Strengthening Committees of Upazila Parishads and Standing Committees
In an effort to make Committees and Standing Committees of Upazila and Union Parishads more functional, the Local Governance Programme ‘Sharique,’ implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation and BIGD, organised a National Dissemination Seminar with the National Institute of Local Government (NILG) on May 30, 2016 to disseminate a working paper on the issue. The working paper combines the observations and recommendations of five individual studies conducted by Sharique and NILG.
Ms Melina Papageorgiou Trippolini, Programme Manager of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) delivered the opening remarks and Dr. Shanawez Hossain, Team Leader of Sharique defined the objective of the progarmme. Following a presentation by Mr. Fazlur Rahman, Research Specialist of BIGD, a discussion was held under the facilitation of Mr. Mustafa Kamal Haider, Director General of NILG. Participants from various organizations working on local governance and local government elected representatives from Sharique project areas gave their views and shared experiences on the issue. Other participants included Mr. Golam Yahya, Training Director, NILG and Mr. Md. Ilias, Research Director, NILG and local government experts Mr. Shopon Kumar Sarkar, Retd Additional Secretary and Former DG, MIE Wing, Local Government Division (LGD) and Mr. Azizur Rahman Siddiqui, Local Government Advisor of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Relating his experience of Standing Committees in Kerala, Mr. Azizur Rahman Siddiqui suggested reducing the number of committees at both Upazila and Union Parishads and also providing incentives and training to the committee members to make the committees functional and effective.
Agreeing with the issues regarding the functioning of the Standing Committees identified in the working paper, Mr. Lal Mia, Member of Chila Afjalabad Union Parishad, Chatak Upazila, Sunamganj said, “After getting elected in 2011, for the first two years I did not even know that Standing Committees existed.” Mr. S.M. Asraful Haque Tota, Vice Chairman, Paba Upazila, Rajshahi, said that Vice Chairmen, who are responsible for chairing the Committees of Upazila Parishad, do not have the required authority to execute the decisions and suggestions of the committees.
Concluding the seminar, Mr. Mustafa Kamal Haider said, “The local governmenmt has only function – to serve people. To achieve this purpose, local government and central adminisrtation have to work together and remain accountable to people. On the other hand, the public also need to be aware of the functions of local government and what services they can avail from it. Only then can there be a balanced and effective supply and demand of public service delivery.”