The Parliament and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Bangladesh on Tuesday virtually launched the country’s first ‘My Constituency’ data platform, web and mobile-based application for Members of Parliament to measure the progress of SDGs.
The data platform will support the MPs to track the development progress of their respective constituency and identify the areas for inclusive development planning to improve the lives of underserved people.
It also envisions strengthening interaction with citizens, according to a press release.
UNDP is currently supporting over 60 parliaments around the world and it has had a long and productive partnership with the Parliament of Bangladesh since 1997, through a series of projects. This included the initiation of an international network of parliamentarians for climate justice, policy advisory support to the Speaker’s office, as well as ICT support for MPs’ offices and secretariat staff.
Upon renewal of UNDP’s MoU with the Parliament in 2019, the organisation set out to strengthen the capacities of MPs and the Parliament Secretariat, support MPs with better access to evidence-based data and organisational development.
The data platform was a priority activity, supported by Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme of the ICT Division and the Cabinet Division, supported by UNDP Bangladesh.
Accurate, reliable and timely data is key to measuring progress in the Sustainable Development Goals. Members of Parliament have to handle a plethora of responsibilities for the good of their constituencies, such as enacting legislation, adopting budgets, and ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of SDGs.
My Constituency app gives the MPs better access to quality data for evidence-based decision making and development planning for their constituencies.
This platform was created with a focus on human development data. Its main objectives are to help MPs track the progress of their areas, identify pockets for development planning and strengthen interaction with citizens.
Speaking as the chief guest, Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said that Parliamentarians are the voices of the people and their involvement in realising the SDGs is necessary for the good of the people.
"We must remember that the clock is ticking – there’s only a decade left to reach the SDGs. Meanwhile, there’s a global change due to the pandemic, which makes it difficult to keep the economy on track while also ensuring that we stay on the right path for the SDGs."
She said that the app was born out of the question – how can we best use the parliamentary strengthening and cooperation that UNDP provides? This app is driven by the needs of MPs and their feedback has been incorporated into it.
It will cater to them and make it easier for them to find any information they need on their constituency with just a few taps.
The Speaker said that it will give a whole picture of the constituency, and help MPs identify existing challenges to make evidence-based decisions. Ultimately, it facilitates and accelerates good decision-making, and is open to future improvements.
"Surely this is a constructive tool for realising the SDGs, but we must not be complacent as it is important to constantly come up with the next step for reaching the goals," she said.
‘Building data-driven nation’
State Minister of ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak said that this app will reflect the citizen's needs and help MPs act accordingly. They can connect their work in their constituency with both the SDGs and the government's overarching vision for development.
"Data is of huge importance while making these decisions and the app organizes, and to some extent, analyses data on constituencies. It can greatly benefit future decision-making and inclusive development. We want to build a data-driven nation,” he said.
Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh Sudipto Mukerjee said that the platform will allow MPs to see which parts of their constituency are lagging and act accordingly. It will help parliamentarians be in the driving seat of realising agenda 2030.
Team leader for Inclusive Political Processes Governance and Peacebuilding under the Bureau of Policy and Programme Support of UNDP Charles Chauvel said that the spirit of innovation and adaptation of necessary tools is needed for development in the country. The level of talent and dedication in Bangladesh is commendable.
"There’s a need to do better in environmental protection and spreading the benefits of economic development throughout Bangladesh, and access to information is key to making evidence-based arguments and decisions. This unique app will surely help parliamentarians stay up-to-date and address these issues," Chauvel said.
In the later part of the programme, Anir Chowdhury, Policy Adviser, a2i, presented the data platform, while Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah moderated the question and answer session.
Among others, Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan, Senior Secretary of the Parliament Secretariat, Zuena Aziz, Principal Coordinator of SDG Affairs at the PMO; Md. Kamal Hossain, Secretary (Coordination & Reforms) of Cabinet Division; Mohammad Tajul Islam, Director General, BBS; and Radwan Mujib Siddiq, Trustee of CRI, Mozammel Haque, Policy Specialist of UNDP, were present at the event.
Don’t get involved in communal provocation, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim urged on Tuesday.
“People of all religion including Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Christians unitedly have to turn the country into a golden Bangladesh,” he said.
The minister came up with the remarks while attending a virtual meeting organized by Pirojpur Puja Udjapan Parishad and Haldar Smrity Shanshad on Tuesday to mark the 16th death anniversary of ex-AL politician and 2-time MP Sudhangshu Sekhar Haldar.
“As an inheritor of Sudhangshu Sekhar Haldar's legacy, we are always standing beside the religious minority communities. Bangladesh is for all faiths,” said Rezaul, who now represents Haldar's old constituency Pirojpur-1 in parliament.
Some people want to spoil religious harmony by communal provocations, he said, adding that “We all should play a responsible role in this matter.”
President of Pirojpur Puja Udjapan Parishad Bomal Chandra Mandal, Pirojpur Deputy Commissioner Abu Ali Md Sajjaz and Superintendent of Police Hayatul Islam also spoke at the programme, among others.
A consignment of imported onion from Myanmar has been unloaded at the Chattogram Port on Monday.
After the shipment of 58 metric tonnes of onion reached the port on Monday, the authorities concerned of Plant Quarantine Centre of Chattogram Seaport issued the release order, said Dr Mohammad Asaduzzaman, deputy director of the centre.
This is the first shipment of onion from Myanmar.
A representative of C&F Agent said the ‘Agrabad Kayel Store’ imported the onion and already two containers had been unloaded.
Besides, four more onion-laden containers have reached the port from Pakistan and the authorities concerned have examined it for clearance.
According to Chattogram Customs House, the authorities concerned have taken all-out preparation to unload the shipment of onion as soon as possible.
Mohammad Idris, general secretary of Traders Association, said the first consignment of onion from Myanmar has arrived at the port.
The colour, size and taste of Myanmar onion is similar to that of our local variety and per kg is being sold at Tk 70, he said.
The government has withdrawn 5 percent duty on onion import in an effort to cool down the overheated local market following India’s export ban.
The decision has been taken as per Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s directives, said a Finance Ministry handout on Sep 20.
It will remain effective until March 31 next year.
India’s onion export ban pushed up the prices in the local markets to about Tk 100 from Tk 30 per kg.
According to the Commerce Ministry, the annual demand for onion in Bangladesh ranges between 2.2 and 2.5 million tonnes. Although the country’s own annual production has risen, so has the amount imported over the last decade.
Commerce Ministry figures show the amount imported was hardly 0.4 million tons in FY09, but had touched up to 1.1 million tons in recent years.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh on Tuesday said they will not relocate street dogs that are being taken care of by individuals or organisations.
“Many stray dogs are being cared for by someone and they are being fed. If you identify those dogs, we won’t relocate them,” he said.
He was speaking at a meeting with a number of organisations and individuals, including Ovoyaronno, on the removal of strays.
He urged them to put forward their recommendations in the form of a written proposal.
“In our concerted effort, we all want to come to a logical and realistic conclusion so that stray dogs don’t roam freely everywhere,” he said.
He also noted that people should take full responsibility for stray dogs instead of expressing their love by offering a little food.
“People who love stray dogs should take these animals as pets ... this way, the city dwellers will also get peace, everyone will be at ease, and the stray dogs will also be safe,” he said.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Tuesday said their party’s now only goal is to free its ailing chairperson Khaleda Zia from imprisonment.
“Our only goal should be having our leader Khaleda Zia released from jail for restoring democracy in the country…we also have to get rid of the false cases filed against our 35 lakh people and free those who are now in jails,” he said while speaking at a virtual discussion.
The BNP leader called upon all to work together rising above race, religion, colour and party to free the country from the ‘grasp ‘of the current government and ‘restore’ people’s rights.
Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Kalyan Front arranged the programme, marking the eight anniversary of Ramu tragedy.
On the night of September 29, 2012, a mob of religious zealots went on the rampage in Ramu of Cox's Bazar, leaving 12 temples and monasteries and over 50 houses destroyed. The violence was triggered by a Facebook posting of a photo defaming the holy Quran.
Fakhrul said the Ramu incident was not an isolated one as it depicted the overall political and social situation in Bangladesh. "Now there’s no democracy or constitution in Bangladesh and people belonging to all religions can’t exercise their rights.”
He also alleged that Bangladesh has turned into a fascist state for lack of democracy. “I think the entire world is now going through a bad time as the tendency of depriving the rights of people and repressing them is growing everywhere.”
The BNP leader said Awami League claims that they are the pro-independence force which holds the spirit of independence, but the party snatches people’s rights, including the freedom of expression, whenever it comes to power.
Denouncing the incidents of attacks on minorities and their worship places, including the Ramu one, he said whenever the Awami League has come to power the minority community, including Hindus, have been repressed and their property has been grabbed.
“Awami League plays double standards as it always speaks about protecting the interests of minorities while the minorities are deprived of their rights mostly because of this party leaders and activists during its rule,” he observed.