Cabinet okays bill on licence for tour operators

Guideline for shipbuilding industry approved 

Staff Correspondent | Published: 13:29, Jan 25,2021 | Updated: 23:58, Jan 25,2021


The cabinet on Monday approved the draft of ‘Bangladesh Tour Operator and Tour Guide (Registration and Management) Bill, 2021 making registration mandatory for tour operators.

The draft proposes maximum six-month jail and a fine of Tk 2 lakh for operating tours without licence.

The civil aviation ministry placed the draft with an aim to promote tourism in a more planned manner and earn more revenue from the sector, cabinet secretary  Khandker Anwarul Islam told a press briefing at the secretariat after the weekly cabinet meeting.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the cabinet meeting at the Parliament Bhaban held physically for the first time in the COVID-19 pandemic that had hit the country in March 2020. 

‘Operating tours without a licence is made a punishable offence in the proposed law. One will be jailed for a term of maximum six months with a fine of Tk 2 lakh for violating the law and breaching an agreement with any tourist,’ he said.

He said that many firms were operating tours but the government was losing revenues in the absence of any law to regulate the sector.

Foreign or local tour operators would be able to get registered paying certain amount of fees that will be fixed by the rules to be framed later, he mentioned.

The cabinet secretary said that the government would designate an authority to issue the licence on registration and it would be renewable after every three years. The registration process would be completed online and mobile courts could be operated against the offences, he added. 

The cabinet also endorsed the draft of Boilers Bill, 2021 replacing the Boilers Act, 1923 to ensure safety at work places.

The draft proposes two-year jail with a fine of Tk 2 lakh as maximum punishment for offences, including manipulation of the register mark of a steam boiler.

One can be punished with a penalty of Tk 10,000 for the illegal use of boiler in the existing law.

The industries secretary would chair the boiler board and the office of the Chief Boiler Inspector would be responsible for the inspection of boilers at factories. 

Anwarul said that mobile courts could also be operated against the offences under the boilers law.

The cabinet also approved the ‘Shipbuilding Industry Development Guideline-2021’ with an aim at facilitating the promising industry to reduce dependence on imported ships and increase the export of locally-built ships, he said.

‘Old ship makers in Germany and Italy are closing their industry and we want to catch the opportunity,’ the cabinet secretary added.

Bangladesh has a target to earn $ 4 billion a year by 2025 from exports of ocean-going ships and fishing trawlers, creating employments for around one lakh people in the sector, now employing around 30,000, he added. The country earns around $ 1 billion from the sector.

The cabinet meeting reconstituted a finance minister-led committee formed in 2015 to frame a separate law to coordinate the management of 50 corporations operating under different ministries. The agriculture minister has been included in the six-member committee.

The cabinet was apprised of the reforms and progress in the automation process of the pension system for the government employees made so far since 2009.

The cabinet secretary said that the number of beneficiaries of the government pension was eight lakh, of them four lakh got the retirement benefit through ‘electronic fund transfer’ and another three lakh would come under the automated system by March.  

Asked whether there was any directive from the PM on the COVID-19 vaccination, Anwarul said that the health minister would brief about it.

He, however, said that prime minister had asked all concerned to be more careful in preparing projects and ensuring their proper implementation.  

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