• Monday, Jan 30, 2023
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

'Judicial reforms crucial for business-friendly environment'

  • Published at 03:36 pm April 3rd, 2021

To improve the litigation system, various countries across the world have made reforms like changes to the applicable civil procedure or enforcement rules

Salman F Rahman, the private industry and investment adviser to the prime minister, yesterday said that the judicial system needs major reforms for Bangladesh to do better on the Ease of Doing Business index.

The mediation and arbitration systems are not being used widely in the country due to the absence of a standard civil litigation management timeframe, he said.

Enforcement of contracts is also necessary for improvement in the index, he added while addressing a webinar titled “Country Competitiveness of Bangladesh: Key Reforms in Doing Business,” organized by the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) on Saturday.

“We have to use the One-Stop Service [OSS] efficiently,” Salman said.

At present, 45 services are being offered through the OSS.

Salman also said that Bangladesh should have policy reforms throughout the taxation system. For more revenue generation, he emphasized widening the tax net.

Thanking the NBR for adding 55,000 new taxpayers last year,he said that if the tax net is widened, tax rates can be slashed without putting pressure on the existing taxpayers.

DCCI President Rizwan Rahman chaired the webinar while Secretary of the Law and Justice Division Md Golam Sarwar joined as the special guest.

Commercial dispute resolution in Bangladesh usually takes four years in Bangladesh, said Rizwan.

To improve the litigation system, various countries across the world have made reforms like changes to the applicable civil procedure or enforcement rules, expanding court automation, electronic payment, automatic assignment of cases to judges, introducing specialized commercial courts, and expanding ADR framework, he added.

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2019 ranked Bangladesh 105 and the report also highlighted a profound competitiveness deficit in LDCs, he further said.

Policymakers should take necessary initiatives in association with the private sector for improving the country’s competitiveness, the DCCI president added.

Commercial disputes can be resolved through mediation if encouraged by the regulators, Rizwan said, adding that to overcome the transition of economic graduation and ranking within 100 on the Doing Business index, improvement of competitiveness is a pre-requisite.

Rizwan Rahman also said that the improved competitiveness of Bangladesh will support our investment growth, export diversification, and employment growth.

The government has already introduced various reforms for improvement on the index, said Golam Sarwar.

“We should rejuvenate the private sector with proper policy reforms in arbitration, contract enforcement, and resolving insolvency-related issues. Enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency are inter-dependent, and to facilitate these, we need a pragmatic judicial system,” he said.

“We are going to implement an e-judiciary project to foster effective and speedy disposal of cases, including commercial disputes.”

Steps have been taken to amend the existing Insolvency Act 1997, he added.

For effective settlement of commercial disputes, the government is planning to establish commercial courts in Dhaka and Chittagong, he further said. 

Barrister Md Sameer Sattar presented the keynote paper at the webinar, where he stressed arbitration, mediation, and litigation for speedy dispute resolution.

He also urged for amending the Bankruptcy Act.

Reducing the period of litigation related to commercial disputes between companies’ amendment of the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) is badly needed and e-filing of cases, e-payment of court fees, pre-trial electronic case management, and cost penalty can be introduced, the lawyer said.

Resolving insolvency or bankruptcy plays an integral role in the Ease of Doing Business index and we should emphasize enhancing creditors’ rights and improving the provisions dealing with the administration of the debtors’ assets during insolvency proceedings and establish a regulatory framework for professional insolvency practitioners, he added.

General Manager of Foreign Exchange Investment Department of the Bangladesh Bank Jagannath Chandra Ghosh, Director of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Jibon Krishna Saha Roy, JETRO Bangladesh Representative Kazunori Yamada, Chairman and CEO of PRAN-RFL Group Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, and Managing Director of Oryx Bio-Tech Limited David Bo also spoke at the webinar.

The discussants highlighted that Bangladesh Bank has brought in various reforms like profit repatriation of foreign companies and foreign investors of sales proceeds of share up to Tk1 crore, and introduction of international factoring in Bangladesh.

These may positively impact the next review of the index, the discussants said.

But there is still room for improvement in the VAT system, port capacity, bond capacity, and customs procedures, and the existing documentation process, they added.

Asif Ibrahim, Chairman of Chittagong Stock Exchange, said that the government, private sector, and the bureaucracy should positively and collectively work to do better on the doing business index.

“We need to arrange more public-private dialogues; inter-ministerial collaboration is also important,” he added.

Abul Kasem Khan, chairman of Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD), said the reforms should be fast-tracked so that other countries do not avail the opportunities.

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