MNA Business Desk: The government targets to lower time and cost of overseas trading taking into consideration Singapore’s success in this case, sources said. In the World Bank’s latest ‘ease of doing business’ index, Singapore stood second and Bangladesh 176th.
The target was set at a recent meeting with prime minister’s principal secretary Nojibur Rahman in the chair.
Officials said the government wants to raise capacity of customs department and ports in handling cross-border trade to improve business environment in Bangladesh.
According to the index, Bangladeshi exporters need to spend 168 hours for obtaining, preparing and submitting documents during port or border handling, customs clearance and inspection procedures.
Singapore spends only 10 hours to do the same job. However, Bangladesh now wants to get things done by 36 hours.
Again, the cost for obtaining, preparing and submitting documents during port or border handling, customs clearance and inspection procedures for a shipment here is $408.
But it is $335 in the city state in Southeast Asia.
Bangladesh has set a target to provide the same services at $200. For documentary compliance, local exporters spend 147 hours compared to two hours in Singapore. Bangladesh now targets to cut it down to two hours.
Bangladeshi exporters, according to the index, spend $225 for documentary compliance and Singaporeans $37. The new target set at the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office is cutting the cost down to $100.
Meanwhile, local importers spend 216 hours to obtain and submit documents for border compliance while Singaporeans spend 33 hours.
The government has now moved to lower the time for importers to 72 hours in obtaining and submitting same documents.
A Bangladeshi importer spends $900 as part of border compliance fee for a container of goods while Singaporeans pay only $220.
To lower import cost, the government has set between $180 and $210 as a new target.
At the meeting, sources said, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority executive chairman Kazi M Aminul Islam suggested that some 14 documents now needed for export-import trade be lowered to five.
“If the port of Singapore can pursue export-import activity with five documents, Bangladesh can also do with the same in the similar process,” he said.
National Board of Revenue chairman Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said steps have been taken to lower the required documents by re-examining the relevant statutory regulatory order (SRO).
The revenue-related work at export-import stage can be completed in time, provided that stakeholders submit documents timely, he added.
Exporters Association of Bangladesh vice-president Mohammad Hatem said businesses welcome the government’s move to lower time and cost of doing business.
“If implemented, I believe, the country’s export-import activities will see a massive uptrend,” he told the FE on Friday.
However, Mr Hatem was skeptical on the execution of government steps ‘since people at execution level are non-cooperative, indulged in corrupt practices and harass businesses by creating legal barriers’.
“Unless this bad tendency is stopped, the government’s great desire won’t be a reality,” the business leader cited. For example, Mr Hatem said, customs and VAT officials “harass us a lot”.