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Upazila chairmen’s pay to double

Shakhawat Hossain

The government is set to double monthly remuneration of upazila chairmen and vice-chairmen ignoring objections from the finance ministry, officials told New Age on Monday.
They said that a chairman would get Tk 20,500 a month up from Tk 10,500 and a vice chairman would get Tk 14,500 up from Tk 7,500, a month after the raise.
They said that the finance was against the move citing resource constraint as the reason.
The finance ministry was forced to give its consent to the proposal by the local government division due to intervention from government high-ups, officials said.
The ministry of finance is of the view that the government is no position to take the extra burden as it has been struggling to maintain budgetary commitments due to fund shortage.
Sharp fall in foreign loans has only aggravated the situation, thinks the ministry of finance, said officials.
It, however, agreed to entertain the proposal on the condition that the additional fund would not be allotted from the exchequer.
And the Local Government Division agreed to mobilize the needed additional fund of around Tk 100 million from hats and bazaars and rents the government gets from its houses.
LGD officials said a circular would be issued this week to enhance the remuneration of chairmen of and vice-chairmen of 481 upazilas in the country.
The LGD division also agreed to abide by another finance ministry condition
of strictly following financial discipline in jointly operating the upazila fund by uapzila parishad and upazila nirbahi officer.
Former Chittagong University professor and local government expert Tofail Ahmed expressed skepticism about the ability of many upazilas to mobilize the additional fund.
He is also skeptical that enhancement of remuneration would give the needed impetus to make the local government at upazila level effective.
Tofail Ahmed said that the elected upazila chairmen and vice chairmen were not aware that they would be required to prepare their annual budgets.
‘They have to remain busy lobbying for relief materials, guided by the UNOs,’ he said.
Bangladesh Upazila Parishad Association general secretary Badiuzzaman expressed the hope that most of the upazilas would be able to mobilize the fund by setting aside one per cent of land registration fee and two per cent of land tax.
He said added to the existing sources, the two sources of money would make up the fund needed to bear the new burden.
He, however, said that the government was very slow in implementing the decision it took last year to allow upzilas to function properly.
Nalitabari upazila chairman Badiuzzaman said that he considered the latest move of the government as an indication that it would speed up the implementation process.
The representatives of the Upazila Parishad Association, he said, would meet with the functionaries of a government committee later this month to review the implementation process.
Last year, prime minister Sheikh Hasina assured the association that her government would meet its outstanding demands including placing officials at the tier under the elected representatives by repealing the provisions in the upazila parishad law which  go against the spirit of the constitution to ‘strengthen and democratize the local government system.
The Article 59 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic stipulates, ‘Local government in every administrative unit of the Republic shall be entrusted to bodies, composed of persons elected in accordance with law.’

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