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BIGD-Sharique dissemination seminar
Speakers stressed on remedial measures to resolve shortcomings
of local government institutions

30.07.2016 Sharique Seminar  PIC 33 Medium

(From left to right) Melina Papageorgiou Trippolini, H.E. Christian Fotsch, Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Sultana Kamal and Nasiruddin Ahmed at the seminar

At the local government, while a lot of functions have been given to the UP, these have not been complemented by adequate authority and capacity to raise local revenue  to meet the financial need for discharging these functions. To resolve the gap,  increasing revenues alone will not empower UPs to carry out effective public service delivery. This has to be matched with enhanced capacity for managing local revenues and engaging citizens in planning and budgeting development. Also, while there is interest among the political parties  to  increase  the  involvement  of women and the interest of women and young girls  in  the  local government level,  various  social  norms  and  prejudices   prevent   them   from   joining.   In   addition,   the   culture   and   the   ways   of  functioning  of  the  parties  are  not  women  friendly. This gap needs to be addressed by   the   political   parties   to   expand   their   membership,  develop  their  younger  members  and   ensure   that   women   and   girls   are   encouraged to join and develop their skills and leadership.  The  provision  of  safe  spaces  and  culturally  appropriate  activities  could  help  break the barriers and hesitations that women and their families have. Moreover,  the officials of the service delivery departments of local government level are strongly accountable to their higher authority i.e. to their ministerial hierarchy above instead of being towards UZP elected body for their functions and activities. Although the departments are linked with UZP through Committees and other meetings, these linkages do not ensure any real transfer of power and authority to the UZP in terms of utilisation of departmental funds. 

These findings and recommendations were shared from three qualitative action researches conducted under local governance programme Sharique III  in its project areas on (i) Revenue Mobilisation in Union Parishads (ii) Women’s Representation in Union Parishads and (iii) State of Accountability of the Transferred Departments at the Upazila Parishad and its Consequences for Allocation and Utilisation of Resources: A Study of three Departments, in a seminar organised by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University, in cooperation with HELVETAS Swiss Inter cooperation (HSI) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on July 30, 2016 at Dhaka with the aim to actively engage in the national debate on decentralisation issues.

The seminar began with opening remarks from Ms. Melina Papageorgiou Trippolini, Programme Manager of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Afterwards, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD, delivered the first presentation of the study titled “Public Finance and Revenue Mobilisation in the Union Parishad.” This study aimed to analyse the system, processes and citizens’ participation in local revenue collection. It looked into UPs’ current status and capacity in revenue mobilisation and assessed the influence of citizens’ participation on local development planning and budgeting. While a lot of functions have been given to the UP, these have not been complemented by adequate authority and capacity to raise local revenue through means such as imposing taxes, assessment, collection etc. to meet the financial need for discharging these functions. The study recommended that increasing revenues alone will not empower UPs to carry out effective public service delivery. This has to be matched with enhanced capacity for managing local revenues and engaging citizens in planning and budgeting development. Following the presentation, Dr. Nasiruddin Ahmed, Commissioner, ACC shared his observations and view as a discussant.

 
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Ms. Maheen Sultan (first from right) is seen delivering her presentation
 
Ms Maheen Sultan, Visiting Fellow of BIGD presented findings of the study titled “Women’s Representation in Union Parishads” in the second phase of the seminar which was moderated by Ms. Simeen Mahmud, Lead Researcher of Gender and Social Transformation Cluster, BIGD. The study found that most of the female members had not been directly involved in politics before elections and most of them did not have a clear idea about what it would mean to be a public representative. Another interesting finding of the study was that women UP members preferred to contest for reserved seats because they would then not have to compete against men, thus reducing competition and reducing election expenses. Political parties and citizens also favour voting for women in reserved seats. However, once elected, the women on reserved seats felt at a disadvantage compared to men in general seats because they felt they did not have access resources to distribute to voters or projects to implement, in proportion to their constituency (three wards). Additionally, the study revealed that many women who have been elected once do not seek re-election a second time contrary to the common hope that they would in fact want to contest for general seats in a second round.
 
Followed by the presentation,  Dr. Maleka Banu, General Secretary, Bangladesh Mahila Parishad; and Dr. Badiul Alam Mazumder, Secretary, SUJAN discussed on the paper. Views and suggestions were also collected from UP reserved seat Members.
 
The thirds phase of the seminar hosted a presentation by Dr. Mirza M. Hassan, Adjunct Fellow, BIGD on the study titled “State of Accountability of the Transferred Departments at the Upazila Parishad and its Consequences for Allocation and Utilisation of Resources: A Study of three Departments.” Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman moderated the session and an interactive discussion followed by the presentation. 
 
30.07.2016 Sharique Seminar  PIC 18 Medium
 
The study assessed the de jure and precisely de facto nature of accountability relations between officials of the transferred departments (service delivery departments) and elected representatives of the Upazila Parishad (UZP). It also examined the implications of such relationships on the process of resource allocation and utilisation at the local level. The study has revealed that officials of the transferred departments are strongly accountable to their higher authority i.e. to their ministerial hierarchy above. The study shows that mechanisms for such type of accountability do not exist between UZP elected body and the officials of the transferred departments. Also, the transferred officials have very little incentive to be answerable to the UZP for their functions and activities. The study also observed that although the transferred departments are linked with UZP through Committees and other meetings, these linkages do not ensure any real transfer of power and authority to the UZP in terms of utilisation of departmental funds. In practice, the transferred departments continue to be accountable to their respective ministries and follow their rules and regulations.
 
Prof. Akhter Hussain , University of Dhaka discussed on the paper. Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman moderated an interactive discussion followed by the presentation. 
 
30.07.2016 Sharique Seminar  PIC 20 Small
 
H.E. Christian Fotsch, Ambassador of Switzerland , as Special Guest also spoke at the event. In her speech, Chief Guest of the programme, Advocate Sultana Kamal urged all to be vocal about the local government reform issues. Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman delivered the concluding remarks and vote of thanks.
30.07.2016 Sharique Seminar  PIC 22 Small
 
 
Among others, local government experts, representatives from government institutions, academicians, researchers, journalists, development practitioners as well as elected representatives from Sharique project areas also attended the event.
 
Click below the links to see the wide media coverage, and the research briefs of the research studies shared at the event. 
 
 

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Conference on Political Economy, Accountability and Governance

Smart implementation of policies and programmes, enhanced infrastructural development and effective functioning of democratic institutions must be taken care of in order to achieve higher economic growth, experts say at the Conference.

BIGD-Sharique Dissemination Seminar

BIGD-Sharique Dissemination Seminar While a lot of functions have been given to the Union Parishads, these have not been complemented by adequate authority and capacity to raise local revenue to meet the financial need for discharging these functions.

Workshop on Public Procurement

The involvement of citizens in public procurement can also identify the irregularities and errors of procurement.To aware people about the existing rules and regulations of procurement process, engaging campaigns are required to involve citizens in the process.

Opinion

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