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In democracy people’s trust is crucial, Dr. Gowher Rizvi said at regional conference on GPMS

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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.

Talk by Dr Sabina Alkire at BIGD on measuring multidimensional poverty

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Talk by Dr Sabina Alkire at BIGD
on measuring multidimensional poverty
Prof. Sabina BIGD Visit 3
Dr Sabina Alkire, Director, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Department of International Development, University of Oxford visited BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University on May 19, 2016 and attended a talk with Researchers and Staff of BIGD in BIGD Conference Room. She delivered a presentation titled Measuring multidimensional poverty: Insights from around the world. BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman welcomed Prof. Sabina to BIGD and chaired the event.  
Followed by the presentation, Dr. Sabina shared her findings and experience with the attendees. She  said, ‘poverty’ if measured, can importantly influence how we come to understand it, how we analyse it and how we create policies to tackle it. For these reasons, measurement, methodologies can be of tremendous practical relevance. This and various other practical factors have increased demands to understand poverty and social policies with a new light; which in turn have generated a unique need for comprehensive multidimensional poverty measurement. Therefore, Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) is a highly valuable tool in addition to the pre-existing uni-linier monetary poverty measurement.
Prof. Sabina Visit 2
Dr Sabina Alkire seen at the event (right)
Among others, BIGD Researchers and staff attended the talk.
Dr. Sabina directs the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), a research centre within the Department of International Development, University of Oxford. She is also the Oliver T. Carr Professor and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at George Washington University (part time until 2016). She continues as research collaborator of the Harvard Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University. A Rhodes Scholar and an awardee of the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize (International), Dr Alkire has written extensively on multidimensional poverty.

Training on Government Performance Management System

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Training on Government Performance Management System

8 COP Training GPMS F
Mr. N. M. Zeaul Alam, Secretary (Coordination & Reforms), and Mr. Md. Mahiuddin Khan, Additional Secretary (Reforms),
of Cabinet Division (Image 1 & 3 clockwise from top ) are seen facilitating trainings;
A group-work during training (Image 2 clockwise from top )

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and the Cabinet Division, Government of Bangladesh (GoB) jointly hosted a 10-day training on Government Performance Management System, held during April 11-25, 2016 at the CIRDAP Training Room, Dhaka. The purpose of the training was to help 250 representatives of all 48 Ministries/Divisions orient and train on how to design the vision, mission, objectives, and indicator based performance targets in 2016-2017 for each Ministry/Division. The training was also meant to help frame Annual Performance Agreement (APA) of the Government and make improve capacity on results based management.

Mr. N. M. Zeaul Alam, Secretary (Coordination & Reforms), Cabinet Division; Mr. Md. Mahiuddin Khan, Additional Secretary (Reforms), Cabinet Division; Mr. Md. Abdul Halim, Director General, Governance Innovation Unit, Prime Minister’s Office; Mr. Abu Saleh Md. Ferdous Khan, Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Division; Mr. Altaf Hossain Sheikh, Deputy Secretary, Cabinet Division; and Mr. Kamrul Hasan, Senior Assistant Secretary, Cabinet Division conducted different training sessions.

7 COP Training GPMS F
Mr. Mohammad Shafiul Alam, Cabinet Secretary; Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD and Mr. Md. Mahiuddin Khan,
Additional Secretary (Reforms), Cabinet Division in the closing ceremony (Image 1 from left)

The training was concluded following a closing ceremony on 25 April 2016 at the meeting room of the Cabinet Secretary. The closing event was chaired by Mr. Mohammad Shafiul Alam, Cabinet Secretary, the Government of Bangladesh. Among others, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD; Mr. N. M. Zeaul Alam, Secretary (Coordination & Reforms), Cabinet Division; Mr. Md. Mahiuddin Khan, Additional Secretary (Reforms), Cabinet Division; and Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdar, Senior Programme Manager of BIGD, attended the closing ceremony. The chair concluded the training with thanks to organizers, trainers and trainees.

BIGD, in cooperation with the World Bank and the Government of Bangladesh, has been implementing the second phase of the project titled “Community of Practice (CoP) on Performance Management in South Asia” since July 2015 to help strengthen the performance management system of the Government. This training was organized under the interim activity plan of the project.



Strong political will is needed to improve the poor functioning of Ward Shabhas, says Dr. Salimullah Khan

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Sharique-BIGD Seminar on
Ward Shabha Operational Guideline held

Sharique ward shabha seminar
Strong political will is needed to improve the poor functioning of Ward Shabhas. To make it more effective. the authority needs to be transferred to the local government institutions to ensure democratic participation of citizens, said Dr. Salimullah Khan, political analyst and Professor, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), at a BIGD seminar. Dr. Salimullah was addressing the even t as a panelist. BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University organized the seminar to disseminate the Ward Shabha Guideline among its stakeholders prepared under the Local Governance Programme SHARIQUE, on Aug 30, 2016 at the Lake Shore Hotel in Capital. The operational Guideline was prepared to assist UP elected representatives with practical suggestions for efficient and effective operations of the Ward Shabha. The seminar was a two-hour session in which the guideline was shared with local government experts, practitioners, academics and policy makers to exchange views with them.

Ward Shabha is an important tool for ensuring social accountability and citizens’ engagement in the overall local governance of UP. It is expected that a well-functioning Ward Shabha will further strengthen the accountability mechanism in UP addressing the local priority needs.

Mr. Kaspar Grossenbacher, Country Director, Helvetas Swiss Inter Cooperation delivered the opening remarks at the event. Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow and Team Leader of Sharique, BIGD delivered the key note speech and presented the issues and also proposed the Guideline related to Ward Shabha.
The Guideline highlights different issues for making Ward Shabha functional including the needs for drafting agenda for Ward Shabha, documenting its proceedings, making appropriate public announcements, deploying volunteers to manage crowds, among other things.

Following the presentation, a lively discussion held under the facilitation of Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD, where participants gave their views and shared experiences on the issue. Mr. Ershadul Hauqe, Deputy Secretary, Union Parishad Wing, Local Government Division (LGD), Mr. Swapan Kumar Sarkar, Former Additional Secretary and Director General, Local Government Division, Mr. Azizur Rahman Siddique, Consultant of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), among others spoke at the event.

Mr. Ershadul Hauqe admitted that the Union Parishads have lot of limitations but change was also taking place. For the progress to sustain, he emphasized on citizen’s continuous and active participation. Mr. Swapan Kumar Sarkar said that the Union Parishad needed resource and capacity to conduct Ward Shabhas, which currently it has not.

Elected representatives from the Sharique working areas also shared their experiences of Ward Shabha and expressed their agreement with all the issues highlighted in the presentation.

Concluding the seminar, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, said, “Although there appears to be lots of constraints with regard to the functioning of Ward Shabha in Bangladesh, the situation is not frustrating if we look at the history of our democracy. With increasing political will, we can turn the picture around and ensure a vibrant Ward Shabha that contributes to the functioning of the whole Union Parishad.”

At the end of the programme, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman and Mr. Kaspar Grossenbacher formally handed over the Guideline and two other advocacy briefs titled “Strengthening Women’s Representation in Union Parishad” and “Strengthening Committees and Standing Committees of Upazila and Union Parishads” of Sharique programme to Mr. Ershadul Haque, Deputy Secretary, Union Parishad Wing, Local Government Division (LGD).

Media Coverage

Regional Discussion on Increasing Women’s Representation in Local Government

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Regional Discussion at Sunamganj on Increasing Women’s Representation in
the Local Government held
DSCN3330 Large Small
Amir Uddin, Rafiqul Islam Talukdar, Syeda Salina Aziz Dr. Shanawez Hossain
and Prof. Suchita Sharmin at the event (from left)

As the Union Parishad (UP) elections have started the Local Governance Program SHARIQUE, implemented by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and  Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation (HSI), considers the period as an opportunity to advocate for one of the program’s advocacy issues, which is increasing women’s representation in local government.

To reach a broader audience locally and to engage local government representatives, politicians and local administration in increasing women contestants in both reserved and general seats in the UP elections, SHARIQUE and BIGD held an awareness-raising discussion on March 10, 2016 at Shaheed Abul Hossain Auditorium, Sunamganj.

The event was an interactive platform where some research findings and field observations on women’s participation in both reserved and general seats were presented by guest speaker Prof. Suchita Sharmin, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka.

Following the presentation, a discussion under the facilitation of BIGD Senior Researcher Ms. Syeda Salina Aziz was held, where participants gave their views and shared experiences on the issue. Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow and Team Leader of SHARIQUE, BIGD; Mr. Rafiqul Islam Talukdar, Senior Programme Manager, BIGD, and Mr. Amir Uddin, Field Coordinator, HSI participated in the discussion, among others.

Expressing concern over her eligibility to contest the upcoming elections Ms. Mahfuza Akter Rina, reserved seat Member from Salukabad Union, Bishwambharpur Upazila said, currently nominations are being collected from the field and political parties are favouring male candidates as they have affiliations with politicians. `I am seeking nomination for general seats this time but people are discouraging me because I do not have the political connections. I am worried whether my nomination for general seats will be accepted or not,' said Mahfuza.

Local government experts and practitioners have observed that in some regions there exists a lack of awareness of the fact that women can contest general seats as well. This observation came up again during the discussion. For instance, Ms. Orpona Sutradhar, another reserved seat Member from Rajanagar Union, Derai Upazila said, majority of women candidates do not know that they can contest general seats too.

Final Collage Pic Sunamganj
Participants at the discussion session

Prof. Porimol Kanti Dey (Rtd.) of Sunamganj College said, the system of reserved seats should be abolished because it gives the impression that a certain number of seats already exists for women, so why do they need to contest general seats. Similarly, when we say that political parties should ensure 33% women representation in their committees, we are implicitly indicating that around 70% or the majority of committee members are men. Therefore, instead of keeping reserved seats, if every Ward has alternatively one male member and one female member, gender disparity in the local government could be removed to some extent. Similar opinion was expressed by Mr. Nurul Haque Talukdar, Chairman of Tanore UP, Derai Upazila.

Research findings of other organisations have long revealed women are not able to function effectively in the Upazila and Union Parishads because of capacity constraints. Highlighting this limitation Ms. Sabekunnahar Shilpi, Vice Chairman, Dharmapasha Upazila Parishad, said, although a woman represents three Wards, she is not given the due respect, resources or authority that a male member gets while representing only one Ward.  If women are trained on the relevant legislative provisions soon after they get elected, they will be more aware of their roles. In addition, the government should introduce a minimum literacy rate to ensure efficient participation of women.

Commenting on the Representation of the People Order (RPO)’s provision of keeping 33% women’s representation in party committees, Mr. Abu Sayeed Md. Khalid, former General Secretary of District BNP, said, currently, the Parishads do not function properly and the very demand for party workers is absent. This provision can only be fulfilled if the local government is active and there are lots of actions going on at the local level.

Mr. Ruhul Amin, Co-Secretary of Taherpur Upazila BNP, said we men have to change our perceptions of women and step aside from our patriarchal mentality. We have to allow our wives and sisters to become elected representatives, otherwise how can we expect them to get ahead?

On the other hand, expressing his frustration Mr. Nurul Haque Afindi, Secretary of Jamalganj Upazila BNP said, I personally have tried to ensure 10-15% of women’s representation in all political activities of my party, but I am disappointed so far because no woman participates.

Mr. Md. Shahjahan, Chairman of Surma UP, Dowarabazar Upazila, said, “In this regard, women themselves have to step up as well and be more active in demanding their rights.”
Concluding the discussion and urging local politicians to nominate women for both general and reserved seats, researchers and representatives of BIGD and SHARIQUE said that women can easily get access to the public. As elected representatives, they are the nearest to citizens and can share their joys and sorrows, hopes and dreams. Therefore, building women leadership locally can help political parties in getting closer to ordinary people and identifying the needs of their constituencies. Nominating women for the post of UP Chair and supporting them to contest general seats will also demonstrate party commitment to internal democracy.


State of Cities 2016 report launched

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State of Cities 2016
Traffic Congestion in Dhaka City - Governance Perspectives report launched

Soc LaunchNaim Ahmed, Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, Dr. Sultan Hafeez rahman, Professor Nazrul islam and Dr. Shanawez Hossain are seen at the launching ceremony (from left)

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University launched one of its annual flagship research report titled State of Cities 2016: Traffic Congestion in Dhaka City - Governance Perspective on 27 December 2016 at the BRAC Centre Inn, Dhaka. 

Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, Vice Chancellor, BRAC University and Professor Nazrul Islam, Chairman, Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), have attended  the event as the Guests of Honour. Mr. Naim Ahmed, Former Commissioner, Dhaka Metropolitan Police,  discussed on the report, while Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD chaired the event. Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Research Fellow of BIGD presented the findings and recommendations of the research report at the event. 

Learned participants and professionals participated at a Q/A session followed by the formal launching.

The event was also attended by relevant professionals, academics, experts and media who also discussed on the report and shared their opinions.

This is the fifth report of its kind which focused on the problem of traffic congestion in Dhaka city. The study's main objective was to examine the governance and institutional issues underlying traffic congestion in Dhaka, and develop proposals to tackle the issues and strengthen the institutions responsible for Dhaka's transport management.


The study focused on the Dhaka Metropolitan area and six key government agencies in particular – Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) and Rajuk. Based on 'governance perspectives' the investigation was conducted adopting a 'political economy framework'. Data was collected from both primary and secondary sources through key informant interviews, a 'score-card' survey of the six institutions, case studies and site observations. A major questionnaire survey of 774 transport users was also carried out to obtain people's views of the main traffic issues and priorities for action.

The survey of transport users found that most people identified management issues as the main causes of traffic congestion, particularly: (1) haphazard parking, (2) streets occupied by private transport, and (3) violation of traffic rules. Therefore effective traffic management, including restraining the demand for private transport, is crucial for reducing Dhaka's congestion.

The report also examined the institutional arrangements and coordination mechanisms for transport in Dhaka. There are over 30 agencies involved in transport in the metropolitan area, which makes coordination very difficult. However, the main transport coordinating authority (DTCA) is significantly under-staffed and lacking authority. Similarly, most of the key institutions are internally challenged due to limited human capacity (number and skills of professional staff), limited equipment, poor internal accountability mechanisms and lack of transparency. They are also externally challenged in their co-ordination with other organisations as they are all responsible to different ministries, four of which are mainly responsible for Dhaka's transport management: Home Ministry (police); Ministry of Local Government (city corporations and upazilas); Road Transport and Bridges (DTCA and BRTA) and Ministry of Housing and Public Works (Rajuk). This diffusion of responsibility together with DTCA's weakness is considered the single most important challenge for improving transport co-ordination in Dhaka.

The study found that despite many laws and much activity by the enforcement agencies, drivers frequently break the rules and likewise pedestrians. On the other hand, survey respondents reported weaknesses and poor practices in traffic law enforcement. People's knowledge of the traffic laws was patchy, with less than half of interviewees knowing about parking rules, speed limits or requirements for official documents. A high proportion of road users admitted they sometimes broke the traffic laws, and bus drivers were considered more likely to break the laws than private drivers. However, people identified the main causes of traffic law violations as competitive pressures on bus operators, and poor police enforcement.

The study examined institutional issues relating to enforcement. Regarding BRTA, it was noted that the driver and vehicle licence system is dominated by 'brokers' who charge substantial fees and can even arrange a licence without a test. In 2015 there were nearly 2 million fake licences, according to the High Court. Regarding police enforcement, despite the official activity, survey respondents said poor enforcement was the main challenge for traffic management in Dhaka.

The report also found that entry to the bus sector in Dhaka was very difficult due to informal payments and the need for political connections, which tended to reduce healthy competition. Once a bus enters service, numerous informal payments have to be made to keep operating. Although government officials deny it, bus operators allege that standard monthly informal payments are paid, as well as random on-the-spot daily payments. Both types of payment are facilitated by weak guidelines and processes from the enforcing agencies: for example, no background studies are carried out when route permits are issued; bus stops are not clearly marked in many places in Dhaka; the traffic police have no equipment for measuring vehicles' speeds; and most public vehicles do not have speedometers due to weaknesses in vehicle fitness inspection. Bus operators considered that informal transactions constituted one-half of their monthly operating costs, reducing their profitability which was further reduced by Dhaka's increasing congestion. As a result, bus service quality was compromised since the operator's survival depended on management of informalities and their focus was shifted from passengers to patrons.

Management of hawkers and sidewalks presented a similar picture: Dhaka's 2.6 lakh hawkers are actually highly regulated and pay significant sums to the authorities for the privilege of trading on the streets. The system is well-organised, with informal daily payments to 'line-men' as well as monthly informal rents. The funds are passed on to the enforcing authorities as well as local political parties, and the total sums are quite remarkable. Based on information from stakeholders as well as secondary sources, this study estimated that the annual collection of informal 'rents' from hawkers totaled about Tk.1,825 crore per year (about $228 million), which is nearly as great as the combined budgets of Dhaka North and Dhaka South City Corporations in 2015/16. However, this informal management of Dhaka's footways has negative consequences for almost everyone: for the general public, who suffer from crowded footways and increased traffic congestion; for the hawkers, who pay high rents yet face daily insecurity; and for the city authorities, who lose substantial revenue income.

The report also examined the costs and impacts of traffic congestion on Dhaka's citizens, particularly the economic costs (measured as the value of people's time lost in traffic delays and the increased vehicle costs due to wasted fuel); and the social costs such as discomfort, stress, and changed social behavior. With a case study of a particular route of Dhaka (from Airport to Postogola Bridge via Gulshan, Mohakhali, Gulistan and Buriganga Bridge, 26km), the average off-peak journey speed for motor vehicles was measured at around 22kph, while the peak period average speed fell to around 9 kph. The economic cost of this delay was estimated at around Tk. 227 crore per month ($28.4m per month), or roughly Tk.53 for each passenger trip, most of which was due to lost time rather than vehicle operating costs. If other components of Dhaka's traffic congestion are taken into account, such as environmental and social costs, the results are even more alarming. The study also identified that the impacts were heavily clustered among service holders, who had a higher willingness-to-pay to avoid or reduce congestion.


Click here to download Full Report of State of Cities 2016                                           Media Coverage: Launching of SoC 2016