BIGD Research ranked in top 20 of Bangladesh Investment Priorities list
Three research studies of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University were selected in a prioritized and recommended list of priorities for investment by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) that would produce phenomenal benefits for the country. An eminent panel including a Nobel laureate economist and Bangladeshi economic experts announced the lists in the final session of Smarter Solutions for Bangladesh conference on May 12, 2016 organized under a project Bangladesh Priorities: Smarter Solutions for Bangladesh, led by Copenhagen Consensus Centre in cooperation with BRAC’s Research and Evaluation Division.
Three BIGD Research studies, E-Procurement across government (Topic-Digital Bangladesh), Land records digitization (Topic-Land administration) and Expand Village Courts (Topic-Governance and institutions) ranked 2nd, 4th and 19th respectively at the Bangladesh priorities list.
The eminent panel includes Nobel laureate Professor Finn E. Kydland, Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry president and founder Selima Ahmad, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Director General Dr. KAS Murshid, and Vice Chair of BRAC Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury.
Sumaiya Kabir Talukder (second from right) before the eminent panel
In second- and fourth-place on their prioritized list, the Eminent Panel embraced digital solutions for government. Research on E-Procurement across government by Dr. Wahid Abdallah, Research Fellow, BIGD, which ranked second in the list shows that the cost of e-Procurement, spread across the indefinite future, is Tk 1.44 billion (Tk 144 crore). This would bring savings of an estimated Tk 52.7 billion (Tk 5,274 crore) per year. Each taka spent will achieve 663 takas of good. Prof. Finn Kydland said, "E-procurement would be an extraordinarily powerful tool for Bangladesh. Given the low cost and the high volume of contracts handed out, this policy is deserving of real attention.”
Research by Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, and Sumaiya Kabir Talukder, Research Associate, of BIGD, ranked fourth in the list titled Digitisation of Land Records via Simplified Application Process finds that creating electronic land records would make information easy to acquire through a publicly accessible system, and save time and money. They estimate that digitizing the land records system would provide an incredible 619 takas of benefits per taka spent. Selima Ahmad said: "Digitizing land records is the type of policy that Bangladesh should prioritize: We need to embrace the digital age and secure property rights for women and men equally to unlock economic opportunities."
Nabila Zaman (first in right) delivering her presentation before the panel
Another BIGD Research study titled Expand Village Courts by Dr. Md. Shanawez Hossain and Research Associate Nabila Zaman ranked 19 in the list. The Researchers noted that Bangladesh has a backlog of around 2.7 million cases as of 2014; rural areas may struggle to achieve justice for their most impoverished and least influential members. The Researchers propose increasing the power and number of local “village courts” so those with little legal recourse would be better represented in the legal system. Furthermore, they suggest reserving a number of seats for women.
The conference aimed to identify, analyze and prioritize development interventions that will deliver greater benefit per taka spent, helping move Bangladesh towards Vision 2021. Bangladesh Priorities uses the Copenhagen Consensus approach, used over the past ten years to improve global and regional spending priorities. The project works with stakeholders across Bangladesh to find, analyze, rank and disseminate the best solutions for the country. To date, the project has engaged with countless Bangladeshis, putting more than 1100+ pages of peer-reviewed, Bangladesh-focused research into the public domain, and sparking national discussion bout priorities in the pages of the nation’s biggest newspapers and online. In addition to the Eminent Panel, the project is engaging Bangladeshis from all parts of society, through publications in the country’s highest circulations newspapers both in Bangla and English language, radio and TV interviews, meetings with decision makers, and forums for youth and rural communities, to develop a broader conversation about the best solutions. Number of articles regarding the probable issues-Bangladesh should priorities have been published in national and international media. Please read, BIGD Research featured in Bjørn Lomborg’s articles published in local and int’l media.
The Eminent panel considered well over 1,000 pages of new evidence on the costs and benefits of Bangladeshi policy options. Seventy-six policy options were selected for analysis, after public engagement and Roundtables held with government, NGOs, and universities had created a long-list of 1,000 ideas. The Eminent Panel considered research on 76 policy interventions, and decided that there was enough evidence to prioritize 72 of them. More than 60% of the researchers in the project were Bangladeshi.The list below represents their agreed view. The Eminent Panel’s full findings ia available here.