The existing regulatory unpredictability in Bangladesh may push away the country's aspiration of becoming a middle-income country by 2021, by hindering Private Sector Development (PSD) and decreasing exports, experts have said.
The matter was discussed at a round table programme held at the Policy Research Institute (PRI) conference room on Monday.
Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Senior Secretary Shahidul Haque was the chief guest at the discussion.
Addressing the discussion, PRI Executive Director Ahsan Mansur said: "The unpredictability impacts economy in four major ways - by increasing the cost of initiating business either by foreigners or locals, by reducing productivity, by discouraging private investment from both domestic and foreign sources, and by causing uncertainty regarding investment decisions.
"The International Finance Corporation (IFC), in collaboration with BUILD, is conducting a survey to collect stakeholders' views about regulatory predictability in Bangladesh. The survey results are yet to be published, but there is strong evidence that the current regulatory framework in Bangladesh is perceived to be highly unpredictable," he added.
"The survey results also revealed that there is a severe lack of discussion between the stakeholders and the government during formulation of related laws and regulations," he added.
Ahsan Mansur then categorically pointed out several factors contributing to regulatory unpredictability in the country.
The unpredictability can be attributed to formulating rules and regulations without prior notice, consultation or impact assessments, making conflicting rules and regulations, difficulties in finding information on existing rules and regulations, discretionary enforcement by government officials, lack of effective grievance mechanism, and most importantly insecure property rights.
He further claimed that the government sometimes consults concerned stakeholders before introducing new laws and regulations, but it rarely reflects the stakeholders' opinion on the issue.
Speaking on the issue, former commerce secretary Suhel Ahmed Chowdhury said: "An effective grievance mechanism is yet to be introduced across the country. Larger companies may implement some form of it, but majority of medium and small companies are still out of the loop."
Meanwhile, Head of GP Accelerator, Minhaz Anwar said emerging new technologies should be put into consideration while formulating new regulations.
Present at the programme, Research Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue Khondaker Golam Moazzem said: "The research was done on a market based approach. I believe that efficiency enhancing tools should be put under consideration, and efficiency reform in this regard is very important."
Addressing the matter, Asif Ibrahim, former President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) said currently more that 750 Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs) exists in the law ministry website.
"The SROs should be removed from the law ministry website and be placed in a single online database with the latest updates, so that these laws could be found easily by entrepreneurs," Asif added.
The round table discussion was chaired by former advisor to the Caretaker Government, Dr. Mirza Azizul Islam.
Concluding the programme, Azizul Islam added: "Without addressing these serious issues, it would be difficult for us to achieve the country's aspiration of becoming a middle income country within 2021."