Category Archives: Open Governance/E-Government/Right to Information

Five-year plan targets monitoring, evaluation

Five-year plan targets monitoring, evaluation
Star Business Report

The government yesterday formally unveiled the sixth five-year plan with focus on result-based monitoring and evaluation of performances against the targets.

The government aims to attain more than 7 percent growth of the economy a year and limit inflation within 7 percent during the execution period until fiscal 2015.

With the goal of ensuring inclusive economic growth, the document has set a target of bringing down poverty to 22 percent by fiscal 2015 from 31.5 percent at present and create ten million new jobs.

To monitor the results and performances of ministries and various priority sectors against targets set in the plan, yardsticks of evaluation have been included in the plan. The government approved the plan in June this year.

“The plan offers scope to evaluate its targets and achievements in the backdrop of changing reality,” said economist Wahiduddin Mahmud, chair of a 16-member panel of economists who suggested priorities in the framing of the plan.

Mahmud shared it at the ceremony organised to unveil the documents of the plan at the Planning Commission in Dhaka.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Planning Minister AK Khandker also spoke on the occasion.

In line with the plan, performances of various sectors and ministries will be measured on the basis of 25-30 yardsticks. General Economic Division of the Planning Commission will publish the monitoring reports based on these indices.

“It is not going to be left in the shelf,” said Prof Shamsul Alam, a member of the Planning Commission, citing the scope of result-based monitoring.

The document, which comes after a decade following donor-prescribed Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper to realise development goals, targets an investment of Tk 13.5 trillion in five years.

Of the total investment, 77.2 percent is expected from the private sector, while the rest from the public sector.

Setting strategies for 10 priority sectors, the plan stressed the need for achieving self-sufficiency in food, accelerating industrialisation for increased exports, address power and energy crunch and upgrade infrastructure.

It also emphasises developing human resources through education, focusing on planned urbanisation and improving people’s health and nutrition condition.

“One of the main goals of the plan is to eliminate regional disparity in income and distribute the benefit of growth to all,” said Planning Minister AK Khandker.

The plan, drafted on the basis of consultation with various stakeholders, focuses on expansion of the manufacturing sector to create new jobs.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the plan is different from the past plans that focused more on investment. “It is an indicative document,” he said.

The plan is also reviewable in line with the changes in the context of domestic and global economy, he said.

Tax payment goes online in March

Tax payment goes online in March

Star Business Report

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) will introduce an e-payment system in March with an objective of reducing taxpayers’ hassles in paying taxes.

After the introduction of the e-payment method, people will be able to pay taxes through ATM booth, or online by debit or credit card from anywhere.

Taxpayers will need to use tax identification numbers (TINs) to log on to the website of the NBR and will get acknowledgement receipts as a proof to their payments.

“It will be a revolutionary step,” said NBR Chairman Nasiruddin Ahmed at a press meet at his office, organsied to share various achievements and future initiatives taken to boost revenue collection.

Revenue collection by the tax administrator rose 17 percent to Tk 31,605 crore in the July-November period of the current fiscal year from Tk 27,035 crore during the same period a year ago.

The latest collection is higher than the target of the tax administrator.

To boost collection further, the tax collector has already established 13 new income tax zones and four VAT (value added tax) commissionerates.

The NBR chief said the collection in the first five months is 35 percent of the total revenue collection target for fiscal 2011-12.

“We hope to collect the remaining 65 percent in the next seven months,” he said.

Ahmed said Sonali Bank is carrying out a trial run for the introduction of the e-payment system.

“We will get enough revenue once the method is introduced,” he said.

He said the NBR will launch alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in February to speed up the settlement of 25,000 pending cases involving Tk 20,000 crore.

Ahmed said the NBR will launch ASYCUDA World, a customs data software, in February for full automation of customs.

As per the initiative, the tax administrator has already inked an agreement with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

“The use of the technology (ASYCUDA World) will help prevent leakage in duty collection through various means such as under invoicing,” said Ahmed.

“From January we are starting an intensive monitoring to ensure tax compliance. We will begin a massive drive in the field level in this regard,” the NBR chief said.

The tax administrator has also taken steps to keep Chittagong Customs House open round the clock in a bid to facilitate overseas trade.

Beginning from February next year, the Chittagong customs office will initially remain open till 10pm instead of 5pm now. Banks will also remain open, he said.

Ahmed said the tax administrator has also taken steps to set up an Integrity Unit at the NBR to ensure accountability and transparency of tax officials.

“The Integrity Unit will work as an independent unit. We are now working on the framework,” he said.

For automation, the World Bank has given assurance to finance under its Program for Results arm.

Ahmed said the WB will provide $200-300 million for the automation of the NBR.

E-service centers to be set up in all upazilas

E-service centers to be set up in all upazilas

SANGSAD BHABAN, Nov 30 (BSS) – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told the House today that initiatives were undertaken to set up upazila e-service centers to reach services of the upazila-level government offices to the doorsteps of the people.

“Efforts are also being made so that the people can get these services from the union information service centers,” she said in reply to a question from treasury bench member Kamal Ahmed Mazumdar.

During her question-answer session, the Leader of the House also said that the UNDP-funded Access to Information (A2I) Programme has been working to reach information and services to the doorsteps of the people by implementing ‘Digital Bangladesh.

The Prime Minister said the A2I had set up union information and service centers (UISCs) in 4,501 unions across the country on November 11 in 2010. “I and UNDP Administrator and former New Zealand prime minister inaugurated the UISCs,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said on an average 40 lakh people are getting various government and commercial services every month from these centers.

Besides, she said, district e-service centers were inaugurated across the country on November 14 last so that the people can get services at low cost and in the shortest time without any hassle.

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and I opened the district e- service centers and the activities of these centers have already begun with the people getting services at home,” the Prime Minister said.

She said digital ‘purgee’ system has been introduced at all sugar mills of the country so that 2 lakh sugarcane farmers can get purgee information through mobile phones. Besides, she said, district web portal has been developed in Bangla language to ensure e-services at grassroots level.

E-service center launched in Rajshahi

E-service center launched in Rajshahi

RAJSHAHI, Nov 15 (BSS)- E-Service center has been launched in the Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Monday aimed at making the civic services to public doorsteps for building digital Bangladesh 2021.

The launching ceremony was hosted by district administration marking the inauguration of the countrywide districts E-Service Center and first anniversary of Union Information Service Centers at the conference room of DC office.

Now any information relating to the Deputy Commissioner’s office, irrespective of where it is being sought from, is just a click away through e-mails, said Rajshahi DC Abdul Hannan. When an SMS to 16345 is sent, a return SMS will notify information seekers about the state of his desired application, he added.

With the launching of the district E-Service Center, the public in general will get their expected services easily and quickly through enhancing transparency and accountability in all sections of the district administration.

In this context, he said these information centers, equipped with computers, Internet and offering various online and offline services to people, would ensure transparency and accountability in government offices.

Mayor of Rajshahi AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Prof Zinatun Nessa Talukder, MP, Commissioner of Rajshahi division Abdul Mannan and Additional Commissioner Swapan Qumar Roy were present at the ceremony also attended by other high officials, political leaders, local elites and journalists.

They also witnessed the video conference of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on a big screen at the conference hall.

US software maker finds local market lucrative

US software maker finds local market lucrative
Staff Correspondent

The United States based software giant SAS considers Bangladesh as a thriving market for financial crimes regulatory software as the country is trying to increase its global competitiveness.

The company officials at a conference in the city yesterday projected that fiscal management of the vibrant economy here especially the banking, telecom, capital market and some public sectors need more attention through introducing sophisticated software.

Indian subsidiary of SAS along with its local partner organised the conference on Protecting Market Economy from Financial Crimes at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the evening.

Sudipta K Sen, CEO of SAS India, said key pillars of emerging economy are robust banking, transparent capital market, governance, tax collection, fraud prevention, citizen health, education and security.

As an emerging economy Bangladesh needs to be compliant with world standard of regulations and data analysis. But there remain two major challenges – technology and the quality of data, Sen said.

Speaking as the chief guest Finance Minister AMA Muhith said in these days of information technology knowledge and analytics have become very powerful because of a change in life style.

He said the government has set up 4,500 community information centres across the country in line with its electoral pledges to build a Digital Bangladesh by 2021.

“We had no idea that we could do it so first despite some limitations,” Muhith said.

“There are adversities and possibilities where analytics could be helpful,” he said stressing on innovative software need for financial stability.

Lawmaker Hasanul Huq Inu said the government had pledged for a information society but there is no clear “roadmap” for it.

“The government has pledged to digitise Bangladesh, but where is the roadmap?,” he questioned.

Business intelligence is very important to improve country’s competitiveness. But skilled workforce is needed for that.

“We are teaching ICT without the knowledge of data analysis,” he repented, adding that the government should look into the whole education system to maximise profit and reduce losses.

He said ICT should be involved in reducing poverty and climate change issues because those are the critical issues for vulnerable countries like Bangladesh.

About the fiscal management status of the telecom industry, he said the “hide and seek” game between the telecom companies and their regulator should be over.

Former Indian Chief Justice AM Ahmadi said market economy, globalisation or privatisation were pushed by western nations i.e. capitalists society and the process is on to “re-legitimise” it though it has been proved harmful.

Govt services to be delivered from all district e-service centres

Govt services to be delivered from all district e-service centres

DHAKA, Nov 10 (BSS) – All major public services will be delivered from country’s 64 district e-service centres from November 14, ending the era of over 200-year-old traditional ways of providing government services, which often cause sufferings to the millions.

“The ongoing digitization process is going to set a major milestone after launching the e-service centres at the district headquarters on November 14,” National Project Director of Access to Information (A2I) Programme Md. Nazrul Islam Khan told BSS today.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and UN Secretary General Ban Ki- moon will inaugurate the e-service centre from the Shapla Conference Hall of Prime Minister’s Office.

Nazrul Islam Khan, popularly known as N I Khan, said the government has been convinced with the online services provided through the e-service centre in Jessore district giving up the traditional services introduced since British period.

“After successfully piloting the e-service centre at Jessore district, the government is now launching the similar e-service centre in all the 64 district headquarters which would offer people in many government services faster than before,” he said adding “people can also have access to services online instead of physically going to the office of their deputy commissioners.”

The UNDP-funded Access to Information (A2I) Programme under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is implementing the project aimed at ensuring the people’s access to public services through the Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

N I Khan, who is also the Private Secretary -1 to the Prime Minister, said the government will also set up e-info centre at all level of administration across the country by 2012 side by side mobile SMS service to provide administrative service to the people.

UNDP Assistant Country Director K M Morshed said the launching of e-service centre in all the 64 districts would be a major breakthrough towards reaching the public services quickly to the doorsteps of the people using the digital devices.

“The people will be the major beneficiaries as the e-service centre will provide hassle-free service with saving their labour, money and time,” he added.

The setting up of e- service centre at the country’s district headquarters followed the model of e-service centre in Jessore that piloted successfully in the area.

Deputy Commissioner of Jessore district Mustafizur Rahman, who is also involved with e-service centre in the district said the people had to wait for long to get the land related documents including parcha, khatian.

“If anyone submits application for the said documents, the e-service centre will provide the documents within 3 days instead of over twenty to 3-month time required earlier in the manual system,” he said.

System analyst of A2I and Technical Team Leader of E-service Centre Forhad Zahid Sheikh said, people usually come to the district offices for the services including civic service, particular official services, getting various types of documents and lodging complaints.

“Document of land record is one of the most important document for people. Earlier, people had to go to the respective offices four to five times to get this sort of documents. But, now people will get the document within two or three days after submitting the e-application,” he said.

He said applicant would receive an auto-generated message (SMS) from the system on his mobile phone after submission of his application. The SMS include the track number of the application and the delivery date for the requested document. Accordingly, the applicant can collect the document from the respective office.

They also would be able to get update status of their application by sending receipt number to 16345 from their mobile phone.

“Only the Teletalk mobile phone service is now operating this SMS service for e-info centre. But all the mobile phone companies will be included in this service,” Forhad added.

The official said people could also get similar services from the upazila e-service centre or Union Information and Service Centres (UISCs) instead of coming to the district e- service centre. In most cases, all the services are provided within three working days from the applications.

Rural people get services in online in Paba UZ

Rural people get services in online in Paba UZ

RAJSHAHI, Sept 20 (BSS)- Rural people particularly the widows and distressed freedom fighters and old women have started getting their public services through online in Paba upazila of the district.

They have also started deriving the benefits of submitting complains relating to getting the services through the newly launched e-service system.

A five-member administrative officers’ team led by Joint Secretary Dilwar Bakth had launched the project titled “Introducing Online System: A Pilot Project at Paba UNO Office, Rajshahi” aimed at addressing the constraints being faced by the distressed people by introducing and piloting online services in last May-June.

Meanwhile, the UNO office has so far received 60 applications coupled with some complains through using the online facilities and, subsequently, the office has taken necessary measures.

Dilwar Bakth, previous Deputy Commissioner of Rajshahi, told BSS that the venture will help reducing hassles of the beneficiaries alongside getting the services easily.

“We have introduced online system for quick service delivery by using online system and facilities to facilitate the rural people in getting online service as a part of Digital Bangladesh process,” he added.

Recently, the project has been handed over to the Upazila administration for its full-length operation. Mayor of Rajshahi AHM Khairuzzaman Liton and Joint Secretary of Cabinet Division Dilwar Bakth attended and addressed the handing over ceremony as the chief and special guests respectively with Upazila Chairman Monsur Rahman in the chair.

Highlighting various aspects of the e-service system, Dilwar Bakth revealed that the project is being adjudged as beneficial, sustainable and replicable.

During implementation phase, he mentioned that the beneficiaries got some instant benefits as the project creates opportunity for the poor people to get hassle free service through online system.

Especially, the programme helps poor women including widows, distressed old women and freedom fighters in getting their requisite services.

As a whole, the digitization process is creating opportunity of self- employment among the rural youths side by side with the social contribution.