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23 October, 2018 10:38:11 AM

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Strengthening local government bodies

Strong local government bodies will have a lot of positive impacts in the socio-economic condition of rural people
DR.-FORQAN-UDDIN-AHMED
Strengthening local government bodies

Local Government or local self Government is defined by the United Nations as "Local Self Government as a political sub-division of a nation or state which is constituted by law and has substantial control over local affairs, including the power to impose taxes or extract labour for prescribed purposes." The Encyclopedia of the Social sciences defined Local Government "as a public organization authorized to decide and administer a limited range of public policies within a relatively small territory which is a subdivision of regional or a national Government." Local Government performs functions that very greatly from one area to another, depending on the existing Government system and prevailing cultural values. Usually they perform those functions that the central Government considers are more conveniently and perhaps, more efficiently administered at the local levels.

A distinction is sometimes made between local government and local self-government. Local self-government is used to denote local government by the elected representative of the people of the concerned area or locality.
Local Government has generally two types of specific connotations. Some times it emphasises the elected nature as such bodies science in the transition from local Administration, to a freely elected local government. There may be a phase when central government functionaries are replaced by a nominated or part nominated, part-elected local council. On the other hand in a truly democratic setup, there is no need to place any extra weightage on 'self since elections as a process of forming the government at all important levels of administration'.

During Mughal Period urban areas were regulated through Kotwals who acted as representative of the ruler. Kotwals kept last and order of the area as well as they retained vital statistics. Kotwals also maintained the local graveyards and symmetries.
Municipal Administration in the modern tradition started with the setting up of Municipal Corporation in the presidency towns of Madras in 1688 and Calcutta and Bombay in 1726 by the East India Company, act X of 1842 provided the first formal legal framework for municipal organizations. It applied to Bengal Presidency. Under this Act a Town Committee could be set up for sanitary purposes upon application by the two-thirds of the citizens. It was introduced in Sherampore town the there the town's people not only protested, but prosecuted the District Magistrate in the Court and won damages. Bengal Municipal Act of 1864, 1876 and 1884 followed. In the process every town of importance became a Municipality. The earliest Municipalities of Bangladesh were Nasirabad (1856), Sherpore (1861), Dhaka (1864), Chittagong (1864), Brahmanbaria (1868).
The Bengal Municipal Act of 1884 was introduced in the background of Lord ripon's celebrated Resolution of 1882.
It provided for the first time a popular representation in the municipalities. By 1890's administration by elected committees came to be regarded as natural form of Municipal government. By the Bengal Municipal Act 1932 a comprehensive code for the municipal bodies was introduced. After promulgation of martial law in 1958, the Municipal Administration Ordinance of 1960 was introduced replacing the Bengal Municipal Act of 1932.
Under this new enactment 28 out of 56 Municipalities with a population of 15000 or below ere declared towns and a Town Committee was set up in each town. In the remaining Municipalities, Municipal Committees were constituted. A Municipal Committee consisted of elected members, that is, the Chairman of Union Committees within the municipality and equal number of appointed (non-official) and official members including the official Chairman. A Vice Chairman was elected by all members from amongst the elected members. Sub-Divisional Officer or the Additional Deputy Commissioners were mainly in charge of Chairman. The Municipalities were divided in to three categories under the East Pakistan Local Council service Rules, 1968. Municipalities with an income of below taka 5 lakh were 3rd Class.  
Town Committees wee constituted under BDO, 1959 and consisted of elected members who elected one Chairman and one Vice Chairman amongst themselves.
The power exercised by them and the duties performed by them were similar to those of the Municipal Committees. The Municipal Ordinance 1960 was applicable to them also.  
In Bangladesh, by President's Order No. 7 of 1972, the urban local bodies operating as the legacy of the past were formally dissolved and official administrators were appointed to each one of them. By the President's order No. 22 of 1973 Municipalities under went marginal changes in the composition but the functions remained more of less the same. In 1977 a new Ordinance called Pourashava Ordinance was promulgated which is still in force and guides the action of the Municipalities. From 1983 onward a new form of Municipal bodies called the City Corporations were created for four cities namely Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna, each under a separate Ordinance. Recently two city corporations were created under a separate ordinance namely Barishal & Shyled.
If local government is decentralized there will be multifarious positive impacts in the socio-economic condition of rural people. Rural people will be main gainer by utilizing the infra-structural facilities they would be able to improve their life-style, they will gat the facilities to earn for their livelihood. People will no more suffer from frustration of unemployment. Resources will be available to them. Corruption will be eliminated from society. Culture of transparency and accountability will develop. Peoples participation in every affairs of life will increase and by responsibility people will be positive, responsive and answerable to himself as well to society.
If it is centralized there will be a lot of pressure from govt. to manage things smoothly. So to administer properly, local government must reach rural people for achieving sustainable development goal. Meanwhile Bangladesh has became a role model of world.
To sustain the trend and to activate our future vision 2021 and 2041, our local government system must come forward with new approach of modernization and technology must proceed with new hopes aspiration. It should have its release from the traditional hands of the so-called  selfish and greedy bureaucrats and politicians. It must come forward with reformative ideologies for making success of digital and self-reliant Bangladesh. 
The writer is a regular contributor to The Independent

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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