Updated on : 13-02-2018
Bangladesh is keen to speed up the international trade process and make it more transparent by introducing electronic and online solutions, which would increase the volume of international goods being unloaded and reduce the costs and time of a business operation.
A project titled “Bangladesh Regional Communication Project-1: National Single Window (NSW) implementation and Customs Modernisation Strengthening” was approved at a meeting of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday at the NEC Conference Room Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the city. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said that a total of eight projects were approved by the ECNEC at an overall estimated cost of Tk. 15,221.75 crore.
"Of the total cost, Tk 3,767.84 crore will come from the state exchequer and Tk. 10,924.62 crore from the organisation's own fund, while the rest of Tk. 529.29 crore will come from project assistance," the minister added.
Of the approved projects, six are new and two are revised projects.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR), under the Internal Resources Division (IRD), will implement the National Single Window (NSW) project at a cost of Tk. 585.39 crore by June 2020. Of the total project cost, the World Bank (WB) will provide Tk. 529.29 crore as project assistance, while the rest of Tk. 56.10 crore will come from the state coffers.
According to WB documents, despite some automation associated with the submission and processing of Customs declarations, much of the overall process remains paper-based and inefficient, resulting in a layer of complexity and delay for border clearance. This also acts as a costly impediment to private sector competitiveness, thus negatively influencing the trade and investment environment. The introduction of electronic and online solutions will facilitate faster and more transparent international trade procedures, reduce costs, and make the whole process consistent from the start of the regulatory requirements to the clearance of goods.
The NSW will deliver a user-friendly electronic system that streamlines and automates procedures for registered private sector stakeholders and government agencies for international trade-related permits, licenses, certificates and Customs declarations.
The "Customs modernisation strengthening" sub-component will focus on the adaptation of modern approaches to the Customs administration in line with international standards.
Under the BBIN (Bangladesh–Bhutan–India–Nepal) regional framework, complementary activities to facilitate regional trade and connectivity are being pursued by the four countries. The planning minister said that once the project is implemented, trade and commerce activities would be facilitated.
A significant proportion of Bangladesh’s international trade procedures, particularly those concerned with documentation preparation in advance of cargo clearance, continue to be managed manually and require submission of multiple copies of documents at various regulatory government agencies involved in international trade.
The ECNEC approved the "Development of infrastructures of countrywide rural bazaars" project, which involves an estimated cost of Tk. 1,730 crore, to set up about 520 rural markets across the country to facilitate the marketing of farm and non-farm products.
The planning minister said that the local government engineering department (LGED), under the Local Government Division, will implement this project by June 2020 with government funds.
The ECNEC also approved the "Construction of apartments for the low and mid-income people at Uttara Sector-18 (1st revised)" with an increased cost of Tk. 10,902.21 crore to be entirely implemented from Rajuk funds.
The planning minister said that in the revised proposal, the executing agency had proposed to build some 15,036 flats—11,004 flats measuring 1,250 sq ft and 4,032 flats measuring 1,050 sq ft. But Sheikh Hasina, also the chairperson of the ECNEC, has directed the authorities concerned to build another 1,000 flats measuring 850 sq ft for low- and mid-income groups, he added.
(Courtesy: The Independent )
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