The government has turned down a proposal from district commissioners to form an inspection committee to oversee development projects in their districts.
The proposal was placed on the first day of the DCs’ conference at Osmani Memorial Auditorium in Dhaka on Tuesday afternoon.
The government also advised the DCs to oversee development projects as per existing law, and also sought a proposal from them on how to increase revenue.
Planning Minister MA Mannan, Local Government and Rural Development Minister Tajul Islam, and several ministers and government high officials revealed the development after the sessions on the first day of the three-day conference.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the conference as the chief guest, joining virtually from Ganabhaban. Only 15 ministers, secretaries and DCs attended the conference in person due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases.
The DCs’ conference, which is usually attended by all 64 district commissioners, has not been held in the past two years due to the ongoing pandemic.
This year’s conference will have a total of 25 sessions, with 55 ministries, departments, and agencies taking part to discuss 263 proposals.
In addition, DCs will discuss the legal, administrative, financial, and other challenges that they are facing in carrying out work at the field level.
Referring to the closed-door session after the inauguration, the planning minister said: “During the meeting, the deputy commissioners wanted to form a committee at the district level for the implementation of development projects. We have said there is no need for such a committee.
DCs already have the right to oversee the work in their respective areas and the government communicates with them frequently, he said.
“If anything is needed, we are here. I also worked as a DC. I don't think it is necessary as DCs have enough power in their hands. It needs to be applied. It is not necessary to inspect like the British in colonial times. They can oversee the development projects normally,” Minister Mannan added.
Dr Mashiur Rahman, economic advisor to the prime minister, said: “Suggestions from the field administration level are important, so the DCs’ proposal was discussed at the conference. There are some big projects which cross several districts, so it is difficult to make a commitment with DCs on their own inspection committees.”
On another note, Planning Minister MA Mannan said the DCs had been asked to be careful with using the word ‘assistance’ when referring to foreign loans for government projects.
"I urged them to be careful about using the word assistance. Sometimes, it sounds like a donation or help, but the situation has changed. For example, the development budget. We take a big part through loans. The help that comes from time to time will not be even 1-2% of our budget. Sometimes, big organizations give loans for their own needs,” the minister said.
The conference also sought the help of DCs in land acquisition to speed up government projects.
LGRD Minister Tajul Islam said: “Local government institutions need to increase their revenue and increase their capacity. They will need some staff. The Union Council will need more manpower, which they can use to increase income.”
Sub-Registrar’s Office under the Land Ministry?
Senior Cabinet Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, who is the Liberation War Affairs minister, said: “I have personally placed two proposals. One of them is that the office of the Sub-Registrar of Land be moved to the Land Ministry.
The Sub-Registrar’s office is currently under the Ministry of Law, but its activities are mostly related to the Land Ministry. As a result, moving the office under the Land Ministry may speed up its work, he said.
"The other proposal is for the National Board of Revenue to install VAT machines or EFT machines at every small shop. If necessary, NBR can install the machines and then the shop owners can refund the amount in instalments,” the minister added.
“If the machines are given to all the shopkeepers, then the VAT paid by the buyers will be deposited in the government treasury more regularly. This will increase the income of the government,” Mozammel Haque further said.
No duplexes for the homeless
During the second session on the first day of the DCs’ conference, the DCs proposed to double the existing number of floors of housing projects for the homeless people across the country, but the proposal was rejected by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, principal secretary of the PMO, said: “There was a proposal from DCs to make the existing housing projects duplexes or multiplexes, but we did not accept this proposal as the aim of the housing projects is to support the homeless people until they can stand on their own feet. If we give them multiplexes, they will stay there for the next 50 years.”
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