‘BD can attract more US investment if they ensure less corruption than other markets’22 March 2023
Economic Reporter :
If Bangladesh can assure US citizens and investors that corruption is less prevalent here than in other markets, it will attract more investment, said US Ambassador Peter Haas.
"Corruption is a parasite that feeds on the resources of a society and drains it of its strength. It can devastate every level of business and government," the ambassador said during the "Call to Action Against Corruption Summit" held at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka on Tuesday (21 March).
He said the United States is committed to working with Bangladesh to eliminate corruption, to enable Bangladeshi citizens to enjoy lives of dignity and inviting more international trade and foreign investment.
"We support initiatives that help Bangladeshi businesses meet international standards and regulations, making them more competitive in the global market."
By promoting ethical business practices, a more level playing field can be created for businesses of all sizes and encourage more foreign investment, said Peter Haas.
Bangladesh has many advantages that potential investors would find attractive, he said, adding, "But as American business leaders tell me: multi-national firms have options on where they invest."
He said those will choose whichever country has the lowest levels of corruption, the fewest bureaucratic obstacles, the greatest respect for rule of law, and the best logistics infrastructure for their business.
So, if Bangladesh can attract more investment only by assuring citizens and investors that corruption is less prevalent here than in other markets, he said.
US effort in Bangladesh
The US Agency for International Development, USAID, has partnered with Bangladesh's Registrar of Joint Stock Companies to launch an online registration process for new businesses. This makes registering new businesses more transparent, faster, and more affordable.
The USAID has also worked with the Bangladesh National Board of Revenue to establish Authorized Economic Operators. This has empowered the private sector, instead of the government, to release shipments at ports.
As a result, the process has become more transparent and raised the level of trust between the private sector and the government.
The US Department of Commerce's Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) works with the Private Public Partnership Authority Bangladesh to conduct workshops to improve the legal and business environment of Bangladesh.
The CLDP also works with Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) to improve municipal governance by improving fiscal transparency. Under this programme, the CLDP brought a DNCC delegation, including the mayor, to Miami in January.
The US Department of Justice trains investigators and attorneys in the Anti-Corruption Commission on such topics as how to investigate and prosecute money laundering, how to use electronic evidence, and how to investigate financial crimes.
It has also fostered a relationship between Bangladesh's Financial Intelligence Unit and the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre. The United States is committed to holding corrupt officials accountable for their actions. This can take various forms, said US Ambassador Peter Haas.
Peter Haas's statement comes a day after the US State Department released the report "2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices." According to the report, recent elections were "neither free nor fair because they were marred by serious irregularities." The report said corruption remained a serious problem in 2022. "Freedom House's annual report noted 'corruption is endemic, and anticorruption efforts have been weakened by politicized enforcement'," it said.