DSCC takes too much time for issuing trade licence

BD risks slipping in 'ease of business' index

JASIM UDDIN HAROON | Published: January 12, 2020 10:01:44 | Updated: January 13, 2020 14:00:42

A large number of traders under the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) have been facing trouble with renewal of their licences or issuance of new ones for the past few months as such services now require more than two weeks.

It was possible earlier to render such services in one or two days.

Such delay in issuance or renewal of licences for the traders may hit adversely the country's ranking in the ease of doing business prepared by the World Bank.

The Ease of Doing Business index, a popular indicator of competitiveness of a country's business environment, considers it as its number one parameter-starting a business, in particular the procedures, time, cost and minimum capital entailed to open a new business.

However, talking to the FE, people in different areas under the DSCC attributed the delay to the process of preparing a database for the traders under e-trade licensing for the southern part of the capital city.

They have admitted that currently on an average 15 days are required to renew old trade licences and issue new ones. The process was previously completed in just one or two days.

The City Corporation Act of 1986 stipulates that such a business document is mandatory for running a business in an urban area.

This instrument is one of the few documents that are usually sought by banks and other organisations during any dealing with such a business entity.

They, however, said that on completion of the work on database, the sufferings would ease to a great extent. Then the traders would no more need to visit the offices concerned of the city corporation.

Mohammed Shamsul Hoque, a regional executive officer at Sayedabad in the city, told the FE that the delay was simply due to the work on database meant for e-trade licence issuance.

"We're preparing the database of traders and it will help issue trade licences hassle-free," said Mr Hoque, who is also a deputy secretary to the government of Bangladesh.

On the other hand, DSCC chief revenue officer Yusuf Ali Sardar said they overcame the situation in August, September and October that they had been facing earlier on. "I will not say that the problem has been resolved completely, but the situation has improved to a large extent; now traders are getting licences quickly," Mr Yusuf said.

The south city corporation launched the project at least four months back with the objective of improving the trade licence regime that actually has no proper register in the real sense to be maintained despite the fact that the related rules have stipulated that requirement.

That created room for different forms of corruption.

However, an insider working at the headquarters of the DSCC told the FE that this time-consuming work should have been done within December last.

The south city corporation area has a large number of traders due to the existence of the key commercial hubs of Motijheel and Dilkusha and other business centres in old Dhaka. It has now over 240,000 such licences.

Traders register, on an average, for 20,000 new trade licences each year in the DSCC area, according to the people familiar with the matter.

SM Ansaruzzaman, a CEO at zone 2, told the FE that they were looking to solve the problem quickly.

"We hope we will be able to solve it quickly as the organisation's work on the database will be over quickly."

He, however, could not say how long the traders would endure the trouble.

Dr M Masrur Reaz, a senior economist in the trade and competitiveness global practice of the World Bank Group (WBG), told the FE that the WB considers the process of business registration while preparing the ranking of countries based on the ease of doing business.

"If people get quick services for starting a business, it impacts on the indicator."

However, the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) is yet to begin any move to issue e-trade licences.

People at the DNCC said they would take steps to that end after the city corporation election due on January 30.

"We've learned much from the south city corporation, so our aim is to mitigate sufferings of the traders," said Mohammed Abdul Hamid Miah, chief revenue officer at the DNCC.

Mr Miah said they would start the e-trade licence process after the election.

The DNCC has around 230,000 trade licences, the available data show.


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