Official development assistance 

 

Economic Relations Division

Bangladesh’s dealings with development partners are done by its nodal agency the Economic Relations Division (ERD). ERD is housed in the Finance Ministry. It mobilises and coordinates the allocation of all foreign assistance in line with the country’s development priorities. It is tasked with aid programming and negotiating agreements.

Foreign Aid Budget and Accounts wing

The Foreign Aid Budget and Accounts wing is a dedicated department within the Economic Relations Division of Bangladesh’s Finance Ministry. It manages the country’s external debt and the budgeting of foreign aid. It is also the government’s internal data centre for external aid and debt-related information. Its main debt management functions are:

  • Collection, recording and reporting of data on foreign aid commitments;
  • External debt management, including debt profiling and debt servicing. Here, a Preparation of Debt Service Liability budget is prepared for all creditors;
  • Collaborative debt sustainability analysis with intergovernmental financial bodies, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF);
  • Provision of information on external borrowing to decision-makers;
  • Annual reconciliation of repayment with Bangladesh Bank (the central bank) and the Controller General of Accounts (the public accounts oversight agency).

Aid Effectiveness Unit

Bangladesh’s foreign aid-related policy sandbox is the Aid Effectiveness Unit. This is a sub-agency within the development partners-related nodal agency the Economic Relations Division (ERD), housed in the Finance Ministry. It provides policy advisory, networking and donor coordination support to Bangladesh’s government. The unit organises high- and functional-level donor coordination and development dialogues on a regular basis under a government–donor joint framework. It maintains partnership with international agencies such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), and the Asia-Pacific Development Effectiveness Facility (AP-DEF).

Local Consultative Group 

The Local Consultative Group (LCG) is a platform for development partners working in Bangladesh. It represents a collective dialogue mechanism and aid coordination tool. It has sector-specific subgroups.

Foreign Assistance Management System 

The Foreign Assistance Management System (FAMS) is a web-based application developed for use in intensive monitoring and accelerating the management of foreign assistance in Bangladesh. Every project with foreign assistance is connected to this online system. The main users are government agencies and the central bank. This software facilitates functions such as the collection of foreign assistance, the monitoring of disbursements and alignment with yearly development plans.

Bangladesh Development Forum

Bangladesh hosts a periodical policy summit with its international development stakeholders called the Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF). This is essentially an agenda-based dialogue among the country’s development partners, non-governmental organisations, think-tanks, sectoral professionals and private sector actors. This has become a platform to exchange policy ideas and map resource gaps.

 

Investment

 

Foreign Private Investment Promotion and Protection Act

Bangladesh enacted its prime foreign direct investment law, the Foreign Private Investment Promotion and Protection Act, in 1980. It was crafted to promote and protect foreign private investments in the country. Under the law, the government will be responsible for the fair and equitable treatment of foreign private investment.

Bangladesh Investment Development Authority

Bangladesh Investment Development Authority is the apex investment promotion agency in Bangladesh. It was formed in 2016 under the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority Act, through a merger between two former agencies, the Board of Investment and the Privatisation Commission.

Bilateral investment treaties

As of October 2021, Bangladesh has concluded bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with 29 countries: Austria, the Belgium–Luxembourg Economic Union, Cambodia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Netherland, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam. All BITs signed by Bangladesh offer protection against expropriation; they typically include non-discrimination and prompt, adequate and effective compensation.

 

Employability 

 

Skills Development Policy

Bangladesh formulated its Skills Development Policy in 2011. This is the cornerstone of the country’s technical and vocational education and training development initiatives. It encapsulates demand-driven skills training programmes, increased private sector participation, curriculum redesign and assessments, and the apprenticeship system.

National Skills Development Authority

Bangladesh established its National Skills Development Authority (NSDA) in 2019 to oversee skills development. To strengthen its governance, it has been placed under the umbrella of the Prime Minister’s Office. The NSDA has been mandated to implement the National Skills Development Policy 2011. Its predecessor was a less-empowered body called the National Skills Development Council, which was an agency under the Ministry of Labour.

Employment Policy 

Bangladesh formulated its much-awaited Employment Policy in 2022. This is geared towards enabling youth to seek productive employment. The overall aim is to develop a skilled workforce that is competitive internationally. The policy also outlines sector-specific strategies. Noteworthy sectors are agriculture, manufacturing, IT, health and maritime. The policy incorporates a scheme to generate 30 million jobs by 2030.

 

Social protection

 

Ministry of Social Welfare

The Ministry of Social Welfare is Bangladesh’s main government body overseeing social security. Its mandate is to deal with human development, poverty eradication, welfare and empowerment of marginalised segments of the country. Its overarching responsibility is to translate Bangladesh into a welfare state through a social security regime. In Bangladesh, social security is implemented via a series of ‘social protection programmes’ for various targeted population such as senior citizens, widows, persons with disability and marginalised minorities. 

Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services is one of the leading government departments of Bangladesh under the Ministry of Social Welfare, running welfare activities for the underprivileged and low-income segments of the population. The department is mandated to provide services to the vulnerable. It is working to ensure social protection and social safety nets as well as socioeconomic development, rehabilitation and reintegration, poverty reduction, human resource development, community empowerment and other development activities.

Social Welfare Policy 

Bangladesh formulated its Social Welfare Policy in 2006 under the Ministry of Social Welfare. This aims to recognise the fundamental rights of the citizens of Bangladesh. It acknowledges the basic needs of the older insolvent population, destitute women and widows, persons with disabilities, orphans and low-income people and began their integration under the country’s social safety programme to improve their socioeconomic condition.

National Social Security Strategy 

Bangladesh formulated its signature National Social Security Strategy (NSSS) in 2015, reflecting its strong commitment to alleviating poverty, improving human development and reducing inequality. The NSSS was formed with a view to optimise the outcomes of existing poverty reduction strategy under social safety programmes. The NSSS also represents Bangladesh’s response to support the poor and vulnerable to pull them from the cycle of poverty. Its main aim was to achieve better results from money spent. By broadening coverage and improving programme design, the NSSS is expected to tackle income inequality and boost human development.

Neuro-Developmental Disability Integrated Special Education Manual 

Bangladesh’s Ministry of Social Welfare formulated the Neuro-Developmental Disability Integrated Special Education Manual in 2019. This aims to preserve and protect the rights of people with neuro-developmental disabilities and ensure their rights to education and skills development. The policy also envisions integrating them in mainstream quality education and providing vocational training.

 

Intellectual property rights

 

Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks

The Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks is Bangladesh’s designated patent-granting agency. Its main operations are to grant patents to innovative initiatives, to design rights and to register trademarks and geographical indicators to protect intellectual property rights.

Innovation and Intellectual Property Policy

Bangladesh formulated its Innovation and Intellectual Property Policy in 2018. This is a framework for the awareness, promotion and protection of innovation and creativity. It also considers the development of inclusive and balanced intellectual property infrastructure. The target is to integrate intellectual property into the country’s development strategies. Another aim is to standardise Bangladesh’s intellectual property regime with the international intellectual property system. 

Patent Act

Bangladesh enacted its long-due intellectual property safeguard, the Patents Act, in 2022. It also repealed the century-old Patents and Designs Act of 1911. The law grants 20 years of protection to a patent. It is geared to attract foreign investment as it protects intellectual property against generic versions of new innovations.

Geographical Indication of Goods Act 

Bangladesh enacted the Geographical Indication of Goods Act in 2013. Geographical indications (GI) are symbols used to identify a product that is distinguished by its location of origin. The GI regime is very significant for Bangladesh because of its vast range of both intangible and tangible heritage across the rural landscape. The law will help preserve goods that are produced using traditional expertise, which previously fell outside the scope of the conventional intellectual property regime.

Trademarks Act 

Bangladesh enacted its Trademarks Act in 2009. A trademark is a private right that is essentially another word for ‘brand name.’ A trademark can be any name, word, symbol, slogan or device that serves to distinguish a product in the market. Bangladesh’s Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks is responsible for the registration of trademarks. The law was amended in 2015.

 

Photo ©️ Mahmud Hossain Opu