Investors often complain of cumbersome service procedures and unnecessary delays in getting their businesses rolling in Bangladesh. It so happens largely because of current multi stop service deliveries. How about providing the investors with a one-stop service instead?
State-run investment promotion agency Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) is all set to introduce one-stop services in June this year.
BIDA identified time as the roadblocks and is now moving forward to removing the barriers to drawing more local and foreign investments. Its efforts have recently been well supplemented in the form of promulgation of the relevant law.
The Jatiya Sangsad on February 5 passed the One Stop Service Bill, 2018.
In an exclusive interview with UNB, BIDA Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam, said investors would get one-stop investment services from June this year.
The services they will get in much ease from such services window include: company registration, name clearance issuance, tax certificate and TIN, VAT registration, visa recommendation letter issuance, work permit issuance, foreign borrowing request approval, and environment clearance.
Bangladesh is attracting increasing amounts of foreign direct investment (FDI) but still the amount is smaller than that of its peers. The country attracted US$ 21 per capita of FDI in 2015, compared to $ 128 in Cambodia and $ 109 in Vietnam. Bangladesh's gross FDI inflow was $ 2.4 billion last year, which is less than one per cent of the country's GDP (gross domestic product).
There must be some reasons behind Bangladesh's FDI not accelerating to an expected level in spite of all economic indicators giving projection of an otherwise robust economy.
Mr Islam said that there have been lots of impediments starting from business registration taking longer than usual time to higher cost involvement, from harassment to graft practices, from lack of transparency in port, customs and VAT services to policy inconsistencies.
He said some 15 activities would be brought under one-stop services thereby, creating an enabling environment for the investors to do business in Bangladesh.
BIDA will make sure some 150 activities under 34 agencies related to investment, in one way or the other, get automated by the year-end.
Investors will be able to keep track of the progress of their work under fast-track services in automated system.
In order to get the messages across -BIDA will routinely organise seminars and roadshows as it has already done a few over the last one year in regional countries as well as in big cities like London, Tokyo, and New York.
But past record is not promising. The country fared poorly in this year's ease of doing business ranking. It has been ranked at the 177th in the World Bank's ranking.
Mr Islam, who served as Secretary both at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and Chief Advisor's Office, wants to make a difference.
He has set a goal of bringing the ease of doing business ranking up to double-digit from the current triple-digit in five years' time. "And it's possible" Mr Islam said in a resolute tone.
With these in view, BIDA initiated a massive reform programme for enhancing the 'ease of doing business' and establishing a fully functional 'One Stop Service Centre' and undertaking various activities to make Bangladesh one of the best investment destinations and to make BIDA one of the best 'Investment Promoting Agencies' (IPA) in the world.
"We are trying to develop an investment eco-system," the Executive Chairman said, adding that BIDA has taken up a massive reform initiative so that investors can get quick services in less costs.
"We're working in unison with all government offices and institutions involved in one way or the other with the investment and competitiveness," he said.
"We're working with different ministries, the Supreme Court, Law Reform Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission etc. We'll make sure laws, rules, processes and procedures are aligned in a way that investors can do business at ease," he added.
Efforts are on from BIDA's part to create a culture of entrepreneurship.
The agency is now organising training, financing and mentorship programmes for the new generation of entrepreneurs.
BIDA is working on developing skills and expertise so that industries and services can further expand, said the BIDA executive chief.
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