The world of the people of remote areas in the northern district, Panchagarh, has changed in just 15 years.
They are now enjoying cashless services, which makes life much easier.
People living in remote areas of Panchagarh are utilizing the opportunities of “Digital Bangladesh”, a campaign initiated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2009.
The success of transforming Bangladesh into a “Digital Bangladesh” has created the solid ground to move towards a “Smart Bangladesh”, which was announced by the prime minister recently.
The government has set four bases — smart citizens, smart economy, smart government and smart society — to make the country Smart Bangladesh.
The aim: every citizen will be skilled in using technology, economic activities will run through using technology, and the government will be technologically smart.
What was unthinkable before 2009 is now the reality for people in remote Panchagarh, as they are getting over 20 important services at home without any hassle from union parishads.
While visiting the Panchagarh Sadar Union Parishad complex, local businessman Abdullah Al Faruque, who is a beneficiary, said that he has received his required trade license by just providing his NID number.
“This cashless system is facilitating any person to get their desired document by just providing the NID number to the system as the officials can easily verify all relevant information,” he said.
The concerned official provided him with the trade license within two to three minutes after matching the required information from his NID.
“We’ve eliminated the waste of time and money which was unavoidable in the past,” Faruque said.
This transformation began more than 14 years back when the prime minister envisioned advancing the country into a developed one by 2041.
Taking advantage of the Digital Bangladesh initiative, the Panchagarh district administration took the measures to make their services technology dependent.
Digital transactions are now being used to provide services, which have reduced time, cost and travel difficulties alongside offering better services.
Due to initiatives of the Awami League government, these necessary services are being availed quickly and MFS (mobile financial service) has also made it easier. As a result, revenues of the government have increased, the hassles have been reduced, and the desired service has become available.
Latifa Banu, another beneficiary, said that she has been receiving maternity allowance over last two years and collecting the allowance from the UP for one-and-a-half years.
“Earlier, I had to go to different shops, but now, I am just providing my fingerprint and receiving my allowance easily from the UP centre,” she said.
Halima Begum, who came to Panchagarh Sadar Union Parishad to collect the citizenship certificate, said that it was not so easy before.
She mentioned that after obtaining a certificate from the union parishad, there was the trouble of getting signatures on it. People had to come to collect their certificates
“Now, if you apply with the number of the NID card, the signed certificate will be issued. I like this system,” she said.
Panchagarh entered the cashless era when this service was first introduced in the Tirnoihat union of Tetulia. With this, the union parishad of the upazila was on its way to become Smart Bangladesh.
Cashless services were later introduced to other UPs. The beneficiaries can avail a totals of 20 services easily from there. People are now getting the services by visiting the uniontax.gov.bd website from the comfort of their homes.
Deputy Commissioner Md Jahurul Islam said that over 70,000 people of 43 union parishads and three municipalities in the district have received services from uniontax.gov.bd and pouroseba.gov.bd platforms.
An entrepreneur of Union Digital Centre said that online service was launched experimentally in Tetulia upazila in the fiscal year 2019-20, but on January 6 this year, the service started in Tirnoihat UP of Tetulia upazila through the inauguration of cashless service.
Before introducing the platform, any service seeker had to visit the union parishad three times, requiring 7-15 days, on average. But, in the digital and cashless system, they do not even need to visit UP.
The deputy commissioner said that after the introduction of the Digital Union Cashless Service, revenue is being deposited directly into the UP’s bank account.
He said the local government system is strengthened through cashless services and this is another step towards the making of Smart Bangladesh.