E-security poses concern with expansion of digitisation

Staff Correspondent | Published: 01:29, Jan 10,2017


The government policy makers warned about electronic security system while the private researchers have demanded further expansion of digitization for better public service delivery and higher economic benefits.
BRAC Institute of Governance and Development at a seminar in the capital on Monday urged the government policy makers for giving further priority to expansion of e-procurement, land digitization and union digital centre.
The economic benefits would be much higher and service delivery would improve if the government gives further priority to digitization during the ongoing seventh five-year plan between 2016 and 2020, they added.
General Economic Division member Shamsul Alam, however, said the government should be careful about e-security with the expansion of digitization.
He said Bangladesh Bank lost its US$ 81 million reserve fund due to security breach in electronic payment systems with its account holder, the New York Federal Reserve Bank.
Hacking affected the recently held election in the US, he added.
Earlier, the BIDG researchers presented papers on land digitization, e-procurement, union digital centre and readymade garments village.
On the basis of cost- benefit analysis, the paper on UDC said benefit of Tk 8 would come from spending Tk 1 for expanding UDC service for giving service delivery of mobile banking, citizen certificates, application for machine readable passport and payment of utility bills.
The paper also said international migration through the UDCs would generate benefit of Tk 22 from spending Tk 1.
In the other papers on land digitization and e-procurement, the BIDG researchers calculated that there would be big returns against less investment.
In 2011, the government introduced electronic government procurement on limited scale. Only 9.5 per cent of the total government procurement was carried through e-tendering.
Discussants, mostly government officials, lauded initiatives of the BIDG. But they raised questions about the cost-benefit analysis of the papers.
They said ‘enforcement’ of government policy decisions was more important for improving service delivery than expansion of digitization.
Additional secretary of finance division Muslim Chowdhury said the cost-benefit analysis was not credible as the researchers did not consider the ‘institutional issues’ and continuous ‘engineering process’.
He said digitization should not be regarded as a magical tool.
Adviser to ‘a2i project’ of the Prime Minister’s Office Anir Chowdhury said enforcement was always important for implementation of the government policy decisions.
Giving an example of Chittagong Customs House, he said the authorities simplified the delivery system without expansion of the digital devices.
He said the CHT authorities decreased the checking points to 6 from previous 42 to implement the government decisions in improving the port services.
Anti-corruption commissioner Nasiruddin said the land department was out and out a corrupt organisation.
Only digitization would not be able to curb corruption in the sector, he said, adding that long-term reform was needed to tackle the problems in the land sector.
The discussants, however, admitted that the topics described by the BIDG researchers in their papers were crucial. They said the government already prioritised almost all the issues in its seventh five-year plan that would expire in 2020.
BIDG executive director Sultan Hafeez Rahman in the concluding remarks claimed that the papers presented by the BIDG researchers were credible.
He said cost-benefit analysis without considering the institutional issues was acceptable.

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