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

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Dr. Wahid Abdallah (second from right) before the eminent panel

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.

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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."

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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.

Rank Intervention Rank Intervention
1 TB Treatment 37 Trade Liberalization
2 E-Procurement Across Government 38 Household Solar To Replace Kerosene
3 Nutrition & Micronutrients, ½-5 Year Olds 39 Group And Teach According To Ability
4 Land Records Digitization 40 Sanitation
5 Bus Priority For Dhaka 41 Biomass Cookstoves, Indoor Air Pollution
6 Increase Secondary Education For Girls 42 Hand-Washing Promotion
7 Iron And Folic Acid In Pregnancy 43 Stormwater Drainage In Dhaka
8 Psycho-Social Stimulation For Stunting 44 Transport Infrastructure For Dhaka
9 Immunize Children In Urban Slums 45 Treat Arsenic For All Affected
10 Hypertension Medication 46 Boost Agricultural Productivity
11 Union Digital Center Migration Services 47 Restoration Of Buriganga River System
12 Retrofit Kilns, Outdoor Air Pollution 48 Early Warning Systems And Shelters
13 More Services At Union Digital Centers 49 On-The-Job Management Training
14 Treat Arsenic For 20% Worst Affected 50 Smokeless Tobacco Cessation
15 Newborn Homecare By Health Workers 51 Resettlement To Manufacturing Cities
16 Reform VAT And Automate Collection 52 Polders, Flood Level Less Than 3m
17 Access To Contraception 53 Padma Bridge
18 Golden Rice R&D 54 Trade Facilitation
19 Expand Village Courts 55 Improve School Management
20 RMG Factory Compliance 56 New Hybrid Kilns, Outdoor Air Pollution
21 Balanced Protein Energy In Pregnancy 57 Seasonal Migration Stipends
22 Solid Waste Management In Dhaka 58 Treat And Immunize Cervical Cancer
23 Multi-Drug Resistant TB Treatment 59 Mangrove Protection In Sundarbans
24 Immunize Children In Remote Areas 60 Livelihood Programs
25 Facility Births With Skilled Attendant 61 Flexible Microfinance
26 Tobacco Tax 62 Traditional Microfinance
27 Shared Diesel To Replace Kerosene 63 Vocational Training
28 Import Coal For More Power 64 Provide BAU Inputs Like Textbooks
29 Calcium In Pregnancy 65 LPG Cookstoves, Indoor Air Pollution
30 RMG Palli Special Zone 66 Unrestricted Roads To North East India
31 Improve Teacher Accountability 67 Unconditional Cash Transfers
32 Gasifier Stove 68 Unrestricted Roads To Bhutan And Nepal
33 Ultra-Poor Graduation Programs 69 Import And Domestic Coal For More Power
34 Skills Training For Migrants 70 Computer Assisted Learning
35 Expand Broadband 71 Bond Market
36 Diabetes Treatment 72 Polders, Flood Level More Than 3m