Economic Development

Challenges of People’s Participation at Local Governance: A Case Study on the Standing Committees of Union Parishad in Bangladesh

The concept of "'local governance" is definitely a new and interesting dimension in the field of governance. Some researchers and academics are trying to explore the idea of local governance after observing the year-long failure of local government and local agencies of central government. The basic question, which has been raised by governance thinkers, is - what of the vehicle by which the goal of "regenerating the local economy" is to be achieved? This is where a focus on local governance becomes of critical relevance. The cast of actors who matter here extend well beyond the traditional focus on local governments. The presence of many actors, however, does not simply imply diversity; there is a certain matching of actors to roles. In this regard, the role of people’s participation in the local governance mechanism is pertinent. An effective local governance mechanism plays a critical role in economic development and social justice. In the institutionalization of governance, in most developing countries like Bangladesh, local government suffers from negligence and is most often lost in the shadow of national policies, practices, and efforts at economic growth and social and political development. In Bangladesh, the only elected local institution, i.e. the Union Parishad still remains weak due to the overshadowing dark clouds of inefficiency, lack of resources and political corruption resulting in a low level of confidence of people in it. The different standing committees of Union Parishad are the main institutional avenue for the people’s participation in the local decision making process. This paper analyzed the current level of activities and functions of Standing Committees, their involvement with the local people as well as the perceptions of local community regarding their performance. It also presents a policy framework on better functioning of standing committees of Union Parishad to strengthen the local governance.
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