIS is working closely with the government to find new markets.” 

 But, for an increase in the export revenue by 2025 from the Software and Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) sector, industry experts want a reform in foreign currency policy  and an  increase in the cash incentive to 20 percent from the existing 10 percent. 

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“We need to further strengthen public-private initiatives to improve our skills to innovate new products and services in the expansion of the international market. In addition to this,  the cash incentives should be increased by 20 percent at least for next 3 years to 5 years from now,” said Syed Almas Kabir. 

“In the implementation of the Digital Bangladesh Vision, the issues on which our domestic software and software services are already being used successfully need to be taken to other countries of the world. Cooperation of the government along with BASIS is essential in taking appropriate initiatives to expand the international market to achieve the export targets,” he further said. 

BASIS Senior Vice President Farhana A. Rahman, encourages women to focus on online outsourcing at home and said, “We need to develop skills as technology advances. We have taken several initiatives which are to recognize individuals as well as organizations who are working from remote areas, highlighting their contribution to exports, and making individuals who are doing freelancing personally entrepreneurial by creating companies.”  

While asked about the delay in target of export several times, the BASIS president replied, “The government has been constructing 28 high tech parks across the country. Once all of these are operational it will be possible to earn more than our estimated target.” 

A large part of freelancers’ income is left abroad due to the transaction crisis of the country. Many of them are selling their earned dollars abroad to others and later taking money from their relatives or  persons  known to them.

As no one of them is able to bring their earned foreign currency back to the country, they are spending it by buying products from foreign e-commerce sites. A large part of the income is spent on buying their tools needed for freelancing from abroad. On the other hand, many are buying dollars from freelancers to smuggle money abroad.

However, in most cases, there is a risk of being caught trying to bring dollars into the country by transferring them from a fake account. Then the account with dollars is cancelled. For this, the freelancers sell the dollars deposited in these accounts to someone abroad. In return they took money from his/her relatives in the country. As a result the actual amount of income of freelancers also remain sunknown. 

According to freelancers, most clients in Europe and America rely more on PayPal. Because if they are not satisfied with the work, they can go for dispute. PayPal then refunds a portion of their payments. For this reason, many freelancers in Bangladesh use the PayPal account of someone known abroad or create a fake PayPal account. 

PayPal has not been launched in the country. In 2017, PayPal citing to change the banking structure  launched its sister concern Zoom in the country. But clients don’t always want to pay through Zoom. Because there is no refund system in this gateway.

Despite being second in freelancing the country does not have PayPal while India, Nepal, Sri Lanka have PayPal. If it had, the income from freelancing would have increased a lot.

According to the Bangladesh Freelancer Development Society (BFDS), more than USD 500 million is flowing into Bangladesh every year from freelancing. The number of freelancers bidding directly in the market place is over six lakh. Many more workers are doing freelancing work for different organizations in the country. 

BFDS chairman Dr. Tanjiba Rahman told Bangladesh Post, “We were facing many problems in fetching our earnings from abroad. We have already placed our demands to authorities concerned. An online payment gateway policy has already been formulated this October. If all the local banks become user- friendly with the new policy then it will be helpful for freelancers.”     

While asking about PayPal facilities, Tanjiba replied, “Even if PayPal starts in the country, our local banks have to give us services using that gateway.”

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