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.