DHAKA, BANGLADESH – Through a partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), heads of ministries from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) have traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh, for a visit learning exchange to learn more about the Bangladesh Aspire to Innovate (a2i) program. The learning exchange visit aimed to provide first-hand exposure and knowledge that will be crucial for the implementation of UNDP Philippines’ Localizing e-Governance for Accelerated Provision of Services (LeAPS) program, which is supported by the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILF) of the BARMM.
LeAPS is a flagship program, which will help the Office of the Chief Minister, all BARMM ministries and several local government units to use ICT solutions to simplify business processes, improve the quality and speed of local public services and make them more efficient. accessible to the Bangsamoro People.
In July 2020, MILG-BARMM and UNDP Philippines signed a partnership agreement to pilot an 18-month pilot implementation plan Project Initiation Plan (PIP) for the LeAPS project at MILG and two BARMM target municipalities. The success of the pilot has paved the way for the full implementation of the LeAPS program in support of BARMM’s five-year digital transformation roadmap post 2023.
Joined by UNDP Philippines staff, the BARMM delegation to Bangladesh consisted of the Director General of the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), the Deputy Minister and the Director General of the Ministry of Trade, Investment and Tourism (MTIT), five (5) MILG-Technical Working Group of the LeAPS program, the Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator of Piagapo, Lanao del Sur, and two (2) focal staff from The Moropreneur, Inc. .
The BARMM delegation was warmly welcomed by the a2i team and was honored by the presence of HE Zunaid Ahmed Palak, Honorable Minister of State, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Division of the Ministry of Posts , Telecommunications and Information Technology of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh. HE Alan Deniega, Honorable Ambassador of the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka, was also present to welcome the BARMM delegation
Key digital public service projects were featured on the learning exchange trip. Among them is myGov, an app that allows citizens of Bangladesh to access more than 2,500 government citizen services and 51,000 public offices anytime and anywhere. The delegation also heard about Union Digital Centers (UDCs), where citizens can go to access government services such as personal document requests, online bill payment or e-commerce. More than 8,100 CDUs are currently in place across Bangladesh.
Another initiative that was highlighted was the Village Courts, an electronic court application that facilitates meeting the justice and law enforcement needs of the community. Other applications for e-commerce, transformation of postal services and coeducational education to achieve 2041 Digital Bangladesh also proved insightful for the BARMM delegation as they assessed the feasibility of adapting them in the Bangsamoro region.
The delegation also visited the National Museum of Science and Technology Innovation Lab and the Union Digital Center. They were also invited to a cultural visit to the National Martyrs’ Memorial. The group also visited Sheikh Russel Public School and College (SRPSC) to interact with students and learn about innovations in e-learning.
During the learning exchange visit, UNDP Bangladesh and UNDP Philippines signed an agreement to deepen collaboration in the area of digital governance. Signed by Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative of the UNDP Country Office in Bangladesh and Selva Ramachandran, Resident Representative of the UNDP Country Office in the Philippines, the agreement opens the door to additional technical assistance and advisory support from UNDP in Bangladesh and of the a2i program of the government of Bangladesh.
“It is necessary that the government be firm on digitization. Although it is included in the 12 priority programs of BARMM in the next three years, we need an implementation policy,” said MTIT Deputy Minister Sukarno Abas, Head of the Delegation of the BARMM.
“We can no longer continue to do things as before because the world is changing. Our fellow citizens have changed. They have different needs now, so we have to meet those needs differently,” said MTIT Director General Rosslaini J. Alonto-Sinarimbo of the lessons learned from the exchange.
“I learned a lot here. I highly recommend this type of learning exchange to encourage buy-in from high-level leaders,” added MILG Managing Director Khalid Dumagay.
The LeAPS program will be expanded to cover at least 38 additional municipalities and regional government ministries over the next two years to pave the way for BARMM’s five-year digital transformation roadmap post 2023. It is intended to strengthen governance digital in all 116 municipalities, two towns and all BARMM barangays. [E]