Increased House Rent Forced to Lessen Expenditure on Regular Needs
Study on State of Cities 2017: Housing in Dhaka

SoC Press launch52 percent of the house rent fixed by the landlords in the beginning and generally did undergo revisions from time to time. 67 percent tenants experienced revision of initial rent compared to 33 percent of households that experienced 'no change'. Meanwhile, 50 percent of households said that their rent increased annually followed by approximately 25 percent of households reporting that their rents were the same for the first two years and then increased annually. Excessive house rent is one of the foremost reasons for increased living costs in the capital as most of the dwellers have to pay the largest part of their monthly income for housing, a recent study has found. As a result, they are left with no other alternative but to reduce expenditure on essentials like food, clothing, education and entertainment in order to cope with the costs. These were some of the findings revealed at the press launching of a study on housing in Dhaka.

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, BRAC University launched its annual flagship research report titled the State of Cities 2017: Housing in Dhaka, through media on December 31, 2017 at the city. The research was also conducted a survey on 401 households in four selected areas in the capital city including old Dhaka, Mirpur, Rampura and Badda in middle of this year.
The study showed that 82 percent of tenants surveyed spent more than 30 percent of their income in house rents. Among them 44 percent of the surveyed tenants spent as high as 45 percent of their income on renting a house and buying utility services.

Meanwhile, paying high price for accommodation the tenants are unable to get well equipped residence to deal with disasters like breaking out of fire or earthquake. The study found that about 95 percent residential buildings have no fire escape and 99.3 percent tenants never attended a fire drill. It also showed that 70.8 percent tenants have no open space around their living area to take shelter during earth quake.

BIGD’s Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman said, the accommodation costs are squeezing middle and lower class people so hard that they plan to leave the city at every available opportunity. He added that Dhaka is becoming a polarized and it is becoming a city of two classes- rich and poor.

SoC Infographic

Senior Research Associate and Lead Researcher of the study Syeda Salina Aziz said, 85 percent of the tenant did not receive any signed receipt for their rent payment and only 50 percent tenants know about the rent controllers. She added that the crisis was the result of a huge lack of supply of housing against the demand. She said that the supply meeting less than 20 percent of the demand. We see two types of development in Dhaka. One side is highly developed while the other is lagging behind. The government should work on reducing the discrimination, and provide the middle and low-income people with affordable housing facility, she said. If the dwellers can own a house, a sense of ownership will grow among them, she added.

To overcome the situation, the study recommended that the government increase monitoring on the housing sector, especially in terms of fixing and collecting rents, and setting up apartment price. It also recommended a separate department within RAJUK is necessary to monitor the application of building codes. The study suggested paying rents through banks, renting through a formal agreement, creating ward level field controllers to handle tenancy-related issues, and easing home loan conditions and interest rates.

Media Coverage             Photo Gallery                 Research Report: State of Cities 2017: Housing in Dhaka
Women’s Capabilities in Education and Health improving, but remains insufficient in Economic and Political Field
- says Human Development is South Asia 2016 report

In South Asia, over the last decade and a half, there has been an improvement in women’s social, economic and political empowerment. However worldwide, the region fares better than Sub-Saharan Africa only. Progress has been considerable in improving women’s capabilities through education and health, but remains insufficient in economic and political fields. Beside this, a high prevalence of the incidence of violence against women points to the inadequate implementation of laws, finds the research on ‘Human Development in South Asia 2016: Empowering Women in South Asia’ conducted by MahbubulHaque Research Centre (MHRC) of Lahore University of Management Sciences.

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development, BRAC University launched the report at a city hotel in Dhaka on May 16, 2017.The research was conducted on Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan.

The report demonstrates that, the overall picture of progress in South Asia not only masks the inequality in opportunity for women both between and within countries, but also across women belonging to different socio-economic, ethnic and religious groups.

The report also suggests that despite overall progress in key indicators, the promise of the MDGs is still unfulfilled and the region needs to intensify its commitment towards meeting the SDGs aiming to complete what the MDGs did not achieve-especially targeting stubborn challenges, such as in female leadership, voice and representation, as well as violence against women.

Speaking on the women’s empowerment, Chief Guest Rasheda K. Choudhury, Executive Director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) said, there is a fundamental difference between participation and Partnership. Women in Bangladesh have progressed far in participating in various economic activities but they still lack opportunity at partnership level.

While talking about sexual violence that has happened in recent times, she described the difficulties women face in professional fields. She urged the government to increase budget in research sectors and thanked MHRC for thisreport, which is a reminder that there’s a long way to go for women empowerment.

Mr. M Syeduzzaman, Member, Board of Advisors, MHRC said, the report is a message to revisit and update the gender question in light of development in the world. The report shows the difference among different South Asian countries on gender development, educational progress, health progress, political empowerment and employment of women.


Earlier, BIGD’s Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman; Rasheda K. Choudhury; Professor MustafizurRahman, Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD); Ms. Simeen Mahmud, Head Gender Cluster and The Centre for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST) and Dr. Rushidan Islam Rahman, Executive Chairperson, Centre for Development and Employment Research (CDER) launched the report in front of media. Maheen Sultan, Visiting Fellow, BIGD made a presentation on the key finding and recommendations of the report.

Prof. Mustafizur said gender-based violence costs 2.4 per cent of the country's GDP as existing laws remain inactive to protect women from violence. Bangladesh made significant progress since 2000, especially in framing policies and laws, which eased women empowerment. But we have to monitor whether the laws and policies are implemented properly or not. He also mentioned that a large number of activities, performed by women, remain outside the national accounting system.

Simeen Mahmud said that though Bangladesh's economic growth rate was third highest in the world, its public spending in human development remained lower compared to neighbouring countries.

Presenting the study findings, Maheen Sultan said Bangladesh scored 0.917 in GDI to be third among the South Asian countries, while Sri Lanka secured first place scoring 0.948 and Maldives placed second on the list with 0.937 points.

Female secondary school enrollment in the region reached 63.4 per cent from 36.8 per cent within the timeframe while Bangladesh lags behind reaching 57.38 per cent. However, Bangladesh has done really well in female tertiary education enrollment attaining 32.61 per cent comparing to South Asia's average 20.10 per cent in 2013. She also showed that the female life expectancy increased from 64 to 68 years between 2000 and 2013 while the country's overall life expectancy improved to 70.7 years from 63.5 in the same period.

Focusing on the empowerment of poor women, Dr. Rushidan Islam Rahman suggested improving their access to education, skill development and technology.

In conclusion, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman said that political commitment was vital for women empowerment and hoped that the government would maintain the success while focus on addressing the challenges that remain.
State of Cities 2016
Traffic Congestion in Dhaka City - Governance Perspectives report launched

Soc LaunchNaim Ahmed, Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, Dr. Sultan Hafeez rahman, Professor Nazrul islam and Dr. Shanawez Hossain are seen at the launching ceremony (from left)

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University launched one of its annual flagship research report titled State of Cities 2016: Traffic Congestion in Dhaka City - Governance Perspective on 27 December 2016 at the BRAC Centre Inn, Dhaka. 

Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, Vice Chancellor, BRAC University and Professor Nazrul Islam, Chairman, Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), have attended  the event as the Guests of Honour. Mr. Naim Ahmed, Former Commissioner, Dhaka Metropolitan Police,  discussed on the report, while Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD chaired the event. Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow of BIGD presented the findings and recommendations of the research report at the event. 

Learned participants and professionals participated at a Q/A session followed by the formal launching.

The event was also attended by relevant professionals, academics, experts and media who also discussed on the report and shared their opinions.

This is the fifth report of its kind which focused on the problem of traffic congestion in Dhaka city. The study's main objective was to examine the governance and institutional issues underlying traffic congestion in Dhaka, and develop proposals to tackle the issues and strengthen the institutions responsible for Dhaka's transport management.


The study focused on the Dhaka Metropolitan area and six key government agencies in particular – Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) and Rajuk. Based on 'governance perspectives' the investigation was conducted adopting a 'political economy framework'. Data was collected from both primary and secondary sources through key informant interviews, a 'score-card' survey of the six institutions, case studies and site observations. A major questionnaire survey of 774 transport users was also carried out to obtain people's views of the main traffic issues and priorities for action.

The survey of transport users found that most people identified management issues as the main causes of traffic congestion, particularly: (1) haphazard parking, (2) streets occupied by private transport, and (3) violation of traffic rules. Therefore effective traffic management, including restraining the demand for private transport, is crucial for reducing Dhaka's congestion.

The report also examined the institutional arrangements and coordination mechanisms for transport in Dhaka. There are over 30 agencies involved in transport in the metropolitan area, which makes coordination very difficult. However, the main transport coordinating authority (DTCA) is significantly under-staffed and lacking authority. Similarly, most of the key institutions are internally challenged due to limited human capacity (number and skills of professional staff), limited equipment, poor internal accountability mechanisms and lack of transparency. They are also externally challenged in their co-ordination with other organisations as they are all responsible to different ministries, four of which are mainly responsible for Dhaka's transport management: Home Ministry (police); Ministry of Local Government (city corporations and upazilas); Road Transport and Bridges (DTCA and BRTA) and Ministry of Housing and Public Works (Rajuk). This diffusion of responsibility together with DTCA's weakness is considered the single most important challenge for improving transport co-ordination in Dhaka.

The study found that despite many laws and much activity by the enforcement agencies, drivers frequently break the rules and likewise pedestrians. On the other hand, survey respondents reported weaknesses and poor practices in traffic law enforcement. People's knowledge of the traffic laws was patchy, with less than half of interviewees knowing about parking rules, speed limits or requirements for official documents. A high proportion of road users admitted they sometimes broke the traffic laws, and bus drivers were considered more likely to break the laws than private drivers. However, people identified the main causes of traffic law violations as competitive pressures on bus operators, and poor police enforcement.

The study examined institutional issues relating to enforcement. Regarding BRTA, it was noted that the driver and vehicle licence system is dominated by 'brokers' who charge substantial fees and can even arrange a licence without a test. In 2015 there were nearly 2 million fake licences, according to the High Court. Regarding police enforcement, despite the official activity, survey respondents said poor enforcement was the main challenge for traffic management in Dhaka.

The report also found that entry to the bus sector in Dhaka was very difficult due to informal payments and the need for political connections, which tended to reduce healthy competition. Once a bus enters service, numerous informal payments have to be made to keep operating. Although government officials deny it, bus operators allege that standard monthly informal payments are paid, as well as random on-the-spot daily payments. Both types of payment are facilitated by weak guidelines and processes from the enforcing agencies: for example, no background studies are carried out when route permits are issued; bus stops are not clearly marked in many places in Dhaka; the traffic police have no equipment for measuring vehicles' speeds; and most public vehicles do not have speedometers due to weaknesses in vehicle fitness inspection. Bus operators considered that informal transactions constituted one-half of their monthly operating costs, reducing their profitability which was further reduced by Dhaka's increasing congestion. As a result, bus service quality was compromised since the operator's survival depended on management of informalities and their focus was shifted from passengers to patrons.

Management of hawkers and sidewalks presented a similar picture: Dhaka's 2.6 lakh hawkers are actually highly regulated and pay significant sums to the authorities for the privilege of trading on the streets. The system is well-organised, with informal daily payments to 'line-men' as well as monthly informal rents. The funds are passed on to the enforcing authorities as well as local political parties, and the total sums are quite remarkable. Based on information from stakeholders as well as secondary sources, this study estimated that the annual collection of informal 'rents' from hawkers totaled about Tk.1,825 crore per year (about $228 million), which is nearly as great as the combined budgets of Dhaka North and Dhaka South City Corporations in 2015/16. However, this informal management of Dhaka's footways has negative consequences for almost everyone: for the general public, who suffer from crowded footways and increased traffic congestion; for the hawkers, who pay high rents yet face daily insecurity; and for the city authorities, who lose substantial revenue income.

The report also examined the costs and impacts of traffic congestion on Dhaka's citizens, particularly the economic costs (measured as the value of people's time lost in traffic delays and the increased vehicle costs due to wasted fuel); and the social costs such as discomfort, stress, and changed social behavior. With a case study of a particular route of Dhaka (from Airport to Postogola Bridge via Gulshan, Mohakhali, Gulistan and Buriganga Bridge, 26km), the average off-peak journey speed for motor vehicles was measured at around 22kph, while the peak period average speed fell to around 9 kph. The economic cost of this delay was estimated at around Tk. 227 crore per month ($28.4m per month), or roughly Tk.53 for each passenger trip, most of which was due to lost time rather than vehicle operating costs. If other components of Dhaka's traffic congestion are taken into account, such as environmental and social costs, the results are even more alarming. The study also identified that the impacts were heavily clustered among service holders, who had a higher willingness-to-pay to avoid or reduce congestion.


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Press Launch of the State of Governance in Bangladesh 2016 report

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University has launched one of its annual flagship research report The State of Governance in Bangladesh 2016: Regulation Process Performance through the Press on 20 December 2016, at the BRAC Centre Inn Auditorium, Mohakhali, Dhaka in presence of huge gathering of the reporters and the journalists from Print, Online and Electronic media.

180A8940 LargeDr. Iftekharuzzaman, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud and Dr. Wahid Abdallah are seen at the Launching of SoG (From Left)

BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman along with Dr. Wahid Abdallah, Research Fellow, BIGD; Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud, a renowned economist, and Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, the Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) launched the report in front of media.

On behalf of the SoG team, Dr. Wahid Abdallah made the presentation on the findings and recommendations of the report. A lively Question-Answer Session held followed by the presentations, where the SoG Research team addressed the queries and comments of the media reporters and senior journalists.

The report analysed democratic process, specially electoral politics, public sector governance, economic governance, and health governance, specifically governance of Upazila Health complexes. In democratic governance, the report focused mostly on the local government elections in Bangladesh and looked into the role of competition in election, voter turnout, voter list, electoral expenditure and electoral violence. The electoral competition in some elections, for example, the national election and city corporation elections in Dhaka and Chittagong, have been affected by boycotts by the main opposition party, which may have also resulted into lower voter turnout in those elections. Data also shows that election time violence and gender gap in voter list has increased in Bangladesh in recent years. The report said that, Bangladesh has seen deteriorations of electoral competition in the recent years. There was an increased pattern of election time violence, low participation of female candidates in local government elections and increased gender gap in the final voter list prepared in 2014 before 10th national election, the report said.  

In public sector governance, the report mentioned that there was sluggish implementation of Annual Development Programme, downward trend of the Request For Information under right to information act, and more than half of the corruption complaints at ACC discontinued. Noted economists who spoke at the report launching called for taking efficient steps by the concern authorities to make the governance system more dynamic at all sectors. They also stressed the need for enhancing capacity of different government organisations.

Economic governance focuses on three topics: labour, tax and the financial sector governance. The section on labour governance analyses the role of ministerial and administrative bodies and discusses issues related to labour rights and collective bargaining, labour conflicts, and workers' safety. According to the report, the workers participation in trade union is dismal compared to the size of the workforce. Industrial safety remains a major concern in the sector and the progress of the reform initiatives. Analysis on tax governance looks at the governance of tax administration and collection in Bangladesh with a special emphasis on the indirect tax, particularly on VAT. There has been an increasing trend in indirect tax revenue collection, particularly of VAT, since 2009. The performance Indicators of the banking sector seems satisfactory. The banking sector in terms of absorbing shocks is reportedly in a moderate condition. Large non -performing loans have been a big concern for the last few years and no sign of significant improvement is observed. In economic governance, the report also said that Bangladesh was the only country with tax GDP ratio of 10 percent, which was the lowest among the South Asian countries. The ministry of labour receives less than two percent of total budgetary allocations, even though it is improving, the report said. In 2016, inspector to workers ratio was 1 to 8 lakh although the standard is 1 inspector to 40,000 workers.

In the health sector governance, relationship between resource availability and performance of Upazila Health Complexes (UHC) has been shown positive using a set of indicators. The analysis goes on showcasing that the service recipients, when informed more about resources availability, are more willing to go to UHCs, thus creating demands for services which, in turn, help improve the performance of government health services at the upazila level. 



BIGD launches the State of Governance in Bangladesh 2014-15 through Media

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University has launched one of its annual flagship research report the State of Governance (SoG) in Bangladesh 2014-15 titled Institutions Outcomes Accountability through the Press on 27th of December 2015, at the BRAC Centre Inn Auditorium, Mohakhali, Dhaka in presence of huge gathering of the reporters and the journalists from Print, Online and Electronic media.

SoG Research Team launching the Report in front of Media

BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman and the SoG Team formally launched the report in front of media. Syeda Salina Aziz and Md. Harun-Or-Rashid, Senior Research Associate and Research Associate of BIGD respectively made two presentations on the findings and recommendations of the report. A lively Question-Answer Session followed by the presentations, where the SoG Research team addressed the queries and comments of the media reporters and senior journalists.

Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Syeda Salina Aziz and Md. Harun-Or-Rashid (From Left to right)

The Report sheds light on governance-related KPIs, covering electoral process, legislative productivity, media freedom, rule of law, financial institutions, infrastructure and macroeconomic stability, education and health sector performance. It is intended to contribute to the public debate on governance as an issue of seminal contemporary concern for Bangladesh's political and economic future.

In a departure from past SOGs, the SOG 2014-15 has attempted to cover a relatively wider canvas focusing on such important areas as the state of political, economic and social dimensions of governance in Bangladesh. Rather than focusing on any of these areas in isolation, the SOG sheds light on the performance of these three areas taken together due to their significance for overall governance in Bangladesh.

Glimpses from the Q/A segment of Press Launching

The 'bottom line' of the current report is that Bangladesh' performance in all the three broad categories, vis, political, economic and social, while being mixed' does indicate major vulnerabilities. The report therefore argues that these must be addressed through broader participation of civil society and other stakeholders in a spirit of partnership. Without such an inclusive approach and full freedoms and rights guaranteed under the constitution, the country may suffer serious setbacks in its march towards building strong democratic institutions as the fundamental basis for good governance.

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Launching of Human Development in South Asia 2015 Report
Economy is for the people, people is not for the economy
says Dr. Selim Jahan

1Farria Naeem, M Syeduzzaman, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman and Dr. Selim jahan (From left to right)

Economy is for the people, as far as the Human Development perspective is concerned, people is not for the economy. The Human Development in South Asia 2015 also takes this perspective, said Dr. Selim Jahan, Director, Human Development Report Office, UNDP, New York.

He added, “We don’t need jobless, voiceless, ruthless, rootless and futureless economic growth from a human development perspective. Inclusive growth is what we needed for human development. Five criteria fundamental to inclusive growth are, firstly, it should be a growth process where people have the opportunity of participating and contributing. Secondly, People should be equitably rewarded the benefits of economic growth. Third, the rate of growth of the bottom 20% should be faster than the rate of growth of income of any part of the society. Fourth, inclusive growth ensures avoiding, reducing, limiting, destroying the choices of future generations. Our current living is borrowed from the future generations through natural resources and other means. Inclusive growth must ensure the similar or even better times of choices for the future generations. Also, the issue of gender equality should be in the centre of economic inclusive growth as it is a serious economic and development issue. Finally, there has to be equitable growth in terms of both opportunities and in terms of outcome and equitable distribution. It is not an issue of capitalism; it’s an issue of democracy, so the growth process is equitable in terms of participation as well as in terms of benefits.”

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Dr. Selim Jahan was addressing at the Launching of the 18th Human Development Report of South Asia, prepared by Pakistan’s Mahbub Ul Haq Human Development Centre based in Lahore, Pakistan, titled The Economy and the People, organized by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University in Dhaka on December 22, 2015.

Raising questions on the capabilities of economic growth, Dr. Selim Jahan said, over the last 30 years, the economic growth of south Asian region has gone up more than 300 percent, three times. The rate of human development according to UN Human Development index in this region, it has gone up by 1.5 times which means, the rate of growth of the economy has been twice than the rate of growth of human well being. The fundamental question arises here, that what went wrong? The economic growth has to be translated into the lives of the people. Economic growth is means; it is not an end in itself. The major contribution of economic growth should be basically to enhance the lives of people.

He concluded by saying, the human development paradigm, the human development framework, the human development reports have taken the less travelled road, we hope, we have been, we are and will be making a difference. The kind of the choices we make today with regard to our economy our society individually and collectively would determine the kind of the world that we would be living tomorrow for the future generations. Because in the ultimate analysis, human destiny is a choice, and not a chance.


Earlier in the introductory speech, Mr. M Syeduzzaman, Member, Board of Advisors, Mahbub ul Haq Centre welcomed the guests and remembered the veteran economist Late Mr. Muhbub Ul Haq, founder and the Chief Architect of UNDP Human Development Report. He added, with a special focus on South Asia, Mahbub ul Haq Centre is a policy research institute and think tank committed to the promotion of the human development paradigm as a powerful tool for advocating people centered development policy nationally and regionally. Believing in the shared history and the shared destination of the people of this region, he was convinced for the need of cooperation among the seven countries in the region, his vision extended to a comparative analysis of the region annually in terms of socio-economic development. He said this year’s report addresses the issue of connection between economic growth and people’s lives. The Report critically analyses the record of economic growth and human development in South Asia for the last three decades from 1980 to 2010. Besides providing an overall South Asia profile, the Report presents a detailed record of economic growth and social development in five countries: India, Pakistan Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. He also thanked BIGD for its advocacy role of the report in Dhaka.
Chaired by Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD, the report was officially launched followed by the introductory part. Farria Naeem, IGC Bangladesh Country Economist made a presentation on the key findings and recommendations of the report.


In the concluding remarks, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman said, in today’s endangered planet, the biggest contribution of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was that it took the focus away from narrow economic targets and it has brought much wider range of issues and turned the address of the economists towards narrative. Anything less than narrative is just not enough to deal the entire challenge of structural transformation of societies. Also taking away natural resources from future generations through over consuming is one of the biggest challenges for development theories and practices. So to embrace the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and address the huge new dimension created through the activities of arrogance as human beings such as endangering future, we need to focus on much greater public actions which means, both the government and its political machinery, political leaders of the country and the civil society must play active role. Now is the high time than any time in the past that we should collectively address the new dimension with strong policy actions.

Participants at the Q/A Session

Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, former Governor, Bangladesh Bank; Dr. Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury, former Secretary; Professor Quazi Faruque Ahmed, Chairman, Initiative for Human Development (IHD) participated in the Q/A session.

Distinguished guests, among others, attended included Mr. Pierre MAYAUDON, Ambassador, Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh; Mr. Hussein Hyderali, AKDN; Md. Asaduzzaman, Head of DFED; Md. Akhtaruzzaman, Programme Manager, UN Habitat; Ms. Shaila Khan, Assistant Country Director, UNDP.

BIGD Communications

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Speech by Dr. Selim Jahan

Remarks by Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman

Presentation by Farria Naeem

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