Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation state in 1971. Although a new state, Bangladesh is an old country with a long recorded history of several thousand years. In its recent past it was part of Pakistan (1947-1971) and was known as East Pakistan. Prior to this, different parts of present Bangladesh were under British India (1765-1947), the Mughals and other Muslim rulers, and before them under Buddhist and Hindu rule.
The country is now governed by the parliamentary form of government the prime minister is now the chief executive of the country. She has a council of ministers that assist her in the duties. For the convenience of administration, the country is divided into six administrative divisions each placed under a divisional commissioner. Each division is further sub divided into Zilas (Districts). There are 64 districts in Bangladesh. Each district consists of several thanas (Upazila). There are 482 Upazilas. Each Upazila headed by the elected person chairman. Below Upazilas are unions, which consist of several villages. There are about 4484 unions in the country (Siddiqui, 1994)
Modern state is a welfare state. The government of modern state has to perform multi-dimensional activities. Without decentralization of administration, it has become almost impossible on the part of the central government alone to perform all of its activities effectively (Maddick 1963, 26). Second, central authority far away from the people may not have adequate knowledge about the local conditions and problems. Hence, centralization of planning and administration proves to be inadequate to the local socio-economic variations.
Decentralization of planning administration is only the alternatives. Third, development programs and projects need local support and popular participation. To secure local support and to facilitate popular participation, decentralization of planning and administration is essential. Fourth, decentralization has its roots in democracy. Political commitment to democracy pushes the central government to adopt decentralization policy in administration.
Finally, the national governments of many states “are using decentralization as a strategy for coping with political instability which is threatened by secessionist movements and demands for regional autonomy” (smith 1985; 3). Thus, decentralization exists in every state, whether it is big or small. “The appeal of decentralization is now so great that it is in competition with democracy as the concept and no political theory, ideology or movement can afford to eschew” (Smith 1980; 131).
For that reason after independence of Bangladesh Government, take many initiatives for giving power on local government. However, many times, it was not effectives and present time the local government is not fully effective. Normally the local government means local self-government. Decentralization system in Bangladesh is using for fulfilling government policy.
In Bangladesh Upazila Parishad is main Unite for administrative decentralization. However, at present Upazila Parishad decentralization is not fully effective for it rules and regulations barriers. In present time many debate creates about Upazila decentralization. The present government reintroduced the Upazila parishad. They passed Upazila Parishad Act 2009. Under this act (2009) many debates is creating.
For this reasons I wish to complete a term paper about present upazila parishad. The main objective of my term paper was to know the Upazila decentralization system is effective or not. If Upazila Parishad is not effective, I try to know why Upazila Parishad is not effective.
In my term paper, I have tried to fulfill the main aim and goals. Besides main objectives, I have tried to fulfill more objectives. For finishing my term paper, I have taken many steps. The topic of my term paper is that “Decentralization system: an analysis from Bangladesh Upazila Parishad.
Mainly I have completed my term paper according to the Upazila Parishad Act 2009. However, after taking the present act government have taken some initiatives for Upazila decentralization. These some initiatives are not formally passed by the Parliament. It has taken based on principles. Sometimes these initiatives may be change. For this reason, I have not taken these initiatives.
I have classified my term paper in to seven chapters. I have highlighted and presented upazila decentralization’s problems. I recommend some measures, which may try to solve the problems if these are implemented. I have presented a form of collecting data on Upazila decentralization. I have tried to preset my term paper faultlessly.
1.2 Objectives of the study
Objectives of the study are:
- Try to know the present status of decentralization in Bangladesh on the perspective of Upazila Parishad.
- Try to find out the problems ineffective decentralization in Upazila Parishad level.
1.3 Data collection Techniques
The study is the outcome of both secondary and primary data.
This paper mainly secondary based but I have collected some data from primary sources. The primary data I have collected from my Upazila (name: Bhangura) in the district Pabna. The primary data I have collected by unstructured questionnaire.
Secondary data were collected from various sources that may broadly be divided into the following categories: Relevant books, journals, periodicals, research paper, articles, and others, Government documents, such as Bangladesh constitution, reports of the various Commissions and Committees, Parliament gazette, Ordinance, and other law, Daily Newspaper and Internet.
1.4 Problems of Data Collection
Collecting data for any research is too difficult. To collect primary data I have faced some problems these are as follows:-
a) The respondents did not give fix time for providing data due to their duties. (Because their busy man. My respondents were Bhangura Upazila parishad chairman, Vice chairman, & Woman Vice chairman and UNO).
b) I have faced uneasy while collecting data as student.
c) Respondents were reluctant to tell every question.
d) Respondents tried to hide actual information.
Due to collect secondary data, I have faced some problem such as:
a) The books, journals, articles etc are too old,
b) Secondary data are not fully related to my term paper,
1.5 Term paper methodology
In social science, have some type’s research methods.
i) Case study method,
ii) Document analysis,
iii) Qualitative and Quantitative method,
iv) Content analysis,
v) Survey method etc
In this term paper, I have used qualitative and quantitative method. The qualitative and quantitative method both goes together to interpret the term paper/research problem data triangulation was a necessary approach for successful interpretation. In Creswell’s argument, this can be termed as dominant-less dominant design (Creswell’s-1994, page 177, cited in).
The dominant design here will be qualitative data. Because the qualitative data cannot only be able to reflect the individual thoughts, visions toward decentralization approach. Besides, it is not enough to understand to overall decentralization arrangements whereas use of qualitative method will help to enrich perception towards decentralization system in Bangladesh. This term paper is as same as descriptive research. Therefore, I have used descriptive method also.
1.6 Limitation of the Study
Any study is very difficult and time needed matters. At the same time to conduct a study, much experience is needed. It also needs huge money. I have to face problem to conduct this study as inexperienced. I cannot spend enough time regarding my study as have to study and relevant different tusk.
Due to limited time and money, I have to collect primary data from only one Upazila (Bhangura Upazila). The secondary data I have collected from secondary sources. However, the secondary sources are very difficult specifically about my term paper
2.1 Meaning of Decentralization
The term “Decentralization” is the antonym of “centralization”. “Centralization” refers to the situation when all power and authority are concentrated at the centre. Conversely, when power and authority are transferred to lower levels of administration or government “Decentralization” takes place. Now a day the term ‘decentralization’ has wide variety of different connotations.
It is used to refer to a variety of different processes and organizational structures. Most often, the term is used interchangeable with deconcentration, delegation, and devolution even though each of these forms has distinct features in terms of the way which power and authority are modified. In academic circles, there has been a marked difference among the scholars about the meaning of the term. Scholars such as Maddick (1963) and Smith (1985) ‘use decentralization’ to mean the geographical dimension of the state apparatus encompassing both deconcentration, of the administrative apparatus and devolution of political apparatus of the state.
Other such as Mawhood (1983) use the term in a narrower and more specific sense to mean only the devolution of authority to sub-national levels of government. However, a clear understanding of the meaning of decentralization requires an examination of a few broad definitions that cover the whole range of organizational structures and processes, which are generally labeled as ‘decentralization’. From a wide number of definitions that exist, the following two seem to be representative. Decentralization is ‘… a plan of administration which will permit the greatest possible number of actions to be taken in the areas, provinces, districts, towns, and villages where people reside’ (United Nations, 1961:64)
Rondinelli and Cheema (1983:18), the two most prolific writers on decentralization, use the term to means: … the transfer authority of planning, decision-making, or administrative authority from the central government to its field organizations, local administrative units, semi autonomous or non-governmental organizations.
A close examination of these definitions reveals that the overriding them in both cases is the same, i.e. the transfer of authority for planning , decision making and management of public functions from higher level of the government to local or lower level organizations. Such transfer of responsibilities varies from the deconcentration of workload to fields units of the administration to the devolution of functions to local government units or the delegation to statutory bodies.
Decentralization according to this view is clearly a blanket term covering all sorts of transfer of authority and power from the central government to its field officers, legally constituted units of local government or delegation of certain specific functions to parastatals or non-governmental organizations (NGOs).Such a broad interpretation of decentralization has been rejected by Mawhood (1983:2) who views decentralization as structures of government created at local levels, which are separated by law from the national centre, in which local representatives are given formal power to decide on a range of public matters.
In the above discussion, we can say that Decentralization is the transfer of power and resources from national governments to sub-national governments or to the sub-national administrative units of national governments. Decentralization is often regarded as a top-down process driven by a unitary or federal state in which the central government grants functions, authorities, and resources to sub-national levels. However, impulses for decentralization can also originate from these lower levels. Decentralization encompasses a wide range of different political and economic systems, whose properties vary widely. This diversity makes it even more important to define terms precisely and use them as consistently as possible.
2.2 Classification of Decentralization
According to classifications made in UNDP and World Bank Articles. These are i. Political, ii. Administrative, iii. Fiscal and iv. Market decentralization drawing distinctions between these various concepts is useful for highlighting the many dimensions to successful decentralization and the need for coordination among them.
Political decentralization is the transfer of authority to a sub national body. Political decentralization aims to give citizens or their elected representatives more power in public decision-making. It is often associated with pluralistic and representative government, but it can also support democratization by giving citizens, or their representatives, more influence in the formulation and implementation of policies (World Bank Thematic Team-WBTT). The team also thinks that political decentralization assume that decisions made with greater participation will be better informed and more relevant to diverse interest in society than those made only by national political authorities. Political decentralization is manifested through devolution.
ii. Administrative Decentralization:
Administrative decentralization refers to redistribute authority, responsibility and financial resources for providing public services among different levels of government (WBTT). There are three major forms of administrative decentralization Deconcentration, delegation and devolution each has different characteristics.
a) Deconcentration is often considered to be the weakest form of decentralization and is used most frequently in unitary states-redistributes decision-making authority and financial and management responsibilities among different levels of the central government (WBTT). This may mean shifting of workload from one ministry to the other or from ministry to its field or local administration (Ali, 1995; Islam, 1997). This form of decentralization is used by many of African and Asian countries like Kenya, Tunisia, Tanzania, Pakistan, and Philippine
b) Delegation is a more extensive form of decentralization. It involves the transfer of responsibility for decision-making and administration of public functions from the central govt. to semi autonomous organizations that are not wholly controlled by the central government, but are ultimately accountable to it. These organizations usually have a great deal of discretion in decision-making. For example many developing countries utilizes this practice in the creation of boards, authorities, corporations or any other separate agencies for carrying out specific functions (Islam, 1997).
c) Devolution is the third form of administrative decentralization. Devolution as the transfer of significant power, including law making and revenue rising, by law to the locally elected bodies (Conyers, 1986). There is a set of five fundamental characteristics in explaining the purest form of devolution identified by Cheema and Rondinelli (1983).
i) Power is transferred to autonomous units governed independently and separately with out the direct control of central government;
ii) The units enjoy corporate status and powers to secure its own resources to perform its function;
iii) The units maintain control over a recognized geographical area;
iv) Devolution implies the need to develop local government institutions;
v) It is an arrangement of reciprocal, mutually beneficial and coordinate relationship between central and local government.
iii. Fiscal Decentralization:
Financial responsibility is core component of decentralization. Fiscal Decentralization transfers two things to local governments and private organizations: funds to deliver decentralized function; and revenue-generating power and authority, to decide on expenditures.
iv. Economic/Market Decentralization:
Economic or market decentralization is the passing over the private sector of the functions exclusively performed by government. It is manifested through privatization and deregulation. This type of decentralization promotes the engagement of businesses, community groups, cooperatives, private voluntary associations, and other non-government organizations.
Privatization the term ‘Privatization’ means transfer of function form public to non-government institutions. In many countries, the transfer of some of the planning and administrative responsibilities of public function from government to private or voluntary agencies facilitated the processes of decentralization (Ahmed, 1990).
Deregulation reduces the legal constraints on private participation is service provision or allows competitor among private suppliers for survives that in the past had been provided by government or by regulated monopolize. In recent years, privatization and deregulation have become more attractive alternatives to governments in developing countries. Local governments are also privatizing by contracting out service provision or administration.
From the above discussion it is clear that each of the different forms of decentralization has a different implication for deferent organizational purposes in the degree of power and authority to be transferred, but the form are not mutually exclusive. In reality, most governments are a combination of the four forms in their policy (Cheema & Rondinelli, 1983).
Figure 2.1: Dimensions and forms of Decentralization
Economic or Market
Source: Sourcebook on Decentralization in Asia “Decentralization: An Overview
2.3 Prerequisites for effective Decentralization
Some developed theorists held the view that a minimum level of economic development is necessary before decentralized institutions specially, the local government, assume broad development responsibilities. However, the following conditions are conducive to effective decentralization:
- Democratic Environment and Political Commitment
The local government, created under devolutionary decentralization, is sub-system of national government. It has rots in democracy. Without democratic environment, the local government institutions cannot develop properly. Strong political commitment is also essential for effective decentralization.
B. Administrative Support and Capability:
Administration plays an important role in the working of decentralization of administration. Thus the support of and commitment to decentralization policies and programs within the line and staff agencies of central bureaucracy are very important in the success of decentralization. There should also be sufficient administrative and technical capacity for implementing decentralized programmes and projects.
- Explicit Objective:
The objectives of decentralization should be explicit and must be stated in a document or through a declaration. The rules and directives of decentralization must also clearly be written to maintain harmonious relationship among different levels of government and administration so that confusion and conflict may not arise as to their jurisdiction.
D. Behavioral Factor:
The paternalistic and authoritarian attitude and behavior of both the political leaders and the officials should be changed to create a minimum level of trust and respect between them and the citizens.
E. Resource Condition:
The local government created under decentralization should have sufficient power to raise or obtain financial resources to acquire the equipment, supplies, personnel and facilities required to carry out decentralized responsibilities and under take development projects.
Although it is possible to identify the above conditions that are conducive to the effective decentralization, the levels of adequacy or measures of effectiveness expressed or implied in these conditions cannot be universally prescribed, nor can the precise combination of conditions needed to make decentralization feasible.
2.4 Forms of Decentralization in Bangladesh
Decentralization practice in Bangladesh involves four dimensions: Political (devolution), Administrative (Deconcentration and delegation), Fiscal (Self-finance), and Economic or Market (privatization and deregulation) Decentralization. In other words, Decentralization in Bangladesh is a mixture of administrative, fiscal, economic and political functions and relationships.
Table-2.1: Different Arrangements of Decentralization in Bangladesh
Type of unit to which shared authority is transferred
Aspects of Governance transferred or shared
|Administrative & Service
|Autonomous lower level units (Union and village in Bangladesh)||Devolution||Devolution||Devolution||Devolution|
|Semi autonomous lower-level units (District and Upazila in Bangladesh)||Devolution||Devolution||Devolution||Devolution|
|Subordinate lower level unites or subunits (Division & Ministry in Bangladesh)||Directing||Allocating||Tasking||Deconcentration|
|External (non-government units at any level||Deregulation||Privatization||Contracting||Divestment|
Source: Decentralized governance program of UNDP 1999
2.5 Considerations of Designing the Decentralization Plan
When a country takes plan for decentralization it must have some considerations. Like as follows:
- i. Consider the existing cultural elements:
Decentralization is affected by the cultural elements of a society the images, assumptions and internal psychic of the population regarding the issues of authority, role of the government, role of the citizen, conflict, consensus, power, role of elites, role of the poor, the role of women, and a host of other issues.
- ii. Consider changing relationship:
Decentralization always involves changes of relationship between and among different social actors, social sectors and geographic areas. These changes can be threatened or can be seen as enabling for all parties a win situation.
- iii. Consider timing and sequence:
Decentralization is long-term effort in which, timing and phasing are crucial. Therefore, before taking the plan of decentralization we should consider time sequences.
- iv. Consider enhancing mechanisms of participation and partnership:
Decentralization is increased in effectiveness through mechanisms of full participation and partnership. Participation must involve all the societal actors playing their optimal and legitimate roles in policy formulation, resource management and service provision. Partnership must be based on mutual trust and understanding of the various actors, acknowledging that each has both strengths and weaknesses.
- v. Consider the mental model that is being used:
Decentralization as a term comes from a mental model containing a center and a periphery. This is only a model just as a paramedic social structure is only a mental model. When we view a society as a whole system, we see not vertical layers (as in a pyramid) or concentric layers (as in the centric model), but rather a horizontal-environment with autonomous yet interrelated actors, sectors, and geographic areas. In designing decentralization policies and programs it is necessary to be cognizant of the mental model one is using and if necessary to adapt or completely change the model to better-fit reality.
2.6 Advantages and disadvantages of Decentralization
The World Bank Decentralization Thematic Team cites the following advantages of decentralization:
i) It helps alleviate bottlenecks in decision-making that are often caused by central government planning and control of important economic and social activities.
ii) It can, help cut complex bureaucratic procedures and it can increase government official’s sensitivity to local conditions and needs.
iii) It can help national government ministries reach larger numbers of local areas with services.
iv) It allows greater political representation for diverse political, ethnic, religious, and cultural groups in decision-making
v) It can relieve top managers in central ministries of “routine” tasks to concentrate on policy.
vi) In some countries, it may create a geographical focus at the local level for coordinating national, state, provincial, district, and local programs more effectively and can provide better opportunities for participation by local residents in decision-making
vii) It may lead to more creative, innovative, and responsive programs by allowing local “experimentation.”
viii) It can increase political stability and national unity by allowing citizens to better control public programs at the local level.
Cheema and Rondinelli (1983: 27-30) identified a wide range of reasons for the governments of developing countries to adopt decentralization policies and programs. The most important of these are:
- i. The concern of some governments that economic growth often had not been accompanied by equitable distribution of benefits;
- Pressure from below for increased popular participation in development countries;
III. Influence of aid agencies attempting to promote rural development projects.
IV. Failure of centrally planned and managed programs to mobilize human and physical resources or rural development;
- Increasing complexities of development which increased responsibilities of national agencies;
VI. The need to strengthen the planning and management capabilities of local organizations so that they can design and implement their own projects;
- Concern about the lack of adequate coordination among the national and local organizations at the local level;
- Inter-regional economic disparities and ethnic variations;
IX. The need to mobilize political support from rural areas; and
- Recognition of the need to formulate special programs outside the traditional administration to assist the disadvantaged groups
Source: Decentralization in Bangladesh by Abdul Wahhab; 1996, 12-13
The World Bank Decentralization Thematic Team acknowledges, “decentralization may not always be efficient, especially for standardized, routine, network-based services. It may accord them, lead to:
i) Loss of central governments control over scarce financial resources;
ii) Less efficient and less effective delivery of services because of weak administrative or technical capacity at local levels;
iii) Transfer of administrative responsibilities to local levels without adequate financial resources, making equitable distribution,’ or provision of services more difficult;
iv) More complex system of coordinating national policies, where functions will most likely be captured by the local elite; and
v) Distrust between public and private sectors that may undermine cooperation at the local level.
The world bank has decentralization will fail when it is not the result of any carefully designed sequence of reforms but has “occurred in a politically volatile environment in which the level of trust is low and policymakers respond unsystematically to emerging demands from below.” Among its potential detrimental effects are the loss of macroeconomic control, regional is parities in service provision, and misallocation of resource.
Decentralization in Bangladesh: Historical perspective
3.1 British period
In the Indian subcontinent, the British were introduced modern administration. The British introduced colonial rule in India. To prolong their rule they developed controlled institutions as army and bureaucracy, and discouraged the growth of democratic institutions like elected legislature, political parties, etc. They were not interested in decentralization unless it served their colonial interests.
The local government in the rural of Bengal was established with the Bengal Village Choukidari Act 1870. This does not mean that before the Bengal Village Act Choukidari Act, Bengal had no village government at all. The village of Bengal in the olden days had Penchants or bodies of elders who were responsible for running the village affairs. However, before 1870 the British governments took no initiatives to organize the self-governing institutions in the villages. Rather they wanted to maintain law and order in the villages by the zaminders created for revenue collection under the provision of the Permanent Settlement Act 1793. The function of revenue collection was carried on by the zaminders properly, but the maintenance of law and order was hampered seriously.
The main reason for this was that most of the zaminders were urban dwellers, and they generally came to the villages during the harvesting seasons for revenue collection. Due to their absence throughout the year, law and order situation in the villages deteriorated. When the problem of law and order took an acute turn in the villages, the British government passed the Bengal Village Choukidari Act 1870.
Lord Ripon, the then Viceroy of India is deservedly known as the father of modern local self-government in India. The credit goes to him for giving more prominence to the idea of local self-government than to the idea of more local taxes for the services that was the dominant feature of the preceding years. In 1882, the objectives of his famous resolution on local self-government were three folds:
- Financial decentralization should be carried to the local bodies,
- Administration of the local bodies should be improved, an
- The local bodies should be developed for political and popular education. (Tinker 1954: 43-63)
Ripon’s resolution with certain modification was accepted in 1885 was passed. The Act 1885 established a network of local self-government throughout the country that still provides the basis of network system in the rural local government of Bangladesh. These were Union committee for a Union, Local Board for a sub-division and District Board for a district.
The decentralization commission (Hobhouse commission) 1907 reviewed the existing institutions of local self-government. It suggested that the members of the Panchyat should be elected and their functions should be expanded gradually. It also suggested local board should have independence and separate sphere of duties, otherwise it could not justify its existence.
According to the recommendation of the commission, the circle consisting of two or three thanas was introduced in the selected subdivision of Bengali in 1911, headed by the circle officer, a member of junior civil service. However, the circle board was never constituted in Bengal. The circle system became universal in the subdivision of Bengali with the recommendation of the Bengali district administration committee, 1913-14 (Ali 1982: 37). Montague-Chelmsford Report 1918 clearly pointed out the policy of the British government, which culminated in the Bengal self-government Act 1919 (Choudhury 1987: 10-11).
Under the Bengal self-government act 1919, the Panchyat and the union committee were merged into one body called the union board. The local board and the district board remained unchanged. However, the local board was abolished in 1936. Moreover, during that period women were not enfranchised. The franchise was limited to those male persons of 21 years and above who paid one rupee as tax (Roy 1936: 149).
It may be said from the above discussion that the British government appointed several commissions/committees and passed many acts for administrative reforms in the sub-continent, yet the processes of decentralization especially, local government institution building was very slow and obscure.
3.2 Pakistan period
The political instability aggravated the situation in such a way that no government could give any serious thought of introducing comprehensive reforms in the field of local government in combined Pakistan i.e. the union board and the district board were in operation in the country till the military take-over in 1958. The coup d’eta leader General Ayub introduces basic democracy throughout Pakistan, which made a radical change in the inherited local government system. It was pyramidal in structure consisting of four tiers. These were Divisional Council, District Councils, Thana Councils, and Union Councils respectively at division, district, Thana and union levels. In the urban areas, there were Town and Union Committees, and cantonment boards in the cantonment areas. Later Municipal committees were formed in the towns where Union committees were established.
Table-3.1: Structure of Basic Democracy
|District Council||Deputy Commissioner
|Sub divisional Officer
Half Union Council
Chairmen, Half Official
|Thana Council or Union Committee||Elected by Members||
Elected by Universal Adult franchise
Source: Jahan (1972: 115)
After promulgation of the Basic democracy order 1959, General Ayub claimed that with the introduction of basic democracy, democracy has been brought to the doorstep of the people. The main motive behind the introduction of basic democracy was to legitimize Ayub’s regime and to create a new pattern of leadership especially in rural areas in support of the regime. First, after the election of the union councils and Town/Union Committees, General Ayub sought a vote of confidence of the basic democrats. Second, the basic democrats were given power of electoral collage to elect the president and, the central and provincial legislatures. Finally, an economic program called Rural Works program (RWP) was launched in 1962 with the objective that it would strengthen basic democracy and help the rural poor to participate in the development process.
3.3 Mujib era:
After independence, the new government of Bangladesh was confronted with many problems including the problem of relief distribution. The government abolished basic democracy and renamed union council as union Panchyat and later union Parishad, Thana council as Thana development committee, District council as a Zila board, and Municipality as Paurashava. The government also converted every town, whether big or small, into Paurashava.
The government of Bongobondu Sheik Mujib took the question of administrative reform, and set up a committee on March 15, 1972, styled as the Administrative and Services Reorganization Committee (ASRC) headed by Professor Muzaffar Ahmed Choudhury. The report of the ASRC was the first comprehensive report that dealt with almost all aspects of administration. The report pleaded for democratization of administration in the country, and strongly argued for devolution of authority to the local government. It proposed that subdivisions with necessary territorial adjustment should be converted into districts, and division should be eliminated as a unit of administration.
The ASRC recommended the following:
F Fully elective Union and Thana Parishads including the chairman and the Vice chairman, the election to be held on the basis of universal adult franchise.
F The Zila Parishad would be a directly elected body having the number of member per 40,000 of population
F The chairman and the vice chairman of the Zila Parishad may, however, be elected indirectly by an electoral collage consisting of all chairman, the vice chairman and the members of the union and Thana Parishads within the district (Report of the ASRC 1974:23-24). The constitution of Bangladesh, promulgated in December 1972, made provision for elected local government and people’s participation. The fourth amendment of the constitution provided one party state of presidential rule. After the death of Bongobondu all activities were abolished by the Military Government.
Table –3.2: Changed structure of local government
|Name of the bodies before 1972||Changed name of the Bodies (1973-1997)|
(Was later abolished)
Thana Development Committee
Divisional Development Board
3.4 Ziaur Rahman Regime
In August 1975, Major General Ziaur Rahman seized all power as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Nevertheless, Gen. Zia played a critical role in reviving the local government institutions in the country. The government of General Zia also took administrative reform measures, but the commission he constituted for this purpose mainly dealt with the pay and services. By an Ordinance called as the Local Government Ordinance 1976, General Zia introduced three-tire system of rural local government.
They were Union Parishad, Thana parishad and Zila Parishad. By another ordinance (the Paurashava Ordinance (1977) he organized the paurashava (Municipalities) in the urban areas. However, the nature of functions and the control of government over the local bodies through bureaucracy remained essentially the same as under Ayub regime. The Thana Development Committee parallel to the Thana parishad was created in 1978.
After being elected the president in 1978 and victory of the BNP in the parliamentary election of 1979, General Zia turned his attention to the district and the village levels to execute his own plan of administration. Accordingly, the district development coordinator and the Swanirvar Gram Sarker (Self-reliant Village Government) schemes were introduced in the country.
Accordingly, the Swanirvar Gram Sarker (Constitution and Amendment) Rules 1980 were promulgated in May 1980. A Swanirvar Gram Sarker consisted of a Chief Executive called Gram Pradhan and 11 members of which two must be women. The gram Pradhan and members were to be selected through consensus of the persons present in the meeting of the Gram Shava, which was composed of all persons whose name appeared in the electoral roll of the village (Huque 1988:73-74).
3.5 Ershad period:
3.5.1 Formation of CARR
On the day assumption of power, General Ershad announced the desire to evolve a new administrative system which would be people oriented and capable of removing the gap between people and administration (General Ershad address to the nation through radio and television, March 24, 1982. To recommend such administrative system a committee was appointed on April 28, 1982 known as the Committee for Administrative Reorganization/Reform (CARR). The committee was headed by Rear Admiral Mahbub Ali Khan.
The terms of reference of the committee were:
a) To review the structure and organization of the existing civilian administration with a view to identifying the inadequacies of the system for serving the people effectively; and
b) To recommend an appropriate, sound and effective administrative system based on the sprit of devolution and the objective of taking the administration nearer to the people. The CARR submitted its report on June 22, 1982.
The identified the following nine major inadequacies of Bangladesh administration:
(1)Lack of appropriate and uniform personnel policies with regard to recruitment, promotion and training of public services;
(2) Tadbir (lobby) based approach to decision making;
(3). difficulties of the common men to comprehend compartmentalization functions and complexity in governmental decision making;
(4) Absence of sound and durable political process to provide appropriate policies for the welfare of the purpose;
(5) Vertical functional departmentalism that vitiates area based coordination;
(6) Weak local government system rendered weaker by lack of appropriate political directions;
(7) Weakening of traditional administrative and representative institution at different levels of administration
(8) Creation of parallel political and administrative institutions leading to conflict in jurisdiction; and
(9) Reluctance on the part of political authority to develop power to the representative institutions at local levels (Report of the CARR: vii-viii).
3.5.2 Recommendations of CARR
The CARR provided a long list of agreed recommendations of which the following are important:
- a. Elected local councils at union, thana and district levels;
- b. Directly elected Chairman at Union Parishad (UP), Thana Parishad (TP), and Zila Parishad (ZP). In case of Zila Parishad, an alternative of electoral collage comprising of UP and TP members may also considered;
- c. Chairman of UP to the members of TP;
- d. Chairman of TP to the members of ZP;
- e. All officials working at union, thana, and district level attend and participate in the meeting of Parishad at their respective level;
- f. ZP/TP to be provided with senior staff support
- g. UP/TP/ZP Chairman to be Chief Coordinator of all government activities except magistracy/judiciary which will be separate
- h. Elected Chairman to be vested with adequate power to ensure accountability of local officials;
- i. Regulatory administration should be brought under the purview of local councils within a time bound program
- j. A real recognition of existing administrative units should be made in terms of converting existing sub division into districts and abolition of division as a unit of administration;
3.5.3 Implementation Process of Decentralization
Through the government of General Ershad accepted, in principle, the recommendations of the CARR and instituted a high powered national implementation committee in August 1982 known as the National Implementation Committee for Administrative Reorganization/Reform (NICARR), it did not follow the recommendation of the CARR.
As per decision of the NICARR, thanas were upgraded and the officials of high caliber including a chief executive officer called the Thana Nirbahi Officer were posted there. The task of up gradation of Thana started on November 7, 1982 and completed on February 1. 1984. In all, there were ten phases of up gradation. After completing the fifth phases, up graded Thana were renamed as Upazila.
According to the Ordinance 1982 an Upazila parishad consisted of
1. One Chairman;
2. Representative members;
3. Three nominated women members;
4. Official members;
5. Chairman of UCCA; and
6. One nominated member.
The Upazila Parishad Chairman was directly elected by the voters of the entire Upazila for a period of five years.
3.6 Khaleda period
The new government after assuming power abolished the Upazila parishad by an executive order. A high-powered local government structure review committee was constituted in the November of 1991, which recommended a two-tier local government structure
i) Union parishad at the Union level, and
ii) Zila parishad at the district level
Among other major recommendations were the formations of
iii) Gram Shava at village level and
iv) Thana Development and Co ordination Committee at Thana Level
Khaleda Zia Government introduced two-tier local government i.e.
- 1. Zila Parishad and
- 2. Union Parishad
Others for developing Thana developing coordinating committee was constituted in this time.
3.7 Hasian period:
In 1996, Awami League had formed government. On September 1996, government formed a high-powered local government commission (The Financial Express, 1997), which submitted its report on May 26, 1997. This government constituted four-tier local government body (Table –3.3).
Table –3.3: Four-Tier local Government Structure
|Name of the body||
|Village||Gram Parishad / Palli
|9 elected member, 3 women member (Directly elected by voters)-elected word member will be the chairman of the parishad, All village level government and NGO workers will be the non-voting member of the parishad.|
|Union||Union parishad||9 members from 9 words to be elected directly by the voter, 3 Women members from 9 words (1 member for 3 Word) by direct election, 1 Chairman by direct election|
|Thana||Thana Parishad /
|1 Chairman, 1 member and 1/3 women members from each union will be elected by direct election. All government, officials, except court and judges including police will be representative member with no voting power. UNO will act as the executive officer of the parishad.|
|Zila||Zila Parishad||A Chairman: to be elected directly by the people of Zila, Elected member: 2 members from each Thana to be elected directly by the people, Women member: 1/3 of total member will be elected directly by the people of the Zila, Representative member: All Thana parishad chairman, Paurashava chairman will be members by rank, Official member: All district level government officials except court and judges will be members of the parishad having no voting power, NGO Representative, MPs will be the advisors of the Parishad, Deputy Commissioner of district will act as the executive of the parishad.|
Source: Islam, 1997; 160
3.8 Fourth Party Alliance:
From the very beginning, the BNP government of Khaleda Zia was in favor of introducing the LSG (Local Self Government) unit at the village level. The Eighth Parliamentary election took place on October 1, 2001. This government was proposed four tier of local government system in Bangladesh like before except village level. Instead of VP (Village Parishad), they proposed Gram Sarker (Village Government) at village level.
i) Gram Sarker at the village level
ii) Union parishad at the union level
iii) Upazila parishad at the Upazila level
iv) Zila parishad at the District level
3.9 Under the Interim Government:
For a bad situation, support military a caretaker government was constituted under the emergency rule on 11 January 2007. Under emergency rule, an ordinance was passed for upazila parishad 2008. Under this ordinance, the upazila parishad was constituted fully locally self-government. However, this government has not power for implementing this ordinance by the parliament. They handed over the power to the elected government.
3.10 Under Present Government:
The present government AL (Mhajot) had formed government on 06 January 2009. Then they took step for passing upazila parishad act. They passed Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009 on 6 April 2009. (Discuss it in fourth chapter).
At present in Bangladesh, have three tier local governments for decentralization. These are:
- Union Parishad,
- Upazila parishad,
- Zila Parishad
State of decentralization in Upazila Parishad
4.1 Upazila Decentralization in Bangladesh
The Upazila system was first introduced in 1982 but after the general election, MPs were made advisors of the local body making the role of Upazila chairman minor. With the system the local administration had to face complexities over whether would act as per the direction to the advisor or the chairman. It many places conflicts surface between the MPs and chairman disrupting development activities severely. The situation was worse whether there were MPs from the ruling party and chairman from the opposition.
BNP after assuming power in 1991 nullified the upazila system. The AL government in 1998 amended the Upazila Ordinance but kept the power of announcing the election date in its hands leading to the Election Commission’s failure to hold the polls after repeated attempts.
After returning the power in 2001, the BNP-Jamaat alliance government tried to fix the role of the MPs on the local government but failed. Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed led caretaker government after the 1/11 change promulgated Upazila Parishad Ordinance excluding any influence of MPs on local government.
Finally, the present AL (Mhajot) government took to steps for reintroducing the Upazila parishads. Here, Present government made mandatory to follow the MPs advisory. They passed Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009 on 6 April 2009.
4.2 Composition of Upazila Parishad
According to the Act Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009 Upazila Parishad constituted some persons. Such as (a)
- Chairman (Elected by Voter).
- Two Vice chairman, (one Man and one Woman). (Both Elected by Voter).
- Every Union Parishad Chairman or acting Union Parishad Chairman/Officer in Upazila parishad jurisdiction.
- Every Paurashava Mayor or acting Mayor/officers (if stay Paurashava)
- In Upazila’s reserved seats women.
(b) Chairman and Vice chairmen are elected by the voter directly.
© If any Union Parishad/Paurashava cancelled or not stays then Upazila Parishad legality is not loss.
(d) Every Upazila’s Union Parishad and Paurashava (if stay) reserved 1/3 seats Upazilas reserved seats considered and reserved for women. Women reserved are elected from Union and Paurashava women member.
4.3 Structure of Upazila Parishad
According to the Act Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009 Upazila Parishad structure is:
Woman Vice Chairman
(Union & Paurashava chairman with reserved women)
Figure: 4.1: Structure of Upazila Parishad according to the present act. Authors (Shamsuddin) make it
4.4 Temporary Chairman and Panel
According to the Act Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009:
(a) If Upazila Parishad is constituted then the first meeting under I month the vice chairman made a two members panel, one superior & one subordinate,
(b) If chairman absent then acting chairman become on the basis of priority from the chairman panel,
(c) If suspend, remove, death or other reason chairman stay absence then acting chairman elected on the basis of priority panel member.
4.5 Committee System of Upazila Parishad
According to the Act Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009:-
- Each Upazila Parishad will constitute a number of standing committees. A standing committee would consist of the Chairman, Vice Chairman, or any member of the Parishad or any person,
- The Upazila Parishad Constitute a standing committee on each of the subjects given below:
a) Law and Order, b) Communication and Infrastructure development, c) Agricultural and Irrigation, d) Education, e) Health and Family planning, f)Youth and Sports development, g) Women and children development, h) Social welfare, i)Land, j) Fisheries and Livestock, k) Rural development and Cooperatives, l) Information and Cultural, m) Forest and Environment and n)Market price investigation, monitoring and control.
- UNO become member secretary in standing committee,
- For helping standing committee works parishad stay a co-opt member but have no vote right.
4.6 Upazila parishad’s Secretary
According to the Act Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009 UNO becomes Upazila Parishad Secretary and s/he does secretarial duties.
4.7 Upazila Parishad Advisor
According to the Act Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009 the MP become advisor. After taking advice from the MP then Upazila Parishad can try to communicate with government. It is Mandatory.
4.8 Functions of Upazila Parishad
According to the Act Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009, main functions of the Upazila Parishad (the Upazila Parishad Act 2009 reintroduced the Upazila Parishad Act 1998 with some amendments) as follows:
- 1. Prepare Upazila Five year plan and other Development Plan;
- 2. Supervise and coordinate the various government department activities which were handed over to the UZP;
- 3. Construct and maintain inter-union connecting roads;
- 4. Follow government directives to ensure effective use of surface water;
- 5. Provide public health, nutrition related and family planning services;
- 6. Ensure efficient sanitation, sewerage works and pure drinking water supply;
- 7. Motivate people with regard to extension of education and provide assistance
- 8. Supervise and monitor secondary and Madrasa education;
- 9. Take steps for the establishment and development of cottage and small industries;
- 10. Encourage the activities of cooperative societies and NGOs.
- 11. Cooperate with relevant authorities and implement programmes for the development of the children and women, and promote sports and cultural activities;
- 12. Undertake programmes for the development of agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forest resources;
- 13. Review the law and order situation and activities of the police at the Upazila level and submit reports to the concerned authorities;
- 14. Promote self-employment activities, provide assistance for property alleviation programmes and coordinate existing activities;
- 15. Provide necessary help to the Union Parishad and coordinate its activities;
- 16. Create public awareness and take preventive measures against cruelty to women and children;
- 17. Create public awareness and take preventive steps against terrorism, theft, robbery, smuggling etc;
- 18. Manage the environment and take up social forestry and other development activities of a similar nature;
- 19. Perform any other work specific by the government.
Source: Local Government in Bangladesh, Edited by Kama Siddiquee
4.9 Present Duties of The chairman and Vice-chairman in Upazila Parishad
The LGRD ministry’s operational guideline allows newly elected Upazila Chairman to delegate their duties, both financial and administrative. According to guideline, an Upazila Chairman is empowered to do the following:
- Every day Upazila Parishad administrative works,
- S/he become president in Upazila Parishad meetings,
- Implementation all decisions taken by the Upazila Parishad,
- All employees stay under the chairman but without deputation officers as like UNO,
- If the employees violet disciplinary workers then chairman write to upper authority about that matters,
- Chairman is the recruiter own Upazila parishad employees, and can take to step these employees for violating rules and regulations,
- Take initiatives to prepare proposals and schemes related to functions of the Parishad,
- Appoint employees and take disciplinary actions except against officials and employees on deputation, but may send proposals with the approval of the parishad to control, supervise, withdraw, transfer, and for taking disciplinary actions against the officials and employees on deputation,
- Take measures to collect taxes, tolls, fees, and other dues, and impose taxes and fixes their rates, and
- Supervise and monitor the Vice chairman and Woman vice chairman
S/he may also receive funds on behalf of the parishad, spend money for any matter within the capacity of the approved budget of the parishad, maintain financial accounts, correspond on behalf of the parishad, sign contracts on all matters of the parishad, issue or approve licenses, permits, and notices on behalf of the parishad, adjudicate cases of offences under the parishad act and file and pursue cases on behalf of the parishad, among others.
The Vice Chairman Duties
The government issued a guideline on the functioning the Vice chairman:
ü Vice chairman become president one or more standing committee from powered by the Upazila Parishad and take to steps for implementing that’s standing committees decision,
ü If the chairman absent in the parishad then vice chairman become chairman on the basis chairman panel,
ü Supervise and monitor secondary and Madrasa education;
ü Construction the inter union linking roads and maintaining,
ü To take steps for conscious the peoples about crime, to steal-rubbery, intoxicant using etc for violating and take to against steps for removing these crime,
ü To take steps conservation environment and social forestry
The Woman Vice Chairman Duties
The government issued a guideline on the functioning the Woman Vice chairman:
© Vice chairman become president one or more standing committee from powered by the Upazila Parishad and take to steps for implementing that’s standing committees decision,
© If the chairman absent in the parishad then vice chairman become chairman on the basis chairman panel,
© To take steps for health, nutrition, family planning and mother health developing, women health developing, children developing,
© To take steps sanitation and sewerage system,
© To develop fresh water system and furnish to the peoples,
© For developing women, children, small cottage industries etc take to steps.
© To take steps for removing women touring, children touring, dowry, and child marriage
Source: The Bengali Paper dainik Ptothom alo 04/03/2010
4.10 Present Financial Advantages of The chairman and Vice-chairman
The chairman gets honorarium monthly ten thousand Taka and every Vice chairman gets honorarium monthly 7.5 thousand Taka. However, if chairman and vice chairman have stayed criminal law suit case then they do not take honorarium on this time. If s/he becomes release then takes all honorariums. Chairman and Vice chairman get journey honorarium as government first class officer’s honorarium.
When Chairman absent then acting vice chairman get monthly 1 thousand taka as honorarium for acting duties. If s/he acting duties over 6 months then s/he get 5 hundred taka per month. But if acting duties can not become full one month then acting vice chairman does no get any honorariums. The chairman gets car facilities with fuel.
4.11 Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO)
In Bangladesh Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) chief executive of an upazila. UNO refers to an officer of central government who administers the upazila for the central government. A junior level officer of Bangladesh Civil Service (Administration Cadre) mainly senior assistant secretary is posted for this post. UNO, a newly created post in accordance with a decision made by the military regime of General Hussain Muhammad Ershad in 1982. The UNOs were normally posted from among the senior scale officers called “Senior Assistant Secretary” of the administration cadre of the Bangladesh Civil Service.
The charter of duties of UNO stipulated him to perform such functions as to:
- a. Act as staff officer to the elected chairman of upazila parishad and thus in that capacity assist the chairman in implementing all policies and decisions of the parishad;
- b. assist the parishad in supervising all upazila level administrative/ development work and in preparing,
- c. exercise powers under section 144 of criminal procedure code and sit in court to perform functions such as taking cognizance of cases, hearing bail matters, granting adjournment, etc,
- d. initiate annual confidential reports (ACR) of all thana level officers except the munsiff-magistrate;
- e. Attend emergency duties such as relief work following natural calamities and receive food and other materials for distribution under the direction of upazila parishad.
- f. supervise and control revenue and budget administration;
- g. ensure the observance of all government directives on upazila administration;
- h. coordinate all upazila level training activities;
- i. grant casual leave and countersign as well the traveling allowance bills of the heads of all functional departments except that of the munsiff;
- j. act as drawing and disbursing officer in respect of officers and staff working directly under him;
- k. supervise activities of the officers and staff working under him;
- l. protocol duties; and finally
- m. Perform such other functions as what would be entrusted to him by the government or the upazila parishad/chairman.
Planning and Funding System
5.1 Upazila Development Coordinating Committee (UDCC)
According to the Act Upazila Parishad (Reintroduction of the Repealed Act and Amendment) Act 2009 each Upazila Parishad coordinating committee consist a number of persons. Such as:
- Chairman- President,
- Vice Chairman (two)- Assistant President,
- Member- Concerned Union Parishad Chairman or acting chairman,
- Member- Concerned Paurashava (if stay) Mayor or acting Mayor,
- Member- Reserved seats Woman.
- UNO- Secretary.
Source: Bhangura Upazila Parishad UNO said (when I collected primary data).
5.2 Decentralization Planning Some: Issues
- Units of Decentralized Planning:
Decentralized means devolution of planning functions from central authority to the decentralized bodies. Decentralized planning in Upazila Parishad may be exercised in such levels where decentralization of Upazila administration works, but opinions vary as to the appropriate level of such planning. A country has to take into certain considerations, which, according to the report ESCAP region, include the following:
i) Its possibility to facilitate direct and indirect participation of local people in the planned development process,
ii) Its coverage with an area viable enough to allow the provision of essential services and upgrading managerial and productive skills of rural people through group action to assist in mobilization of resources to active a locally inspired development program,
iii) Its coincidence with the lowest level of administrative hierarchy
The above discussion clearly indicates that decentralized planning takes place above the Upazila. In other words, between national level and Upazilas there are administrative units where decentralized planning is exercised.
- Tasks of Decentralized Planning:
Decentralized planning is not an isolated exercise. Its tasks comprise the following;
i) To inter-link and coordinate the planning and development at the levels of homogeneous small groups, the Upazila government and the administrative unit and to formulate an well-integrated Upazila area plan,
ii) To inter-link the plans and policies of local areas with the regional and national plans and policies,
iii) To mobilize resources at local and supra-local levels in order to match the planned programs and activities with the available resources,
iv) To implement, monitor and evaluate the development plan and program in terms of output, effects and impact with particular reference to the target groups (UNAPDI 1980 164-165).
- Scope of Decentralized planning:
The range and scope of decentralized planning is determined by the size of its geographical limits, and quantitative and qualitative appraisal of its human and material resources. The Dantwala Working Group on block level planning listed the following areas of functions that form the range and scope of decentralized planning: 1) Agriculture and allied activities, 2) Minor irrigation, 3) Soil conservation and water management, 4) Animal husbandry and poultry, 5) Fisheries, 6) Forestry, 7) Processing of agricultural produce, 8) Organizing input supply, credit and marketing, 9)Cottage and small industries, 10) Local infrastructure, 11)Social services (Drinking water supply, Health and nutrition, Education, Housing, Sanitation, Local transport, and Welfare programs), 12)Training of local youth and upgrading the skills of local population (Menon 1986:226).
- Stages of Planning:
For its successfully working, a development planning, whether national or local has to pass four well-defined stages. The stages are formulation, adoption, execution and evaluation (Seth 1977:98-100). The first stage of development planning is to prepare a development plan. The task of drafting the plan at the national level is generally performed by the government through a statutory body called planning commission. The adoption or approval of the plan is the function either of the legislature or the executive organ of the government. The execution or implementation of the national plan is the responsibility of the government.
These are theoretical system and try to Decentralized planning according to that. But practically in Bangladesh Upazila Planning system all time does not follow these systems. In the below, I discus Bangladesh Upazila Planning system
5.3 Upazila Planning System in Bangladesh
Mainly, Upazila parishad planning is taking by the Upazila Development Coordination Committee (UDCC). Upazila Parishad is taking to plan for short term, long term. Any plan is taken by the UDCC majority vote. The Central government is also taken Upazila parishad plan. For any government policy is needed to implement then central government impose to upazila parishad. Then Upazila Parishad tries to implement to this order.
Upazila Parishad plan is fully dependable on government. Because without money, any plan cannot implement. Government gives grants for implementing plan. Upazila Parishad is taking plan for many subjects infrastructural development, Educational development, Agricultural development, Sanitation etc. (Source: Primary data)
5.4 Upazila Funds collections System in Bangladesh
The central government provides financial grants to Upazila Parishad, namely by three methods: 1) Conditional grants, 2) Unconditional grants and 3) Revenue sharing. The Upazila Parishad had constitutional basis and was created by an ordinance, the government of Bangladesh had obligation to follow the methods two or three. Hence, its usual method of granting fund to the Upazila Parishad was conditional one. One major argument of conditional method is that, by such grant the central government took undue advantage to control the Upazila government through conditional grant.
Grants were made by the central government out of the ADP for financing development activities of the Upazila Parishad. This grant was known as block development assistance/block grant of ADP. Out of the ADP, grants were also made for physical infrastructure of the Upazila Parishad. Grants were also provided to the Upazila Parishads by the central government agencies for individual components of centrally administered development projects. Out of the development grants, the grants provided as block development assistance or block grant was related to the schemes of projects undertaken and executed by the Upazila parishads.
The other development grants were related to the centrally administered projects and were entrusted to the Upazila Parishad only for executions. The block grant was the annual normal allocation from the central government. After the guidelines issued by the planning commission in 1983, the distribution of this block grant were made in accordance with the following four criteria:
1) Population 20%,
2) 2) Area size 20%,
3) Backwardness 30%,
4) Performance 30%
Now the Upazila Parishad consists according to Upazila Parishad Act 2009. They work according to this act. Upazila parishad funds are collected mainly by the central government. The Upazila Parishad has a limited power to collect local taxes. The collect taxes on hat, bajar tax, found, khal ejara, gat ejara, land tax 2% and land registration tax. (Source: Primary data)
5.5 Relationship between Upazila Parishad and Central Government in Bangladesh
In the past time, Central Government (CG) has taken many activities for controlling the Upazila Parishad. Upazila Parishad is being controlled by Central Government. The relationship between Upazila Parishad and Central Government is patron-client. Patron is Central Government and client is Upazila Parishad. In the below I can try to focused the controlling system Upazila Parishad by the central government.
1.1 Territorial Jurisdictions:
According to the Ordinance or Acts on UP the government is vested with the authority to determine or modify the size and the boundaries of the UP and to formulate rules and byelaws in this regard.
1.2 Composition of Council:
The government possesses many discretionary powers with regard to the structure and composition of the UP. UP consists Chairman, Vice Chairman, elected representatives and official members. The CG, through its executive orders, has constituted Upazila Development Coordinating Committee (UDCC) for each Upazila. The primary objective of constituting a UDCC is to coordinate the development activities by mediating between the Union Parishad and UP.
1.3 Upazila Election:
Government control over elections to the UP is manifested in the decision (rules) regarding mode of elections, dates of elections and settlements of disputes. The government fixes the dates of the elections to UP. It appoints returning officers. After the elections, they also settle the disputes that may have arisen over them. In certain cases, however, the aggrieved parties can even approach the law courts for the redress of electoral grievances.
In UP, are two types employed by those bodies on Upazila Parishad and those on deputation from the Bangladesh civil service (administration) cadre and functional services. As the officials on deputation belong to the BCS cadre, they are recruited and controlled by the government.
1.5 Functional Jurisdiction:
CG measures the functional Jurisdiction and Control in UP. In ordinance or Act have highlighted the working conditions and power of UP. The UP works according to these directions. If UP violated these direction or rules then CG may remove the Parishad, Chairman, or elected persons. Government can transfer any development activities to UP. For that why, government can control these development activities.
1.6 Inter-institutional disputes:
Inter-institutional disputes control the central government. Normally, the UDCC dismisses inter-upazila disputes. The LGD is the main authority for dismissing UP inters institutional disputes.
- Financial Control:
About financial matters CG day by day give advice and control over the UP. At first UP income is controlled by the CG. In ordinance and Act clearly highlighted the sources of income, nature of government grants, system taking loans etc for UP. In facts government could fixed the tax rates. Before approving by the LGD then UP collect much tax. Government may control by maintenance accounts. Government can help to preparing annual budget for UP. Government scrutinize over the UP about financial matters by C&AG, Deputy Director local government, ADC and DC.
- Administrative Control:
UP day by day administratively are controlled by the CG. The main systems of administrative control are:
- Periodic Inspection,
- Removal of Chairman, Vice Chairman and elected persons for misusing power or violating rules and regulations,
- Suppression and dissolution for unable doing activities or persisting fails in discharging its duties,
- Miscellaneous Media of administrative control,
5.6 Upazila Chairman and MP Conflict
According to the Act Upazila Parishad Act 2009, the local MPs hold the advisory powers over the chairman and make the lawmakers suggestions binding for the local governments bodies. The controversy over the power of the Upazila Chairman (UP) and the Member of Parliament (MP) has generated serious debate in the political and civil arenas, Meetings, seminars, symposia, rallies, press conferences and even litigations in the court of law are taking place.
The enhancement of the power of the UC came because of awareness about the need for strong local government for strengthening democracy at the grass-root level, and at the expense of the powers previously exercised by the MP. This is the cause of the controversy. The MPs have got some valid reasons for opposing the enhancement of the authority of the UC. The electoral constituency of a UC and MP is almost the same in size. During the time of election, the candidates for the post of UC approach the voters with different programmes of infrastructural development in the concerned areas.
After the election, the UC tries to implement at least some of the programmes s/he promised to his electorates. Previously, the MPs were entrusted with, besides law making, the implementation of local development works. This commitment to local developments works gave the election of MPs a local character. People used to vote for the candidates considering their individual commitments to local development, and their personal honesty, integrity and influence.
For this reason, at present create a problem for specify duties between MP and UC and sometimes create conflict. When UC can try to implement of his/her commitment then s/he does not work independently. Because local MP is advisor of Upazila Parishad and taking advice is mandatory. It is a vital barrier for effective decentralization. When MP and UC are opposite party then the Upazila Parishad is no fully effective for MP’s advisory power. For this why present Upazila Parishad is no fully effective. But government will give full decentralization in future (Government perspective plan 2010-2021).
Problems in decentralization in Upazila Parishad
6.1 Major Issues in Decentralization
In analyzing the concept of decentralization in upazila parishad, several major issues continuously appear. These issues often form the bedrock of comprehensive and systematic strategies to promote and facilitate decentralization practices in upazila parishad. The following of the most prevalent issues emerging from the analysis of the concept and its various dimensions (Sourcebook on Decentralization in Asia Updated)
Issue-1: Decentralization is a political issue that often arises from political commitment and pressure outside when decentralization is initiated first in a specific sector (e.g., education); it often meets resistance by who do not want to transfer their power.
Issue-2: Often guiding principles are the missing components of decentralization. Decentralization principles should include the purpose of decentralization, rationale, objectives, and implementation design, and include a clear definition of roles for the various management levels and the linkages between them.
Issue-3: Not all government functions should be decentralized. A function should not be transferred to a lower level if it is critical, the achievement of central-level goals and its sustainability at the local level cannot be guaranteed, the capacity to perform the function does not exist at the lower level or undertaking this function at the peripheral level is not cost-effective.
Issue-4: National leaders and donor organizations should fully appreciate the complexity of decentralization. The complexity of decentralization often is reflected in three key areas: transfer of finances, procurement systems, and management of human resources. For the decentralization, process to be effective, details of these priority areas should be identified and crystallized well in advance of the implementation of the decentralization process.
Issue-5: Decentralization requires improved legal, regulatory and financial framework to ensure clear division of responsibilities, accountability and transparency.
Issue-6: Regional and local capacities for Decentralization should be full assessed prior to implementation of a countrywide decentralization process.
Issue-7: Creating coordinating and assistance linkages is essential for effective implementation of decentralization. If decentralization is to be effective, means must be found for reorienting the central administrators’ perception of their roles from control and direction to support and facilitation. This requires strengthening capacity at the central level to perform their new effectively.
Issue-8: Standard and norms are essential for equal and quality. The transfer of extensive power to more peripheral management levels should be based on a system that balances central and local priorities, which there would be negative impact on national equity. Clear national standards, service norm, and ongoing system of monitoring are essential for safeguarding equity and quality.
Issue-9: support for decentralization policies must be deliberately and carefully mobilized among all critical players. This includes leaders in central ministries and departments, state, provincial, municipalities, district and local units of administration autonomous and regional agencies, political parties, and interest groups that will be affected by the decentralization process.
Issue-10: Stages and procedures of the implementation of decentralization should be identified. Experiences indicate that decentralization can be implemented most successfully if the process is incremental and iterative. Those aspects or programs that are least likely to be opposed and for which there is adequate administrative capacity should be expanded as political support and administration competence increase.
Issue-11: Financial and human resources should be proportionate with decentralization responsibilities. For effective implementation of decentralization policy, the central level government must be prepared to allocate appropriate resources in terms of financial and human capital, and technical to the localities. In most cases, the localities cannot undertake decentralization responsibilities unless supported by the central administration.
Issue-12: The private sector can be critical partner in the design and implementation of decentralization. The public/private partnership in the design and implementation of decentralization is essential for mobilization of resources and delivery of services at the local level.
Issue-13: Broad participation is needed for successful decentralization process. For decentralization to be effective, it should be built on the needs, priorities and views of the people who are most affected by it. Appropriate, mechanisms-should be develop to promote and encourage popular participation and Involvement in the identification of local needs to finding the most suitable approaches and strategies to respond to such needs.
Issue-14: Decentralization can facilitate empowerment. Local participation in identifying community strengths and weaknesses, and their involvement in mobilizing resources needed to enhance development at the local level facilitates and promotes empowerment.
These are the main issues of decentralization.
6.2 Major Problems for Implementing Decentralization Policies in Upazila Parishad
According to present Upazila Parishad Act, In Bangladesh Upazila Parishad has many problems for fully effective decentralization. It is known from many sources, i.e. Daily Newspaper. However, decentralization system is not fully effective for that reasons in Upazila Parishad has many problems. In the below I have highlighted the major problems in short.
The major problems are the following:
1) Absence of rural people’s participation in development projects undertaken by the local government bodies;
2) Lack of peoples consciousness about Upazila decentralization,
3) Unbalanced Central Patronage in Upazila Parishad,
4. Dependency on Central government is great problem,
5. The Upazila Management is not efficient,
6. Lack of Educational problem,
7. Lack of administrative and political, support,
8. Shortage of Skilled Personnel at the Upazila level,
9. Ambiguous pattern of leadership
10. Inadequate physical infrastructure transport and communications linkages
11. Poor administrative capacity,
12. Politico-administrative contradictions,
13. Ambiguity in the design of decentralization policies,
14. Weaknesses in Upazila organizational Instructional capacity,
15. Lack of citizenship in Upazila level,
16. Advisory of local MP is creating problem for doing any important activities,
17. Have no controlling power on UNO,
18. Frequent changes in the Upazila government structure with the change of political power at the national level,
19. Predominance of government officials in Upazila Parishad,
20. Inadequate mobilization of local resources;
21. Misuse and misappropriation of development fund; and
22. Inadequate expert person. Such as Civil Surgeon,
23. The Upazila Statistics office is not well. For a well planning, it is needed to well.
24. Lack of appropriate planning from Central Government,
26. Lack of proper rules and regulations,
27. In upazila have no especial security force. Have police, but they are controlled by the central government,
28. Judicial power of Upazila parishad is not good,
29. In upazila have no a good administrative structure,
30. In Upazila Parishad have no right and good vision and mission,
These are main problems that I have known from my respondents (Bhangura Upazila parishad chairman, Vice chairman and UNO) when I was collecting primary data.
6.3 Recommendation for Solving problems and Effective Upazila Decentralization
Upazila decentralization system in Bangladesh is not fully effective. Bangladesh is a developing country. Therefore, the decentralization system is not as equal to the developed country (like United States, United Kingdom, EU countries etc.). Because they are developed country economically, politically, socially and administrative context. Comparison to these countries Bangladesh lags behind socially, politically, economically and administratively.
Upazila Parishad is important unit in Bangladesh for decentralization System. Though, the past military government and political government played many games for implementing their will. Nevertheless, at present world is discussing, researching about Bangladesh Upazila Decentralization system.
On the basis of above observations of problems, we can recommend the following policy measures:
Firstly, The peoples of Bangladesh have lack of citizenship. I recommend that for effective fully decentralization in upazila parishad it is needed to change and increase citizenship. For lacking right citizen’s knowledge, they do no pressure on government for taking good decision (such as Upazila Decentralization Act).
Secondly, When Central government takes plan for Upazila then many problems is creating. Upazila related planning power would be given to the Upazila parishad. Because Central Government does not know, actually what is needed in Upazila Parishad for developing or planning?
Thirdly, for effective upazila decentralization it is needed to given adequate resources.
Fourthly, for protecting rules, regulation, and finishing judicial activities some expert will be recruited.
Fifthly, for infrastructural development some expert will be recruited. For appropriate planning, the statistics department will be made effective.
Six, For effective upazila decentralization is needed to develop public private partnership.
Seventhly, increase of people’s consciousness about Upazila decentralization.
Eighthly, in upazila parishad has many government offices. But have no proper coordinating principles. For upazila, developing and effective decentralization is needed to make hard coordinating principles.
Ninthly, for effective decentralization is needed to political stability in country. When country is politically unstable then military government comes. The military government is doing harmful activities because they can try to implement their will. If their policies are not good for country, nevertheless they cannot think it.
Tenthly, at present in Bangladesh upazila parishad have great problem that local MP’s role is advisory. Therefore, for effective decentralization it will be remove then make a coordinating authority and specify responsibilities and duties between MP and Upazila Chairman.
Eleventh, to give power on Upazila Parishad for controlling UNO and Deputation officers. But The ACR, transfer, and punishment will control District Commissioner.
Twelfth, If chairman absent in Upazila Parishad then UNO and Vice-chairman take emergency decision and steps by discussion. The present upazila act gives power only on UNO in the time of emergency,
Thirteenth, increase Upazila Accountability& Transparency,
Fourteen, increase Civil Society role,
Fifteen, to control crime, violence, women torturing, early marriage etc. social crime
6.4 Increased Upazila government capacity we can take the following steps
- Availability of Upazila government budgets and financial reports to members, the public, and the media;
ii. Existence of internal and external auditing in accordance with required schedules;
iii. Number or percentage of post-audit actions taken;
iv. Proportion of Upazila government executive posts for which recruitment is based on clear job descriptions, professional merit;
v. Existence of citizen complaint mechanism and use of that input to affect policy or service delivery;
vi. Response time to citizen complaints;
vii. Existence of transparent financial systems and full reporting to citizens;
viii. Percentage of local revenue generated by Upazila government;
ix. Percentage of Upazila operating costs covered by Upazila revenue;
x. Percentage of population satisfied with particular services (disaggregated to ensure equity of access);
xi. Documented performances standards and system of measurement;
xii. Actual performance (results) reported to public;
xiii. Percentage of Upazila staff completing relevant skills training, and evidence of use of that training;
xiv. Measurement of citizen satisfaction with Upzila government effectiveness, responsiveness, accountability, and communication
6.5 Specific Recommendation of effective upazila decentralization
1) Decentralization policy:
Decentralization policy have to be carefully planned, closely supervised and strongly supported by tile administrative and political System of the Country. Before undertaking, any program government should collect data through opinion pool, open debate; parliament debate etc. and then an orientation program could be taken for the bureaucrats. Crucial political, economic and social controversy, issues regarding decentralization policy must be resolved before implementing decentralization program on large scale.
The coordination system at the Upazila level needs to be much strengthened. Committee of Various, development projects taken by the Upazila government, should consist of all concern departments and at the same time Peoples representation in such committee have to be ensured.
3) Building Administrative capacity:
For Successful implementation of decentralization policy, we have to build the administrative capacity. Enough numbers of skilled, trained man-power is needed at Upazila level, especially for project planning evaluation, resource mobilization, performance budgeting, so the obvious recommendation is to raise the administrative capacity of the technical offices of the Upazila governments by improving their organization and the quality of their technical manpower.
To institutionalize the concept of’ Upazila level planning and development, the preparation of five year development plan for upazila governments should be firmly re-established. The development plans should be based on an inventory of resources in each level of Upazila government.
5) Regular and fair election:
The effectiveness and functionality of Upazila government unit require elected, committed and action oriented popular representatives. For this, government must ensure the holding of regular and fair election of Upazila government bodies. Because, without proper popular representation, popular interests would not be protected
6) Authority commensurate with responsibility:
Actually, the authority and responsibility of Upazila self-government bodies should go hand in hand. Control of Upazila bodies by central government functionaries should be limited, their day-to-day working must be free from official direction and they must have the power to initiate any development project without any complexity of central recommendation.
7) Peoples participation
The Upazila people should be involved in the decision-making process and share responsibilities. They should not be viewed as being the beneficiary merely for the program of building rural infrastructure but as the change agent. The villagers should be called upon to utilize the opportunities available and responsible for building their future.
8) Establishment of statutory board
A statutory board may be established as specific control mechanism for Upazila government. This commission may be consist of MPs, the Judges, Local government experts, retired civil servants, lawyers etc. The board would employ a number of officers to inspect, monitor and evaluate Upazila government bodies and give their recommendation to the board. However, the board alone would be empowered to take the final decision.
9) Proper decentralization:
Decentralization of powers and functions to Upazila government bodies should not be in paper rather specific policies and directions should be triggered for actual decentralization/ devolution. For this, the functions, powers, allocations and responsibilities of Upazila government bodies should be spelt out one.
Training program for Upazila govt. functionaries should be strengthened. The training should include both the officials and political representatives in the same batch. BARD Comilla and RDA Bogra should be involved in training up local government functionaries on a regional basis.
11) Formation of Upazila Court:
For speedy, easy, inexpensive, substantial and effective justice to the common people, Upazila Court may be established. Judges should be recruited for speedy judgment and ensuring peace and harmony in rural areas.
At present in every society decentralization is using frequently. For this reason, it is not needed especially for telling about decentralization. Because the present population is known that, every government has field offices for giving services. The illiterate and literate people though know some idea about decentralization. However, they are not fully known government institutions are decentralized by the central government. They normally think that government does every activity rightly.
Normally peoples are thought that Central government makes decentralization for protecting, maintaining, and controlling rules and regulations. Because, it was right in the past time before independence of Bangladesh. But after independence especially present time it is not right. Decentralization creates mainly for local level developing, and reduces central government duties by local level people’s representatives.
In Bangladesh have many local level institutions such as Union parishad, Zila parishad, municipalities, and city corporations and important for rural development is Upazila Parishad local government. Every local level institution is created by the people’s representatives without zila parishad.
Bangladesh is a parliamentarian democratic government. It has a parliament where law is created by national level people’s representatives (Parliament Member). They are makes laws for the peoples. They create local level law. By parliament member the Upazila Parishad Act was passed. Central government and local government are created for people developing.
As developing country, every government central-local has role for developing activities. For this why the central government does not give fully power on rural local government. Because if government gives full power on Upazila parishad then the role of MP’s become valueless or have no power without making law. It is possible in developed country.
The MP-Upazila Chairman both is given promise for developing activities. If Upazila Parishad takes full authority for developing works then the MP cannot fulfill their promises. For this, reasons the MP are not want to give full authority in Upazila Parishad. It is the main debate about present Upazila Parishad. In Upazila Parishad has also debate that the UNO is not subordinate on upazila parishad. For this reason, UNO-Chairman creates conflict. UNO is BCS-admin cadre government officials. UNO recruited by the Central government. For this why they do not stay under the Upazila Peoples representatives. When I was talked Bhangura UNO he said this.
For these conflicts I have recommend for solving that Central government can create a Coordinating Committee. Which consist peoples representatives and government officials. However, chairman or head for this coordinating committee central government will elect persons, which always elected persons.
In my Termpaper has known that the present central government is taking initiatives for effective Upazila decentralization. Present government initiatives have not reached in field level. It is ongoing. The present government has plan for giving fully power on Upazila level in future.
I also think that MP, chairman and UNO conflicts can solve if their power and duties are made distribution and limit. For developing they may work by discuss with each other. Central government especially local government ministry will control and coordinate. The main aim of decentralization is local level developing. Therefore, they work for developing concerned areas by combined. Moreover, for developing Upazila Parishad public-private partnership is needed. The private sectors can invest money for giving service. For effective decentralization, money is needed. When private sectors invest their money for business then Upazila parishad income will increase. Upazila parishad will use this money for infrastructural developmental activities.
At last it can be said that for effective upazila decentralization is depend on Central government willingness. Government can give fully power on Upazila Parishad. If my recommendation will take, I think decentralization may be effective in Upazila Parishad. I hope in future also more study will be created on this subject.
7.2 References: In this study, I have used some books, articles, official documents, and newspapers and periodicals. These are:
- Siddiquee, Noore Alam. Decentralization and Development Theory and practice in Bangladesh, Department of Public Administration, University of Dhaka.
- Development through Decentralization in Bangladesh Evidence and Perspective, Muhammed Mustafa Alam Ahmed Shafiqul Huque & Kirsten Westergaard
- Upazila Nirbahi Officer, From, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Wahhab, M. Abdul Decentralization in Bangladesh, 1996.
- Local Government in Bangladesh by Pranab Kumar Panday, South Asian Journal
- Decentralized governance program of UNDP 1999
- Administrative Decentralization: A Framework for Discussion and Its Practices in Bangladesh Md. Awal Hossain Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Department of Public Administration University of Rajshahi
- Institutional Analysis for Wastewater Agriculture and Sanitation in Rajshahi, Bangladesh June 2007, Sharfun Ara, Nubia Sandoval, Md. Maksudul Amin and Alexandra Clemett
C. Official Documents:
©Order, Ordinance, and Rules;
(d) Reports, and other Government documents;
(e) Perspective Plan for Bangladesh 2010-2021
D. News Papers and Periodicals
The daily Prothom alo, Dhaka
The daily somokal
The daily kalerkonto
a) The Bangladesh Daily star, Dhaka
b) The Daily Star 2001
c) The Sang bad 2001
d) Bangladesh Map, Diamond Products February 2010
(Bhangura Upazila Parishad (District Pabna)
Respondents Name: Baki Billah Surname: Chairman
- How do you work?
- Are you happy about present Upazila Parishad Act?
- Do you feel any problem when you work?
- How do you take decision for Upazila Parishad?
- Has any role this jurisdiction MP’s?
- When you take any step then MP creates any barrier.
- What is the relation between UNO and you?
- What are the relations between central government and your Upazila Parishad?
- How Upazila Parishad take planning?
- Tell me about Upazila Coordinating system.
- Tell me about Upazila development activities
(Bhangura Upazila Parishad (District Pabna)
Respondents Name: Abdur Rajjak Surname: Vice Chairman
- What is your duty on Upazila Parishad?
- Do you feel happy about present Upazila act?
- What are financial advantages?
- Has any influence on you when you do activities?
- Has any problem in Upazila Parishad?
- Do you take and give any help woman vice chairman?
- How many standing committee you take chairmanship?
Woman Vice Chairman
(Bhangura Upazila Parishad (District Pabna)
Respondents Name: Lipi Surname: Woman Vice Chairman
- What is your duty on Upazila Parishad?
- Do you feel happy about present Upazila act?
- What are financial advantages?
- Have any influence on you, when are you doing activities?
- Has any problem in Upazila Parishad?
- Do you take and give any help to vice chairman?
- As woman are enjoy of your duties?
- Do have any activities which helps do develop especially women and children?
- How many standing committee you take chairmanship?
- Has any role of your on Upazila Development activities?
Upazila Nirbahi Officer
(Bhangura Upazila Parishad (District Pabna)
Respondents Name: Surname: UNO
- How is Upazila Parishad constituted?
- How is size of Upazila Parishad structure?
- How are the relations between Upazila Parishad and Central Government?
- How is Government control the Upazila Parishad?
- Tell me about different Upazila Parishad Committee.
- Tell me about Personnel system.
- Tell me about coordinating system.
- How the Upazila Parishad collect money and expense?
- Have any Upazila development coordination committee?
- Has any problem for ensuing Upazila Decentralization?
- How are the relations between UNO and Chairman?
- Do you feel any problem when you working?