Improving 8 notches in ease of doing business not enough


Bangladesh has advanced eight notches in the ease of doing business ranking. This is a bit relieving situation comparing with the position the country has been maintaining for the last few years. But this cannot be called a big improvement as the country ranks 168th out of 190 countries, which means we’re still in the backseat. At the same time, Pakistan has advanced 28 notches while India 14. More disappointing is Bangladesh ranks 7th among eight South Asian nations, just above Afghanistan.

Besides, the reliability index published by Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD), a research platform of local businesspeople, shows the situation has improved in the last six months than that of the first six months of this year. Bangladesh’s score on the index was 10.32 in January-June while it is expected to rise to 10.87 in July-December, thanks to job creation, getting licences quickly, raising the ceiling of turnover tax and improved electricity condition.

World Bank prepares the report measuring 10 areas -- starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, and resolving insolvency.

The World Bank measures procedures, time, cost and legal structure to resolve a business dispute to define the starting a business category. Bangladesh lags far behind in this category. It takes 1,442 days and 66.8 per cent of the money demanded to resolve a dispute on average to implement an agreement. But the number of days required in Pakistan in this field is much less though the country is trailing Bangladesh in overall business indices. Bangladesh’s ranking in registering property is also week, 184th with 29 points. But the country has advanced in category of getting power connection. Once the country had to keep factories shut in turn, but the situation is no longer like that. The BUILD report also acknowledged advancement in category of attaining credit.

Prime minister’s private industry and investment advisor Salman F Rahman acknowledged almost nothing has been done in easing doing business in the country. Initiatives taken after the last parliament elections have born some fruits. This suggests there could have been positive impacts if the initiatives were taken earlier.

World Bank and some other organisations’ rankings identify problems in doing business every year. Policymakers are calling on local and foreign entrepreneurs to invest more in Bangladesh. The investors won’t be interested if the problems regarding doing business are not properly addressed. They would shift to other countries.

Ministers and advisers said the government plans to bring the country below 100 in ease of doing business raking. Steps have to be taken quickly to achieve the goal. There should be short-term, mid-term and long-term plans, if necessary. All-out steps should be taken to alleviate the businessmen’s concerns regarding high interest rate on bank loans, illegal dealings, corruption and transport costs. We should keep in mind that in terms of business, when the neighbours are galloping we are just taking faltering steps. We have to speed up to survive in the competition otherwise we’ll lag behind.

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