There is a separate authority to prevent disputes between government departments regarding land allocation
The government is going to create a separate authority to prevent disputes between one government department and another department regarding land allocation in Maheshkhali upazila of Cox’s Bazar. It has been named Maheshkhali-Matarbari Industrial and Commercial Zone Authority.
This new authority will ensure all kinds of facilities including approval of industrial and commercial establishments, land allocation, services, licenses in Maheshkhali area. The draft law for setting up the authority is in its final stage. It is expected to be brought up in the Cabinet meeting soon for approval.
According to the draft law, the head office of the authority will be in Maheshkhali. However, if necessary, the government can set up its liaison office at any place. It will be headed by a Chairman to manage the Authority. There will be four executive members. There will also be a Secretary, who will be of the rank of Joint Secretary to the Government.
However, experts are not in favor of forming a separate authority for Maheshkhali industrial and commercial zone. They say that if there is another new authority, the bureaucratic complexity will increase. Several officers will get good positions if they are in authority. There will be multi-storied buildings, cars will be given to officials. Accommodation will be arranged. But even if the officials are appointed there, they will try to remain Dhaka-centric. Apart from that, as many authorities as have been in the last decade, they have not yet reached the desired speed. As a result, there will be no work done by the new authority.
In this context, former Cabinet Secretary Ali Imam Majumdar told Prothom Alo that past experience shows that the officials working there do not want to stay outside Dhaka as many government agencies exist outside Dhaka. They spend most of their time in Dhaka. Even if the new authority is outside Dhaka, those who will be appointed there will also be facing Dhaka. As a result, there is doubt about the effective role of the authority with which the goal is being formed.
Ali Imam Majumdar said that the projects that are going on in Maheshkhali can be managed by the government only with the existing structure. There is no need to form a new authority.
The government is considering Maheshkhali and Matarbari area as an emerging power in the economy. Meanwhile, the work of establishing deep sea port, power plant, LNG terminal, economic zone is going on here. New char is rising around Maheshkhali. There is a scramble between the government departments to get the land allotment. Officials of the Prime Minister’s Office say that in addition to coordinating the work of government agencies in this area, initiatives have been taken to form an authority to provide all types of services from one place.
Information received from the Prime Minister’s office says that 37 development projects are currently underway in Maheshkhali and Matarbari areas of Cox’s Bazar. Notable among these are Matarbari deep sea port, 120 MW power plant, 2 economic zones, gas line, floating LNG terminal, Sonadia Eco Tourism Park. Officials say that various departments of the government are implementing these projects separately. As a result, work is not being coordinated, disruption is happening. That’s why the idea of making a new authority.
However, several sections of the draft law have already been questioned. As stated in section 43, the Authority shall have a fund. Where tax rate, toll fee and service charge will be added.
Currently the local administration is collecting taxes in this area. Besides, Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority (BEZA) will collect taxes from their investors. Again the new authority will collect the tax. In this, an investor has to pay taxes, service charges and toll fees at several places. Double taxation will create dissatisfaction among traders.
When asked, Beza’s executive chairman Sheikh Yusuf Harun told Prothom Alo, “We have raised the issue so that investors do not have to pay double taxes.” I have requested to remove this clause. He said that many government offices work in Maheshkhali. There is no coordination of one department with another department. There is a separate authority to coordinate the work of all.
However, the experience of the authorities which have been formed in the country in the past period is not pleasant. As the Public-Private Partnership or PPP authority was formed a century ago. They have managed to complete only one project in this long journey. Apart from that, PPP Act was passed in 2015. Seven years have passed since the law was passed, but they have not yet finalized the rules. Generally the law is in abbreviated form. Rules detail how an organization will be run. As a result, the PPP project did not speed up. The same picture is for Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Skill Development Authority (NSDA). The desired speed did not come in these two institutions.
What will be the work of the Maheshkhali-Matarbari Industrial and Commercial Zone Authority has been said in the draft law. The agency will adopt a master plan for the Maheshkhali-Matarbari area. There will divide the area according to the type of industry and trade. They will do traffic management, water supply, sewage system. Can allot land or buildings to local and foreign investors. According to the master plan, land will be allotted to industrial and commercial establishments according to their needs. Investors will be given one-stop services including licenses, clearances, incentives.
Several policy makers of the government told Prothom Alo that if a new authority is formed for the Maheshkhali-Matarbari area, there will be complications in working with the local administration. Apart from that, it will take a lot of time to set up offices for authorities, accommodation for officials and employees, and to fix their scope of work. After the formation of the authority, the relevant ministries of the government will support it, also about how much