WB-SANEM economic conference starts today

Across the world, the relevance of local governments,states, provinces, and municipalities has been increasing for a long time with decentralization a dominating paradigm in Asia since the 1990s, states a pre-event note of SANEM.  

It also said, fiscal decentralization can improve allocative efficiency and preference matching, and is often accompanied by stronger accountability and helpful competition between local governments. 

SANEM, (South Asia Network for Economic Modeling), an economic think tank, jointly with the World Bank is organizing an international conference, styled "South Asia Economic Network Conference 2019", with special focus on sub national finance and local service delivery. The two-day conference is set to kick off today (Saturday) at BRAC Centre Inn, Mohakhali in the city.

Planning Minister, MA Mannan is to inaugurate the conference attending as chief  while Dr. Selim Raihan, Executive Director, SANEM and Professor of Economics, University of Dhaka, Dr. Mercy Miyang Tembon, Country Director for Bangladesh, World Bank and Dr. Hans Timmer, South Asia Chief Economist, World Bank will also be present at the inaugural session. 

Economists from around Bangladesh and South Asia are going to present their research papers in five sessions at the two day conference. 

The pre-event note of SANEM also stated that more responsibilities at the subnational level are usually expected to strengthen democracy, transparency, and especially to bring about more efficient service delivery. However, evidence to confirm the success of past decentralization efforts is scarce. Empirical studies find mixed evidence and successful decentralization seems to require certain conditions. 

Fiscal decentralization is a potential threat to redistribution and is bound to fail if scale effects are important or local capacity is very low. Consequently, there is an ongoing debate about the appropriate locus standi of fiscal responsibility and decision making.  There will be a total of three sessions and three special lectures on the first day of the conference. The 1st Session will focus on the theme “Local government finances and service delivery.” 

The session will be chaired by the former Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Dr. Atiur Rahman.  Later, Dr. Robert Beyer, Economist, the World Bank will present “Preview of South Asia Economic Focus (Fall 2019 edition)” at a separate session, chaired by Dr. Selim Raihan. 

The first day of the conference will conclude with a special lecture on “Challenges of Urban Governance in India” by Dr. Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Chairperson, Indian Council for Research on International Economics (ICRIER). Dr. Hans Timmer, Chief Economist, South Asia Region, World Bank will be chairing the lecture session.  A Policy Expert Panel on “Subnational Finance and Local Service Delivery in South Asia: Challenges, Lessons and Remedies” will be held consecutively. Moderated by Dr. Hans Timmer, the panel will feature Dr. Ahsan H. Mansur, Dr. Ishrat Husain, Dr. Isher Judge Ahluwalia and Dr. Selim Raihan.