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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Digitize land records - Unlock economic opportunities

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Digitizing land records will return 619 takas of social good for every taka spent. The latest academic research highlights the smartest ways to improve land records administration in Bangladesh.

Land records in Bangladesh are a bit of a mess—according to the records there is more land owned than actual land exists (according to Anir Chowdhury, Adviser, Prime Minister's Office). The land administration process still follows the antiquated system that British Colonial rulers instituted, from surveys all the way to collection of property taxes. Three different ministries oversee the records system, working independently and with little coordination.

If you need to access your own land record, or transfer property after a sale or an inheritance, you will have to visit multiple government agencies over the course of at least a month - and you should also be ready to pay, possibly under the table.

Records are still kept on paper documents, and in addition to being recorded in painstakingly detailed handwritten transactions, they also use archaic language that ordinary citizens cannot comprehend. Surveys are supposed to be done every five years, but most are extremely out-of-date, so even if you find your record, the survey map may not reflect the reality on the ground. And in coming years, land administration is likely to get even more complicated, given that Bangladesh is already one of the most densely populated countries in the world."

Read more in Bjorn Lomborg’s article published by The Daily Star.