The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) has called for a single agency to oversee the safety and security of businesses.
"Currently, a number of agencies oversee safety and security issues of business establishments which creates a lack of coordination, interference, and unwanted situations," Md Jashim Uddin, president of the country's apex trade body, said at a seminar on Thursday.
"We have to get a lot of licences to start a business," he said at the event jointly organised by FBCCI and the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (Bida) on the current practices of the One-Stop Service system of Bida.
"I don't think it is necessary to get licences from so many organisations. For safety and security, we have to get licences from eight to 10 places including clearance from the environment department, and a fire licence," he added.
The FBCCI president said there should be a single organisation to issue licences for safety and security.
Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam was the chief guest at the seminar held at the FBCCI building in Motijheel.
Md Jashim Uddin said, "We have to reduce the cost of doing business. One has to pay over Tk1 lakh to get a trade licence in Ashulia, Gazipur."
"Why do we have to pay lakhs of taka to get a trade licence? The chairman of a union council asked for Tk13 lakh for a trade licence for the garment industry. Later, I received the licence paying only Tk50,000. A licence which costs Tk600 had to be taken for Tk50,000," he added.
At a time when foreign investment is essential, such problems are very detrimental. Anyone trying to do business in Bangladesh says there is a lack of ease of doing business here, said Jashim Uddin.
He said a few days ago, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Naoki Ito, visited FBCCI and gave the trade body 17 lists of problems Japanese companies faced in doing business in Bangladesh.
Jashim continued by saying that Bida alone cannot solve these problems and every government agency would have to cooperate with them.
He said, despite there being no bond licence, it has to be renewed every year. The time duration should be five years, not one year.
Audits can be done every year and if any irregularity is found in audits, legal action can be taken, he added.
In his speech, Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam wanted to know from the FBCCI President whether he had given Tk50,000 for a licence of Tk600 to the government only or not.
In response, Jashim Uddin said the money did not go to the government coffers.
Then, the Bida executive chairman described it as a system loss, saying, "The negotiation you did in this regard was not very transparent and it was unethical."
Jashim Uddin again said, "There was no other way out and we were compelled to do this."
"To stop this, using digital technology can be a great tool for us. The One-Stop Service that we have should be used by business people," said Bida Executive Chairman Md Sirazul Islam.
He said currently, the One-Stop Service portal is providing 58 different services and the private sector should proactively use this online platform to get these services.
Jibon Krishna Saha Roy, director of One-Stop Service and Regulatory Reform, presented the keynote address on one-stop services.