Govt looks to tighten grip on trade bodies

Director general to oversee chambers

Mehdi Musharraf Bhuiyan | Published: August 18, 2018 09:47:33 | Updated: August 18, 2018 20:06:28

A representational image/Collected

Thousands of trade organisations active in the country are set to come under the supervision of a director general as the government is looking to hold its grip on the growing number of such bodies.

The rank of the director general will be equivalent to a joint secretary or above and he or she will control all activities and procedures of all the registered trade organisations in the country, commerce ministry officials said.

Currently, trade organisations in the country are subject to the control by a director posted in the commerce ministry.

The government is now at the final stage of formulating a new Trade Organisation Act, which will eventually make way for upgrading this director post to the level of a high-ranking director general.

Officials said the new provision is necessary in the context of proliferation in the number and nature of trade organisations in the country in recent years.

According to commerce ministry officials, the number of registered trade organisations in the country reached 727 at the end of last year.

But the actual number could cross a thousand since there are numerous unregistered trade organisations are operating across the country.

"Trade organisations and their activities have grown exponentially in recent years. However, there are only three officers in the commerce ministry who are responsible for coordinating their activities," said Md. Obaidul Azam, who is currently heading the Department of Trade Organisations of the ministry of commerce.

"In this context, it has become very difficult to carry out the job of supervising these trade organisations for a single director," he added.

"So, we have moved to create the post of a director general who will work with the help of two directors for supervising all the trade organisations."

The new Trade Organisation Act has also significantly expanded the power and responsibilities of the director general from that of a director.

For example, the new law has empowered the Director General with the authority to set up an election board or election appeal board for ensuring free and fair elections in trade organisations.

The director general will also be empowered to intervene or take necessary steps for solving any conflict or disputes that may arise within such organisations.

Under the proposed law, the director general can also instruct trade organisations to take part in any government or public welfare activities.

In addition, the director general will retain all the power and responsibilities currently held by the director like annulling any election of any trade body; cancelling, suspending or modifying any resolution or decision adopted by the executive committee of the trade bodies; or removing or suspending any member of any trade organisation.

"From a supervisory role, the director general's role will now be expanded to a facilitating one", Obaidul Azam said.

Meanwhile, the new law has the provision for the formation of a Joint Trade Working Committee under the convenership of the director general.

This committee will have representation from all the trade bodies of the country and will act as a coordinating entity between such trade organisations, officials said.

The new law has also provisioned that a trade organisation can be declared dormant if it fails to hold any Annual General Meeting for two consecutive years or if it fails to file any audit report or other necessary reports to the director general for two consecutive years.

Earlier, the draft of the new Trade Organisation Act was sent to the law ministry for vetting.

"The law ministry has given a few observations which we would now analyse and incorporate. Afterwards, it would be sent to the Cabinet for approval," Mr Azam said.

Once finalised, the new law would effectively replace the Trade Organisations Ordinance dating back to 1961.


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