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Business leaders allege bribery rampant in govt offices

03 October 2022


News Desk  :
Business leaders have raised allegations of rampant bribery and irregularities in government offices including the offices of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) which they say is seruoisly affecting businesses and fresh investments.
They raised the allegation  at an event held in the capital on Sunday, organised by the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
"Officials at the Customs Bond Commissionerate of NBR demand bribes even after mentioning the name of the commissioner. They say - the commissioner may be your friend but not mine. Give me my share of the bribe," said Syed Moazzem Hossain, director of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI).
Mohammad Hatem, executive president of Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), highlighted a similar scenario in another government office.
He said, "A bribe of Tk50,000 was demanded from an entrepreneur for a permit related to import registration certificate (IRC) in Narayanganj BSCIC. Later he called the director of the concerned office and told him about the bribe. The director signed the file the next day and asked the entrepreneur to collect it from the office."
"But he could not get the file as the lower-ranking officials of that office demanded their share of the bribe. They said - aside from the director's Tk10,000 share, you have to pay Tk30,000 to us. Finally, the businessman had to pay the bribe," he added.
Business leaders said such corruption is creating a negative impact on the country's  businesses as well as hampering both local and foreign direct investments. Foreign investors do not like to do business in this way.    Syed Nasim Manzur, president of Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers & Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) said, "The number one headache for us is Customs and Bond."
Citing the example of Vietnam in the bond licensing process, he said, "Only 4 types of documents are required there and all processes are completed in five weeks. So why can't we do that?"
"Many reforms have been made and many officers or commissioners have changed seats but the situation remains the same. If there is an attitude of regulating rather than helping businesses then no initiatives will be successful (in terms of ease of doing business)," Nasim Manzur said.
Sometimes, undocumented issues create more problems than documented ones, he added.
Faruque Hassan, president of BGMEA also highlighted some of the harassment that industrialists face in government offices on a regular basis.
"If one HS code (used by customs authorities around the world to identify products when assessing duties and taxes) is wrong, then goods are detained (at the port) for 10 days. They (officials) look with a magnifying glass to detect mistakes. Because they can delay it that way and what happens if you can delay I don't want to say that," the BGMEA leader said.
Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in partnership with GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) Bangladesh organised the event titled "Launching Web Portal on Setting up Factories: Licensing, Certificate and Registration."
CPD's Research Director Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem presided over the event.

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