When you start a business or industrial enterprise, one of the first things you will require is a power connection. This used to be a very time consuming process in this country. It would take around 404 days to get a connection, that is, over a year. But now you can an electricity connection in less than a month. A Prothom Alo report on Thursday stated that it took a maximum of 28 days to get a power connection in the business and industrial sector. This is undoubtedly significant progress.
The fact is that in Bangladesh electricity is now more available. The government target had been to ensure electricity around the entire country by 2020. That will be possible by December this year. There is, therefore, no scope to delay in providing power connections. The decrease in time to provide electricity to businesses and industries get is important because this improves Bangladesh image abroad. After all, this is connected to attracting investment.
There is the concept of ‘cost of doing business.’ This is not just cost in financial terms. It is also the important factor of time, of how long it takes from the start of the business initiative to the final approval. Again, a business can’t start simply when the approval is received. There are infrastructure-related procedures too.
In the case of industrial enterprise, power and gas are requirements at the very primary stage. In consideration of all of this, local and foreign investors complain that the cost of doing business in Bangladesh is too high. International indicators in this regard point to this too.
Then there is the matter of ‘ease of doing business.’ The World Bank publishes its ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report every year. The countries are ranked on the basis of the ease of doing business. In 2017 Bangladesh stood at 177 among 189 countries. We lag far behind. One of the two main reasons for this is delay in receiving electricity connections. The year before Bangladesh had ranked 185. We will undoubtedly climb the ranking in the World Bank’s next report.
The higher Bangladesh climbs the ‘east of doing business’ ranking, the more conducive will be the environment for investment. This is of particular importance in the case of foreign investments. But power connections along won’t ensure advancement. We need to improve in at least nine other categories. These are, approval to start a business, permission for construction, registration of property, loans, security for small entrepreneurs, paying taxes, implementing foreign trade agreements, and the process of declaring bankruptcy. The government has set the target to reach the rank 99 from 177 in the ‘ease of doing business’ ranking. This is not an impossible target, but this will require acceleration in the reforms already undertaken to make business easier. There is scope to make stride in these areas. All that is required is strong drive by the government and sincere efforts of the bureaucracy.