BIGD Special Publication Series
No.01 July, 2016
Upazila and Union Parishad Governance: A Study on Institutional Relationships and Linkages
Contributors: Mirza M. Hassan, Sadiat Mannan
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The research finding indicates that bureaucrats tend to give less importance to the elected representatives (at the Upazila level), which is consistent with the dominant bureaucratic culture.The other reasons for officials bypassing the upazila parishad and their relatively greater focus at the UP level are grounded in political economy. The UP, where most of the resource allocation processes are based, provides rent-seeking opportunities to the upazila officials (particularly UE and PIO).Such marginalization of the upazila parishad is possible since the Upazila Chairperson (UZC) is largely unable to make officials accountable to him due to his lack of technical knowledge of the system. For instance, due to this lacking the UZC cannot handle the Annual Performance Report (APR) process effectively. Also, bureaucrats tend to ignore the performance appraisal process.Despite reforms for the devolution of power to the elected representatives very little substantive changes have taken place in the functioning of the administration.Consequently, the Upazila parishad continues to be a marginal entity and this makes the administration the pivot of the overall governance of upazila.
The research suggests that the balance of power among the members of the UZP (e.g. Upazila Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, UP Chairperson) is deeply affected by local political equations.For instance, the nature of functioning of Committees and resolution writing process can be essentially an outcome of political bargaining between two actors (UZC and MP). Due to the successive changes in laws empowering MP, the political space and manoeuvring capacity of UZP has been largely constrained.
The relationship among members at the UP level tends to be collegial, indicating political settlement/equilibrium among the UP level actors.Project allocations at the end are, to a certain extent, determined by political bargaining and compromises among the elected members of the UP.The neutrality of civil society's representation in the UP level Committees (e.g. safety-net related Committees) is compromised by the interference of MP through the UNO. Finally, Standing Committees tend to be largely dysfunctional. However, Committees related to social safety-nets are relatively more functional, although their membership composition tends to deviate from their prescribed formal rules and regulations.