From April-July 2016, we have published more than 20 op-eds as part of our collaboration with Bangladesh Priorities. Teams of economists from Bangladesh and abroad engaged to study 76 concrete solutions in order to work out where a taka spent would do the most good first.
All of these 76 solutions fall within the purview of the ongoing 7th Five Year Plan.
ProthomAlo’s collaboration with Bangladesh Priorities stemmed from my meeting in 2015 with a remarkable Danish professor, Bjorn Lomborg, who has worked on prioritizing solutions to global problems for many years.
Bangladesh Priorities has produced a wealth of useful research but the real impact, of course, is in the actual implementation of locally-driven policy options.
Here, just two months in, it is already impressive. The Hon’ble Finance Minister has read the outcomes and clearly been influenced. In the latest budget, he has, for the first time, used the word “priorities” to discuss implementation of the current Five Year Plan.
Specifically, the budget emphasizes some of the most effective solutions prioritised by the Bangladesh Priorities Eminent Panel, including automated VAT collection, scaling of e-procurement across the government, revamped focus on nutrition, and expansion of digital public and private services through Union Digital Centers.
The main point?
Not all policies are equal. Despite good intentions, some policies will do much more good for every taka spent – and those are the areas we should focus on.
Bangladesh Priorities is making a real difference to Bangladeshi policy. It has provided specific inputs to the upcoming National Nutrition Plan of Action for the next decade. Copenhagen Consensus will organize more high-level summits to look closely at promising policy areas.
It has signed a 3-year MoU with Access to Information (a2i) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to advocate for policies and solutions which would generate most good for every taka invested.
For example, Copenhagen Consensus will be working with a2i in bringing together stakeholders in land digitization to develop a more coherent strategy for smarter investments by both the government and donors.
This editorial marks the end of our publication relationship with Bangladesh Priorities but it is only the beginning of more evidence-based intellectual discussion, using a simple tool of economics: cost-benefit ratios. It is clear that the research is having a real impact on guiding decisions on Bangladeshi priorities and promises to help even more into the future. I’m glad ProthomAlo has been part of this great venture and we await to see Bangladesh being all the better for it.