The government is considering this move to foster inclusion of the third-gender community into mainstream society
In the upcoming budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year, corporate tax is going to be waived if any company recruits 100 members of the transgender community, commonly known as Hijras in Bangladesh.
The government is considering this move to foster inclusion of the third-gender community into mainstream society and business, according to officials of the Finance Ministry and the National Board of Revenue (NBR).
“This is a wonderful decision, but we urge proper monitoring from the Social Welfare Ministry,” said Evan Ahmed Kotha, a leader of the transgender community.
“This opportunity will help us if implemented properly. But this should not be wasted in the guise of publicity. Earlier, many organizations increased their face value by employing one or two members while the major portion of the Hijra community remained excluded,” Kotha added.
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Another transgender woman Bonoful said that due to the pandemic, the Hijra community has been going through a very difficult time.
“We can neither beg, nor work. But if corporations employ us, we will be able to work like other human beings,” she added.
She also urged the authorities for direct long-term assistance such as education, technical training, and loan support for business.
Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Denim Expert Limited, said: "We have a social responsibility towards them and we have created an example so other companies get encouraged.
"Apart from business, every entrepreneur has an obligation to their people. Tax exemption could certainly encourage big companies to look into this,” he further said.
The World Economic Forum has acknowledged Denim Expert for its contribution to social inclusion of the transgender community.
However, some are wary of adaptability.
A member of Dhaka Chambers of Commerce and Industries (DCCI), wishing to remain anonymous, said: “Undoubtedly, this is a praiseworthy decision. But in reality, employment for them in factories and companies is challenging due to the mindset of mainstream society and a lack of educational background of the Hijras.”
Before employment, companies have to provide training to these people and educate them.
But they can easily work as operators, security guards or helpers, he added.
Dr Muhammad Shahadat Hossain Siddiquee, development policy researcher and professor of Economics at the University of Dhaka, said: “Ultimately, businessmen will consider the marginal cost and marginal benefits while employing 100 transgender people. Only feasibility will allow companies to capitalize on this 5% corporate tax exemption.”
“To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), keeping no one behind is the motto, and to address this reality, the private sector has to come forward for creating better and more inclusive workplaces,” he added
He also highlighted that developing a humane psyche before employing Hijras at the workplace is a prerequisite.
There are around 11,000 Hijras in Bangladesh, according to the Ministry of Social Welfare.
According to Bandhu Welfare Society, a number of transgender members are currently employed in media organizations, hotels, in private universities as security guards, in NGOs at different posts, the service sector including health-beauty and food, as well as the leather and garments sectors.