Dhaka, Bangladesh
Muhith for legalising brokerage to ease doing business

Muhith for legalising brokerage to ease doing business

Sharing his experiences gathered in New York and New Delhi, Finance Minister AMA Muhith has advised the government to legalise certain issues of society like brokerage to expedite the ease of doing business. "If someone provides you some service like brokerage, he must be paid for it. It'll be a moral uplift of society," he said while addressing a meeting of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) at InterContinetal Dhaka in the city on Tuesday. Muhith said there is a city service office in New Your city to help people get their services like a driving licence in exchange for money. About his experience in New Delhi, he said, after a call from the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi, a person received him at a hospital there and introduced himself as a broker and provided every service till the completion of the medical check-up and getting report. "We should legalise this business and bring it within the system." When a reporter urged Muhith to broadly explain the issue, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed intervened and requested journalists not to misinterpret his speech, saying the Finance Minister is not talking about legalising illegal things. With Bida Executive Chairman Kazi Aminul Islam in the chair, the meeting was also addressed by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan and State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid. Principal Coordinator (SDG) of the Prime Minister's Office Abul Kalam Azad and some other secretaries also spoke on the occasion. Addressing the programme, Tofail Ahmed expressed his grave disappointment at the Bida performance, saying it took two years to hold a steering committee meeting. He said Bangladesh has been doing well in all areas except ease of doing business. "The Bida officials prefer to hold seminars abroad instead of doing something for easing the business." Mentioning that many foreign investors visit Bangladesh with huge enthusiasm, the Commerce Minister said, "But when the visit Bida and other offices, they become frustrated and leave Bangladesh with disappointment." He said Bida still could not be able to introduce a one-stop service for businesspeople. Sharing his own experiences in doing persuasion for different businessmen in getting permission of Department of Environment, Law Ministry and Rajuk for their businesses, Tofail said he had to directly phone the secretaries concerned. He, however, said he never made any call for any matter that does not have merit and did not pursue for any illegal matter. The Commerce Minister said there is no problem with the top officials like secretaries. "The main problem is with the lower-tier officers at the ministries who hold files unnecessarily." State Minister Nasrul Hamid said different government offices need to be dititised to ensure ease of doing business. "We need a system where people need not to go to offices and waste time in persuasion to get services," he said. Meanwhile, Business leaders of the country have laid emphasis on improving business environment in Bangladesh in a bid to attract investment, set up new industries and generate new employment opportunities. While talking to The News Today, a director of France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Bangladesh is set to become a lower middle- income country by 2021 and suggested that concrete steps to be taken by relevant authorities to improve business index by reducing the 'cost of doing business in Bangladesh. Every year, some 20 lakhs youths are added to the job market and the country needs to increase new investment. A director of the Dutch-Bangla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, involved in export business, has demanded that Chattogram Port's handling capacity need to be increased to cope with rising exports and imports. The energy situation has improved in recent times, but it does not match with the growing demand of the country, said DBCCI director. Industrialists face difficulties in getting new gas connection while gas prices in the industrial zones are increased without the consulting with the stakeholders, he said. The Dhaka-Chattogram Highway is the lifeline of the economy and often long tailback hampers the normal business, he added. Bangladesh slipped down to 103rd position among 140 countries from 102th in last year in Global Competitiveness Index 2018 released by World Economic Forum (WEF) though its overall score increased by 0.7 percentage points this year. Bangladesh's competitiveness has been weakened in most of the indicators (both in rank and score). Among 12 pillars of this survey, Bangladesh ranked below 50 in one pillar on Market Size (36th). Bangladesh ranked between 80 to100 in two other pillars on Macroeconomic Stability (88th) and Health (96th), said the report. Former president of Foreign Investors' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and American Chamber of Commerce Syed Ershad Ahmed said a modern multimodal transport system is a must to improve Bangladesh's competitiveness in the global economy and to increase the access to goods at reasonable prices. The upgrading of logistics workforce and technology systems is also needed for ensuring that the transport system is scalable and sustainable. Joint ventures with experienced companies could be an option, he said. Norwegian Ambassador to Bangladesh Sidsel Bleken in an interview with The News Today said that Bangladesh is ranked low on the ease of doing business index, and unfortunately, Norwegian companies experience that bureaucratic process is slow, and that framework conditions are not always predictable. 'We hope that the ambitions of BIDA, introducing a one-stop shop for investors will improve this, she said. However, it cannon rest on BIDA alone, as there are a number of government agencies involved, and a simplification of processes is needed, Sidsel Bleken said. A predictable business environment, where rules and regulations are known and adhered to is important for attracting foreign investors. Sidsel Bleken said that a number of Norwegian companies are exploring business opportunities in the energy sector, both renewable energy and more traditional power generation and transmission lines. Sidsel Bleken said "We have reason to hope that the dialogue with the Government on solar power plants will move ahead and that Norwegian companies' plans to establish solar power plants will materialize soon. Also the market for diesel and gas engines for power plants is good. In addition to this, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global has invested NOK 2 bill. (approx. 2 crore taka) in Bangladeshi companies. Norfund, the Norwegian Development Investment Fund is also stepping up its investments in financial institutions focusing on SMEs. Telenor, the partly state owned Norwegian telecommunication company, and the majority owner of GrameenPhone will also continue its investments in Bangladesh, contributing to the ambitions of a digital Bangladesh. Former German Ambassador in Dhaka Dr Thomas Prinz said corruption is the biggest hurdle to attracting German investors and Bangladesh will have clear image among German entrepreneurs in this regard. He however, praised the steady economic growth of Bangladesh over the years as the country has set to become an economic giant in the region within the shortest period. Germany is the second largest export market for Bangladesh. Foreign direct investment into Bangladesh recorded over 2.25 billion US dollars last fiscal year. (Inputs taken from UNB)

Share |