MPs' role and local govt functioning
IT seems that the AL-led alliance government is drifting from its professed commitment towards a decentralised development model that is a prized goal, especially in a unitary system of government. For, it is showing increasing signs of yielding to pressures from within to give a hands-on developmental role to the MPs thereby diluting their legitimate lawmaking and oversight functions.
As a result, the line of distinction between legislative including oversight functions of the MPs and the participatory planning and developmental roles of the elected local body functionaries stands blurred. What is more to the point is a negativity in the equation between the two sets of elected public representatives with rivalry and conflict being bred into what should have been a relationship of coexistence and mutual re-enforcement and value addition.
As a matter of fact, it's a decentralised and empowered Bangladesh we should be striving for where powers devolve on to the local self-governing institutions and a local government-centred development model is vigorously pursued. We seem to be opting out of this course judging by the way we are undermining the process by a shrinkage in the developmental role of the local bodies. For instance, the law-makers are to 'propose' projects worth Tk 15 crore for each constituency which is basically choosing projects but the question is will such projects be technically vetted? Will the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council(ECNEC) have a role to play here? For all we know, the ECNEC has approved a project granting Tk 15crore for rural infrastructure development work in each constituency. It is based on the lists provided by the MPs as the planning minister suggests. We wonder, whether the local body functionaries were consulted; perhaps not. Were these projects integrated into the overall infrastructure development planning, perhaps in a way they were as the ECNEC has been involved. We have also learned that the LGED will implement the projects. Will it do so with the help of the local bodies? We don't know.
We believe, the MPs role ideally should have been to make sure that the local government institutions have had enough allocations to implement projects for their constituencies and are adequately empowered to implement them.
What we have to make sure is that political expediency doesn't overtake long-term development priorities of the government.