Finance Minister AMA Muhith said Thursday the government wanted to bring about devolution in the local government bodies rather than decentralisation of power to attain an economic growth to be steady at 7.0 per cent and above.
He underscored the need for strengthening and restructuring the local government to sustain the present trend of growth, leading to desirable economic development in the country.
"We are now deeply thinking about how we can strengthen the local government bodies to attain the GDP growth at 8.0-10 per cent," he told a conference in the capital.
Policy Research Institute (PRI) and International Political Science Association (IPSA) jointly organised the conference titled "Rethinking Political Development: Security and Freedom Based on Justice".
"It is not possible to provide money to the districts from the centre and to develop the entire country. We will make districts autonomous and they can make decision like any state in the federal system of government," the minister said. "Decentralisation is not good, we now want devolution."
He meant for something through which responsibility would go to the local government -- they will be strengthened in a way they would develop through using their own resources.
Muhith said the government was working relentlessly to strengthen the local government bodies through enhancing their duties side by side providing required finance to maintain the trend of GDP growth at over 7.0 per cent.
"If we want steady growth at 7.0 per cent, we need to finance local government separately. But we cannot make it from the central government. We have to financially strengthen local government by using their own resources," he added.
He also emphasised on reducing pressure on Dhaka city through increasing the responsibilities and duties at the district level and said: "Now everyone depends on Dhaka city to do anything as the district does not have such a status."
He said the government's biggest challenge is now administrative reform.
"We are not using full potential of the local government. We do not have clear idea about how a local government works. It is high time for the political leaders to take a stern decision on the local government."
The minister also thought that if local government officials are employed from the same administrative region, there would be less corruption.
He said the ruling Awami League has formed the government because of the 'stupidity' by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia.
"Had they took part on January 05 election in 2014, they might be in power today … we are in power because of their foolishness," he told reporters, explaining the 'stupidity'. No election would have taken place on January 5, if Jatiya Party did not take part, he added.
Chair of RC 37 of IPSA Dr Zillur R Khan, Vice chairman of PRI Dr Sadiq Ahmed and member of Asiatic Society Bangladesh Dr Tazeen Mursheed presented three keynote papers respectively on "Rethinking Political Development: Security and Freedom Based on Justice", "Political Economy of Income Distribution and Inequality in Bangladesh" and "Inclusive Political Development: the role of the state as an impartial arbitrator".
Dr Zillur R Khan said the politicians seeking to be elected should be pressured by public opinion to express themselves about their public policy preferences.
He said a non-partisan election commission must have the power to cancel elections in any given constituencies because of serious violations of electoral rules.
In his recommendation, Sadiq Ahmed said the key public institutions like the central bank, public commercial banks, public enterprises, tax department, RAJUK and municipalities should work on the basis of defined rules of business and accountabilities rather than political directives.
He also urged the government to ensure full separation of judiciary from the executive branch with adequate resources and modern technology.
PRI executive director Ahsan Mansur delivered the welcome speech while former secretary Enam Ahmed Choudhury and president of Bangladesh Political Science Association Dr Ataur Rahman were, among others, spoke at the conference.