The backlog of trade lawsuits is not only increasing businessmen's expenses but is also hindering fresh investment, says Salman F Rahman, the prime minister's private industry and investment adviser.
Addressing a webinar organised by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on Saturday, he said major changes needed to be made in the current judicial system if the country wanted to improve its position on the Ease of Doing Business Index.
Speaking as chief guest at the webinar, "Country Competitiveness of Bangladesh: Key Reforms in Doing Business," he said civil cases involving taxes or bank loans are taking eight to ten years to settle.
Terming this as unprecedented in the world, Salman said this is happening because of problems in case management.
There is no problem in laws, he added.
The Beximco Group vice-chairman held a section of lawyers and a group responsible for delaying case disposals, saying it was time to disband the group.
DCCI President Rizwan Rahman said commercial dispute resolution in Bangladesh usually takes four years.
"To improve the litigation system, various countries across the world have made reforms, such as bringing changes to the applicable civil procedure or enforcement rules, expanding court automation, electronic payment, automatic assignment of cases to judges, introducing specialised commercial courts, and expanding the alternative dispute resolution framework.
"Vietnam made enforcing contracts easier by making judgments rendered at all levels in commercial cases available to the public online, by adopting a new code of civil procedure, and by introducing a consolidated law on voluntary mediation," he explained.
Md Golam Sarwar, secretary to the Law and Justice Division, said the law ministry would bring the necessary changes in laws in the interest of economic progress and investment.
He said an e-judiciary project has been taken up to conduct cases involving trade disputes.
"Under this, e-filing and a digital system for preserving evidence will be introduced so that such disputes can be settled fast."
Jagannath Chandra Ghosh, general manager at the Foreign Exchange Investment Department of the Bangladesh Bank, and Krishna Saha Roy, director at Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, said the central bank has already initiated a number of reforms, including allowing foreign companies to repatriate profits and launching international factoring in Bangladesh.
Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) Bangladesh representative Kazunori Yamada, Pran-RFL Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, Oryx Biotech Limited Managing Director David Bo, DCCI Senior Vice-President NKA Mobin, and former DCCI president Abul Kasem Khan also addressed the webinar.