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About this book

This book explores the impact of Bangladesh's Local Government Act of 2009 on the functioning of the local governments or Union Parishads (UP), with a particular emphasis on people’s participation and accountability. Throughout the chapters, the authors review the existing legal framework of UP and its relation to social accountability, examine how much of the social participation is spontaneous and how much is politically induced, question the success of the Citizen's Charter and Right to Information acts as mechanisms for social accountability, and present suggestions to remedy some of the problems facing people's participation and accountability in the UP. This book fills existing gaps in the discourse by adding new information to the literature on development research and legal reforms in Bangladesh, specifically in how those legal reforms have led to strengthening or weakening people's participation in local government. The target audience for this book are students and researchers in Asian studies , international development studies, and public administration, as well as practitioners working in the local governments discussed.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
Strengthening local governance has been discussed by academicians and development practitioners for a long time. In order to strengthen local government institutions, different countries have implemented customized decentralization policies. As experienced by other countries in the implementation of the decentralization policies, reforms have been initiated by different successive governments of Bangladesh. Through these reforms, the government tried to strengthen local government bodies. An example of one of the reforms was the Local Government (Union Parishad) Act of 2009. This initiative aimed to enhance participation and accountability in the decision-making and implementation process of the Union Parishad, which is the lowest tier of the existing local government structure. This introductory chapter discusses governance, accountability, and participation. It also describes the emergence, rationale, objectives, and brief background of this book. It then explains the book’s research methodology and how the rest of the book is organized.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 2. Policy Impact Study: A Conceptual Framework

Abstract
The main aim of this chapter is to discuss different concepts associated with this policy impact study and develop a conceptual model that will allow for the smooth progression of discussion for this study. In doing so, a number of interconnected variables in the form of input, process, context, outcomes, and feedback are discussed. A conceptual framework of a systemic view of people’s participation and accountability is presented herein and is based on Easton’s system model and Pawson and Tilley’s “Context Mechanism Outcome Pattern Configuration” (CMOPC). Following this framework, this book depicts the real outcome, i.e., the extent and impact of people’s participation and the UP functionaries’ accountability in the UP, which are regarded as important ingredients in strengthening the local governance.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 3. Past Reforms on People’s Participation and Accountability at the Local Level in Bangladesh

Abstract
In this century, most countries are mutually connected and guided by the direction of various international agreements, treaties, or a spirit of cooperation. However, the idea of a “nation state” or the development of relationships between state organs has recently begun to formalize. It has not yet been finalized how the power within each state would be shifted and which arrangement would bring most success. Some nations have agreed that the central power of a state would be transferred to the local level. But some nations’ powers are still concentrated in the center, and decentralization of this power is still to be resolved satisfactorily. In addition, globalization, which is the outcome of an international free-market economy and technological change, has shaped the functions of the modern state. In Bangladesh, the existing relationship between politics and administration emerged in the latter part of the nineteenth century and progressed until the middle of the twentieth century. This chapter discusses different reform initiatives that were intended to ensure people’s participation in the decision-making process of the local government bodies and holding people’s representatives accountable for their actions. This chapter also identifies factors that have hindered the process of evolution and development of responsible local government institutions in Bangladesh.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 4. Governance, People’s Participation, Accountability, and the Act of 2009

Abstract
Governance is defined as the functioning of an organization. People’s participation and accountability are two important features of governance that are used to measure the quality of governance. These features are inter-related and complement each other. The Local Government Institutions (LGIs) in Bangladesh have been criticized for being inefficient and lacking credibility in terms of providing better services to the citizens and ensuring the citizens’ participation in the governing process. To amend this, different successive governments have initiated reform initiatives to improve the quality of governance at the local level. One such initiative was the implementation of the Local Government (Union Parishad) Act, 2009 (Act of 2009). This has allowed for people’s participation in the governing process and holding the people’s representatives accountable for their actions. The main aim of this chapter is twofold; the first half discusses governance, people’s participation, and accountability from the theoretical perspective, and the second half analyzes different provisions of the Act of 2009 that are mandated to improve the quality of governance through enhancing people’s participation and accountability of the UP functionaries. The reform efforts based on the Act of 2009 have been discussed from the perspective of contemporary theories of public administration, including New Public Management (NPM) and Social Accountability Mechanism (SAM). Finally, this chapter presents the institutional set-up of the responsible LGIs in Bangladesh.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 5. Process of Participatory Planning and Budgeting at the Local Level

Abstract
The decentralization of the state power is not new in Bangladesh. Every successive government since independence has experimented with the local government system through different reform initiatives. However, the Act of 2009 is a milestone among all the reform initiatives. The two provisions of the Act of 2009 – Ward Shava (WS) and Open Budget Meetings (OBMs) – are innovations in the context of local government institutions (LGIs) in Bangladesh. These provisions have created scope for participatory planning and budgeting at the local level with participation of the service recipients. The main aim of this chapter is to discuss the process of participatory planning and budgeting with its predetermined sequence and the formation of several committees that are supposed to update local decisions and bottom-up plans. The mechanisms and media through which people are engaging in the participatory planning (PP) and participatory budgeting (PB) processes are also analyzed in this chapter. Challenges that are hindering the process of participatory planning and budgeting have also been discussed in this chapter.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 6. Ensuring Social Accountability Through Public Forums

Abstract
Through implementation of the Act of 2009, the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) created a number of public forums in the Union Parishad (UP). The main intention behind these public forums was to create opportunities for the demand-side (i.e., the service receivers) to become involved in the decision-making process as well as holding the supply-side (i.e., the service providers) responsible for their actions. The main aim of this chapter is to analyze the outcome of the participatory planning (PP) and participatory budgeting (PB) practices. An effort is made in this chapter to explain the extent to which different public forums have been successful in ensuring social accountability at the local level. In addition, this chapter discusses the prospects and problems of the processes since civic engagement and the accountability of the power-holders. Obtaining maximum outcome from any new mechanism is difficult due to the existing social, political, and administrative obstacles in Bangladesh. Therefore, a modest attempt has been taken to measure the outcome of the PP and budgeting practices.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 7. Ensuring Transparency Through Citizen’s Charter and Right to Information

Abstract
Transparency is one of the most significant features of an effective local government. Considering the importance of transparency in the governing system, the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) embedded the provisions for the Citizen’s Charter (CC) and the Right to Information (RTI) in the Local Government (Union Parishad) Act, 2009 (the Act of 2009). Section 50 of the Act of 2009 specifies that the Union Parishad (UP) would distribute various information (e.g., CC, income expenditure statement, budget statement, scheme/project list, decisions of various meetings, report of latest meeting, implementation status of the decisions of the meeting, and all notices and circulars of the UP) through its website. This chapter describes the process of utilization of CC and RTI for people’s engagement in the participatory planning (PP) and participatory budgeting (PB) processes.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 8. The Role of Administrative and Political Culture in Civic Engagement

Abstract
This chapter discusses the contrast of experimental data about accountability with well-known published information on the theories of public management and administrative reforms. Accountability is regarded as the obligation to explain and justify how one discharges responsibilities. These obligations may be political, constitutional, hierarchical, and contractual. There is a general sense of tension attached to the introduction of New Public Management (NPM) reforms. The tension exists between the devolution of power for the elected and government officials on the local level and a necessity for central political control. The ultimate purpose of various systems, i.e., Participatory Planning (PP), Participatory Budgeting (PB), Right to Information (RTI), and Citizen’s Charter (CC), to promote accountability is to prevent the potential abuse of power. This chapter discusses the complex context of local rural administration of Bangladesh in terms of application of Social Accountability Mechanisms (SAM) and NPM.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 9. Challenges in Innovations in Public Management in Third World Countries

Abstract
Implementation of innovative ideas in the form of reform is not an easy task for governments as there is resistance to change in every society. The intensity of resistance in Third World countries is much higher than in developed countries as the politico-administrative structure of these countries is dominated by the political and bureaucratic domination, pervasive corruption, and preservation of interest as opposed to group interest. Under these circumstances, the main thrust of this chapter is to identify and analyze the challenges in implementing new reform efforts in the context of Third World countries like Bangladesh. While analyzing the challenges, a modest attempt has been made to revisit the argument of whether policy structures from developed countries can be successfully applied in a country like Bangladesh where there are various degrees of poverty, gender discrimination, scarcity of resources, ethical lapses ins government and political officials, and large power distances. The discussion in this chapter is on the basis of the service delivery process at the local level as an outcome of participatory planning and budgeting processes.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Chapter 10. Conclusion

Abstract
The main thrust of this book was to analyze the role of reforms in enhancing people’s participation with the expectation that increased participation would hold the elected representatives accountable for their actions. Through this process, the Local Government Institutions (LGIs) would be strengthened in Bangladesh. In the previous chapters, various issues relating to contextualization of these issues in the context of this book have been made, evolution of LGIs and different reform initiatives in this regard have been analyzed, and the role of reforms in enhancing people’s participation in the decision-making process as well as holding people’s representatives accountable for their actions have been analyzed. This chapter draws conclusions based on explanations made in previous chapters. An attempt is specifically made in this chapter is to explain to what extent legal reforms have been successful in strengthening local governance in general and people’s participation and accountability in particular. It also provides suggestions for further initiatives that are necessary to strengthen local governance in Bangladesh.
Shuvra Chowdhury, Pranab Kumar Panday

Backmatter

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