Md A H Siddiqee:
From a report published on different on line news portals ,the Business community watches the Govt’s move to amend the Trade Organization Ordinance-1961, an age old Act which needs to be reformed. But it appears from the proposed (draft) amendment that the Govt is willing to take initiative to control the business Organizations more tightly rather than making time-fitting amendments to this Act. This Act ushers the way for the Associations to function under the leadership of the FBCCI. So, the proposed (draft) amendment is very important for the Business community’s Association so that they can protect the interest of the Association concerned. This ordinance, however, has been amended several times over the year for many reasons by the previous governments; and it is believed that these amendments were made with a view to improving the overall scenario of Trade and commerce in the country. Repelling the existing Act, the present Govt. on June 29th, 2011 has published the proposed (draft) amendment namely the Trade Organization Ain – 2011 for eliciting opinions, suggestion or, objection, if any.
Like others, we also appreciate Govt’s move to amend this obsolete Act which badly needs to be reformed. Regrettably, the Govt seems to ignore the demands raised by the Business community. Many apprehend that the proposed Act will politicize the trade organizations and might be used as govt’s tool of politics as the proposed Act is maimed at controlling trade organizations including the FBCCI. Many alleged that with this proposed (draft) amendment namely the Trade Organization Ordinance- 2011, the Govt will control the FBCCI, the highest trade Body of the country, by nominating pro-government people in the office of the FBCCI.
Many Chambers, associations and the General Members of the FBCCI have been demanding a change in this Act to elect the President, vice – President through direct voting system over the years .This vital point of the Business community is, however, totally ignored by the Govt. Rather, the Govt, has published this proposed (draft) amendment by inserting many new sections to make it controllable for the Govt, and deterrent for the Business community.
Now, let us have some discussions on the proposed (draft) amendment section wise.
1. a. Sub-section c of section 3 has proposed that to get any license for any Chamber, the minimum number of the members of the said Chamber should be 400. In the existing Act, there is nothing like this. So, it should be lessened to 100 from 400
b. Sub-section b of section 3 has proposed that an association may be established with at least 100 members to represent any business or service sector. We think that the figure is too much and it should be minimized to 50 from 100.
2. Sub-section c of section 9 has proposed that the tenure of any trade organization except the FBCCI will be expired in 6 years. We think that there should not be time limit of the license of any trade organization.
3. Sub-section a of section 5 has proposed that all Chambers and Associations except the FBBCI will be required to renew their license after 6 years. We suggest that the section should be excluded completely. If any trade organization starts functioning once, it should be allowed to continue for all the time to come.
4. Section 6 has focused light on the cancellation of license. As we have recommended that the Section regarding renewal of license to be repelled; this section also needs to be repealed.
5. Section 7 has focused light on the matter of Merger. Regarding this section, we recommend that trade organizations should be based on sector wise. Sector wise representatives will become Directors of the FBCCI by means of election. With this process, the numbers of Chambers will be minimized with actual representation.
6. Sub-section c of section 14 has proposed that the tenure of the Executive Committee of trade organizations will be 3 years. We oppose this; and demand that this should be minimized to 2 years. A new Sub-section should be inserted in this section that the Executive Committee of any trade organizations including the FBCCI will be required to be elected through direct voting system; and accordingly the Sub-section relating the clause that tells that the Office bearers of FBCCI will be nominated will be repealed.
7. In Electing the Directors of FBCCI, the FBCCI should introduce a representative system based on sector. There should be a direct voting system. Specific numbers of members from each section will take part into the Election.
8. The Trade Organization Ordinance- 2011 needs to be totally recast to incorporate the demands of the stakeholders.
9. Section 12 has proposed a bar that will prevent a member from running the elections for the office of Trade Organizations more than two times.
10. Section 33 has proposed that a penalty to be imposed upon any Trade Organization for violating the sections as articulated in this Act will be fined for an amount of TK Fifty thousands . We suggest that the section should be excluded completely.
11. Section 31 relates regulations of penalty. As there will be no penalty, this may be deleted.
12. A fund should be developed named The Trade Organization Development Funds by imposing levy on all import expenditure at the rate of .025% . With this fund, financial ability of the FBCCI, all chambers, and associations can be increased; and these Organizations will not suffer from any fund crisis to function.
Previously known to be an agrarian country, Bangladesh is heading for industrialization rapidly. For rapid industrialization, democracy is a must. Any deterrent Act can badly hamper this process. We feel that the Govt. will consider the Business Community as friends not as enemies. For last two years, this matter was left in hibernation, why the govt is going with this Ain at an hour when the country is suffering from serious political unrest is not understood. The ministry must trade some time to the stakeholders for this Ain to be enacted. Otherwise, we may have negative repercussions which can badly affect the Industry.