POST TIME: 17 December, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Empowering local government bodies

Empowering local 
government bodies

At a daylong annual coordination workshop of Efficient and Accountable Local Governance (EALG) Project in the conference hall of the Rajshahi Deputy Commissioner's office on Thursday speakers unanimously said effective and meaningful local government institutions (LGIs), especially Upazila Parishad and Union Parishad (UP), has become indispensable for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this column we have repeatedly stressed the importance of balance and trust among the various tiers of the government. The ideal way to institutionalise democracy and the development process is to strengthen elected local government bodies ensuring transparency and accountability. Unfortunately the concept of decentralisation and strengthening of local government bodies is yet to take roots in Bangladesh.

  It goes without saying that the lawmakers should attend to making laws, for which they are elected. However a recent Transparency International Bangladesh survey revealed that the overwhelming majority of the Members of Parliament (MPs)–instead of legislative activities– are involved in controlling the decision making process of local government administrations. There have been allegations of MPs’ interference in test relief, food-for-work, and other social safety net programmes carried out at local government levels. There are hardly any other country where lawmakers’ main concern and interest are in test relief, appointments in local institutions, and other such activities at local level. If this continues to be the case the demand for strengthening local governments would be rendered into meaningless inane platitudes. It goes without saying that the lawmakers should attend to making laws, for which they are elected.

   It is only powerful local governments that can ensure development at the grassroots level. The goal of transforming Bangladesh into a developed nation with a transparent political culture and ensuring a corruption free society will not be achieved unless a strong, honest and dedicated local level government system is in place and allowed to perform without undue interference.

  More often than not the decentralisation process has been infrastructural rather than institutional which ought to be the case.  We do admit that in terms of efficiency all local government representatives are not always capable enough to properly manage administrative and development activities. Local government being much closer to their constituents would obviously be more responsive to local needs. Consequently they will be able to provide public services in a more efficient manner.