Corruption in business: Govt has to take strict measures

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Despite various steps and plans by the government, the business environment in Bangladesh has not improved, which is evident in the survey conducted by the research organisation Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). While unveiling the survey report 'the State of the Business Environment in Bangladesh-2023, the organisation highlighted 17 problems. Around 68 per cent of businesspersons in the country see corruption as the topmost problem for trade and commerce. The second ranking problem is an inefficient bureaucracy.

Other problems include inadequate infrastructure, high inflation, funding constrictions, limitations, complex tax policy, frequent changes in policies, lack of skilled workforce, lack of innovative capacity, high tax rates, climate change, instability of the government, prohibitive labour law and poor public healthcare system.

Earlier, in a survey of Bangladesh Business Climate Index (BBCX)-2022-23, it was said availing bank loans for the businessmen has been difficult. Harassment in the payment of tax and VAT has increased. In this case, there are two types of problems. Small businessmen don't get loans despite fulfilling all conditions. On the other hand, there are instances that top businessmen take loans through influence, but they don't return.

How was the business environment in 2023, that analysis has been carried out in the CDP survey. During the survey conducted in May-July last year, the opinions of top officials of 71 different business establishments in Dhaka, Gazipur and Savar were taken. A businessman had informed CPD that he had submitted an application for utility service connection, but the size of bribe he was asked to pay was the same as his planned investment.

Such incidents happened many times in the past. The Businessmen were compelled to take gas, power and water connections in exchange for a huge amount of bribe. As they face losses if they cannot start production after the construction of factories.

In accordance with the survey of CPD, the government should take legal action against the officials of that organisation which demanded bribes for the utility connection. The CPD survey talks about bureaucratic complexities, procrastination and inefficiency.

Why will there be such bad conditions in the business environment whereas the government is talking about building smart Bangladesh? Much earlier, the government planned to introduce a one stop service. That was not implemented in most of the cases.

CPD survey found that although the big businessmen are able to continue their business by giving bribes, that is not possible for the small and medium business people in many of the times. Will the small and medium business people leave business?

The government policymakers often call upon the foreigners to invest in the country. In the context of business environment, Bangladesh lags behind Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and even India. Why will the foreign investors come amid such conditions?

On the one hand the government will talk about building a smart Bangladesh and on the other hand the businessmen have to wait months after months for a decision. This cannot go on. The environment of business will improve a bit if the government takes necessary steps taking short, medium and long term recommendations of the CPD.