WHILST budgetary allocations have been raised every year for different ministries, regardless of their capacity for utilisation, those for the entire local government system have registered a decline. It may surprise one but that is how it has been with the development budget for union, upazila and zila parishads, municipalities and city corporations. In fiscal 2012-13 it totalled Tk 1,927 crore but in 2013-14 it dropped to Tk 1,712 crore only. Meagre that it is, according to an authentic source, even from that amount 10-20 percent is peeled off under different pretexts by the LGRD ministry.
Measly-minded though it may appear, it very much fits in with the general feature of sidelining of the entire local government structure. Although elected local tier representatives are better acquainted with development needs of their respective areas, yet when it comes to decision making on development programmes the MPs take over.
In this context, an exchange of views meet organised by the Governance Advocacy Forum on Tuesday morning in the city stressed the need for significantly raising allocations in the new budget for the local government system. A local government expert recommended up to 20 percent of the land transfer tax realisation to be given to the local government. Along with a true devolution of authority on them, the local government bodies should be recipients of both locally generated taxes as well as grants from the government by way of financially empowering them.
The bottom line is; participatory and decision making roles of the local bodies will have to be recognised and adequately provided for.