Category Archives: Legal/Regulatory

New IP laws on the cards

New IP laws on the cards
Star Business Report

The government plans to frame three new laws to protect intellectual property rights.

The industries ministry has already drafted Patents Act, 2011 and Industrial Designs Act, 2011 for stakeholders’ opinion before finalisation.

Another law on geographical indications will be finalised soon, said Industries Minister Dilip Barua yesterday.

“Our government has already taken significant steps for creating congenial atmosphere in the country in order to protect and develop IP [intellectual property],” said Barua at a two-day forum on use of IP for technological capacity building for economic growth and development.

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) under industries ministry jointly organised the programme at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital.

The industries minister said the government has already enforced the new Trademarks Act in 2009 to safeguard the intellectual property of businesses and other bodies.

Barua said protection, promotion and management of IP are appearing as important tools for national development in the context of globalisation of trade and commerce and emerging knowledge-based world.

“Intellectual property management is becoming a major element in corporate business management.”

“Companies are forging alliances with each other in order to heighten the value of their IP and to obtain mutually beneficial competitive advantages,” he said, adding IP management, formerly confined to legal departments, is increasingly being handed over to proactive IP departments.

This is especially true in some of the new technology firms which are developing so fast and making huge investments in research and development sectors, Barua said.

He said people of Bangladesh are traditionally innovative, creative and genius. “But due to lack of appropriate technology and IP protection initiative, we cannot utilise our historical talents to achieve the desired level of economic development,” he added.

The minister said the government is trying to strengthen the industrial property administrator DPDT to allow it to play a pivotal role for basic industrial development activities in line with the set target of vision 2021.

He said DPDT has partially been automated under a project and a good number of examiners and staff have also been appointed. Vacant posts of the organisation will be filled up very soon, he added.

Citing example of TRIPS Agreement, Promode Mankin, state minister for cultural affairs, said: “The transition period allowed for LDCs needs to be extended further as no real transfer of technology as envisaged in the agreement has so far been materialised.”

“Therefore we strongly feel that the commitment of the developed countries on transfer of technology should be followed in spirit and in writing,” Mankin said.

Bangladesh should protect its IP to reap greater benefits. He said Bangladesh should frame IP policy in this regard, said Kifle Shenkoru, director of WIPO for the division of least developed countries.

BM Kamal, registrar of DPDT, said the government will take steps to frame rules to protect genetic resources, traditional knowledge and folklore, plant variety and traditional cultural expressions and bio-diversity.


Product certification: Dhaka to vie with global bodies soon

Product certification: Dhaka to vie with global bodies soon

DHAKA, Oct 24 (BSS) – The country would have the capacity soon to provide its manufacturers with accreditation for their goods for greater access to the international markets, Advocate Moinuddin Miaji, Chairman of Bangladesh Accreditation Board (BAB), said here today.

“Our businessmen obtain accreditation from abroad for their produces. The days are not far away when Bangladesh would be competing with international certifying bodies,” he told a meeting in the BAB conference room here.

Echoing Miaji, Industries Minister Dilip Barua said capable businesspeople have to go to many countries including Singapore and Bangkok due to lack of confidence in local certifying bodies.

“We would have to build up confidence in our certifying bodies too,” he said.

Among others, Chairman of Bangladesh Council for Science and Industrial Research (BCSIR) Prof Dr Ahmed Ismail Mostafa, eminent scientist Abul Kalam and BAB director general M Abu Abdullah joined the meeting.

BAB arranged the meeting titled ‘Laboratory accreditation: Promoting Strategy’ to exchange views with members of Association of Testing Laboratories (ATL).

Barua said the government is advancing towards industrialization as industrial units were once considered as dirty and polluted areas but now the concept has been changed.

The industrial units are now being operated with innovations and application of modern technologies, he added.

The industries minister said Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have become key tools to turn Bangladesh into an industrially rich country.

He favoured synchronization of BAB, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), BCSIR and other certifying authorities for greater market access to international market for widening the export basket.

Prof Dr Ahmed linked strengthening local certifying bodies to boosting export and said steps should be taken to transform all labs into accredited ones in phases to this end.

BCSIR has set up a chemical testing laboratory equipped with world standard apparatus and this lab would be launched formally within the next couple of months, he said adding that this lab would help get international acceptability for local products.

Experts say Bangladesh would be able to remove most of the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) regarding exports to neighbouring countries if the country could upgrade its lab to international standard.

10 firms team up over digital land records

10 firms team up over digital land records
Md Hasan

The land record system is up for automation with the help of some local IT firms — a step that promises to reduce hassles and disputes originating from the existing process.

Fake ownership of lands spawns criminal activities in Bangladesh, according to a study. More than 80 percent of criminal activities stem from land disputes, according to the Association for Land Reform and Development, a nongovernmental organisation.

Ten local IT firms have come forward to introduce a digital mapping and land revenue management system. The firms have already formed a company, Terra Tech Ltd, and sought a government go-ahead to start work. The law ministry has hinted at the green light.

Once the system is automated, landowners or buyers will not need to visit more than 10 government offices for documents. All the documents will be uploaded to a database, to which the government officials and people, in some cases, will have access.

“Land management needs reforms immediately with a fully secured automated system,” said Mahboob Zaman, chairman of Terra Tech. He said initially the company will start digitalising land records and registration process of Dhaka by June this year.

Terra Tech has already developed a business model to run the project and urged the government to take it under public-private partnership initiative.

Citing an example, Zaman said the business model could be like that of Chittagong Customs House automation. Zaman’s company, Data Soft, automated the customs house under a deal with the government where both the parties share revenue after a certain period.

“Terra Tech will provide land management services in a few minutes in a sharp contrast to days or weeks required under the existing system. The cost will be lowered and the services will go on uninterrupted,” said Habibullah N Karim, president of Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services.

“The entire infrastructure for the land record system will be built without any government investment,” said Karim whose company, Technohaven Group, is also a member of Terra Tech.

Data Soft, IBCS-PRIMAX Software (Bangladesh) Ltd, Development Planners & Consultants, Business Automation, Techno Vista, Spectrum, E-generation, Technohaven, Upload Yourself and HSTC Ltd form Terra Tech, which has estimated around Tk 25 crore for digitising land records and the registration process in Dhaka city.

Dhaka District Collectorate, Settlement Publication Camp, land record and survey departments, and land offices of Demra, Tejgaon, Mirpur, Dhanmondi and Kotowali will be automated initially.

Terra Tech is offering to provide technology, equipment, manpower and required software to set up computer centres in these offices.

Land digitisation is not new for local software makers.

Projects including Modernisation of Land Administration Project (1995-98), Computerisation of Land Management Systems of Dhaka City Project (2004-06), Dhaka, Manikganj and Gazipur Collectorate Land Record Room computerisation (2005-07), Digital Khatian Preparation Programme (2005), Coastal Land Zoning Project (2009) have already been completed by local software companies.

The Bengal Settlement Regulation 1793 is the first initiative of land management in the region. Later in 1889, a cadastral survey was initiated in Bengal. During the Pakistan regime a revise survey was initiated. However, that survey did not complete.

“Absence of a database is the major reason behind land disputes,” said Mahmudur Rahman, director of Development Planners & Consultants.

“In line with our plan, it will be a comprehensive link-up of all land-related organisations under a single network,” Rahman added.

He said although some digitalisation projects were completed, those did not work because of a lack of maintenance.

He said the existing land records show that maximum lands, even in Dhaka city, are owned by farmers. So, the government is losing a huge amount of revenue from the sector as farmlands are still beyond taxation.

Once the land digitalisation project is completed, the government officials sitting at their offices will be able to see any transformation of lands including infrastructure and ownership.

Bangladesh’s land management has been divided in terms of authorisation, which remains as a problem. The land ministry looks after the survey and record issues, while the law ministry handles the registration process.

The Terra Tech president, however, said a fully automated system will ensure the centralisation of land management.

Regulatory reform experts off to South Korea on study tour

Regulatory reform experts off to South Korea on study tour

A 23-member delegation of Administrative Barrier Review (ABR) Working Group led by Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) Vice President Tariq Karim left for South Korea Sunday on a weeklong study tour.

The purpose of the study tour is to share and enhance experiences with the South Korean public and private sector counterparts on issues related to standards and testing, certification of products, registration of designs and trade marks and VAT administration.

The Korean Development Institute (KDI) will be facilitating the workshops and meetings to be held during the study tour. The Working Group expect that this shared knowledge will contribute to the private sector development in Bangladesh, says a press release.

Earlier, the ABR Working Group visited several government offices and private sector organisations to gather practical knowledge on how those organisations are dealing with respective ABR issues in Bangladesh.

RRCG Programme Coordinator Hasan Imam and Investment Policy Analyst of IFC-BICF Miah Rahmat Ali will also accompany the delegation.

More manpower for BSTI soon

More manpower for BSTI soon
Barua tells DCCI
Star Business Report

The government plans to strengthen the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) with additional manpower and modern equipment, said the industries minister yesterday.

“BSTI has been suffering from a severe crisis in manpower. We are trying to strengthen it to ensure the quality of our products,” Dilip Barua told a delegation from the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DCCI) at his office.

He said the government has already approved the appointment of 113 new persons in BSTI on Tuesday, as part of the process.

The minister urged the manufacturers to be cautious against the production and campaign of contaminated and substandard products and strictly follow the quality guidance set by BSTI.

Barua said the government considers formulating a draft for a new industrial policy by April.

“We previously had an industrial policy that was never implemented properly and lacked industry-friendly directions,” he said.

“We are going to form a committee soon in this regard, which would emphasise attracting investment from both local, non-resident Bangladeshi and foreign entrepreneurs, create more employment and develop and patron the local industries,” he added.

Barua said the government also considers reviewing the bank’s high interest rate, seen as a major problem that hinders new entrepreneurship.

Zafar Osman, president of DCCI, said the government should review the present duty structure and take an initiative to reduce import duty on raw materials and ingredients for our local industries.

He said the government should take specific measures to patron and safeguard the small and medium enterprises, including the light engineering sector.

He stressed developing a special industrial zone for different sectors, such as RMG, pharmaceuticals and leather industry, and creating a database on the entire industrial sector.

He also emphasised organising training programmes for labourers in different factories that would eventually improve the present condition of the industrial sector.

MS Shekil Chowdhury, senior vice president, and Mohammad Sirajuddin Malik, vice president of the chamber, were also present at the meeting.

Regulatory reforms: Korean experience

Regulatory reforms: Korean experience

Republic of Korea, once known to be one of the world’s poorest agro-based societies like us, has undertaken economic development in earnest since 1962.

In less than four decades, it achieved what has become known as the “Miracle on the Hangang (river)”- an incredible process that dramatically transformed the otherwise divided economy while marking a turning point in Korea’s history.

South Korea recently pulled through an economic storm that began in late 1997. This crisis, which roiled markets all across Asia, has threatened Korea’s remarkable economic achievements.

The Korean government’s strong resolve for reform and successful negotiation of foreign debt restructuring with creditor-banks led to resumption of economic growth.

With introduction of reforms, the number of regulations in South Korea fell from 10,554 in 1998 to 7,812 in 2003, to 5,112 in 2007.

The cost of establishing and operating business has fallen drastically due to fewer administrative regulations. Simplified regulations have decreased the time and number of tasks necessary to establish a business by 40 percent and reduced administrative costs tenfold.

It was stated by Dr Gil Hong-Geun, director general at Prime Minister’s Office of Korea, on January 7 this year to the Bangladesh Regulatory Reform Core Group that comprised of mid-level officials from different ministries, including Bangladesh Bank and Chamber representatives.

Strong support from the political circle, business and the public, well designed institutional setting and clear quantitative targets with whole of government approach are, among others, the success factors for the regulatory reforms in Korea, Gil pointed out.

The Bangladesh team visited Korea Regulatory Reform Office, Prime Minister’s Office, Anti-corruption and Civil Rights Commission, Korea Customs Service, Korea Post, Hanjin (Shipping Service), Seoul Transport Operation and Operation Service offices to see reform process there.

The Bangladesh team was informed that in the backdrop of 1997 financial crisis leading to severe recession in 1998 with output falling by 7 percent, Korea initiated the regulatory reforms. The country constituted the Regulatory Reforms Committee (RRC) through enactment of law.

The Korea RRC sets the general direction of the regulatory reform and coordinates the overall regulatory reform activities. It controls the duplications of regulations and inconsistencies of policies between ministries by reviewing all draft regulations.

In Korea, a ministry has to make request to the RRC for regulatory review of a proposal for regulation with the opinion of stakeholders, Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) and self-review results. Citizens and NGOs can submit their comments. RRC also invites stakeholders during the review process. Decisions made by RRC have been decisive (binding for all). After having cleared by RRC, the proposal is, then, subject to review by Cabinet Council and National Assembly, where necessary. RRC is not, however, involved in minor issues. Even RIA is not required for all cases.

The RRC makes public the bills it reviews, the review results and other regulatory process through the homepage. Also it is compulsory to make public a white paper on the status of regulatory reform every year. The current laws and policies of each ministry can be found at the Ministry of Government Legislation homepage ( or the respective ministry homepage. Also, each ministry has to register with RRC the name, details, legal basis and processing body regarding the regulation of its responsibility.

RIA, introduced in Korea in 1998 by enactment of law, enables the public officials in charge of designing regulations to take informed decisions on how to make regulations viable, sound and effective.

Assessment areas and factors for RIA include: overview of regulation in question, identifying regulated entities and stakeholders, lifetime of regulation, short description of both the existing regulation being reviewed and the new regulation being developed and regulation mapping, i.e., the mapping of relationship between the regulatory proposal in question and the existing regulations relating to it, cost-benefit-analysis of alternatives to the regulation in question. The ministry concerned must gather public opinions during the stipulated 20-day notice and comment period and report the results of its review to those who provided inputs on the relevant regulatory proposals.

After having reduced the number of regulations to a substantial level, the recent goal of the Korean government for the regulatory reform is achieving regulatory quality and national competitiveness at the level of advanced countries, said Prof Chin Seung Chung of Korea Development Institute. He said after successful early stage Quantitative Approach, they are now moving to Qualitative Approach. It is a shift from regulator-oriented regulation to user-oriented regulation and shift from government-only effort to joint government-private effort.

The Korea RRC has conducted surveys every year to hear the public and experts’ opinions on the regulatory reform. The results of survey have been used as feedbacks in setting future policy directions every year. The results over the last three years have shown consistency, most of the respondents expressed positive, but not satisfactory views on the government’s strong commitment to reform.

Media are also very vigilant. In a recent review, The Korea Herald wrote: regulations often lack clear standards, procedures and outcomes, and there is too much discretion given during their execution. They often have ambiguous standards and complex procedures, which leads to unreliable outcomes. Many regulations are unrealistic. They are difficult to execute and create an environment in which they end up either being absent or failing to serve their original purpose.

Prof Chin Seung Chung, a former vice-minister, stressed the need for regulatory transparency. He said government officials want to retain regulations to enjoy more power. Prof Chin criticised the involvement of the bureaucrats in the key events of reform process. He even questioned why the RRO is in Prime Minister’s office.

Now let us look back to the regulatory reform process in our country. Reform is a continued process. It was initiated earlier in the banking sector. It is a success story. There are also reforms in other sectors. Though there exists Law Commission etc in our country, the immediate past caretaker government actually made ignition by constituting the Regulatory Reforms Commission (RRC) headed by Dr Akbar Ali Khan. The 17-member RRC was formed by a notification, not by an ordinance. Five of all part-time members are from private sector. It is presently a recommending body.

There are two things we need to address immediately. One is to introduce RIA process for new rule/regulation at the ministry/agency level. Another is to give RRC an institutional and permanent shape, preferably through enactment of law. All the country’s primary and secondary laws, including the proposed one, should be required to be cleared by the RRC, whatever name we shall call the body. This will definitely improve governance standard in our country. With better international credibility and improved regulatory consistency and predictability, we can become one of the most attractive investment hubs in Asia.

National body for consumers’ rights protection formed

National body for consumers’ rights protection formed


The government has formed a high-powered national body for drafting rules and regulations in line with the recently promulgated ‘Consumers Right Protection Ordinance-2008’ to shield the consumers from market foul plays, officials said Sunday.

The 21-member body under the name, ‘National Consumer Right Protection Parishad (NCRPP)’, is headed by the commerce Minister. A gazette notification to this effect was published in the first week of this month.

The NCRPP was formed after President Dr Iajuddin Ahmed promulgated the much-awaited Consumer Right Protection Ordinance (CRPO)-2008.

The Ordinance — first of its kind in the history of Bangladesh — would provide the government and the consumers the ‘necessary tools’ to detect market distortions and rein in ‘abnormal price hikes’ that have long been major causes of sufferings to the consumers.

The successive governments have tried to enact laws to curb hoarding and market manipulations, but their attempts failed mainly due to opposition by the vested interest groups.

The caretaker administration stepped up its effort to formulate the consumer protection law early this year amid soaring commodity prices, caused by a global spike and speculation and hoarding by some big traders in the country.

Experts and economists then said the absence of an effective consumer protection and competition laws has allowed the big traders to manipulate the situation at the expense of millions of the country’s poor consumers.

The 21-member NCRPP includes senior officials from the ministries of commerce, agriculture, fisheries, disaster management, home affairs, energy and law, Bangladesh Police, Drug Administration, Bangladesh Rifles, civil society, Jatiya Mahila Sangstha, National Security Intelligence (NSI) and the Bangladesh Standard Testing Institution.

The Parishad also includes presidents of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceuticals Industry, the Consumers’ Association of Bangladesh and National Press Club as members with director general of the consumer protection directorate as its member secretary.

The terms of reference empowers the parishad to make its recommendation to the government’s regarding consumers welfare.

The NCPRP will also be responsible to extend cooperation to the government while the latter would formulate new law and policies for further strengthening the consumers’ right.