Necessary paperwork can be delayed endlessly, and a culture of bribery within the bureaucracy can create a hostile and confusing atmosphere
The Bangladesh economy has shown tremendous dynamism in a number of areas, even in the midst of a global pandemic which has brought much of the world to its knees. Yet, the sad fact remains, we are faltering when it comes to attracting private investment -- investment that we badly need in order to meet our growth targets. The main reason for this is our business environment -- it is not one that fills potential investors with confidence and ease. Quite the opposite, in fact.
This is incredibly unfortunate, because there is tremendous untapped potential for business in Bangladesh, and we are being held back due to various barriers and technicalities that could easily be done away with.
Bangladesh has moved up eight notches in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index, up to rank 168 from last year’s 176. While this is an improvement, considering the index consists of a total of 190 countries, it is clear that we are still far down in the list. It is no wonder that foreign investors are reluctant to come to Bangladesh when doing business in other countries poses fewer challenges.
This we must change. It is widely known that inefficiencies and corruption plague our administration. Necessary paperwork can be delayed endlessly, and a culture of bribery within the bureaucracy can create a hostile and confusing atmosphere for investors. We simply cannot expect Bangladesh to become an attractive place for business unless we take down the institutional barriers -- the endless red tape -- that hold us back.
We have valuable lessons to learn from the business climates of rich, productive nations like Singapore and Switzerland. Those countries have clear, hassle-free channels laid out for starting up and running businesses, and the results show. Our business environment will not turn into Singapore overnight, but we can do so much better with the right political will.