We might advance a few more notches in the global ranking of ease of doing business this year but attaining a position below 100 or double-digit on the index appears to be quite impossible.
There has not yet been a fundamental change in the business environment although some work has begun over the past few years to this end.
An effective One-Stop Service Centre (OSS) could have played a big role in improving the country's business environment by providing investors with all necessary services from a single window. It is claimed that investors are getting around 50 types of services from the OSS centre. But only investors can say whether such services are available for them or not.
Some organisations signed memorandums of understanding with the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, but their services have not been made available under the OSS yet. The business environment could have improved significantly had the targeted 150 types of government services been offered through the OSS.
Our points might increase as we have improved in some areas. If other competitor countries improve at the same rate, there will not be a big jump for our country in the ease of doing business index. If we want to outdo other countries, we have to carry out the promised business reforms as soon as possible.
After the announcement of Bangladesh's target to attain double-digit by 2021 in the World Bank's ease of doing business ranking, not much has been done in this regard. Advancing eight notches last year was a big achievement. We are likely to move up a few more steps this year too. If that does not happen, it will be frustrating. We might have taken up some work that others have already done. Everything will come to the fore when the World Bank discloses ease of doing business ranking.
Improving the business environment is an ongoing process. So, we have to work continuously. If we stop somewhere, others will surpass us.
We must continue to work tirelessly to ensure sustainable development. Now, the question is whether we have the political commitment and administrative determination to survive in that race.
If it is, we may be able to attain double-digit at some point in the future. But, it is not possible to say the exact timeline.
The country ranks 189th out of 190 countries in the Enforcing of Contract Index. And, we are lagging behind the most in this index. The judiciary is responsible for this poor ranking. When justice is sought, it is not available. The disposal of a case in court takes around 1,500 days, which is very frustrating.
We also stay far behind in the Trading across Borders index. We have serious problems with customs. The trade facilitation project has been going on for a long time, but it has not finished yet. So, trade has not eased either.
We have another weakness in the land registration process. There are many problems and corruption opportunities in this sector. Despite the sincerity of the government, it is not possible to ensure the digitisation of land registration under the pressure of influential people. One project after another is failing in this sector.
Dr Ahsan H Mansur is the executive director at PRI. He spoke to Jahidul Islam of TBS over phone