4:34 pm - Tuesday October 18, 3870

Homegrown aid web portal set to be launched Sunday

The government will formally launch its homegrown aid web portal, ‘Aid Information Management System or AIMS’, on Sunday, aiming to enhance its capacity to coordinate and manage the foreign development assistance coming into the country.

The AIMS is an internationally renowned software application that records and processes information on development activities and related aid flows in a given country. It captures project-level information on commitments, disbursements and expenditures by donor, implementer, sector and geographic location.

govtFinance Minister AMA Muhith will attend the launching ceremony as the chief guest while PM’s Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman and State Minister for Finance MA Mannan as special guests. ERD Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin will chair the event to be held at the NEC conference room at city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar at 11:00 am.

Though Bangladesh has been successful in reducing its dependence on foreign assistance with sustained economic growth in recent decades, foreign aid still plays a significant role in the country’s overall development. However, any up-to-date information on aid flows in the country is currently scattered in different institutions and often only available offline, said an official at Economic Relations Division (ERD).

Aiming to provide a single entry window for all foreign aid-related information in Bangladesh and properly track and manage the aid flows, the ERD with support from its Aid Effectiveness Project has developed an AIMS software for Bangladesh.

The trial version of the software was launched earlier in March this year. Later, several consultations were held with government agencies, development partners and civil society organisations to ensure that the design is suited to the needs of future users and local stakeholders.

Different kinds of AIMS software such as Development Assistance Database (DAD) and Aid Management Platform (AMP) have already been deployed in over 40 countries. However, Bangladesh is one of the few countries to deploy a homegrown system.

Once fully developed, AIMS will act as a one-stop-shop for all information related to foreign assistance in Bangladesh, covering all sectors, projects and donors. It will offer a single software application that records and processes information on development activities and related aid flows in the country.

The ERD said the overall objective of AIMS is to provide a common information sharing platform for government, development partners and all other stakeholders to increase aid transparency, strengthen mutual accountability, improve aid coordination, strengthen alignment and allow for more efficient aid management.

He said that AIMS has been designed in such a way that it can be made inter-operable with other government data bases, ensuring a smooth information flow between all those who need ODA data in their day-to-day work.

He said that AIMS is an essential tool to implement international mutual commitments reflected in the Paris Declaration of Aid Effectiveness (2005), the Accra Agenda for Action (2008), the Busan Partnership Document (2011) and the Mexico Communique (2014).

About the possible benefits of AIMS, another official at the ERD preferring anonymity said it will capture all incoming aid flows to Bangladesh how they are used and managed.

“All this information will be publicly accessible online. This will make public oversight over the use of foreign funds considerably easier and meet the right to information of the citizens,” he added.

The official also said AIMS will ensure mutual accountability, comprehensiveness, smooth business process, alignment, solid planning and budgeting, standardisation and reliability.

It will also serve as common data sharing platform. Since aid data will be directly entered by donors, data entry errors can be minimised, and the data is more suitable for evidence-based dialogue between government and donors, the official added.

The overall foreign aid disbursement since the country’s independence till the fiscal year 2012-13 totalled $ 59,311.657 million, including $ 24,661.358 million in grants while $ 34,650.229 million in loans, against the commitment of $ 81,049.174 million, according to the ‘Flow of External Resources into Bangladesh’ released by ERD.