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Ease of doing business

Cumbersome customs procedure poses a challenge: Muhith

Pvt sector’s omission from business body irks Tofail


FE Report | Published: December 05, 2018 09:26:57 | Updated: December 05, 2018 14:56:49


Picture used for illustrative purpose only

A senior government minister has questioned the structure of the national steering committee for the ease of doing business reforms, noting there is no private sector representative in the committee.

"We are talking about ease of doing business. But I see no private sector representative in this committee," said commerce minister Tofail Ahmed.

He made the remarks while speaking at a meeting of the steering committee on Ease of Doing Business Reforms on Tuesday.

"All the members in this committee are either ministers or secretaries. But there is not a single member from the private sector here," he added.

Bangladesh currently ranks 176th in the World Bank's 'Ease of Doing Business' index, lagging significantly behind most of its South Asian neighbours.

However, the country has set an ambitious target of securing a place below 100 by 2021.

In this context, the government had earlier chalked out several reforms for easing the process of doing business in the country.

It also formed a steering committee comprising several key ministers and bureaucrats for steering these reforms.

However, the commerce minister said the real purpose of forming this committee would not be served without the presence of private sector representatives in this committee.

Tofail noted that although the private sector had played the biggest role in stimulating the economy in recent decades, they are the biggest 'sufferers' of the country's cumbersome government procedures.

"Also, this is the first time the steering committee is sitting together in two years. How can we make progress if we go forward in such a slow pace?" the minister added.

Responding to the remarks, executive chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Kazi M Aminul Islam said that private sector representatives are involved in other committees related to ease of doing business reforms.

"There are committees at the secretary level as well as at the Prime Minister's Office for dealing with doing business reforms."

"We have private sector involvement in those committees and most of the issues usually get resolved in those committees," said Mr Islam, also the Member Secretary of the national steering committee.

"So far, no issue has been raised, which needs to be resolved at the national steering committee," the BIDA chairman said.

Speaking at the meeting, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said that cumbersome customs procedure remained one of the main challenges for easing the process of doing business in the country.

"Customs procedure is an area where we are severely lagging behind," the finance minister said.

"The process of releasing imported goods from the ports still remains highly inefficient," he added.

"This is an area where we need to focus on", Muhith said, adding "The National Board of Revenue can play a crucial role in this regard".

Earlier, the BIDA chairman had informed the meeting the long-awaited One Stop Service scheme will be operational in the country by January next year.

"We are already experimenting with the prototype of the OSS. Hopefully, the scheme will be in place by January and will greatly ease the process of doing business," he said.

When it comes to starting a business, "we need to reduce the number of processes to 5 from 9 while the time taken for the processes needs to be reduced to 4.5 days from 19.5 days, he argued.

"At the same time, RJSC needs to reduce the cost to 13 per cent of per capita income from the current 21.2 per cent", he added.

Shipping minister Shajahan Khan, in his speech, said that the country's shipyards currently remained almost non-functional and they need to be revived.

He also said that almost 20 thousand kilometres-long river routes need to be dredged to reinvigorate the trade routes through rivers.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that sustainable security system is needed for sustainable economic development.

He informed the government has formed industrial police to ensure greater security of the industrial units while marine police and fire service units have been made stronger.

State minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, in his speech, emphasised greater use of digital platforms, easing the process of doing business in the country.

Principal Coordinator for SDG Affairs Abul Kalam Azad called for speeding up the process of land transfer in the country.

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