Introduction: The local self-government has a long history of its existence in this subcontinent. But unfortunately, far from being a partner in the process of development and administration, rural local self-government developed as adjuncts to central government. They were never tried to grow as autonomous institutions coupled with adequate rescuers and power. The local government institutions today have become the breeding ground of corruption and terrorism. Political factionalism and favoritism is prevalent at all the levels of local government in the country.
Rural local self-government bodies in Bangladesh: Under newly introduced system of local self government, there are four tiers of rural local self-government in Bangladesh as —
1. Village Parished (VP)
2. Union Parishad (UP)
3. Upazilla Parishad
4. Zilla Parishad
Problems of rural local self-government in Bangladesh
The effectivity and acceptability of local self-government institutions in Bangladesh is at the lowest point and they are riddled with numerous problems. The major problems and deficiencies of local government involve the following:
1. Colonial administration pattern: The colonial pattern of administration, characterized by elitist and alienated nature, is prevalent till today. Administrative officials working at different level are mainly bureaucratic in orientation and alienated from the people.
2. Weak socio-economic base: The most serious obstacles in the way of
the development of local government remains the weakness of it’s socioeconomic base. The non-egalitarian economic structure tends to control the local bodies by propertied class. They often tend to suit their class interest and purposes. Such economic structure and value system seems to paralyze the very structure and organization of local self govt.
3. Factionalism: Factional attitude of the people is mainly responsible for rural disorder and conflicts. During local government elections, appeals are made to factional loyalties and not to the merits of the issue. The losers are hesitant to cooperate with the winner with good grace. Such kind of factional attitude and orientation often make the very functioning of elected council impossible.
4. Vague area delimitation: Problems regarding area delimitation of local government units are very acute. Due to vagueness in the delimitation of area, these units can not work and run properly and create problems in the election, implementation of development programs etc.
5. Inadequate power of the representatives: Rural local councils in Bangladesh are not well designed to be run by people and thereby to serve them. These bodies are merely the local agents of government mainly assisting in day to day business of government. These bodies are not purely representative in nature. They have no adequate power and autonomous status to work independently.
6. Politico-administrative contradictions: The contradictions between political wing and administrative wing of the local government unit often disrupt their very functioning. The officials argue that as the political leaders lack technical expertise required for developmental works, they should work under the supervision and control of bureaucratic official. On the other hand, local leaders claim that they are in a better position to understand local problems and find out solutions. Neither officials nor local leaders mind cooperation with each other.
7. Narrow political use of local bodies: Beginning from Pakistan period, an unhealthy trend of using local bodies for the narrow political ends has been noticed. All the successive governments were to reshape and reorganize the local self government in order to get back from these bodies and perpetuate their power.
8. Financial problem: The financial position of rural local councils has never been self-sustaining. Inspite of providing them the power to levy and raise local taxes, they have never been able to raise sufficient funds. Thus they are always in financial crisis in meeting their recurring expenditure. Even the government allocations are also irregular which causes anxiety and irritation and damages thereby the local initiatives.
9. Domination by the government: The central government officials control the local government in many ways. The organization, budgeting, election and formation etc. are dominated by the central government authorities at different levels. The officials employed at local government institutions are recruited and controlled by the national government. Thus, they can easily overcome the elected representatives.
10. Lack of trained personnel: All the units of local government lack trained, technically expert personnel. Even the training facilities for them are not adequate enough. The NILG lacks adequate financial support, specialized trainers and physical facilities. Besides, the representatives in local government councils do not think it necessary to be trained.
The local government as a means of democratization and development should be more effective and action-oriented. The effectiveness of these institutions mostly depends on their organizational structure, resource endowment and leadership skills. For this reason, the following measures are considered to be important:
1. Regular and fair election: The effectiveness and functionality of local government units require elected, committed and action-oriented popular representatives. For this, government must ensure the holding of regular and fair election of local govt. bodies. Because, without proper popular representation, popular interests would not be protected.
2. Authority commensurate with responsibility: As a matter of fact, the authority and responsibility of local self-government bodies should go hand in hand. Control of local bodies by central government functionaries should be limited, their day to day working must be free from official direction and they must have the power to initiate any development project without any complexity of central recommendation.
3. Establishment of statutory board: A statutory board may be established as specific control mechanism for local government. This commission may be consist of MPs, the judges, local government experts, retired civil servants, lawyers etc. The board would employ a number of officers to inspect, monitor and evaluate local government bodies and give their recommendation to the board. However, the board alone would be empowered to take the final decision.
4. Peoples participation: The local people should be involved in the decision-making process and share responsibilities. They should not be viewed as being the beneficiary merely for the program of building rural infrastructure but as the change agent. The villagers should be called upon to utilize the opportunities available and responsible for building their future.
5. Income generating projects for self-finance: The local government bodies seem to allow to spend a part of the grant received for starting an income-generating project. Additionally, the local bodies should be encouraged to borrow funds from the existing financial institutions.
6. Proper decentralization: Decentralization of powers and functions to local government bodies should not be in paper rather specific policies and directions should be triggered for actual decentralization/ devolution. For this, the functions, powers, allocations and responsibilities of local government bodies should be spelt out.
7. Delimitation of areas: For the reasons of welfare administration, representation and responsiveness, the present size of population of a district seems to be unmanageable. But increasing the number of districts is expensive. However, some districts are very large which must be reorganized and a part of these distrust may be included with lower one.
8. Training: A training program for local govt. functionaries should be strengthened. The training should include both the officials and political representatives in the same batch. BARD Comilla and RDA Bogra should be involved in training up local government functionaries on a regional basis.
9. Formation of Grameen Court: For speedy, easy, inexpensive, substantial and effective justice to the common people, Grameen Court may be established. Judges should be recruited for speedy judgment andensuring peace and harmony in rural areas. Conclusion: The above discussion reveals that the existing local government bodies are not able to ensure the welfare of village community in the country. Although numerous recommendations and suggestions have been made by specialists and some measures have also been taken, the end result is not satisfactory. Development at role of local government is not only marginal but zero. So, without making these bodies viable, development of rural areas is impossible.
The above discussion reveals that the existing local government bodies are not able to ensure the welfare of village community in the country. Although numerous recommendations and suggestions have been made by specialists and some measures have also been taken, the end result is not satisfactory. Development at role of local government is not only marginal but zero. So, without making these bodies viable, development of rural areas is impossible.
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