Sunday, August 30, 2009

Discussion with Muhibur Rahman, convenor of Upazila Forum

Meeting on Friday with Muhibur Rahman, convenor of the national forum of Upazila chairmen and vice-chairmen. (The upazilas are the main tier of local government in Bangladesh).

The Forum claims that the Upazila Parishad Act 2009, passed in April, transfers most of the powers of the upazilas to MPs, contrary to the principle that government should be as close to the people as possible. They want a dialogue with the government, to see if there is any scope for amendments to the Act, and they say that otherwise the elected members of the upazilas will have nothing to do. They were elected on pledges to work for local development, but the Act gives them no role in deciding how funds available from central government are to be spent.

There may also be another problem, in that the power to raise local taxes is virtually non-existent. Bangladesh people aren't used to the idea that, for example, taxes should be levied on the value of property to fund local services.

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