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World Bank loan for Bangladesh's identification system

May 27, 2011

The World Bank is assisting the government of Bangladesh to develop a national identification system for efficient public service delivery. The project envisages mainstreaming information technology as a pro-poor tool to reduce poverty, establish good governance and ensure social equity.

bangladesh-poor.jpgWashington: The World Bank approved a US$195 million concessional credit for the Identification for Enhanced Access to Services (IDEAS) Project to assist the Government of Bangladesh in developing a reliable and accurate national identification (ID) system that will enable efficient and transparent delivery of benefits and services to the people, particularly the poor.

Establishing a full-fledged and reliable national Identification system would significantly improve the delivery of public and private services. The system will be built upon the existing voter-list database by the Bangladesh Election Commission. Identification numbers and cards will be issued to about 90 million Bangladeshi citizens of age 18 and above within next five years. Modern technology will be used to produce robust national ID cards to protect the citizens from fraud and forgery.

“A comprehensive national identification system will transform the way in which public services, including social benefits, are delivered to recipients,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “It will also assist in better planning, minimizing corruption and increasing transparency in service delivery.”

The project also serves as the foundation for the Government’s “Digital Bangladesh by 2021” program, which envisions the mainstreaming of information technology as a pro-poor tool to reduce poverty, establish good governance and ensure social equity.

“An important foundation for effective service delivery is the country’s capacity to identify citizens accurately and quickly,” said Junghun Cho, Project Team Leader. “The system will assist public agencies in identifying and verifying the identities of citizens as well as compiling data that would help focus social programs to those most in need. It is also expected that private sector entities, such as banks and mobile companies, will benefit from their increased capacity to verify service users.”

The core information available through the system will also help track many other transactions undertaken by the public sector, including collection of tax revenues, and systematise a wide range of record-keeping, from land ownership to utility connection.

The IDEAS Project would aid Government’s effort to establish a reliable and authoritative national identification system that can serve as an efficient, secure data platform. The project would focus on developing a legal and policy framework for the national identification system, upgrading data quality, and supporting the strengthening of the Bangladesh Election Commission to administer the national identification system.

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm. The credit carries a 0.75% service charge, a maturity of 40 years, including a 10-year grace period.

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