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Dhaka Tribune

A manifesto for all?

The ruling party manifesto has encompassed nearly all the crucial matters necessitating prompt action

Update : 02 Jan 2024, 09:35 AM

Last week, the political parties competing in Bangladesh's January 7th election announced their election manifestos. Given the Bangladesh Nationalist Party's (BNP) decision to abstain from the election, the citizens' attention has shifted towards the election manifesto of the incumbent Awami League. The Awami League has the possibility of securing a fourth straight term in office, allowing them to control the nation for the next five years. The party unveiled their electoral manifesto, dubbed "Smart Bangladesh: Where Development Shines, Accelerating Employment."

Given Bangladesh's remarkable transformation into a development role model and an Asian Tiger over the past 15 years, the country's citizens had high hopes for significant commitments from the political party. These commitments were expected to contribute to Bangladesh's growth as both an economically-robust nation and a country with effective governance, in line with the government's vision of a Smart Bangladesh.

Inflation

The people of Bangladesh have seen their lives and livelihoods become increasingly challenging in recent months due to an unforeseen surge in prices of essential kitchen commodities. Consequently, the party has prioritized exerting all possible efforts to decrease the market price of goods and ensure they remain within an affordable range.

Undoubtedly, the world economy has become unstable because of the economic recessions caused by Covid-19 and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Bangladesh is no exception to this. However, the overwhelming influence of certain domestic syndicates is causing a state of uneasiness in which the government cannot interfere. Therefore, after being elected, the government must prioritize regulating market pricing at all costs. They must implement decisive measures to regulate the prices.

Education

The Awami League's dedication to enhancing education, specifically by focusing on developing skills that increase employability and promoting young employment, has received widespread praise from most job-seeking youths. Our educational system needs to emphasize vocational training, a crucial skill that graduates must learn. It is important to understand that a country such as Bangladesh lacks the financial means to generate hundreds of thousands of employment opportunities annually. Nevertheless, we are generating many recent graduates who need help securing employment and remain jobless.

The government has successfully achieved its objective of establishing a digitally advanced Bangladesh by the year 2021. Presently, they aim to construct a technologically-advanced Smart Bangladesh with four primary goals: smart citizens, smart government, smart economy, and smart society. Despite its ambitious nature, achieving these aims is feasible.

Healthcare

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed the lamentable condition of the healthcare system. Despite the lack of infrastructure, the government effectively managed the citizens' healthcare during the pandemic. The ruling party's dedication to providing affordable healthcare for low-income individuals can be regarded as a commendable endeavour, considering that these individuals cannot afford costly medical services. 

This initiative ensures that government healthcare remains accessible to them despite its subpar quality in terms of healthcare facilities. The government must give sufficient attention to excellent and high-quality health care, which is a fundamental entitlement of individuals. 

Law and order

The need to guarantee the effectiveness and accountability of law enforcement agencies is a paramount concern that must be achieved within the upcoming five years, given the extensive discourse around the deficiency in effectiveness and accountability within such authorities. In accordance with Bangabandhu's ideal of secularism, the ruling party has incorporated its commitment to combating communalism and militancy into the manifesto. The current government is actively implementing this philosophy. 

Bangladesh is renowned for its secular character and harmonious cohabitation of individuals from many religious backgrounds. The present government's fervent endeavors and unwavering stance against militancy have significantly undermined the strength of these groups. Therefore, maintaining the prior position on communalism and militancy would assist the next government in guaranteeing internal and regional stability.

The ruling party's dedication to augment investment in agricultural mechanization and industry growth is a continuation of their prior strategy aimed at enhancing the contribution of both sectors to the economy. The party's dedication to enhancing the efficiency and capacity of the financial sector, especially banks, demonstrates its will to enhance the governance of the banking and financial sectors, which were previously deficient.

Upon the formation of the election manifesto committee, it was expressed that the primary focus of the manifesto would be to prioritize governance. Hence, the ruling party manifesto has encompassed nearly all the crucial matters necessitating prompt action upon the assumption of power by the new government. 

It is anticipated that the citizens of Bangladesh will maintain their trust in the ruling party's promises and elect them for the upcoming five-year term.

The writer is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi.

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