An empowered city government needed for Well-planned City
speakers said at a workshop on Equitable Economic Growth in Sylhet

SCC workshop

Participants at a workshop on Equitable Economic Growth in Sylhet City demanded to build Sylhet a planned city through the implementation of master plan prepared by Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury. The participants also demanded ensuring clean, healthy and hygienic environment, making open space for playground and other entertainment facilities. They also urged to make the citizens aware regarding their rights and responsibilities. They felt the need for an empowered city government to fulfill the aspirations of city dwellers.

The kick-off workshop was held under the joint work programme titled Promoting Equitable Economic Growth in Cities as part of a global campaign. BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) with the support of Cities Alliance based in Brussels, jointly organized the workshop on May 24, 2017 in Sylhet.

Attending as the Chief Guest, Mayor Ariful Haq Chowdhury said that the public representatives allied with the ruling party get support from the Government but the other representatives do not and now it has become a culture which needs to be changed. Coordination and cooperation among the public offices and government organizations is essential before empowering the city corporation, he added. He proposed for a monthly coordination meeting and said that without coordination and cooperation, it is impossible to complete a single task.

Ajay Suri, Asian Regional Advisor, Cities Alliance; Consultant Dr. K. Rajivan, Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow, BIGD and Team Leader of the Project; Mr. Sarwar Jahan Chowdhury, Head of Operations, BIGD; Engineer Ruhul Alam, Chief Engineer, Sylhet City Corporation also delivered their speeches in the event. The programme was moderated by BIGD’s Research Associate S M Gubair Bin Arafat.

Advocate Irfanujjaman Chowdhury, President, Committee of Concerned Citizens (CCC); Aminul Islam Chowdhury, Sammilita Sangskritic Jote; Nasim Hossain, Sylhet City President of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP); senior politician Barrister Aarash Ali; Gourango Patro, President, Adivasi Forum (Forum of Ethnic People); Professor Tahmina Islam, Department of Social Work, Shahajalal University of Science and Technology; senior journalist Ahmed Nur; City Corporation Counselor Sahanara Begum, Dinar Khan and others also shared their valued opinion and suggestions regarding different problems of the city and their short term and long term solutions.

Recognizing the roles of cities and the challenges they present in developing countries, the Cities Alliance, a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and hosted by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and BIGD have embarked on this project. The goals of this project are (i) to promote equitable access to public goods and services in context of cities’ specific needs and (ii) support growth trajectories increasingly characterized by equity, inclusion and environmental sustainability.

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Media Coverage

To provide more accountable service, we need City Governance
 – said Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy at a kick-off workshop

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"Most of the budget of the local government is spent by unelected officer, not by the elected representatives. Budget allocations to the elected public representatives should be increased as they are accountable to the people, where the accountability of a DC or MD is very low.” said Dr. Selina Hayat Ivy, Mayor, Narayanganj City Corporation (NCC) at a workshop titled Equitable Economic Growth in Narayanganj City.

This kick-off workshop organized under the joint work programme titled Promoting Equitable Economic Growth in Cities as part of a global campaign. BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and NCC with the support of Cities Alliance based in Brussels, jointly organized the workshop on May 18, 2017 at Narayanganj.

Dr. Ivy claimed for city governance and raised question, Why DESA, Titas, Police, Magistrates are not under the City Corporation? She urged all to tell the government, 'Give us city government'. If there is no city government, a city mayoral corporation will not be able to do much work. Now we have to request our magistrates, call the police, call to DPDC to get services. But in the system of city government, various organizations could work under an umbrella as a whole. In addition, when these will come under the elected representatives, they will be accountable to public to discharge these responsibilities either for the necessity of the citizen’s service or to keep popularity or due to the fear of the upcoming election.

She told that, these unelected officers need not to answer any questions of the mass people but a local government representative must have to and that is why it is high time to increase the power of local government. She added, though there are a lot of limitations, local government is trying to solve as much problems as they can.

Presenting the 'Institutional Enabling Environment Report (IEER)' Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow, BIGD and Team Leader of the project said, 'Analyzing the political, functional and fiscal arrangements under which Narayanganj City Corporations (NCC) operates this project will assist in facilitating city-level policy actions for enhancing Local Economic Development (LED) which will ultimately promote equitable access to public goods and services."

Dr. Dhiraj Ajay Suri, Regional Advisor for Asia; K Rajivan; Advisor, Cities Alliance; Advocate Mahmudur Rahmna Habib, Chief Executive Officer, NCC and Muhammad Jahangir, Media personality were also present at the workshop among others.

Recognising the roles of cities and the challenges they present in developing countries, the Cities Alliance, a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and hosted by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and BIGD have embarked on this project. The goals of this project are (i) to promote equitable access to public goods and services in context of cities’ specific needs and (ii) support growth trajectories increasingly characterised by equity, inclusion and environmental sustainability.

                                                                                                     Media Coverage
Economic development cannot be measured only by GDP
said Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud

As Bangladesh is advancing fast in its efforts to ensure sustaining economic growth, the disparities between the income of workers and employers is also widening day by day. We are noticing the per capita income increasing as well as the economic development of our country, on the other side economic discrimination is also increasing. So, Economic growth should not be measured only by Gross Domestic Production (GDP), said Prof Dr Wahiduddin Mahmud at the workshop on Formal-Informal Labour Nexus and Bangladesh’s Growth.


BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) organised the workshop at BIDS’s on March 28, 2017 in the capital. The workshop was organised in partnership with the Rand Corporation of the USA and was supported by the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK and the Institute for the Study of Labour (IZA) of Germany.

Prof Mahmud went on saying that the labourers are still deprived of a healthy work environment and the dues, benefits and allowances they deserve. He also called upon the government to come forward to take pragmatic steps to help the labour community improve their living standard. Though we often discuss the role of readymade garment sector, we have to formalise other sectors as well, he said.

He also said that the government needs to assist small entrepreneurs so that they can step into the formal sectors.

The outcome of the study suggests that although export-led growth increases employment levels, in terms of employment shares, sectoral growth causes a reallocation away from formal and informal employment towards self-employment, said Dr Krishna Kumar of RAND Corporation where he was presenting his research paper titled ‘the Formal-Informal Labour Nexus and Growth in Bangladesh’ in the first session of the workshop.

Presided over by BIGD Executive Director Dr Sultan Hafiz Rahman, the panelists at the workshop included CPD Distinguished Fellow Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Economic Research Group Executive Director Dr Sajjad Zohir, Professor at the Department of Economics of Dhaka University Dr Selim Raihan, BIDS Research Director Dr Kazi Ali Toufique and BIDS senior Research Fellow Dr Nazneen Ahmed.

Dr Shanti Nataraj of Rand Corporation presented the second paper titled ‘What Do Workers Value about Formal Employment- Results from a Worker Survey in Bangladesh’ in the second session of the workshop. "Our studies found that policies that encourage job stability are likely to be beneficial for workers," said Dr Nataraj, adding: "It is also critical for policymakers to pay close attention to poor working conditions, particularly for informal workers."

Dr Minhaj Mahmud, Senior Research Fellow of BIDS said, It is also important to enforce existing regulations about overtime and pay in both formal and informal sectors, at his presentation of the paper titled ‘Employee and Employer Preferences for Worker benefits: Results from a Matched Survey in Bangladesh’ at the workshop.

The research team analysed existing secondary data and also conducted several surveys on employers and employees of small and medium enterprises to find the links between informality and growth while also examining worker transitions between different types of jobs and estimating the valuations of specific job benefits by workers and employers.

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Women’s economic opportunity draws on all factors in society
Experts said at a workshop

cgst technical

“Women’s economic opportunity is not an isolated issue. It draws on all factors in society,” said Dr. Kaniz N. Siddique, at the Technical Validation Workshop titled Evidence Based Foundation of Women’s Economic Empowerment at UNDP on 14 March, 2017, to review a set of four studies on the current state of and opportunities for women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh.

The study was done to gain a better understanding of the characteristics, opportunities and constraints for women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh. It also attempted to provide an evidence-based foundation for government, development, UN and civil society partners for promoting and supporting women’s economic empowerment. Four related studies on Gender Aware Macro-economic Analysis, Analysis of Institutional and Social Constraints to Women’s Economic Engagement and Benefit, Opportunities Analysis: Market and Opportunities Analysis: Policy was completed for this purpose.

The Centre for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST) of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University in partnership with United Nations Development Programme in Bangladesh and UN Women Bangladesh arranged the workshop.

Sudipto Mukerjee, Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh inaugurated the session which was followed by introductory remarks from Christine Hunter, Country Representative, UN Women Bangladesh and Shaila Khan, Assistant Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh. The presentation and open discussion sessions were moderated by Simeen Mahmud, Head, Gender Cluster and CGST, BIGD.

The research started in January 2016 and reports were finalized by end of the year. The study team comprised Dr. Kaniz N. Siddique (Team Leader Study One), Simeen Mahmud (Gender Expert Study One), Maheen Sultan (Visiting Fellow, Gender Cluster and CGST, BIGD and Team Leader Study Two) and Ferdousi Sultana Begum (Team Leader Study Four) with research assistance from Centre for Gender and Social Transformation (CGST), BIGD. Study Three is led by Dr Nazneen Ahmed, Senior Research Fellow, BIDS and began in December 2016 and is on-going.

Representatives from different Ministries and Departments of the Government of Bangladesh were present as participants, along with representatives from development partners, think tanks, local NGOs, private sector and different UN Programmes. Discussants acknowledged that more intensive initiatives must be undertaken to strengthen women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh and suggested more critical perspectives through which market opportunities for women can be analyzed.
Bangladesh's contribution to Knitwear sector calls for action not just words and
we must begin to engage to address the rapid change of the industry
Experts said at a dissemination workshop
SEIP workshop

Bangladesh's contribution to Knitwear sector calls for action not just words and we must begin to engage to address the rapid change of the industry, experts said at a dissemination workshop held on February 27, 2017 at a hotel in the city. The workshop was organized to disseminate Need Assessment Report and Outline of Course Curriculum of Executive Development Programme (EDP) under SEIP project and have feedback from entrepreneurs and experts of Knitwear Sector in Bangladesh.

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University in partnership with Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP) project arranged the Dissemination Workshop on Need Assessment Report and Outline of Course Curriculum of Executive Development Programme (EDP) under SEIP project. Professor Dr. Syed Saad Andaleeb, Vice Chancellor BRAC University attended the workshop as chief guest where Mr. Abdur Rouf Talukder, Additional Secretary and Executive Project Director, SEIP project was special guest. Among others, Mr. Arastoo Khan, Chairman of Board of Directors of Islami Bank Bangladesh Limited, Mr. Md. Khairul Islam, Joint Secretary and Deputy Executive Project Director SEIP project, Dr. Md. Shanawez Hossain Chief Coordinator of EDP, SEIP; and entrepreneurs and experts from Knitwear sector attended the event.

To accelerate the growth by increasing the productivity of workforce of the priority industry sectors including Knitwear sector, the Government of Bangladesh with the help of ADB and SDC is implementing this Skills training program. BRAC University is implementing curriculum development part for the Knitwear sub-sector. It will ultimately lead to establishing an Executive Development Center to address skills gap for the mid to high level managers as well as new entrants in Knitwear Sector.

In his speech Professor Dr. Syed Saad Andaleeb, said that it is a perfect platform for industry and academic linkage where BRAC University has accommodated SEIP for Knitwear industry development. The course will reduce the dependence on foreign resources yet will find ways to better collaborate in the fields of research and development and capitalize the scope of lifelong learning. He suggested that there should be a benchmark and monitoring of the training outcome for the feasibility of such training to integrate more such programs. In future there should be research documents for the next batch of activities. This training programme should focus on SMART goal with innovation and course delivery engaging the participants with critical thinking and problem solving discussions, he added. He also suggested different classroom management techniques like, flip class rooms, group projects, Q/A sessions to make the training interactive.

Mr. Arostoo Khan, who was one of the brains behind the idea of EDP told that, “My engagement with this project is more of passion. As you are all aware that we are going through a demographic dividend and a large number of young men and women are entering into the industry market. So we have to prepare them. Again China is relocating lot of factories away from China as the cost of labor in China is going up and we have to prepare our market for that. So these factors put an impact to take decision regarding the ADB funded EDP.”

Narrating background of the EDP Project, Dr. Abdur Rouf talukder, Executive Project Director of SEIP and the Additional Secretary, Finance Ministry said that there is enormous skill gap at mid and higher level positions, namely supervisor; mid and top level managers in certain industrial sector. Against this backdrop, the SEIP project of Finance Division under Ministry of Finance would like to work with leading universities of country to establish Executive Development Centre (EDC) to conduct nine month training programme to develop mid and higher level managers. Government will support the programme upto 2024. He also mentioned that the concept of EDC used here will be an entity that will support at developing world class business executive and entrepreneurs. He also briefly narrated the scope of the EDC, its beneficiaries, its funding modality and possible implementing strategy.

In his welcome speech, Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow of BIGD and Chief Coordinator of EDP, SEIP said that, “I believe involving BRAC University with the project is recognition of its aspiration of ‘inspiring excellence’ in academic and research arena, what the honorable Vice Chancellor always dreams. Further this ‘Government-industry-university’ linkage established under this project is something completely new in Bangladesh. However, it is not new in many countries of the world where companies and universities work in tandem to push the frontiers of knowledge; and thus they become a powerful engine for innovation and economic growth. Silicon Valley is a dramatic example of such collaboration. Microsoft-Cisco-Intel and University of Melbourne collaboration; and BP’s Energy Biosciences Institute in the University of California, Berkeley is further example of such collaboration.” He thanked SEIP for giving chance to BIGD to be a part of this project and also for helping in all possible ways they can. He also thanked all from industry side for giving time despite their busy schedule, which urged to prove the importance of this project.

Later Mr. Md. Khairul Islam Deputy Executive Project Director, SEIP made brief presentation on EDP while Chief Coordinator of EDP, SEIP Dr. Shanawez Hossain presented the Training Need Assessment findings. Ms. Mahreen Mamoon, Coordinator of EDP, SEIP presented tentative curriculum of courses to be offered under this program while EDP-SEIP coordinator Mr. Sirajul Islam and Ms. Jannatun Naim facilitate the workshop. Representatives from several knitwear industries attended the workshop and provided their valuable suggestions and guidelines to make the EDP successful.

Political and social elites have been working as the driver of the country's economic growth
Experts said at the BIGD-ESID policy workshop
BIGD ESID Policy workshop

The steady growth of Bangladesh has been possible because of a kind of deal prevailing between the political and social elites, speakers said at a workshop in the capital on Thursday. The observation came as speakers discussed how the country maintained a ‘steady and reasonably high’ growth despite shifts in political regimes and economic policies over decades since its independence in 1971.

Representatives of administration, bureaucrats and politicians joined these elites in expanding their sources to earn more money from and the syndicate continued to grow through discoveries of new resources like new maritime boundary, they said. The experts taking part in the discussion also expressed concern that the 'deal' was not, however, enough to attain inclusive growth. They also appreciated achieving the existing growth trend, despite weaknesses in many of the market-enhancing institutions, because of a reasonably robust form of 'growth-enhancing governance'. But they also stressed the need for holding periodic, fair and contestable elections to satisfy popular aspirations, and for seeking legitimacy.

Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) in cooperation with Effective States of Inclusive Development (ESID), University of Manchester jointly organised the policy workshop on 'Politics and Development, Democracy and Growth: Bangladesh and Beyond' at Brac Centre Inn. The workshop contained three important sessions titled Understanding the Politics of Economic Growth; Understanding the Politics of Social Policy; and The Political Settlement in Bangladesh: Past, Present and Future.

Taking part in the discussion, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan said: "The term 'ideology' is now a myth. Ideals are used to deliver speeches on the national days. Personal development is stronger than idealism. Whoever the player is now, all are motivated with this."

‘The existence of this equilibrium is related to the expansion of sources from where rents are collected,’ said Centre for Policy Dialogue distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya. ‘The question is how long will this equilibrium hold?’ asked Debapriya.

Mirza Hasan, an adjunct fellow at the BIGD, presented the first session’s keynote paper on navigating the labyrinth of the deals world and politics of economic growth in Bangladesh. He authored the paper along with Selim Raihan, University of Dhaka. ‘Ordered deal was maintained under military dictatorships, dominant party settlements exhibiting mostly centralised rent management, as well as under competitive party settlement in Bangladesh,’ reads one of the points mentioned in the keynote paper referring Bangladesh as a unique case. ‘In economic domain, the elites don’t fight. They come together at the end of the day,’ said Mirza. As a result, business community has become politically stronger, said the paper. It also mentioned that the country’s growth has been a topic of surprise for many given the facts that it has a bad reputation for governance and it is not the source of any extraordinary products that cannot be produced by many countries.

Dr. Sohela Nazneen, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka; Ms. Simeen Mahmud,Head, Gender Cluster & CGST, BIGD; and Dr. Naomi Hossain, IDS also presented their paper at the workshop. Eminent academics and policy experts including David Hulme, CEO, ESID; Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud, University of Dhaka; Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, PPRC; Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD and Professor Rounaq Jahan of the Centre for Policy Dialogue and Mr. Kazi Anis Ahmed,writer and publisher discussed at the workshop on the presented papers. Sujan secretary Badiul Alam Majumder, The Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam, Dhaka University teacher Asif Nazrul, and former caretaker government adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman attended the workshop among others.


Presentation: Political Settlement and Inclusive Development

Presentation: Navigating the Labyrinth of the Deals World: Politics of Economic Growth in Bangladesh

Presentation: Political economy of policy and implementation in the Bangladesh health sector: implications for reducing maternal mortality

Presentation: The Politics of promoting Gender equity in Bangladesh: The Domestic Violence law

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