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Logistics in Bangladesh
Regulations need to be non-discriminatory
Ershad Khandker

The logistics industry in Bangladesh has been in need of streamlining for some time. There are problems on the ground that need to be addressed. This being the case, when action has been contemplated to improve the situation, the result has been less than satisfactory with more barnacles appearing under the ship to make navigation even more difficult, so to speak.
The service providers known as logistics companies play a crucial part in some very important sectors of the national economy. The survival of the sectors, including the readymade garments (RMG) does, to some extent, depend on the logistics companies. In all other sectors of the economy, the logistics companies also have an essential part to play. They provide the essential services, making sure that movements of goods and services related to whole sectors of the economy take place seamlessly. The supply of raw materials to factories and essential goods to private and government service providers also takes place via the logistics companies. The export items are carried through different internal points of Bangladesh to external destinations by the logistics industry. The supply chain management of goods and services of the national economy is done by the logistics industry.
Supply chain management entails keeping strict quality control and meeting deadline that are equally strict. We also know that lead-time, or the time it takes to deliver exportable goods to the buyer is of tremendous importance. The logistics industry is preoccupied with these three points on a day-to-day basis. In a highly competitive and complex environment in which the world economy now operates, the logistics industry needs to be able to maintain lead time, quality and deadline in order to be able to keep our exports competitive.
This important logistics sector however, is beset with some degree of uncertainly when it comes to some sections of regulatory and operational standard. The regulations pertaining to registration of freight forwarding companies are kept pending. There are issues relating to the rules and regulations that deserve to be looked into and settled promptly. The two associations representing the logistics industry, the Association of Cargo Agents Of Bangladesh (ACAB) and the International Freight Forwarders Association of Bangladesh (IFFAB) have articulated the views regarding the need for certain changes in registration of freight forwarding companies, banking and other matters. Their main concern pertains to the situation regarding registration of freight forwarding companies. At present, any person can open up a freight forwarding company. That is a dangerous situation because one should have certain specific qualifications in terms of institutional and financial capacity as well as the right manpower to operate as a freight forwarding company. Freight forwarding is highly specialised job which is quite important for the national economy. A set of rules that would make registration uniform is now under consideration of the authorities concerned. However, the proposed regulations have created confusion and given rise to surprise because those discriminate between local and foreign logistics companies.
There are certain specific changes being requested by the freight forwarding companies regarding banking, documentation and procedures pertaining to foreign exchange regulations. At the first glance, it becomes clear that the changes being requested would be beneficial to the national economy and would make shipments of goods quicker and more seamless. There should be transparent discussions on these issues. A definite time table should be fixed so that decisions can be taken expeditiously to make the workings of the logistics industry hassle-free.