With just some clicks on a mouse investors can now get as many as 14 major approvals from the One-Stop Service (OSS) Centre on the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority’s (BEZA) website.
Four more services are on way by this month’s end: providing taxpayer’s identification number, name clearance of company, registration of company name and occupancy certificate.
Previously, it took pin balling from one desk to another at a dozen government entities at the least.
Starting a business in Bangladesh was an uphill task, painstakingly time consuming and expensive, requiring a maximum of 16 permissions.
BEZA plans to provide 125 services under 27 categories by June 30 on the OSS portal launched in October last year. This is all part of the government’s plan to ensure foreign direct investment of $20 billion in Bangladesh’s economic zones by 2030.
Investors say the steps have not only facilitated delivery of necessary services sans bureaucratic red tape but also turned the use of speed money redundant.
Take availing visas for instance. It necessitated connecting embassies and ministries of two countries. That meant a lot of paperwork and forwarding of letters. Now, by informing BEZA beforehand investors can get visas upon arrival.
Getting work permits required physically going through a number of offices, including the former Board of Investment. Now it can directly be availed from BEZA.
Accessing bonded warehouse facility, meaning importing raw materials duty free to make products solely for export, used to take up to one year. Now it takes just around a month.
The service providers are very cooperative and proactive, said Rafiquzzaman, country head of TIC Manufacturing (Bangladesh), an Australia-based hanger manufacturer.
“We are taking services paying only government fees without speed money and service is very swift. Now both time and money are being saved for necessary services like licence renewal, customs clearance and NBR-related activities.”
According to him, this style of service is more commonplace abroad.
Service delivery was really satisfactory and proactive, and that would help improve the country’s ease of doing business, said Shah Ashequr Rahman, head of finance and commerce at Bangladesh Honda.
“I believe this type of service will help lure foreign direct investment in Bangladesh.”
According to him, they previously had to collect a lot of documents from different government agencies, which was very much of a hassle. But now all the services are available at the OSS Centre.
Rahman said the centre was providing services faster and removed red tape complexities. “Investors do not need to meet any official of BEZA physically.”
He hoped for BEZA to increase the number of services immediately to increase the flow of foreign direct investment.
“The number of services will increase continuously to remove all hassle for investors in completing their official processes for investment,” said BEZA Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury.
However, he said, some service entities were yet to introduce online service and it would take BEZA some more time to provide those.