Outsiders at the helm of controlling trade license

Two Dhaka city corporations’ licensing supervisors are unscrupulously outsourcing their jobs by engaging outside employees, who are being paid by the supervisors, smelling foul in the designated activities of city corporations’ employees. As usual, a licensing supervisor of the city corporation has been entrusted with the task of properly scrutinising and approving trade license applications to issue new licenses, renew licenses, deposit the license fees and so on. 

But most of the licensing supervisors of the two Dhaka city corporations are away from doing their jobs by themselves. Each of the supervisors is allegedly has five or ten external employees whom they pay 500 to 600 taka each daily out of their own pockets. These employees are not working under the city corporations but the supervisors use them to do all their tasks. All the trade-license related overhead costs are also collected through them. These employees are being used for the important tasks of issuing and renewing all trade licenses of the capital city.

According to the city corporation sources, these outsiders do almost all the tasks except signing the files. They can be found at the regional offices for the issuance or renewal of trade licenses. They also act as brokers for license supervisors. They sign contracts with customers on the condition of getting licenses for them. If a customer tries to issue a new license or renew his license without them, then they try to find fault in the customer’s papers. Thus the customers are forced to go to the outsiders.

The license supervisors collect the fees through them as well. Often they collect unnecessary fees of Tk 10,000 up to Tk 1 lakh. DNCC mayor Md Atikul Islam said, ‘We are going to investigate the matter. Outsiders cannot be allowed to work in this way. The employees who are working with these outsiders will be dealt with harshly.’

Abdul Hamid Mia, chief revenue officer of DNCC, said, ‘Recently, we have raided the Karwan Bazaar (zone 5) office and found 8 to 10 such outsiders. We have arrested them and sent them to jail. If the situation remains unchanged then it becomes a challenge for us. We cannot conducts drives every day. It is also the responsibility of regional executives, deputy revenue officers and tax officials to look into it. If they were strict then this wouldn’t have happened.’

There are complaints that these outside agents charge an additional amount of 10 to 15 thousand taka. In the case of hospitals diagnostic centres, restaurants and residential hotels they charge an extra 50,000 taka. License supervisors do not submit trade license fees to the DNCC's treasury. Under the rules, trade licenses cannot be issued or renewed against any residential institution.

The outside agents often submit documents even all the correct paperwork is not submitted in exchange of large sums of money. Some corrupt tax officials also take a percentage of the sum. An official of the DNCC's Revenue Department said most of those currently serving as licensing supervisors at two regional offices in two cities are not licensed supervisors. Due to lack of manpower, assistants, ledger-keepers accounts assistants and others have been given the job of licensing supervisors.

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