Muhith upbeat on paperless govt within next two years

Dhaka,  Tue,  06 December 2016
Published : 28 Nov 2016, 00:00:14

Muhith upbeat on paperless govt within next two years

FE Report


All the government transactions in the country can go paperless within two years through increased digitisation of public service delivery, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said on Sunday.

"I think it is possible to have a paperless government within two years," the finance minister said while speaking at a workshop on "Digital Payments for Digital Bangladesh: Building an Ecosystem for All" held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in the capital.

Access to Information Programme of the PMO and the United Nations 'Better Than Cash Alliance' jointly organised the event.

"The ground is, in fact, quite ready to digitise all kinds of payments and receipts of the government. We have already experimented with this in a few areas and we find it to be quite easy and secure," Muhith said in his speech.

"If the current trend continues, it is possible within a couple of years to reach a situation where most of the government operations are turned paperless," he added.

The finance minister also noted that increased digitisation can also help in eliminating corruption and reducing the scope of errors within the government system.

"This is something that is already happening in Bangladesh as increased digitisation of public service delivery has led to complete elimination of corruption in some areas," Muhith said.  

Speakers at the event also highlighted the progress made by Bangladesh in bringing digital financing at grass roots level and also highlighted on the areas for further improvement.

"Although Bangladesh's growth in the field of digital financing is quite remarkable, still a large portion of the population remains unbanked," said Sudipto Mukerjee, Country Director of the United Nations Development Program in Bangladesh.

"This leaves us with room for further improvement in this area which can encourage industry to move further," he added.

"As part of the government's Vision of a Digital Bangladesh, the Access to Information Program of the Prime Minister's office is working closely with various government ministries as well as national and international stakeholders to ensure digital financial inclusion," said Kabir bin Anwar who is Director General of the Prime Minister's Office and Project Director of the A2I Project.

"As part of the government's move for digitisation, we are already creating an employee database where all the career and salary related information of the government employees will be recorded and updated," Additional Secretary of the Finance Ministry Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury said in his speech.

The workshop also unveiled the United Nations Report titled 'Building Digital Bangladesh: The Way Forward for Digitizing Payments'.

The report reveals that Bangladesh has experienced 120 per cent year-on-year growth in mobile financial services transactions since 2011.

In 2015, over one billion transactions were made digitally, the total worth of which is nearly US$ 20 billion while nearly 70 per cent of government payments were made digitally, the report said.

As of today, over 38 million people have used mobile money services, showing the growing appetite to move away from a cash-dominant economy, it added.

"The significant progress in moving away from cash that Bangladesh has made in such a short amount of time is due to the government's strong leadership, the innovation of the private sector and citizens' openness to a digital future," said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of the Better Than Cash Alliance.

"As the country striving for inclusive growth, Bangladesh has an exceptional opportunity to harness electronic payments to transform lives, businesses, and economies at all levels," she added.

"As the country is striving for inclusive growth, Bangladesh has an exceptional opportunity to harness electronic payments to transform lives, businesses, and economies at all levels," she said.

The Better Than Cash Alliance is a partnership of governments, companies, and international organisations that accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments in order to drive inclusive growth and help people lift themselves out of poverty.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, MasterCard, Omidyar Network, USAID, and Visa Inc. are funders and the U.N. Capital Development Fund serves as the secretariat.

Earlier in June 2015, the government announced a partnership with 'Better Than Cash Alliance' as part of its vision to accelerate its transition from cash to digital payments.

"Our nation's quest to attain middle-income status and our government's efforts at creating a robust digital society are merely two sides of the same coin with the singular goal of ensuring inclusive growth," said Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor for the Access to Information Program.

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