“Bureaucrats have local representatives on a tight leash”
Bureaucrats are keeping local representatives – who seek allocation for rural development – on a tight leash, Planning Minister MA Mannan has said.
He also said that a local representative has to struggle to meet even a petty officer at the Secretariat.
The Planning Minister said this at a views-exchange meeting on "Implementation and Allocation for the Local Government in the National Budget", organised by Governance Advocacy Forum at Dhaka's CIRDAP on Sunday (June 26, 2022).
"A chairman of a union parishad has to wait days to meet a senior assistant secretary. Bureaucrats now have local representatives on a tight leash. The consequences would be felt in the coming days," he said.
Saying that to get allocation, local representatives have to first demonstrate their affluence, Mannan said, "To get allocation of Tk 100, local representatives have to show Tk 20 (in their pocket) first. As a result, local representatives opt for a tortuous path instead of a direct route."
"At the Secretariat's corridor or tea stalls outside the establishment, discussions and bargaining take place. There, they (bureaucrats) get something," said Mannan.
Civil servants allocate money declared in the budget, he said, adding, "Some are given Tk 5 crore and some get nothing. Some projects are sent to the Planning Commission overnight, whereas some projects are not even considered."
If the situation does not improve, local representatives will have to fight an uphill battle to get allocation, the planning minister said.
Mannan, who joined the ruling party in 2005 after retiring from government service, termed the local government a weak extension of the central government.
Bureaucrats are at the helm of the local government which needs to be changed by increasing capacity of the local government organisations.
Governance Advocacy Forum's Chairperson Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad presided over the meeting.
In his keynote speech, Professor of Development Studies of Dhaka University, Dr Kazi Maruful Islam, said the allocation has increased by Tk 2,000 crore in the 2022-23 compared to the last fiscal.
However, compared to overall GDP, the allocation has dropped by 5 percent.