OPINION

No alternative to OSS in attracting investments

Shahiduzzaman Khan | Published: December 05, 2018 21:51:59 | Updated: December 06, 2018 21:18:53


A senior minister has questioned the structure of the national steering committee for the ease of doing business reforms. He pointed out that there is no private sector representation in the committee.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed lamented that while the country was talking about ease of doing business, there was no reflection of any initiatives taken in this direction. Bangladesh currently ranks 176th in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index. It lags significantly behind most of its South Asian neighbours.

According to an FE report, all members in the steering committee in ease of doing business are either ministers or secretaries. And there is not a single member from the private sector here.

Addressing a meeting of the steering committee on Ease of Doing Business Reforms held in the city this week, the commerce minister said the real purpose of forming this committee would not be served without the presence of adequate private sector representatives in this committee. The country has, to mention, set an ambitious target of securing a place in the World Bank's ease of doing business index below 100 by 2021.

The government was reported to be launching one-stop service (OSS) for the investors some years back. Necessary preparations were taken in this regard as well. The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) was supposed to start it early last year. But now it is saying that preparations could not be completed as yet. It has rescheduled its OSS launching early next year, after a lapse of more than three years.

The fact remains that although the private sector played the biggest role in stimulating the economy in recent decades, private investors were the biggest 'sufferers' of the government's cumbersome procedures. These are the main hindrances to easing the process of doing business in the country.

The process of releasing imported goods from the Chattogram and Mongla ports still remains highly inefficient. This is an area where the authorities did never give proper attention. Investors often complain of cumbersome service procedures and unnecessary delays in getting their businesses rolling. It so happens largely because of current multi-stop service deliveries.

It's a fact that the investors would not set up their production base without smooth and effective functioning of one-stop services. If they are required to move from one door to another to get things done, it will not be viable for them. So, there is no alternative to OSS and  BIDA, the  investment agency, must ensure that.

The BIDA is now organising training, financing and mentorship programmes for the new generation of entrepreneurs. It is working on developing skills and expertise so that industries and services can further expand, said its chief.

Successful operation of economic zones largely depend on how fast the required services are ensured by the authorities to the investors because it helps reduce the cost of doing business. The investors don't want to spend too much time on availing themselves of necessary services. They want to give more attention to production. For that, faster service like OSS is very vital.

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