Decision-taking process expedited through e-filing 
Experts say at the Development Economics Conference

"Decision-taking process is getting expedited now as e-filing is taking place in 59 districts. But bringing more transparency in this process, mutual accountability of the people involved in the process will have to be ensured," said Dr. Mashiur Rahman while speaking at the Development Economics Conference jointly organised by BRAC Institute of Governance and Developments (BIGD), BRAC University and International Growth Centre (IGC), at a city hotel on 12 March, 2017.

Prime Minister’s Economic Advisor Dr. Rahman said efficient officials are needed in the government offices for formulation of right policies and their implementation. Otherwise, it is not possible to implement the government's plans properly, he said, adding that at the same time emphasis will have to be given on taking decision quickly.

First and second sessions of the conference were chaired by Dr Shamsul Alam, member of the General Economics Division of the Planning Commission.  

BIGD IGC ConferenceDr. Wahid Abdallah, Research Fellow of BIGD is presenting his paper at the Conference
Dr. Minhaj Mahmud, Research Fellow of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) in his research paper 'Infrastructure and Well-Being: Employment Effects of Jamuna Bridge in Bangladesh' showed that several numbers of mega projects are changing rural economies and they are helping in the market integration. Infrastructure developments like a bridge over the river Jamuna are integrating economic factors in Bangladesh that are helping the economy to grow, He said.

Along with the ongoing economic development process the government needs to focus its attention on several other sectors like improving industrial sector, facing catastrophe due to climate change, increasing skill in revenue collection and bringing changes in bureaucracy.

Dr. Asadul Islam an Associate Professor of Monash University presented a paper on 'Social Network, Referrals and Technologies Adoption: Evidence from Randomized Field Experience’ in the conference. He showed that information technology adoption among rural people can increase productivity and can also provide right-time information to farmers about using seeds, plantation and use of instruments for mechanised farming.

In the second session Adnan Khan of IGC presented his paper on 'Incentivizing Bureaucrats through Performance-Based Postings' and Dr. Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale University presented on 'General Equilibrium Effects of Emigration on Rural Labor Markets'.

The last session chaired by Dr. Mashiur Rahman, was also marked by three research papers presented by scholars from Ohio State University, Harvard University and of BIGD.
Emily Breza of Harvard University in her research paper on 'Scarcity at the End of the Month - A Field Experiment with Garment Factory Workers in Bangladesh' said through removing bottlenecks in mobile financial transactions among garment workers it is possible to help them in proper money transfer among their family members. Wage payment through electronic system, particularly to bank accounts, encourages workers to save, she added.

Joyce Chen of Ohio State University in her paper on 'Migration and Climate Change: Environmental Vulnerability and Location Choice in Bangladesh' has shown that Bangladesh's coastal people are badly affected due to climate change consequences. She said people are migrating to another places and some who are not migrating are fighting against the changed environment calamities like salinity, drought and others.
Dr. Wahid Abdallah, Research Fellow of BIGD in his research paper 'Electronic Filing System, Bureaucratic Efficiency and Public Service Delivery: Evidence from Bangladesh' suggested for adopting electronic filing systems in the public offices like deputy commissioner’s office.

Among others the conference was attended by renowned economists, academicians, civil society members and senior public officials from home and abroad.
Local MPs will not interfere with the workings of local governance institutions
- says State Minister Mashiur Rahman Ranga
National Seminar on Local Governance Programme Sharique held
Clash between the Member of Parliament and elected local government officials is the main barrier to ensuring services to the people, said Mashiur Rahman Ranga, State Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. He made the remarks while addressing a national conference on Local Governance Programme of Sharique project as the chief guest jointly organized by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), HELVETAS Swiss Interco operation, Bangladesh and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) in a hotel of the city on December 7, 2016.
Sharique Conference 2016
He said "There is no clash between Members of Parliament and locally elected government representatives to provide good services to the people. These components should work complementing each other for the betterment of the country." Local MPs will not interfere with the workings of local governance institutions, he added.
"Our government is working to strengthen and empower the local government. We need more time to ensure the empowerment of the local government beyond the party interest. As part of our empowerment of the local government, we have already ensured accountability to finish the project in due time," said Mashiur Rahman Ranga.
State minister for LGRD also said they will discuss the increase of the honorarium of the elected members of local government and create new posts for local government. He also advised to work for increasing revenue in their own way as they can spend more for the people.
Emphasizing on the local government system Mani Shankar Aiyer, former Panchayet Minister of India said that “Both democracy and development facilitate each other. If development is not equitable it will pose a threat to democracy. Hence what is required is inclusive growth through inclusive governance and this can be done by allowing more autonomy to local government. The former member of Lok Shabha and Rajya Shabha in India also shared experience of the performance and challenges of the local government of different Indian provinces. He also stressed the need for greater participation of women in local government to bring equitable development. He also said "It's a big challenge to coordinate the root level elected member with government. The successful government can manage this."
Attending as the Special Guest, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Christian Fotsch praised Bangladesh for ensuring the rights of women to vote so early. Though his country gained independence almost 400 years ago, the right to vote for the women was ensured only in 1971.
The programme was attended by Mr. Md. Shah Kamal, Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD, Kaspar Grossenbacher, Country Director of HELVETAS Swiss Interco operation, Bangladesh; Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar, Country Representative, The Hunger Project, Dr. Tofail Ahmed, local governance expert and Ms. Melina Papageorgiou Trippolini, Programme Manager of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), among others. Other participants in the programme included academics, elected representatives from Sharique working areas and NGO partners active in local governance sector.
The event was held to celebrate ten years (2006-2016) of Sharique and also to launch a step-by-step guide that has captured Sharique’s ten years of experience in the local governance sector. The objective of launching this guide is to make the practical lessons learned from the programme available to other stakeholders, including Union Parishad themselves, as well as a range of public and non-governmental partners. The guidance is designed to offer systematic tips and advice to improve accountability, citizen’s participation and effectiveness in development planning and budgeting at the Union Parishad level.
In the second half of the day-long event three presentations were made on the role of Union Parishad in disaster management by Mr. Md. Shah Kamal, on budget coverage of Upazila and Union Parishad by Mr. Md. Habibur Rahman, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance and on sources of revenue of Union Parishad by Mr. Nurul Islam, Research Officer, NILG. A panel discussion and feedback session were held under the facilitation of Mr. Md. Shah Kamal in which locally elected representatives shared their experiences on the themes presented earlier. 

In democracy people’s trust is crucial
Dr. Gowher Rizvi said at regional conference on Government Performance Management System

"In democracy trust of people in government is very crucial. When any government does not enjoy the trust of the people, democracy deteriorates," said Prime Minister's International Affairs Adviser Professor Dr. Gowher Rizvi. People become cynical if they cannot trust the government, when quality of service declines, people loses confidence and legitimacy of the government erodes, he added as the Chief Guest of a regional conference on Government Performance Management System (GPMS) held on 22 January 2017 at a city hotel.

Dr. Rizvi claimed that in any criteria performance of the Bangladesh government has improved. He said governance is not about the economic performance but the quality of life, freedom and cultural activities. He added that the government links with citizens was established through service delivery and "if service delivery is good, government achieves the trust of people (and on the other hand) when the quality of service declines, people lose their confidence in government".

The regional conference was organized with an aim to learn from each other and share best practices jointly by the cabinet division of the government and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University with support of the World Bank.

Mr. Md. Abul Kalam Azad, Principal Coordinator, Sustainable Development Goals and Dr. Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Principal Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office addressed the event as Special Guests. Mr. Mohammad Shafiul Alam, Cabinet Secretary, chaired the conference.

Mr. Ravindra Devagunam, Director, PMANDU, Malaysia; Dr. Prajapati Trivedi, Former Secretary, Performance Management Division, India; Mr. Chencho, Head of Government Performance Management Division (GPMD), Prime Minister’s office of Bhutan and Mr. N M Zeaul Alam, Secretary, (Coordination and Reforms) Cabinet Division of Bangladesh made presentations on their country's perspective at the conference.

Senior public servants of the country, representatives from India, Malaysia and Bhutan, and mainstream media took part in the daylong conference aimed to share experiences on public service delivery.

The main goal of this conference is to convene government officials, practitioners, and leading scholars to take stock and collectively envision current and future innovations in public sector performance management, leadership, and governance. Against the backdrop of GPMS implementation in Bangladesh, the conference will seek to foster peer learning and exchange of experiences among practitioners of performance management between South Asia Region (SAR) countries on performance management as the most adequate tool for policy dialogue and emulation, given the regional political economy.
(From Left) Dr. Syed Saad Andalib; Dr. Masihur Rahman; Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman; H.E. Brian Allemekinders and Ms. Julia Brunt, seen at the inauguration ceremony

A three-day International Conference on Political Economy, Accountability and Governance was held at Dhaka from 11-13 December, 2014. The event was organized by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University, in partnership with Think Tank Initiative (TTI) of International Development Research Centre (IDRC), International Growth Centre (IGC) of London School of Economics (LSE) and Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) of the University of Manchester.

Think Tank Initiative’s 5th South Asia Regional Meeting
South Asian Think Tanks discussed
opportunities, success and challenges
Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, ED, BIGD (3rd from left) seen in a session of TTI Regional Meet

BIGD’s Senior Staff members participated at the Think Tank Initiative (TTI)’s 5th South Asia Regional Meeting, held during 18-20 November, 2015 at Sohna, Delhi, India.  

Organised by India’s Centre for Policy Research (CPR) this year, around 100 participants from 14 think tanks in the South Asian region, based in Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and India, came together at the meet, to exchange ideas, discuss challenges and opportunities, and share successes on key national, regional and global public policy issues they work on. Along with the delegation from Regional Think Tanks, the attendees are also included high-level policymakers, donor representatives, and other policy stakeholders from the region in different sessions of the meeting.

The three-day meeting included four thematic sessions to focus on how think tanks are contributing to global challenges relating to urbanisation, public service delivery, climate change, agriculture and water, social development and poverty, and governance and accountability. The meeting also highlighted the continuity of  the exploration of how the continued support to the South Asian cohort of Think Tanks strengthen their capacities to generate new knowledge, become more effective and sustainable in policy engagement , thriving institutions within the policy and research ecosystems. The purpose of these sessions were to highlight key debates, showcase data and evidence, and share examples of how think tanks are instrumental in transforming evidence into policy action.

Led by Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director; the BIGD delegation also included Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow; and Mr. Sarwar Jahan Chowdhury, Head of Operations.

The meeting also focused on facilitating and sharing lessons learnt about strategies for defining, building, and managing successful, sustainable Think Tanks with a wide range of policy research organisations and interested stakeholders. BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman was a discussant in the session “Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for South Asia and the role of think tanks: Country Context” and  Research Fellow Dr. Shanawez Hossain made two presentations titled (i) “State of Governance in Health and Education in Bangladesh” and (ii) Partyarchy Democracy in Bangladesh.

Think Tank Initiative (TTI), a multi-donor programme funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), managed by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is dedicated to strengthening the capacity of independent policy research institutions in the developing world.  


Conference Theme

In celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Independence of Bangladesh, we focus on the relative successes and shortcomings of governance within the country, a core problem that affects meaningful development of Bangladesh, and look forward to future prospects of governance reform in the country. 
Over the last two decades the issue of governance reform is very much at the centre of debates on development, economic growth and poverty reduction. However, much of the thinking on what good governance should be is based on Western ideal-typical models and pays less attention to local, social, political and cultural dynamics, as well as specific historical trajectories which fundamentally shape the possibilities for development and democracy. While focusing on the wider phenomenon that characterize governance practice in Bangladesh, much of the scholarship has not reached deep enough into the social structures of everyday life of ordinary citizens and political behaviour that underpin these general features.

The conference encourages research which attempts to break away from some of the existing rhetoric that has begun to shape governance thinking on Bangladesh by offering deeper, richer and empirically grounded insights on the practice of governance, its challenges and the prospects for reform. IGS has facilitated such research on governance and organized a conference titling “40 years of Bangladesh: Retrospect and Future Prospects”.

The conference was arranged from 26-28th Nov. 2011 attended by worldwide renowned political scholars and international political scientists e.g. Dr. Geof Wood, Dr. Joe Devine, Dr. Graham Brown, Dr. Harry Wallace Blair, Dr. Akhlaque Haque, Dr. Jalal Alamgir, Dr. Iftekhar Iqbal, Dr. Navine Murshid, Dr. Sumaiya Khair, Dr. Asif Nazrul, Dr. Naomi Hossain and others have presented and shared their thoughts and researches on governance. The purpose of the conference was to highlight the Governance of Bangladesh in these 40 years; the failures and the future prospects that lie ahead and proposing better and effective ways of governance. The chief guest of the launching ceremony was Justice Habibur Rahman and special guest was Dr. Gowher Rizvi. Both of the honorable guests made their speeches at the launching ceremony of the conference at BRAC Centre Inn. The rest of the conference presentations were made at BRAC, BCDM, Savar, Khagan.

Participants’ Papers for the Website

1. Ahmed, Haydory Akbar, Lecturer,Dept.of Economics & Social Sciences, BRAC University; Hossain, Abul Maala, Tanvir, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Economics & Social Sciences, BRAC University; Rahman, Shahidur, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Economics & Social Sciences, BRAC University; PapersPresentations:

2. Ahmed, Imtiaz, Professor, International Relations, University of Dhaka; Papers 

3. Ahmed, Nizam, Professor of Public Administration, University of Chittagong; Presentations

4. Alamgir, Jalal, Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Massachusetts, Boston;Papers

5. Aminuzzaman, M Salahuddin, Professor of Public Administration, University of Dhaka;  Papers:

6. Banks, Nicola Margaret, Head of Research & Evaluation Unit, BRAC Uganda; Papers:  ;Presentations: