- EPB registration requires 12 types of documents, 9 for renewal
- It still wants group insurance paper which was abolished in 2016
- BGMEA says at least four types of EPB paperwork unnecessary
- Apparel-makers call for solution, a meeting to be held this week
Apparel exporters have to submit 12 types of documents for Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) registration while the annual registration renewal requires at least nine types of submissions.
Terming the number of paperwork unnecessary, apparel-makers said the tedious procedures are barriers to ease of doing business, while the bureau was supposed to be the major facilitator to the government's easing business initiatives.
Of the nine submissions for registration renewal, four types of paperwork including group insurance are unnecessary, claim readymade garment manufacturers.
In a letter to the EPB in October, they wrote, "With 0.03% payment at sources of the export to the worker welfare fund, group insurance became invalid in 2016. But the EPB still demands the group insurance document."
In the letter, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturer and Exporters Association (BGMEA) also demanded cancellation of the submission of factory building layout and a copy of structural design, a copy of bonded warehouse licence and the fire policy papers.
Apparel-makers argued that there are separate offices to inspect the papers with whom the bureau does not have any business.
The EPB too agrees that it is time for revisiting the regulations as a stakeholder meeting this week will talk about the potential changes to the export paperwork.
The bureau currently provides the exporters with certificates of generalised scheme of preference (GSP) and country of origin (CO). The GSP certificate is a must for Bangladeshi products for duty-free access to the European market while CO certificate is required for duty benefits to Asian markets.
BGMEA said providing unnecessary documents needs to be abolished so that the garment industry can enjoy uninterrupted export.
Shahidullah Azim, vice president of BGMEA, told The Business Standard that the government's aim is to make business easier, but the bureau is making it more complicated leading to harassment.
According to the apparel leader, only the bureau but also some other public offices have been imposing such unreasonable paperwork, which is making business difficult rather than easy.
"The whole world is making business easier, but we are making it difficult," he said, adding it is necessary to stop the unnecessary tangles to bring investment.
On conditions of anonymity, a garment industry leader told TBS that many exporters have to incur additional costs to "manage" the public officials to meet the export requirements.
Fazlee Shamim Ehsan, vice president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), told TBS that the government wants to implement the national single window for export and investment. Once it is implemented, there will be no need for the paperwork.
He suggested focusing more on the single window implementation.
AHM Ahsan, vice chairman of EPB, told TBS that a meeting will be held this week with the stakeholders to revisit whether the paperwork is really necessary.
"When the submissions were imposed in the past, there might have been some justification. But after ten years, some of them may not be necessary any longer," he added.
In the latest Ease of Doing Business Index by the World Bank, Bangladesh was ranked 168th out of 190 countries.