Minister for transparency, regular audit for any institution, The News Today, February 27, 201326 February, 2013
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Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu on Tuesday said accountability, transparency, participatory approach and regular auditing are a must to give democratic shape to any institution, reports UNB.
He came up with the remark while addressing a seminar, titled 'Sharing the Findings on the Local Government Accountability and Audit Systems', in the city.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) arranged the seminar at Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies (BIISS).
The Information Minister said there are specific directives in the Constitution (section 59 and 60) about the Local government and said the Local Government will turn into a corruption-free and skilled institution through ensuring accountability and participation.
Local Government Division Secretary Abu Alam Md Shahid Khan and Controller of Defence Finance Division M Motahar Hossain spoke at the seminar as special guests. Former Ambassador and BEI President Farooq Sobhan presided.
USAID representative Jerome Sayre and former ambassador M Humayun Kabir also spoke on the occasion.
Local government bodies mostly non-functional:Bangladesh Enterprise Institute unveils study on accounting and audit systems, The Daily Star, February 27, 201326 February, 2013
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The local government bodies should have to activate their internal committees immediately to ensure transparency and accountability in financial activities at the grassroots level, a study said yesterday.
Bangladesh has three tiers of local governments -- Union Parishad, Upazila Parisad and Pourashava -- in a bid to decentralise the administrative work.
The local government bodies have a number of structural weaknesses such as ineffective functioning of ward and standing committees, poor monitoring mechanism and political bias in selecting committee members, the study said.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) conducted the study on local government audit systems, covering 14 union parishads, seven upazila parishads and seven pourashavas.
“The law requires 17 standing committees for upazila parishads,” said M Humayun Kabir, vice-president of BEI when sharing the findings of the study at the BIISS auditorium in the city yesterday.
Standing committees are practically non-functional, with about 92 percent of the respondents claiming that meetings of the committees do not hold at all, he said.
“The committees are formed largely on political considerations and personal rapport with the chair, and hence not effective,” said Kabir.
Though audits by OCAG take place over the local government bodies routinely, the process remains largely perfunctory and in most cases do not adhere to the objective of such audits, he said.
An open-end mutual fund is a type of investment fund that gathers capital from a number of investors to create a pool of money that is then re-invested into stocks, bonds and other assets.
The fund does not have a fixed amount of share capital and can issue or redeem units according to shifts in demand, and the investors effectively are shareholders in the fund in proportion to their investment.
The BSEC also decided to provide a full-fledged merchant banking licence to Sandhani Life Finance, with the letter of intent due soon.
A merchant bank is a bank with a wide range of specialised services for companies and large investors, including underwriting and advising on securities issues and other forms of capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, trading on capital markets, research and private equity investments etc.
Presently, there are 53 merchant banks in Bangladesh, of which 44 are full-fledged.
Formation of local govt commission, audit directorate for local bodies stressed , The Financial Express, February 27, 201326 February, 2013
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Speakers at a seminar on Tuesday emphasised on formation of an independent directorate in the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (OCAG) to ensure regular auditing for local government bodies.
They also advocated for introducing Local Government Commission to make the elected representatives in the local government bodies - Union Parishad (UP), Upazila Parishad (UzP) and Pourashava accountable to the people about their activities.
The key recommendations came after a study found that most of the elected members of the local government bodies do not have any workable knowledge about role of accountability in the financial management.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) arranged the seminar to share its study findings on Local Government Accountability and Audit System at Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies (BIISS) in the capital on the day.
BEI president Farooq Sobhan presided over the function where minister for the Ministry of Information Hasanul Haq Inu was present as the chief guest.
Showing a PowerPoint presentation, BEI vice-president M Humayun Kabir said the study found the required internal accountability components like ward committee, standing committee, citizens' charter and account management of the local government were formed but do not function properly.
"Minutes or resolutions of the meetings of the local government bodies in most cases are not recorded and forwarded to UNO (Upazila Nirbahi Officer) as prescribed by law," he said, adding that 90 per cent of the elected representatives are not fully aware of the role of accountability in the financial management in the local government bodies.
About monitoring system, Mr Kabir, also the lead researcher of the study, said the government officials from division or district levels pay visit to the UPs but not as frequently as they are supposed to.
He said sixty-five per cent of the respondents of UP reported to have no audit observations while around 4 per cent said they had 1-5 pending audit observations.
"Interestingly, 31 per cent of them said they had no knowledge about the important issue," he said, adding that the study covered 14 UPs, 7 UzPs and 7 Pourashavas all over the country.
Information minister Hasanul Haq Inu said the fundamental things like accountability, transparency, participation in the decision making and regular auditing make an institution democratic.
The Information Minister said there are specific directives in articles 59 and 60 of the Constitution regarding the local government. "But the country's existing laws about the issue are not incompliant with the articles. In some cases, it is incomplete and contradictory," he said.
He said the main challenges are to develop an effective disclosure system and social audit system in accordance with the articles. "So, my suggestion is to go with formation of local government commission and audit directorate for local government," he said.
A comprehensive law is needed where there will be a code of conduct to specify the roles of lawmakers, government officials and elected representatives in the LG bodies. "The parliamentarians and the politicians should come forwards in this connection," he said.
He was also critical over section 25 of the Local Government (Upazila Parishad) Act, saying that the provision forced the local government councilor to execute the lawmaker's advice. "Transparency and accountability cannot be ensured at the LG bodies by formulating such laws," he added.
General Secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) Badiul Alam Majumdar termed 'ward shava or open meeting' one of the most unique mechanisms to make LG bodies more effective.
"Such meeting should be held twice a year as per the law, but most of the LG bodies ignored it. It also helps not only identify the priorities, but also initiate many social campaigns in the localities," he added.
Speaking as special guest, local government division's secretary Abu Alam Md. Shahid Khan said mayor or chairman remains busy with Salish (arbitration through local leaders), politics and business.
"How many days, they (the elected representatives) are going to their offices. Most of them are moving around the capital for lobbying or asking favour," he said.
He added that the overall system in the LG bodies should be streamlined to make the institutions effective and accountable to the common people.
Md. Moahar Hossain, controller general of defence finance, mentioned the limited manpower of the audit department, saying that the local government size in terms of manpower increased by 17 per cent while audit department by only 2 per cent a year.
"That's why they cannot afford to go to all local government units. They should go to the selected audits," he added.
Thrust on continuation of govt policy for wooing more FDI, The Financial Expres, February 28, 201327 February, 2013
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Speakers at a roundtable discussion in the city Wednesday laid emphasis on the formation of parliamentary caucus and continuation of government policy for attracting more foreign direct investment (FDI) for achieving the targets of vision 2021.
They also said the role of the parliamentarians could help facilitate in accelerating the flow of FDI and ensure a stable and long term investment plan that ultimately can help the country to become a middle income country by 2021.
The observation came at the discussion titled "Improving Investment Climate in Bangladesh to Realise the Vision 2021" at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital.
During the programme a book was also launched on "Building partnership between the parliamentarians and the private sector to modernise and update regulatory mechanism in Bangladesh".
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) under the programme on Promoting Democratic Institutions and Practices (PRODIP) organsied the programme in association with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UKaid and the Asia Foundation.
Commerce Minister Ghulam Muhammed Quader was present as the chief guest while former foreign minister Barrister Anisul Mahmud MP was the special guest. President of BEI Farooq Sobhan moderated the discussion.
The participants- members of parliament, policy markers, bureaucrats, academics and development partners - also stressed on reviewing the existing policies and removing the regulatory barriers that could be effective to create an investment-friendly atmosphere in fulfilling the aims of the vision 2021.
They also advocated that the parliamentary caucus, if formed, could help the country in improving the investment climate scenario.
They suggested improving the utility services-gas and power- and infrastructure and device for problem resolving mechanism with a faster effective approach.
Lecturer of the Department of Economics of North South University Sakiba Zeba, private sector expert Fayaz Taher and President of Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) Jahangir Saadat dwelt on "Administrative and Regulatory Barriers in attracting FDI in Bangladesh", Issues in Facilitating FDI: Entrepreneur's Perspective" and " Case study on KEPZ" respectively.
The Commerce Minister said the country needs more FDI since investment is considered as the engine of growth.
"Bangladesh has the potential for more FDI. More investment means creation of more jobs through massive industrialisaiton. But the foreign investments are not coming as per our expectation," he observed.
Mr Quader said the collective efforts by the lawmakers and the entrepreneurs could emerge as an effective tool for removing all bottlenecks to the smooth flow of investment.
Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud suggested the authority concerned for ensuring congenial atmosphere in the country for FDI with the improvement of gas, power and other utility services.
The ruling Awami League member of parliament (MP) Gulam Maula Rony said the lawmakers seem to have much power but in reality they could exercise very little. He pleaded for a benevolent and perfect leadership who will be able to show dynamism that ultimately will help in attracting more FDI in the country.
Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Bangladesh William Hanna suggested political stability for wooing more FDI. He said a level playing field for the private sector is a must for getting a huge chunk of FDI.
He said despite the government's liberal policy the European investors had been facing some hurdles here that must be removed.
President of KEPZ Jahangir Saadat urged the government to resolve the existing problems so that the export processing zone could go for full operation and thus contribute to the country's economic growth.
Chairman of Bangladesh Tariff Commission (BTC) Shahab Ullah, former minister of state for foreign affairs Abul Hasan Chowdhury, Managing Director of AK Khan Group of Industries Salahuddin Kasem Khan and Executive Member of Board of Investment (BoI) Nabhash Chandra Mandal and Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of Abdul Monem Group ASM Mainuddin Monem, among others, were present.
Policy support to boost FDI: Policy support to boost FDI:Roundtable meeting suggests greater role from lawmakers, Daily Sun, February 28, 201327 February, 2013
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Speakers at a roundtable Wednesday suggested greater role from the lawmakers to facilitate increased inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI), much needed for a higher economic growth.
Speakers at the roundtable said the country has maintained a steady growth, but to achieve the ‘Vision 2021’, it would not be enough.
Some 30 to 35 percent of GDP should be invested to accelerate the growth to 8 percent or more, from the current average of nearly 6.5 percent, which requires active support from the parliamentarians, they added.
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI), in association with The Asia Foundation, organised the roundtable on “Improving Investment Climate in Bangladesh to Realise the Vision 2021” at a local hotel.
BEI president Farooq Sobhan chaired the roundtable.
Lawmakers’ role was also sought for removing existing policy and regulatory barriers to FDI to create an investment-friendly policy framework to fulfill the vision of a middle income country by 2021.
The speakers also underscored the continuation of national plans and policies for the greater interest of national development.
Taking part in the discussion, Commerce Minister GM Quader said parliamentarians should remain above their personal interests.
“Parliamentarians should be people’s representative; not of business community,” GM Quader said.
EU Ambassador to Bangladesh William Hanna felt the necessity of continuation of the democratic process and the parliamentary system for development of the country.
He said the Europeans are now flooding the country to look for investment opportunities here.
He said investment with home grown resources in Bangladesh is good, but for additional investment to spur growth, FDI would be needed. He called for a “level playing field” for investors.
Lawmaker Golam Mowla Rony suggested forming a parliamentary caucus to look into hurdles related to business and investments.
The event was also, addressed, among others, by former minister Abul Hasan Chowdhury, lawmaker Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud.