November 23, 2014
Honorable Minister of Planning Mr. A. H. M Mostafa Kamal,
His Excellency Mr. Shiro Sadoshima, Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh,
Mr. Monzur Hossain, Senior Secretary of Local Government Division,
Mr. Wahidur Rahman, Chief Engineer of Local Government Engineering Department,
Respected Mayors of City Corporations,
Ladies and gentlemen.
It is indeed a great pleasure for me to attend this Project Launching Workshop of what we call the "Inclusive City Governance Project."
As we all know, Bangladesh is in the midst of rapid urbanization. Its urban population increased from 12 million, which was 15 percent of the whole population in 1980, to 45 million, 29 percent in 2012, and is expected to swell to 110 million, 50 percent in 2035.
Cities are becoming more and more vitally important for accelerating economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction, yet even major cities in Bangladesh can only offer vulnerable infrastructure and inadequate basic urban services. City Corporations are facing severe challenges in unclear governance systems in relation to the central government, fragile financial base and insufficient administrative capacity which hamper essential investment and decent living environment for city dwellers.
JICA, meanwhile, has been extending support for improving governance and developing infrastructure in all tiers of administration in Bangladesh. To cite a few on-going instances, the Ministry of Public Administration is introducing a method of Total Quality Management under the Project for Improving Public Services. LGD is implementing Northern Bangladesh Integrated Rural Development Project, the Project for Integrated Development of Upazilas, and Strengthening Pourashava Governance Project.
Against this backdrop, JICA agreed last June to provide the Inclusive City Governance Project with a concessional loan of 30.69 billion yen, roughly 2,200 crore taka, to enhance the four City Corporations which were recently raised from the status of Pourashava, namely Comilla, Gazipur, Narayanganj and Rangpur, and that of Chittagong. The Project will improve public services and promote economic opportunities in the five City Corporations by strengthening the city governments' administrative capacity and improving urban infrastructure, thereby contributing to economic growth, living environment improvement and local empowerment.
The quintessence of the Project is to link governance improvement to infrastructure development through a performance-based evaluation and fund allocation system. Those City Corporations which demonstrate improvement in governance will get rewarded with more funds for infrastructure sub-projects. The five City Corporations are required to improve four components of governance: Transparency, Accountability, Participation and Predictability. More specifically, the City Corporations should strive for improvement and reform of 1) Openness and Information Dissemination, 2) Administrative, Tax and Financial Regime, 3) Citizen's Awareness and Participation, 4) Urban Planning and Environment, and 5) Coordination System of Law Enforcement.
Whether the Project will exert sustainable effects or not will depend on how successfully the City Corporations can implement the governance component. I would like to cordially ask the honorable mayors to take full advantage of this opportunity so that you can not only enhance the function of your City Corporations but also establish solid sources of revenue for your perpetual development. The Project will also encourage the five City Corporations to make an alliance with city governments in Japan and facilitate exchange-visit programs, hence you will have precious opportunities to learn lessons from Japan and emulate good practices there.
Finally, I hope the Project, with strong leadership of LGD and LGED and firm commitment of the five City Corporations to become a paragon to be followed by other and upcoming City Corporations will bring about revolutionary and sweeping impact on the local governance system in Bangladesh.
Shobaike Annek Donnobad. Thank you very much.