Bribes for licence renewal: Business-friendly environment needs more than words

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Policymakers of the government have long been speaking of creating a business-friendly environment in order to expand business and trade as well as increasing investment inside and outside of the country. But the reflection of that cannot be found in reality.

Businessmen in the readymade garments industry have to pay up to six times as much as the government-fixed fees for renewing the license required to do business.

It came up in a research of Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) that an extra 5,000 to 9,000 taka has to be paid for renewing the trade license of any business in Dhaka.

According to the research, it costs 644 per cent more than the government-fixed fees to renew the boiler license and 261 per cent more to renew the bond required for duty-free import of raw materials.

In addition to this, businessmen have to spend 16 per cent extra on trade license, 114 per cent for fire license and 12 per cent in case of export and import registration license.

It also came up in the research that Tk 5,000 to 9,000 has to be spent additionally compared to the fees fixed for renewing trade license of any business under Dhaka City Corporation.

Hundred per cent of the major companies, 68 per cent of the medium companies and 62 per cent of the small companies believe corruption to be the number one problem. Meanwhile, 59 per cent of the companies said that bribes have to be paid to get government contract and license.

That means government services cannot be availed without bribing. Not just businessmen even the common public are victimised by this.

From driving licences to birth registration certificates, nothing comes free of bribery. For putting an end to harassment, businessmen have been speaking of one-stop service and licence renewal after five years, but neither has been implemented.

Once the one-stop service is launched officials would no longer be able to collect bribe from every other source, that’s why it has been suppressed. The same thing has happened in case of license renewal.

If the licence has to be renewed annually, concerned officials extract additional money every single year after all. The scope to do that would go away if the licences have to be renewed every five years.

The mayors of the two city corporations of Dhaka city almost every day give advices to the city dwellers. However, they are not taking any action against the officials who are extracting extra money from businessmen or people seeking other services.

Dhaka South City Corporation mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh has recently claimed his orghanisation to be the most corruption-free government organisation.

Does charging Tk 5,000-9,000 more than the settled fees is the example of being corruption free? How can the other concerning government agencies engaged in license renewal institutionalise corruption involving bribery?

Among others state minister of commerce, Ahsanul Islam was present at CPD’s research presentation event. We’ll be waiting to see what steps he takes to stop harassments of the businessmen.

Whereas the local businessmen are falling victim to different types of harassments, why would the foreigners come here with investments? The government is failing to create the environment and infrastructure required for them to come.

There has been a hike in fuel price due to Ukraine war or Israeli aggression on Gaza while, there’s a shortage of supply as well. The businessmen have accepted that too. But why do they have to bribe government officials on every step to get their license done and to get them renewed?

If the government really wants to create a business-friendly environment in the country, they have to sweep bribe culture out of the service providing organisations. A business-friendly environment doesn’t pop up just from words.

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