UNOs to get more power
The government yesterday gave the go-ahead to a proposal that would make the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) the parishad's principal executive officer vested with the power to look after financial matters.
Chairmen and vice-chairmen of upazilas expressed frustration and UNOs gained satisfaction that they would enjoy more power in the parishads. The UNO now work as a secretary to the parishad but when this proposal becomes a law they would more authority.
The nod was given to the proposal at a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. Briefing newsmen after the meeting Prime Minister's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad said the proposal would be made a bill and passed in parliament.
Sources said the proposal was placed at the cabinet with a provision to make the UNOs chief executive officers in line with those at city corporations and the secretariat. The cabinet just named the post principal executive officer instead of chief executive officer.
After the bill is made a law, the UNOs would give the parishad secretarial assistance and look after financial matters, sources said, adding that they would also issue cheques like secretaries do at ministries.
Chairmen of different upazilas have expressed strong resentment at this and said they feel humiliated as the UNOs would exercise more authority and the elected representatives would have less power in implementing decisions.
Sources said the upazila chairmen would sit today in the capital to discuss what they would do.
Rangpur's Badarganj upazila Chairman Biswanath Sarker Bitu told The Daily Star that disputes between the UNO and the elected representatives would increase if the bill is made a law and a "dual rule" would be established in upazilas. He said this would harm the government's initiatives to strengthen local government.
Sources in the cabinet said the government made the proposal under the impression that the differences between upazila chairmen and UNOs would persist and there is no way to get rid of this.
Zakir Hossain Sarker, upazila chairman of Mithapukur upazila of Rangpur, said all power of the upazila parishad should be in the hands of the chairman, which would make the local government stronger.
"The government approval to the proposal is welcome," said a UNO while talking to The Daily Star preferring not to be named.
According to another proposal at the cabinet, officers-in-charge of every police station now have to be present at the upazila parishad law and order committee meetings. Earlier, OCs did not attend the meetings as their status was that of a second-class government official.
Talking to The Daily Star a cabinet member said the coordination between the UNO, upazila chairman and law enforcers in an upazila would help improve law and order.