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Govt moves toward 100% paperless services for Smart Bangladesh by 2041

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Smart Bangladesh

The government has announced plans to make all its services completely paperless. This initiative is part of the broader “Smart Bangladesh by 2041” vision, aiming to leverage frontier technologies to transform governance.

According to an official document recently presented in the Parliament, the government aims to achieve 100 percent paperless, simplified, and personalized services. “All government services will be made 100 percent paperless, simplified, and personalized to enable frontier-technology-driven on-demand services,” the document states.

Key components of this transformation include making all services accessible and interoperable through the Smart Bangladesh Stack, a digital infrastructure framework. Additionally, data-driven, AI-based dashboards will be introduced for all ministries and departments to enhance decision-making processes.

By 2041, the government aims to significantly improve its standing in the UN e-Government Development Index, targeting a rank below 50. It also seeks to increase the tax-GDP ratio to at least 22 percent through technological advancements.

Another critical goal is to ensure universal and quality healthcare for all citizens, reinforcing the government’s commitment to comprehensive social welfare.

One of the strategic goals for Smart Bangladesh is to establish the country as an innovative nation by 2041. To achieve this, the government is nurturing the next generation of freelancers, CMSME entrepreneurs, and startup founders.

The “One Family, One SEED” initiative is a key part of this strategy, aiming to provide Smart Employment and Entrepreneurship Development (SEED)-based facilities to at least one member of every family by 2041. This initiative is designed to cultivate a robust culture of entrepreneurship across the country.

Additionally, the government is running the “Her Power Project: Empowerment of Women with the Help of Technology,” which provides IT training to 25,125 women across 130 upazilas in 44 districts. After completing the five-month training program, each participant receives a one-month mentorship and a laptop.

The government is actively supporting young entrepreneurs through the Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) project, offering training and financial assistance. As part of decentralizing the innovation ecosystem, the Smart Bangladesh Launchpad is being established as a venture studio to foster new business ventures and startups.

To further support startups, the government has established Startup Bangladesh Limited Company, a venture capital firm that invests in startups at both the seed and growth stages and engages in policy formulation at the national level.

Under the Mission Government Brain (G-Brain), several AI-powered initiatives are being developed, including Personalized Learning InvestorGPT, LawGPT, HealthGPT, and ClimateGPT. These initiatives aim to integrate artificial intelligence into various sectors to enhance efficiency and service delivery.

To facilitate the transition to smart governance, several initiatives have been launched. These include the Government Email Policy 2018 and the integration of 18,434 government offices, including 47 ministries/departments and 64 District Commissioners’ offices, into a unified network.

The Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) has also taken steps to implement e-signature technology without the need for dongles, with 273 officers currently using e-signatures. Additionally, the development of the Digital Municipality Service System (DMSS) is underway, providing e-services in nine municipalities and one city corporation with support from KOICA.

The ‘National Municipal Digital Service’ project aims to expand these services to 329 municipalities, offering 11 e-services. An ERP system with nine modules is being developed to make government offices paperless, with five modules already in use in the ICT and planning departments.

To bridge the gap between the government and the public, the ‘Janatar Sarkar’ citizen interactive web portal has been launched. This portal currently connects 11 ministries/departments, facilitating transparent and interactive communication between citizens and the government.

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UK inflation holds at 2% in June: official data

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UK Inflation

Britain’s inflation rate held steady in June after returning to the Bank of England’s target the previous month, official data showed Wednesday, confounding expectations for another modest slowdown.

The Consumer Prices Index was unchanged at 2.0 percent in June from the same level in May, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement, compared with market forecasts of 1.9 percent.

“Hotel prices rose strongly, while second-hand car costs fell but by less than this time last year,” said ONS chief executive Grant Fitzner.
“However, these were offset by falling clothing prices, with widespread sales driving down their cost.

“Meanwhile, the cost of both raw materials and goods leaving factories fell on the month, though factory gate prices remain above where they were a year ago.”

Analysts said the data could cause the Bank of England to sit tight for a while longer before starting to cut interest rates.

“The chances of an interest rate cut in August have diminished a bit more,” said Paul Dales, chief UK economist at research consultancy Capital Economics.

Last month, the BoE kept its key interest rate at a 16-year high of 5.25 percent, despite slowing inflation in May.

Britain’s newly elected Labour government welcomed news that inflation remained at the BoE’s target level.

“It is welcome that inflation is at target,” said Darren Jones, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in a statement.

“But we know that for families across Britain prices remain high… (which) is why this government is taking the tough decisions now to fix the foundations” of the UK economy, he said.

Labour, led by new Prime Minister Keir Starmer, has pledged immediate action to grow the economy after the centre-left party won a landslide general election victory to end 14 years of Conservative rule.

Later on Wednesday, King Charles III will read out Labour’s first programme for government in a decade and a half, when the UK parliament formally reopens following the July 4 election.
Elevated interest rates have worsened a UK cost-of-living squeeze because they increase borrowing repayments, thereby cutting disposable incomes and crimping economic activity.

The BoE began a series of rate hikes in late 2021 to combat inflation, which rose after countries emerged from Covid lockdowns and accelerated after the invasion of Ukraine by key oil and gas producer Russia.

 

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China’s economy grew less than expected in second quarter: official data

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China’s economy grew 4.7 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2024, official data showed Monday, less than analysts had expected.

“By quarter, the GDP for the first quarter increased by 5.3 percent year on year and for the second quarter 4.7 percent,” Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.

The figures were much lower than the 5.1 percent predicted by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Retail sales — a key gauge of consumption — also slowed to just two percent in June, the NBS said, down from 3.7 percent in May.

The world’s second-largest economy is grappling with a real estate debt crisis, weakening consumption, an ageing population and trade tensions with Western rivals.

Top officials are meeting in Beijing on Monday for a key plenum, with all eyes on how they might kickstart lacklustre growth.

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Concerns Mount Over Revenue Loss as South Asia’s Largest Land Port Curtails Operations

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Bangladeshi officials are grappling with fears of revenue loss as the largest land port in South Asia, situated along the India-Bangladesh border, has ceased operations for 10 hours each day since July 11.

The Petrapole Land Port in India, crucial for trade between the two nations, has been shutting down from 6 PM to 8 AM daily, without providing any explanation for the closure, according to officials from the Benapole Land Authority in Bangladesh. This unexpected halt has left Bangladeshi authorities and traders in a state of uncertainty, as there is no indication of when the operations might resume to normalcy.

Industry insiders warn that this disruption could lead to a significant revenue shortfall at Benapole port due to decreased imports, adversely affecting Bangladeshi importers with delayed product deliveries.

Rezaul Karim, Director of Traffic at Benapole Land Port Authority, emphasized that while Benapole has been maintaining 24-hour operations, Petrapole’s recent restrictions are hindering cargo truck movements after evening.

“We have inquired with the Petrapole port authority about the reasons for halting trade services after evening. They responded that the matter is under discussion with relevant authorities,” Karim said.

Sultan Mahmud Bipul, Secretary of Benapole C&F Agent Association International Checkpost Affairs, highlighted the fiscal implications of this disruption. “Benapole port has set a revenue target of Tk6,705 crore from imported goods for the fiscal year 2024-25. If the 24-hour import facility remains discontinued, it will severely impact our revenue targets,” he noted.

Ziaur Rahman, General Secretary of Benapole Landport Importers and Exporters Association, pointed out the severe impact on trade, particularly with perishable goods. “Traders dealing with perishable food products are incurring the biggest losses due to this halt. The inability of goods trucks to enter after evening will widen the trade deficit,” Rahman remarked.

As the situation unfolds, the Benapole Land Port Authority and associated trade bodies continue to seek clarity and resolution from their Indian counterparts to mitigate the economic repercussions of this operational disruption.

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