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 (OSS) instead?
Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida), the country's principal private investment promotion and facilitation agency, is all set to go for OSS in June this year.
Set up in September last year, the Bida identified the roadblocks in quick time and is now moving forward to remove the barriers to drawing more local and foreign investments. Its efforts have recently been well supplemented in the form of promulgation of relevant law. The House on February 5 passed the One Stop Service Bill, 2018.
Bida Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said investors will get one-stop investment services from June this year. The services they will get in much ease from the OSS 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 more and more foreign direct investments (FDI) but still the amount is relatively smaller compared to its peers. The country attracted $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 a percent of the country's GDP.
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.
Bida Executive Chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam said 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, custom and VAT services to policy inconsistencies.
He said some 15 activities will be brought under OSS 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 another, get automated by December this year.
Investors will be able to keep track of the progress of their works under OSS in automated system. In order to get the messages across, the Bida will routinely organise seminars and road-shows as it has already done a few over the last one year in regional countries as well as in big cities like London, Tokyo, New York, he added.
Bangladesh fared poorly in this year's ease of doing business ranking. It has been ranked lowly at 177th in the World Bank-carried ranking.
Kazi M Aminul Islam, who has served in the past as secretary both at the Prime Minister's Office and Chief Adviser's Office, wants to make a difference here. He has set a goal for the Bida that is to bring this ease of doing business ranking up to double-digit from the current triple-digit in five years' time. "And it's possible" Aminul expressed his firm resolve.
With these in view, the Bida initiated a massive reform program 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," said the Bida executive chairman, adding that they have undertaken a massive reform initiative so that investors can get quick services in less expense.
"We're working in unison with all government offices and other institutions those are involved in one way or the other with the investment and competitiveness. 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."
Efforts are on from the Bida’s part to create a culture of entrepreneurship. It is now organising training, financing and mentorship programme for the new generation of entrepreneurs. The Bida is working on developing skills and expertise so that industries and services can further expand, said Aminul.
He also underlined the need for further empowering Bida so that all agencies work in tandem with each other.
"Empowerment is also crucial to taking a government-wide approach facilitating harmonization of all activities," he explained.