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Bangladesh Priorities: Land Digitization, Rahman and Talukder

New research by Sultan Hafeez Rahman, executive director of the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), and research assistant Sumaiya Kabir Talukder finds that digitizing the land records system would provide an incredible 619 takas of benefits per taka spent.

 

Strategy Takas of benefits per taka spent
Land records digitization 619

The analysis proposes digitizing land records and simplifying the application process, a strategy the national government began to explore in 2010. Electronic land records nationwide would make information easy to acquire through a publicly accessible system, and the time, monetary, and other transactions costs required to access records or transfer parcels would fall tremendously. Digitization would also make it impossible for anyone to physically manipulate records, decreasing opportunities for officials to extract bribes and leading to fewer land disputes and court cases.

Digitization costs across Bangladesh would include Tk 77.28 million (Tk 7.7 crore) to purchase computers and software and Tk 650 million (Tk 65 crore) to scan the 50 million existing land records. It would also cost Tk 90.42 million (Tk 9.0 crore) to staff the offices each year. In total, this implies a cost of Tk 2.8 billion (Tk 276.2 crore). 

The benefits would accrue due to more speedy expedition. Today, a typical transaction involving land records costs Tk 1,045, takes 30-45 days, and requires five different trips to government offices. With digitization of the system, however, the cost would fall to just Tk 80, and it would take only 15 days and two visits.  

Including benefits of fewer legal transactions and fewer bribes, the total direct benefits reach Tk 481.8 million (Tk 48.2 crore) annually. So just counting the direct benefits, each taka spent to digitize the land records system would do more than 3 takas of good.

However, the largest benefit from digitization will come from increasing the security of property rights across the country. It is well-known in economics that there is a link between more secure property rights and higher economic growth. Assuming that land digitization will move Bangladesh a small way towards a society with more secure property rights, and based on large-scale estimates of property right impacts on GDP growth across a wide range of nations, the experts predict that land digitization would bring benefits of more than Tk 160 billion (Tk 16,000 crore) over the next 15 years and possibly more than Tk 1.3 trillion (Tk 130,000 crore) by 2070. This indicates indirect benefits of 616 takas for every taka spent. 

So in total, 619 takas in direct and indirect benefits result from each taka spent to digitize land records.