Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Dhaka Tribune

Asking more of our civil servants

How efficient government institutions can help Bangladesh reach its development goals

Update : 18 Nov 2023, 11:06 AM

Bangladesh is going through a rough patch, economically speaking, due to many reasons, and the government of Bangladesh has taken several steps to alleviate the effects. In such distressing times, it should not be controversial to state that our government services need to be better than ever -- after 50 years of independence, there is no option but to ensure good governance at every level of the service provider office.

For that, an effective performance management system was introduced several years ago. The performance management system was developed in the form of an agreement named Annual Performance Agreement (APA). The government, specifically, the cabinet division, had initiated the signing of performance contracts with all ministries. The ministries signed a similar agreement with their corresponding divisions and organizations as well as every field-level office in a hierarchy. The purpose of this annual performance agreement is to ensure institutional transparency, accountability, proper utilization of resources, and enhancing institutional efficiency above all. It provides a summary of the most significant results that a government office must achieve in a financial year.

The Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation (BHBFC), a state-owned financial institution, is very proud to have achieved the highest marks for four times in a row among 19 institutions operated under the Financial Institutions Division of the Ministry of Finance including state-owned banks. With a vision to provide finance to solve the housing problems of the lower-middle and middle-income group of people who are left out in the cold, BHBFC has perceived the performance agreement to optimize its business performance securing good governance, innovation and automation, transparency and service quality.

Established in 1953 and reformed in 1973 by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, BHBFC has performed an important role in the housing finance sector of Bangladesh. Though many banks and non-bank financial institutions are investing in the home loan sector, BHBFC is the only state-owned organization specialized in this sector with the lowest interest rate and grassroots area coverage at the Upazila level. In the last financial year, BHBFC has disbursed the highest amount of loan since its inception. 

One of the main reasons behind this progress has been the adoption of every segment, every performance indicator included in APA into each and every organizational activity of the BHBFC to align with the government’s development plans, and to ensure the promise of providing housing for all. Implementing the strategic objectives related to good governance and reformation helped BHBFC improve its service quality and service delivery as well as its financial management. BHBFC adopted the APA framework and constructed our work plan which concentrates on information management to temporize with the fourth industrial revolution and Smart Bangladesh to elevate BHBFC as a progressive and transparent institution. Implementation of the National Integrity Strategy (NIS) enhanced institutional and personal integrity practices and prevented corruption.

Proper implementation of the D-file system and innovation, Grievance Redress System (GRS), training and workshops, upgradation of the website and all other performance indicators have increased the responsibility and efficiency of our officials. This agreement process is very important to us because it has shifted organizational focus to result-oriented activities from process-oriented activities. Implementing APA in financial organizations is very important as these nineteen organizations are representatives of the public financial service to all citizens.

In particular, the state-owned banks serve a huge number of clients and they have a big opportunity to improve their service by implementing APA. The exclusive part of our APA strategies is that we mandate some indicators for the implementation of affordable housing, environment-friendly housing and specially, women empowerment by setting annual targets for all field-level offices.

Last but not least, you can consider BHBFC a good example of how a financial organization can develop itself by adopting a performance management system. We are looking forward to holding our top position in our category as well as among all the state-owned financial institutions for next year and on. We overcame the challenges of securing the first position four times consecutively among these competent financial institutions which are one of the most important pillars of the country’s economy with the earnest help of our management, skilled APA team, and all our stakeholders from every level of offices.

Every citizen, especially our government officials, needs to work sincerely to uplift Bangladesh into a developed country through proper implementation of the development plans -- implementing and adopting APA by every government service holder is a must for that.

 

Arun Kumar Chowdhury is Deputy Managing Director and APA Team Leader, Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation.

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