Dhaka, Bangladesh
Switching to upazila-based development planning

Switching to upazila-based development planning

PM for decentralizing power, bottom-up budgeting for proper use of funds

News Desk : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday asked for making upazila-wise master plan to do development work protecting croplands through checking unplan-ned construction of buildings, roads and houses. She also announced her government plan for preparing national budget through bottom-up approach with district-specific fund allocations for a balanced uplift of all parts of Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina, who is setting priorities and transacting some popular business during the 100-day honeymoon period after assuming office for a fourth time, also said power would be decentralized for smooth governance and development. Decentralization of highly centralized power in the unitary state of Bangladesh has been a longstanding demand and recommendation by experts for effective dispensation of service to the people and thereby resolving the problems stemming from overcrowding of the capital. She was spelling out directives during her visit to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development (LGRD) and Cooperatives, which has got a new minister following the December-30 polls. "We need to design a master plan for every upazila, setting aside places for fields, schools and colleges, small industrial estates and cultivable lands. If we can do it properly, people will accept (follow) it. I think we need to do so," she said. "If we go ahead formulating master plans for grassroots levels as well, we'll be able to gain faster development," said the prime minister. She directed the officials of the LGRD and Cooperatives Ministry to perform their duties properly so that Bangladesh can go far gaining further success in poverty alleviation. "Our country will march forward quicker when we'll get rid of poverty." Stating that Bangladesh is a very densely populated country, Sheikh Hasina said it is a big challenge to fulfill all the demands of so many people living in a small area. "But, we'll have to do it." She said Bangladesh has now graduated to a developing country from the group of least developed countries as her government has been able to unleash many development works in the last 10 years after coming to power in 2009. "Now, it's our job to build Bangladesh as a developed country keeping it (graduation) up," she said. "To achieve this goal, all our plans will have to be taken focusing on fulfillment of basic needs of the grassroots people and improvement in their living standard. If we can do this, the entire country will be developed gradually," Sheikh Hasina added. Describing the LGRD and Cooperatives Ministry as the most important ministry to accomplish the goals, she said it receives the highest allocation from the national budget. Alongside ensuring safe drinking water, sanitation and development of rural roads for the rural people, the ministry has also many tasks, including ensuring drainage and waste management and checking environment pollution in the urban areas. The prime minister asked the ministry officials to complete jobs quickly in a planned and proper way for the development of the country. "The jobs should be done in planned ways." Hasina said the government is considering giving responsibility to district authorities gradually to prepare their own budget focusing on local expectations and demands, which would be reflected in the national budget so that every penny of the public money is utilised in uplift of the people. Noting that her government is giving much importance to strengthening local government, the prime minister said the government's future plan is to decentralise the government gradually to strengthen the local- government bodies further so that those can keep greater contributions to the development in their own areas. She said the 'one house, one farm' project had been initiated so that every patch of fallow land comes under cultivation and rural people sell their produce under a cooperative system to help them find a source of income. LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Md Tajul Islam delivered the welcome speech, while State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Swapan Bhattacharya, PM's Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman, Local Government Division Senior Secretary SM Ghulam Farooque and other high officials of the ministry and the Prime Minister's Office were present. (Inputs taken from UNB, media reports)

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