Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Bangladesh government on Sunday signed an agreement for $25 million in soft loan to improve governance and service delivery in tax collection and land record management
M. Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Secretary, Economic Relations Division (ERD) and Thevakumar Kandiah, Country Director of ADB’s Bangladesh Resident Mission, signed the agreement on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively, at a ceremony at ERD, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the capital Dhaka.
A technical assistance grant of $800,000 is associated with the loan supporting implementation of the Strengthening Governance Management Project (SGMP), and capacity development of its executing agencies.

The project will help two government agencies–National Board of Revenue (NBR) and Department of Land Records and Survey (DLRS), to introduce online filing of tax returns, and digitized land records management system respectively.

The intended impact of the project will be enhanced public trust in government for service delivery. The project outcome will be improved transparency and accountability in tax and land record administration.

ICT applications have the potential to trigger significant improvement in the delivery of public services, transparency, and in the way governments function. As in many other developing countries, Bangladesh has promoted e-governance applications in recent years to foster growth and development and to enhance the quality of service delivery.

In Bangladesh, the income tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is hovering around 2.0 percent, as against 4.0 percent in Pakistan and more than 6.0 percent in India.

Government revenues, at just 12.1 percent of the GDP, are still far too low to meet the growing demand for infrastructure improvement and social services. Along with other measures, filing of tax returns online is expected to raise the tax collection. The SGMP will design, procure and install IT system at NBR for enabling tax payers (for direct taxes) to submit online tax returns.

For DLRS, the project will procure software and hardware to digitize land records in 45 upazilas in five districts, and develop a web-based database of land records including digitizing text data, digitized cadastral paper maps, and all spatial and text files.

The project will also help in establishing selected specialized tax and land information and service centers for easy access to information. Digitizing the land record management system is expected to significantly reduce the land-related litigations, and increase people’s access to land records data.

The NBR and DLRS are the executing agencies for the project, which is due for completion in December 2013.

BBN/SSR/AD-11Sept11-4:45 pm (BST) 

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