Although the government has passed a new law to introduce one-stop services for business launching, the actual implementation still appears to be far off.
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) says it will be at least another six months till investors can enjoy all the benefits from the One-stop Service Act 2018.
The law was passed to provide all services related to investment in the country under one umbrella, and it was passed by the Parliament on Monday.
Under the bill, a committee headed by a minister, styled One Stop Service Ensuring Committee, will be formed with a view to ensuring the implementation.
According to the new act, around 15 government agencies will provide all relevant services to investors from one point, to save time and reduce complications.
The organizations include: Home Ministry, Power Division, National Board of Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh Bank, Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, gas providers, Department of Public Works, Department of Environment, Export Promotion Bureau, water and sewerage authorities, BTRC, Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports, Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority and Bida and other product-related associations as well as local government offices.
The organizations will provide services like project clearance, work permit, visa recommendation, import and export permits, building plan approval, wiring and plumbing plan approval, NOC for foreign loan, local sale and purchase services, utility connection approval, TIN registration, VAT registration, fire clearance and boiler registration to the investors.
The initiative to enact a law to attract foreign investments was taken by the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (Beza) first at its second board meeting on February 28, 2015.
On July 27, 2016, the fourth Beza board meeting decided to enact the law for creating a smooth investment atmosphere in the country.
Beza proposed to enact the law only for economic zones namely ‘Bangladesh Economic Zones (One Stop Service) Act-2016.’
The government, however, decided to formulate the law for other investment related organizations, which was then moved forward by Bida.
According to officials at Beza and Bida, investors from both home and abroad have long been demanding one-stop service in order to make investment process easier.
They said that potential foreign investors often shift their investment to other countries due to complications here in Bangladesh.
Kazi M Aminul Islam, executive chairman of Bida, told the Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday: “The One-stop Service Act will help remove all difficulties facing investors before starting their businesses after the final approval.
“It will facilitate formation of an authority that will ensure quick services to the investors from a single office.”
How long till this becomes a reality?
Asked how many services are available under one-stop service now, the Bida chief said: “We are now providing 15 services including clearance certificates related to foreign borrowing, import recommendations and appointment of foreign employees under the one-stop service.”
“Six organizations - Bida, Bangladesh Bank, NBR, Rajuk, Bangladesh Electrification Board and Office of the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports, are providing the services.”
“The one-stop service will basically be all the services in an automated and digitalized for investors through a single window. It’s not an easy task. For this, there is a need for systemic integration of all the service providing stakeholders,” said Kazi Aminul.
He also said: “The work is going on and hopefully all the stakeholders will be able to provide the services within six months.”
According to the international standard, 34 agencies have been providing 150 services under OSS in the countries like Singapore and New Zealand.
Bida initially aims to provide 15 services by the 15 organizations, added the Bida executive chairman.
Businesses want effective execution
Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), told the Dhaka Tribune: “We welcomed the OSS Act as it’s been our cherished demand for a long time.”
“But, the execution of the all the services under the act should start within a very short time.”
As Bangladesh is lagging behind in the ease of doing business index, there is no alternative to improving business climate and for this the one-stop services are very important, said Mohiuddin.
“The government should take immediate initiative to execute the law as it would help improve the business environment as well as attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) to the country.” added the FBCCI president.