The Financial Express

Courier cos seek permission to transfer cash

A draft law has a provision barring them from doing so

| Updated: December 13, 2019 12:43:20

Evaly and Fianancial Express Evaly and Fianancial Express
Picture used for illustrative purpose only Picture used for illustrative purpose only

Like the digital money transaction platforms, the courier service providers have sought the permission from the government to transfer cash money from one place to another within the country, sources said.

They made the request at a time when the government is out to put the digital money transactions under greater surveillance as part of its anti-money laundering programme.

The government has already prepared the draft of "Mailing Operators and Courier Services Act, 2019" where it has incorporated a section that bars courier service providers from transferring cash.

Hafizur Rahman Pulok, president of Courier Services Association of Bangladesh (CSAB), has recently requested the finance ministry to include the courier services in the regulatory guidelines formulated for Mobile Financial Service (MFS) providers.

"Presently, sending cash money and value-declared activities through courier services are a very important and popular service," he said in a letter.

Value declared means when a firm's/online shopping and selling platform's value declared against its sold goods, courier services collect money from clients to deliver goods of online shopping and selling platforms. Courier companies get certain amount of commission from the platforms.

Nearly 100 firms have been engaged in value declared activities, according to the CSAB data.

When contacted, additional secretary (postal) Md. Shahadat Hossain said a process is underway to finalise the draft 'Mailing Operators and Courier Services Act 2019'.

"We have asked stakeholders for their opinions in this regard. We will also hold an inter-ministerial meeting to review the opinions."

Sources concerned said courier companies are not authorised to carry cash under the law of the land.

In that case, the central bank has been asked to find ways to bring financial service of courier companies under a legal framework, they added.

After a meeting between Financial Institutions Division and stakeholders at the secretariat in June last, the CSAB president said courier companies have long been transferring funds, but no questions were asked regarding it.

Few years ago, the courier companies were asked to stop money transferservices, he told the FE.

Later, association members filed a writ with the High Court which ordered the government to explain as to why courier companies would not be allowed to provide monetary services.

Since then, courier companies are providing both financial and goods haulage services without interruption.

Mr Pulok said the Bangladesh Bank (BB) would have to find ways to bring financial services of courier companies under a legal framework.

However, mobile financial service providers do not see any major problems regarding allowing courier operators to do cash transfer business.

"If they (courier service operators) get permission for transferring cash complying with the existing rules and regulations that MFSs do, why will we oppose it?" a senior executive of the country's leading MFS provider said preferring anonymity.

When contacted, the CSAB president  said the government should take stern action against unauthorized courier services for the sake of country's interests.

There are more than 500 illegal courier services in the country, he mentioned.

"We have sought government authorisation in dealing with cash money transfer and value declared activities. It would be better for the country's economy if the government gives permission."

There are 130 members under CSAB, he said, adding that nearly 1.0 million workers are involved with the country's courier services.

An official of post and telecommunication department said the law is being implemented to ensure proper operation of mailing operators and courier services, prevent transport of banned goods through courier services, and protect the rights of customers.

Courier services pay 15 per cent value added tax to the government exchequer for operating business.

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