The government is set to amend a law to seek information from foreigners living in Bangladesh about their foreign exchange holdings and property. Finance Minister AMA Muhith placed the Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill-2015 in Parliament on Monday. Now the Standing Committee on the Ministry of Finance will examine it and give its views within a month.
The Foreign Exchange and Securities Regulation Act of 1947 was amended in 1976 and 2003. Although the changes made the law precise in respect of Bangladeshi citizens, ambiguities persisted when it came to foreigners residing in the country. The new Bill says the fresh amendments will make the law applicable to Bangladesh nationals and foreigners alike.
If needed, they will enable the “government and the Bangladesh Bank to seek information from foreign nationals living in the country about the foreign exchange and foreign securities held by them as well as about their immovable and other property”.
Amendment has defined such terms as ‘currency’. ‘securities’, ‘exchange’, ‘account’, transaction’, ‘services’, ‘capital account transaction’, and ‘goods’. Muhith said the amendment aimed at making the law suitable to the needs of the times. He said an increase in foreign investments and expansion of international trade had necessitated the changes. Without the amendments, Bangladesh would run into difficulties in matters of foreign investments and international trade, he said.
The proposed Bill has done away with the provision of Bangladesh Bank clearance for seeking licence to serve as an ‘agent’ in business transactions. Foreign establishments wishing to open their branches or liaison offices in the country would not have to give prior information to the Bangladesh Bank any more. The Bill says they can start work with the sanction of the board but would have to inform the central bank within a month, agencies report.