How to strengthen District Council- A Review & Suggestion
Bangladesh has constitutionally recognized the need for promotion of local government institutions. Article 9 provides that the state shall encourage local government institutions composed of representatives of the areas concerned and in such institutions special representation shall be given, as far as possible, to peasants, workers and women.At present, there are four tiers of local govt. administration. District council will come as next higher tier of local self-governance above the upalilla, where there should be one chairman and two vice-chairmen of whom one will be an elected woman in reserved seat. Upazilla chairman, vice-chairmen and union parished chairman, vice-chairmen and elected male and female members of union parishad will be the electors of district council chairman and vice-chairmen. District council will discharge all responsibilities in district level (except Court, Police, Ansar and BGB). Upazilla chairman and 50% woman vice-chairmen by a scheme of rotation will be ex-officio members of district council. Like other officicers, the present Deputy Commissioner will remain in the district administration. He will, however, have no authority over the office. The district council will have its staff officer (Additional Secretary). A provision should be made that district level officers should submit their projects otherwise, district council will not be effective. Bangladesh is a democratic country. In a democratic society, local govt. institutions are always very important for development and administration. Among the local govt. bodies in Bangladesh, District Council is very vital an important.
During British rule, several acts were passed to promote local level self rule facilitating peoples participation. During Pakistani regime, district council was at the top among local self govt. institution. In Bangladesh also, importance of District Council has duly been recognized. The constitution of Bangladesh clearly states that the state shall encourage local govt. institutions with people’s representation. In Zilla Parisad Act-2000, functions of Zilla Parisad have been defined clearly. There are two types of functions-compulsory and optional. It will raise fund through tax, fee, rate, toll etc. It will constitute several standing committees to perform its duty properly. Recently, Govt. has implemented Zilla Parisad Act-2000 and there is elected chairman and members in Zilla Parisad. Previously the CEO was running the office. There was only a tender committee responsible for scheme selection and project implementation. There exists no other committee. The CEO took instruction from the district minister. District Council’s main function was confined only to implement some development schemes and to give donation educational and religious institutions. Main sources of income are share of tax received from immovable property and govt. grant.
Immediate steps should be taken to implement Zilla Parisad Act-2000, so that, people’s representation can be ensured at this level. It should prepare long-term and short-term development plan. District Council may be given much autonomy in taking decisions. Different standing committie and sub-committies may be formed. Govt. grants may be increased and other special grants may be channelized through District Council.
Deputy Director General & Commandant (PRL), Ansar-VDP Academy, Safipur, Gazipur.