Like the previous year, the finance minister yesterday came up with several ambitious ideas to strengthen the local government bodies, which include a scrutiny to decide what issues the central government could transfer to the local institutions and how.
Last year, AMA Muhith spoke for creating an effective bureaucracy for local governance but it proved to be mere rhetoric. In his yesterday's budget speech, he again talked of creating a specialised bureaucracy suited for local government. A fair system of revenue sharing between the central and local governments has to be established, he said.
The minister also pledged that zila, upazila and union parishads would be given more power, and these institutions would deal with education, health, law enforcement, social safety issues.
Experts termed the suggestions very positive but put emphasis on implementation. Last year, Muhith pledged reforms in the local administration and government, said Dr Tofail Ahmed, a local government expert. "But, he never took any single initiative."
While Muhith made the promises repeatedly, the zila parishads have been run by government administrators instead of elected representatives for over last two and a half years. This time, he said the zila parishad elections would take place very soon, a pledge he made in 2012.