ONE STOP SERVICE LAW AND EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
The One Stop Service Act 2018 (hereafter referred to as “OSS”) was recently promulgated by the Government of Bangladesh in a significant step toward facilitating the establishment and operation of enterprises in Bangladesh by foreign investors.
What one-stop service entails:
Some 37–38 services are listed in Schedule-B of the Act in accordance with the definition of One Stop Service in Section 2(2) of that act. Central or regional OSS centers are responsible for providing the services. The law further stipulates that the services described in the act as one-stop services shall be provided by four recognized bodies.
Who supplies it:
The service is offered through the Central or Regional one-stop service centers. Four organizations meet the criteria to offer each of the OSS services mentioned in Schedule-B, as defined by the Central One Stop Service Center. The four organizations are Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority, Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority, Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority, and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA).
There must be a designated officer in charge of each of the Central and Regional OSS. The ‘focal point’ as defined by the law is this person.
There are already at least two OSS centers, one at BIDA and the other at BEZA.
Regional and Central OSS:
The four aforementioned organizations make up the Central OSS. The Regional OSS are those that will be formed in Bangladesh under the auspices of the four organizations, typically in key locations and only in areas where the four organizations already have offices. For instance, BEZA might have offices scattered throughout Bangladesh where it operates economic zones. The government will review the proposal from the Four organizations and form a Regional OSS after considering it, according to a published official gazette.
Routine Business Procedures and Economic Zone:
The One Stop Service (Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority) Rules 2018 are a collection of regulations that the government has also released in accordance with the OSS Act of 2018. Applications to BEZA and investors investing in any of the numerous economic zones the Bangladeshi government has established, as well as those BEZA has approved to conduct business in the private sector, are subject to these laws.
According to the Rules, all services delivered in accordance with the OSS must follow Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The Focal Point must accomplish duties and offer services within the time frames required by the rules and as specified in the schedule with respect to each service, according to Section 9 of the Rules, which is very clear about this.
This represents a significant improvement. This will guarantee that applications are handled methodically, with no need for discretion or human intervention, and most importantly, that permits, clearances, and the like are promptly made available to the investor. This will have a big effect on the ease of doing business index, propel Bangladesh above its competitors, and provide investors with a welcome reprieve.
Other organizations outside BEZA must also have SOPs to get rid of any human discretion along the route, which is essential to creating the climate needed to draw in foreign investment.
Construction of an OSS online portal
According to the Rules, BEZA is required to provide an OSS gateway in a timely manner in order to support automation. Any investor would be able to apply for the listed services through the portal once the website is up and running, and upon direct submission of the necessary documents onto the OSS portal. However, BIDA already has a functioning web portal.
According to Section 6 of the act, investors must submit an application to one of the Central OSS in order to request the OSS. The application will be discussed in a committee meeting, and OSS must then be delivered promptly if it is approved. In addition, the law states that, with the exception of Central and Regional OSS, investors do not need to apply to any other department for any permits, licenses, clearances, or similar services.
The law offers a comprehensive structure for controlling the OSS. A committee with the Minister as its chair is required by law. Quarterly reports on progress are required from the Central and Regional OSS.
In accordance with Section 9, any Focal Point (authorized person) who does not deliver a service in a timely manner will be reported back to the organization for which he works. As per the norms of the specific organization, prompt action would be taken against that officer.
Synergy between the authorities:
Each of the four organizations only offered liaison services between the numerous government agencies that are in charge of awarding permits, licenses, and approvals for an overseas investor prior to the passage of this act.
By seeking out only one of the four organizations—the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA), Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA), or Bangladesh Hi Tech Part Authority (BHPA), this law introduces a paradigm shift in how businesses looking to enter Bangladesh will be able to do so in a time-bound manner and with some element of predictability. Bangladesh will go up in the list for business ease as a result of this.