The World Bank Business report 2018 published on October 31 had mixed signals for Bangladesh. On the whole, we scored more points than the preceding year, but the increased costs associated with starting a new business and some other indicators cost Bangladesh one full point in the rankings. We top only Afghanistan among the eight South Asian countries and scored 40.99 out of 100 while our previous score was 40.84.
Costs associated with starting a business that includes various permits remain a major stumbling block for new businesses and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority is apparently working to resolve these issues. Problems that continue to exist on getting utility services like electricity and water connections have not been addressed while progress on registering property remains the same despite much talk about reforms.
The report's findings are not totally surprising, given our lack of movement on these crucial factors that are prerequisites to any business—small or large. They have a direct bearing on both domestic and foreign investment in Bangladesh. This explains why our overall grade has fallen noticeably in a number of areas ranging from starting a business (131 from last year's 122); access to credit fell two points, protecting minority investors went down six points from preceding year and the time it takes to get permits fell by eight points. These are some of the more noticeable areas where we have allowed ourselves to fall behind. It is easy to talk about reform but only sheer political will to effect change can have a positive impact on Bangladesh's rating in next year's report.