We must focus more on quality than quantity of development works
to avoid higher maintenance cost
said Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal at the 11th PPSC meeting

11th ppsc meeting


"The lion's share of the budgetary allocation is spent for maintenance. We have to reduce wastage and show zero tolerance. We must focus more on quality than quantity of development works to avoid higher maintenance cost.” said Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal. He advised to replicate citizens' engagement in public procurement process in at least 50 representative upazilas out of the total 491. He also pointed out that effective monitoring through citizens' engagement can reduce project cost and ensure quality.  The planning minister also called for forming area-wise citizens' committee where community and opinion leaders will be the members to monitor various government projects. He was speaking at the 11th meeting of 'Public-Private Stakeholders Committee' (PPSC) under public procurement reform project II of the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) at the NEC conference room in the city on 9 February 2017. BIGD, in association with the World Bank (WB) and Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of IME Division, Ministry of Planning, organised the programme. At present, the project has been piloted in four upazilas of Sirajganj and Rangpur districts. As the broad objective of the PPRP-II is to improve performance of the public procurement system, the meeting discussed learning from the national seminar ‘Citizen Engagement in Public Procurement’ and provides a final update on the field activities.

Mr Kamal said the prime minister has the directive regarding citizens' engagement. There should be identical colour and signboard with description of all development projects; he suggested referring to the PM's instruction. Ruling out various objections about projects of the government, the minister said no project plan is approved without feasibility study and much discussion. "First we see whether the project is in conflict with the 7th five year plan," he said, adding, needs assessment is of course done for any project. "If we can start this practice, this will bring benefit and no harm," he said.

BIGD adjunct fellow Mirza M Hassan made a presentation on experience of pilot projects in four upazilas. He said citizens' engagement needs to be formalised under a legal framework to avoid unnecessary harassment of any party during the project work. It was also observed during the discussion meeting with engineers that project specification was not followed meticulously during implementation stage. Mr Hassan proposed that the pilot projects should be scaled up to district level in a more complex society to ensure quality of project implementation and needs assessment.

Chief procurement specialist of the World Bank, Dhaka Zafrul Islam said citizens' engagement is a new concept although it was thought to be a buzz word a few years back. He noted that citizens' engagement in projects can ensure good governance. There are problems at grassroots level while implementing policy-level decisions, he said. It is necessary to know what the field-level people think about projects and awareness should be created among the field-level officers, he added.

Among others, Md. Faruque Hossain, Director General, CPTU; Syed Rashedul Hossen, Deputy Secretary, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance; Md. Mahmudul Hoque, Joint Secretary, IMED; Md. Rois Uddin, Additional Secretary, LGD,; Md. Nazrul Islam, Member, Planning Commission; Md. Fazlur Rahman, Director Programme, DPE; Brig. Gen. Md. Parvvez Kabir, Director, CMSD; Munshi basher Ahmed, Director, Project Planning, PDB; Mohammad Eklas Uddin, Director of Finance, EWU, Abdul Ahad, Director, Finance and Admin, TIB and Engr. S M Khorshed Alam, Vice President, BACI also shared their observations and suggestions at the meeting. 

PPSC is largely focusing on the key sectoral ministries and targeting their implementing agencies, including Roads and Highways (RHD), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Rural Electrification Board (REB) and Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB). The PPRP-II has four components: 1) furthering policy reform and institutionalizing capacity development, II) strengthening procurement management at sectoral level and Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU)/ Implementation Moni-toring and Evaluation Division (IMED), III) introducing e-Govern-ment (e-GP) behavioural change communication and social accountability.
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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".

CoP
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.
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BIGD & Copenhagen Consensus Center’s
Seminar on Smart Interventions for 7th Plan Priorities

Further priority should be given for the expansion of e-procurement, land digitization and union digital centre. The economic benefits would be much higher and service delivery would improve if the government gives further priority to digitization during the ongoing seventh five-year plan between 2016 and 2020, the researchers of BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) urged the government policy makers at a seminar on Smart Interventions for 7th Plan Priorities, on 09 January 2017, at the BRAC Centre Inn.

Five different papers on Impact of e-procurement on reducing corruption and promoting competition, by Dr. Wahid Abdallah, Research Fellow, BIGD; Land Digitization for Smart Governance, by Ms. Sumaiya Kabir Talukder, Katalyst; Justice at the village level: What is the smart policy?, by Ms. Nabila Zaman, BIGD; Strengthening UDCs for Accelerated Public Service Delivery, and RMG Palli and Factory Compliance, by Mr. Hasanuzzaman, Outreach Manager, CCC, were presented at the seminar.

CCC1

Dr. Shamsul Alam, Member, General Economics Division (GED), Planning Commission, Ministry of Planning and Mr. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i, Prime Minister's Office (PMO), attended the seminar as the Guests of Honour. 

Dr. Nasiruddin Ahmed, Commissioner, Anti Corruption Commission (ACC); Mr. Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, Additional Secretary, Finance Division; Mr. AKM Asaduzzaman Patwary, Research Fellow, Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DCCI); and Mr. Shahariar Sadat, Academic Coordinator, South Asian Institute of Advanced Legal and Human Rights Studies (SAILS)  attended the seminar as panelists.  

Dr. Shamsul Alam, however, said the government should be careful about e-security with the expansion of digitization. Bangladesh Bank lost its US$ 81 million reserve fund due to security breach in electronic payment systems with its account holder, the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Hacking affected the recently held election in the US, he added.

On the basis of cost benefit analysis, the paper on UDC said benefit of Tk 8 would come from spending Tk 1 for expanding UDC service for giving service delivery of mobile banking, citizen certificates, application for machine readable passport and payment of utility bills. The paper also said international migration through the UDCs would generate benefit of Tk 22 from spending Tk 1.

In the other papers on land digitization and e-procurement, the BIDG researchers calculated that there would be big returns against less investment.

In 2011, the government introduced electronic government procurement on limited scale. Only 9.5 per cent of the total government procurement was carried through e-tendering.

Discussants, mostly government officials, lauded initiatives of the BIGD. They said ‘enforcement’ of government policy decisions was more important for improving service delivery than expansion of digitization.

Mr. Muslim Chowdhury said, the cost-benefit analysis was not credible as the researchers did not consider the ‘institutional issues’ and continuous ‘engineering process’. Digitization should not be regarded as a magical tool, he added.

Adviser to ‘a2i project’ of the PMO Mr. Anir Chowdhury said enforcement was always important for implementation of the government policy decisions. Giving an example of Chittagong Customs House (CCH), he said the authorities simplified the delivery system without expansion of the digital devices. He said the CCH authorities decreased the checking points to 6 from previous 42 to implement the government decisions in improving the port services.

Anti-corruption commissioner Nasiruddin Ahmed said the land department was out and out a corrupt organisation. Only digitization would not be able to curb corruption in the sector, he said, adding that long-term reform was needed to tackle the problems in the land sector.

The discussants, however, admitted that the topics described by the BIGD researchers in their papers were crucial. They said the government already prioritised almost all the issues in its seventh five-year plan that would expire in 2020.

The seminar was jointly organized by BIGD and CCC which aimed to discuss the findings of research on a series of important governance and justice policy interventions. Distinguished personalities, senior government officials, academics and experts also attended the seminar. 

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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 

 

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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. 

 

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Local MPs will not interfere with the workings of local governance institutions
- says State Minister Mashiur Rahman Ranga
National Seminar on Local Governance Programme Sharique held
Clash between the Member of Parliament and elected local government officials is the main barrier to ensuring services to the people, said Mashiur Rahman Ranga, State Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. He made the remarks while addressing a national conference on Local Governance Programme of Sharique project as the chief guest jointly organized by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), HELVETAS Swiss Interco operation, Bangladesh and BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) in a hotel of the city on December 7, 2016.
 
Sharique Conference 2016
He said "There is no clash between Members of Parliament and locally elected government representatives to provide good services to the people. These components should work complementing each other for the betterment of the country." Local MPs will not interfere with the workings of local governance institutions, he added.
 
"Our government is working to strengthen and empower the local government. We need more time to ensure the empowerment of the local government beyond the party interest. As part of our empowerment of the local government, we have already ensured accountability to finish the project in due time," said Mashiur Rahman Ranga.
 
State minister for LGRD also said they will discuss the increase of the honorarium of the elected members of local government and create new posts for local government. He also advised to work for increasing revenue in their own way as they can spend more for the people.
 
Emphasizing on the local government system Mani Shankar Aiyer, former Panchayet Minister of India said that “Both democracy and development facilitate each other. If development is not equitable it will pose a threat to democracy. Hence what is required is inclusive growth through inclusive governance and this can be done by allowing more autonomy to local government. The former member of Lok Shabha and Rajya Shabha in India also shared experience of the performance and challenges of the local government of different Indian provinces. He also stressed the need for greater participation of women in local government to bring equitable development. He also said "It's a big challenge to coordinate the root level elected member with government. The successful government can manage this."
 
Attending as the Special Guest, Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Christian Fotsch praised Bangladesh for ensuring the rights of women to vote so early. Though his country gained independence almost 400 years ago, the right to vote for the women was ensured only in 1971.
 
The programme was attended by Mr. Md. Shah Kamal, Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD, Kaspar Grossenbacher, Country Director of HELVETAS Swiss Interco operation, Bangladesh; Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar, Country Representative, The Hunger Project, Dr. Tofail Ahmed, local governance expert and Ms. Melina Papageorgiou Trippolini, Programme Manager of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), among others. Other participants in the programme included academics, elected representatives from Sharique working areas and NGO partners active in local governance sector.
 
 
The event was held to celebrate ten years (2006-2016) of Sharique and also to launch a step-by-step guide that has captured Sharique’s ten years of experience in the local governance sector. The objective of launching this guide is to make the practical lessons learned from the programme available to other stakeholders, including Union Parishad themselves, as well as a range of public and non-governmental partners. The guidance is designed to offer systematic tips and advice to improve accountability, citizen’s participation and effectiveness in development planning and budgeting at the Union Parishad level.
 
In the second half of the day-long event three presentations were made on the role of Union Parishad in disaster management by Mr. Md. Shah Kamal, on budget coverage of Upazila and Union Parishad by Mr. Md. Habibur Rahman, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Finance and on sources of revenue of Union Parishad by Mr. Nurul Islam, Research Officer, NILG. A panel discussion and feedback session were held under the facilitation of Mr. Md. Shah Kamal in which locally elected representatives shared their experiences on the themes presented earlier. 

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