Interesting but not so surprising conversation at the end of this post by Shafiur.

In Business Jan 20th, 2008 at 4:55 am

I’m a foreign investor who started an IT business here last year. The business opportunities are substantial — excellent skilled employees, good spoken English, decent internet connection (when the fiber cable isn’t cut!). But the government bureaucracy is horrible. We expend a huge amount of effort trying to do business here. If the opportunities wouldn’t be so good, I’d be ready to start looking for a government that wants to work with investors.

sr Jan 20th, 2008 at 8:20 am

Tell us more about the difficulties you face.

In Business Jan 20th, 2008 at 11:28 am

Here’s just one example…

I’ve recently re-applied for a new work permit. First the office complained that my requested income as managing director/technical lead was too high (similar to an senior software developer salary in America).

Then they said that they need a new security clearance. The agency responsible to give security clearances refuses to re-issue one or send a copy of one from last year, because they said it’s not necessary — they just did one a year ago. We asked whether we can hand-carry the clearance ourselves. They refused.

My family lives with me here in Dhaka. They are needing new visas again Right now, we are needing to get visas for them every three – six months, even though I was given a three year visa from the USA. We applied for the visas six weeks ago.

They still haven’t come. Right now the visa office is saying that they need my new work permit. At the time we applied, my work permit was valid. Of course, by now it has expired because of the problems we are having with having that renewed.

So right now, we are waiting on my work permit and will continue to hassle people until we figure out how to get paperwork moving. In the meantime, my family is without visas, making travel out of the country difficult.

We have faced similar problems again and again and again. Before the caretaker government, we faced corruption (though we have chosen to not pay bribes). Since the new government it’s even harder because everyone is afraid to do anything to help.

I’m excited about the potential here. However, unless the bureaucracy changes, there really isn’t much room for small new business ventures.

sr Jan 20th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Interesting distinction you make concerning what used to happen before the CTG took over. That is what economics predicts – that in the absence of functioning markets you will get corruption to smooth things out. But now markets don’t work that well and the mechanism for ironing out the crinkles , although still very much there, is probably not as routine as it was. Thanks for sharing.

And by the way, after miserably failing in running the government efficiently, in the name of cleasing the country of corruption, that same bureaucracy AKA retired mens’ civil society AKA CTG has snatched the additional duty of ruling the country too.