Pourashava amendment act passed amid controversy

Parliament building
UNB file photo

Several lawmakers from opposition parties expressed their wrath in the parliament on Thursday over amending the existing municipal (pourashava) act.

Although they termed the amendment as ‘unconstitutional’, the amendment bill has been passed in the parliament in voice vote, which will empower the government to appoint its officials to the expired local government institution, pourashava.

The amendment has also empowered the government to remove the pourashava’s mayor and councillors in failure of following government instructions.

In his speech, BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid sought the clear explanation of several clauses of this amendment, including the reason behind appointing officials and removing representatives. But the bill was passed without addressing his concerns, which was the reason why he walked out of the parliament room.

Harun said the local government institutions are 'suffering from cancer' as a significant share of the representatives in the local government was elected in the questionable election. People don’t expect this after 50 years of independence.

Terming the amendment as ‘Bakshali system’, he said the government will be held responsible if they couldn’t hold the election within the stipulated time. This law is being amended to replace the elected representatives by the government-backed people.

Jatiya Party (JaPa) parliamentarian Pir Fazlur Raman said no unelected person can lead the institution which is supposed to be led by elected representatives. It is the government spirit.

Asking the government why the responsibilities of the local government will be handed over to the unelected person, he said the bill is contradictory to the constitution.

Another JaPa lawmaker Shamim Patwary said as per the constitution, the local government will be governed by the elected representatives. Appointing administrator to the local government is contradictory to the constitution.

Replying to the criticism, local government minister Tajul Islam said incorporating the provision of appointing administrator is legal. Legal complexity is created on many occasions over holding elections. Many take the advantages of this situation.

Over renaming the secretary post as the poura executive officer, the minister said there is a secretary in the ministry. Doubt emerges over the post many times. We have also seen the misuse of the post, the minister said.

According to the new amendment, the parishad will be abolished if it fails to pay the salaries to its officers and employees for 12 months. Besides, from now pourashava can be established if the number of inhabitants every square kilometre is 2,000, which is higher than the previous figure by 500.