Recently the terms governance and good governance are being increasing used in development literature. A dramatic change has come in public administration and the paradigm shift towards good governance and sustainable developments. Day by day, the intellectuals, bureaucrats and civil society members are accepting the sprit of the concept and conceptualizing it in their own experience and environment. In Bangladesh, all the internal and external actors of politics, administration and development are emphasizing on the need for good governance. Today it is not only academic issue rather it is being discussed in aid forum and executive meeting and discussions. But actual picture of governance in our country dose not prove to be good and satisfactory. Accountability of government and administration is at bay. Rule of law, a sound judicial system has not yet been ensured. Democratization and human right are being disrupted in many ways. This paper is a presentation of the concept governance, good governance, elements of good governance, good governance in Bangladesh and Role of Parliament in ensuring good governance in Bangladesh. The paper is based on secondary information, which includes recent publications, journals, books, and research reports. Relevant literature has also collected through Internet browsing. It is expected that the findings of the study would be 2 helpful for concerned organizations for creating awareness and undertaking active programs to improve governance.
The concept of “governance” is not new. It is old as human civilization. Simply put ‘governance’ means the process of decision are implemented (or not implemented)1. Governance can be used in several contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance. In recent years there have been numerous attempts to define the term, but these efforts have not resulted in any universal consensus as to the precise meaning of governance. In general sense governance means exercising political power to manage a nation affair. Today governance is seen as a reflection of the role of the state in giving direction to the development, a country and political regime. According to land-ell-Mills and Serageldin, governance may by taken to denote “how people are ruled how the affairs of a state are administered and regulated; it refers to a nation’s system of politics and how this functions in relation to public administration and law.”2 According to World Bank booklet reports, governance as the “manner in which power is exercised in the management of a countries economic and social resources for development”.3 Governance can be viewed both in positive and negative terms.4 Good governance and poor or bad governance. For better understanding of good governance, we should known what is poor governance. Because it has been claimed that bad governance is regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within societies.5 A World Bank booklet cogently summarized the major symptoms of poor governance. 6 These are: 3 Failure to make a clear separation between what is public and what is private hence a tendency to direct public resources for private gain; Failure to establish a predictable frame work of law and government behavior conducive to development or arbitrariness in the application of rules and laws; 3.Executive rules, regulations, licensing requirements and so froth, which impede, functioning of markets and encourage rent seeking; 4. Priorities, inconsistent with development, resulting in a misallocation of resources; 5.Excessively narrowly based or non-transparent decision making. The other symptoms of poor governance are “excessive costs, poor service to the public and failure to achieve the aims of policy (The British Council, 1991).7
Since 1978, due to un-international standardized management, i.e. especially of some countries in Latin America and Africa, the super state, World Bank has then proposed a political term called good governance. In general sense good governance means an ideal governing system that is inevitable for political, economic, social and cultural development of a country. Ideal governing system means the ideal orientation of a state that works best to achieve self-reliance, sustainable development and social justice and the ideal functioning of government that operate most efficiently. According to V.K. Chopra, we define good governance as “a system of governance that is able to unambiguously identify the basic values of the society where values are economic, political and socio-cultural issues Actually there is no complete and universal recognized satisfactory definition of good governance. In this respect we should discussed the4 including human rights, and pursue these values through an accountable and honest administration.”8 When we talk about good governance we infact refer to the working relation among the three organs of the state and actions of the executive branch of the state. In operational terms these refer to enjoyment of fundamental human rights, independence of judiciary, abiding by the rule of law, policy based administrative dispension, transparency, accountability, predictability, effectiveness and efficiency of the government.9 Realizing the difficulties of define good governance the overwhelming tendency has been to delineate aspects of good governance.10 The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has highlighted several aspects of good governance. 11 Some of these include: A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A the promotion of democracy and open pluralistic societies; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A the Strengthening of transparent, accountable, efficient and effective national and local government; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A the promotion of respect for human right; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A the reinforcement of rule of law, including fair and accessible legal and judicial systems; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A the promotion of independent media and the dissemination of information; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A anti-corruption initiatives; and A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A efforts to reduce excessive military expenditure. 5 elements of good governance for better and comprehensive idea of good governance.
A number of multilateral organizations (e.g. UNDP, World Bank, OECD) and bilateral organizations have reflected on the elements of good governance and on their relation to development. Multilateral organizations generally equate good governance with sound economic management based on (i) accountability; (ii) Participation; (iii) Predictability and (iv) Transparency.12 However, there are some bilateral donors who are not satisfied with this narrow economic definition of good governance. They would like at least five more elements to be included as an essential part of good governance, namely (i) democratization; (ii) human rights; (iii) the rule of law; (iv) cuts in military expenditure and (v) probity. 13 According to D. Bandyopadhyay, some of the main elements of ‘good governance’ are: 14 A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A accountability – both financial and political; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A transparency both financial and political; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A easy access to information; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A popular participation in decision making and implementation; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A responsiveness; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A efficient delivery system of services and goods; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A enforcement of rule of law supplanting the rule of whims and caprices of rulers whether stipendiary or elected; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A client/ citizen satisfaction; and A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A an overall caring and humane ambience promoting an equalitarian and equitous social and economic order. 6 The United Nations Development Program (UNDP- “Governance and Sustainable Human Development, 1977)15 has identified five basic principles of good governance, which are as follows: A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Legitimacy and voice – all men and women should have a voice in decision-making either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their intention. A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Direction – leaders and the public have a broad and long-term perspective on good governance and human development, a long with a sense of what is needed for such development. A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Performance – Institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders and institution produce results that meet needs while making the best use of resources. A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Accountability – decision-makers in government, the private sector and civil society organizations are accountable to the public. A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Fairness – All men and women have opportunities to improve of maintain their well being and legal frame work should be fair and enforced impartially, particularly the laws on human rights.
At present, Good governance in Bangladesh is far from the actual consonance of the term. There are several factors and issues that are constraining the very process of good governance. The major factors are corruption, inefficiency of bureaucracy, politicization of administration, non-observance of the rule of law etc. The main issues and problems for ensuring good governance in Bangladesh are bellows: 7
Corruption is a big obstacle in the way of good governance in Bangladesh. Corruption has become so rampant that Bangladesh currently belongs to the world’s leading corrupt nation’s. It promotes the interest of a few ovel many rampant corruption slow down the investment and growth. It prevented a fair distribution of national wealth and broadened the gap between rich and poor. Which is most dangerous is that it is mainly responsible for the breakdown of law and order in the country.
Bureaucracy is inevitable in any society or state, an inseparable part of an organized society.16 But the bureaucracy of Bangladesh is not efficient in management and administration. The capacity of policy implementation of our bureaucracy is very poor. Bureaucrats are not accountable and transparent to the people. Lack of bureaucratic accountability can be attributed inter-alia to bureaucratic corruption. But there is no effective mechanism to make them accountable and transparent.
In our country administration is always to work and the influence of party in power. So, here nepotism is widespread and administration is always unfair. The administration can not take any free and fair decision. Sometimes, political influence breech factionalism in the administration which in turn result in demoralization, utter negligence of work and often serious tension among the bureaucrats. Ministers, especially those with greater political strength and influence and initiative, tended to stress their overall supervisory role to dominate and direct those in administration who versed 8 under them, from secretaries downwards. In such situations the ministers virtually inclined to act as executive heads of their ministries, though they did not have to take the responsibilities either of the executive head or the principal accounting officer responsibilities which still technically and substantially remained with the secretaries.17
Nepotism is another curse of our politics and administration. The rules in our country pursue nepotism. They give privilege and under advantage to their family members, kiths and kins on public resources. So the mass people remain after regime.
In true and real sense the application of rule of law in Bangladesh follows a course of selective and discretionary application.18 It is said that laws are there but there are applied only in favor of privilege people or class. As a result justices suffer and denied to the common people. And this environment affect out right the basic rights of the poor and the social place elides although that is an important aspect of good governance.
The fund flow in Bangladesh is not smooth the local government, especially the union parishad. Beside, this fund is not utilized properly and very often diverted to other purposes. So, the ordinary people can not get efforts, if any, of ensuring good governance. 9
Bangladesh opted to a parliamentary democracy following independence in 1971 in which establishment of a sovereign legislature was sought. The main thrust was to ensure the sovereignty of the people exercised through a democratically elected representative body called the legislature.19 In today’s parliamentary system, most of the works related branch of the government headed by a Primminister, who is accountable to the parliament. The parliament is supposed to exercise control over the government through legislative business, for which the government has to rely on parliamentary approval. Besides, ministers including the Prime Minister are answerable to the parliament for their actions. There fore, the parliament has significant role to improve the quality of governance.20 Strengthen parliament in Bangladesh by the following ways: Strong parliamentary leadership Parliament has a lead role to play in raising issues and putting them on the national agenda. Strong supporting institutions remain essential to ensuring the effective implementation actor such as civil society and the private sector create a committee for accountability to build consensus on strengthening parliament across party lines. The speaker should impartial in conducting the business of parliament, ensuring fair and balanced access to the media. This is essential for effective parliamentary debate. Institutional capacity building For building institutional capacity the following steps should be followed: A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Separate the parliamentary secretariat form the public service and ensure its political neutrality; 10 A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Recruit and train parliamentary staff in relevant fields; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Establish a research support unit within the parliament, which is geared to the needs and responsive to MPs; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Provide intra-regional training for MPs (Particularly on financial matter) to strengthen their understanding of and participation in national policy-making. (iii) Procedure According to international Anti-corruption conference (IACC), 10-15 October 1999, Durban, South Africa the following efforts should be taken for effective parliamentary procedure: A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Align rules and procedures to current and future capacity needs by challenging irrelevant and dated provisions; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Ensure fair and effective use of power: (e.g. orders of the day, motions of adjournment, resolutions and vote thanks); A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Provide orientation to new MPs regarding parliamentary practices and proceeding; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Establish a televised ‘question hour’, where Prime Minister and other Minister’s are subject to direct daily questioning; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Discuses and debate corruption issues more frequently in the in the parliament; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Identify means of increasing attendance in the parliament (e.g-by imposing penalties); A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Reform procedures to ensure fair treatment of all MPs in time allocation. 11 (iv) Strengthening parliamentary oversight Parliamentary oversight is a watchdog function of the legislature. Parliamentary committee system is the most effective instrument of parliamentary oversight. There are 46 parliamentary committees of which 38 is for oversight function-35 standing committees plus the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Public Undertaking Committee (PUC) and Estimate Committee (EC). 21 Parliamentary oversight in Bangladesh is constructed by the difficulties in ascertaining and locating responsibility in the Ministry as to who is accountable for a particular act of omission and commission.22 According to Public Administration Reform Commission (PARC) report the following recommendations are necessary for effective parliamentary oversight.23 Each Member of parliament should be given an office, a computer, a personal staff with computer literacy and a small fund to collect information and prepare briefs for facilitating due discharge of his/her responsibilities. The personal staff will hold office during the incumbency of the concerned MP. MPs should under go familiarization and training about the working of the government and rules relating to working of the parliament; Each parliamentary committee should have adequate equipment and fund for secretarial support and studies relating to its responsibilities. The standing committees on Ministries should normally submit their written reports to the parliament regularly for debate and decision; Each parliamentary committee should have at least one woman MP as member; 12 A¢A-â‚¬A Some important parliamentary committee e.g. Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and Public Undertaking Committee (PUC) may be headed by opposition Members of parliament. On the other hand according to the recommendation of 9th international Anti-corruption conference (IACC) 10-15, October, 1999, Durban, South Africa, the parliamentary committee should be: A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Gradually make committee meeting more open and transparent (e.g. open deliberations, issuing press releases on committee meetings, individual interviews with MPs immediately following committee sessions); A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Insist that all legislation be sent to committees prior to debate in the parliament; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Provide for all standing committee to perform an audit function vis-a-vis individual government departments; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Elect strong chairs who can build consensus across party lines (oversight committee should be chaired by opposition members); A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Establish active petition committee that make the public aware of their function to receive grievances. We can also follow the above suggestion. (v) The role of Individual MPs Strengthening individual MPs accountability by requiring that candidates provide important information prior to nomination, including the declaration of assists and any previous criminal record. Once individuals are elected to parliament, the process should allow for dismissal if it is proven that MPs had falsified their declaration. Provide training program for MPs so they better understand and can exercise their responsibilities and provide adequate infrastructure support to MPs including staff and offices. 13 (vi) The Budget process Involve parliamentarians in a more comprehensive way in the budget planning process (e.g. committees, debate, monitoring/oversight) can be followed the following steps: A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Set out budget polices and priorities at least 2 months in advance of the budget speech to allow full debate before the new fiscal year; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Establish and/or strong then the financial budget committee so that it may play a major role in the budget process; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Insist that audit be done in a timely manner (e.g within 6 months of the end of fiscal year) and that public accounts and similar oversight committee play a more proactive role (e.g. review accounts from no further back than 1 year prior to the current fiscal year); A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Reduce discretionary powers of the executive as regards modifications to the budget and insist that parliament approve any modifications, including supplementary budgets, prior to expenditures taking place; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Provide the public and media with more access to information, including on the budget; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Simplify budget documents in language and form for greater access and understating; A¢Å¾A¢â‚¬A Hold public hearing of the finance/budget committee to receive evidence from chamber of commerce and other groups affected by the budget.
Discussion and debate continues throughout the world as to the meaning an dimensions of governance. Yet consensus still eludes as to the accepted and authoritative meaning of the term. The quest for consensus is linked with using the term as a ‘tool kit’ to understand and analyses the relationship 14 between various governmental institutions and other organizations and group operating with in the society. 24 In Bangladesh, above discussions clearly shows that the present condition of good governance in Bangladesh is not satisfactory. Many issues and problems are the barriers to ensure good governance. Corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, political interference in administration, nepotism, misuse of power and resources, improper and non-observance of the rule of law, non-accountable and non-transparent administration etc. are the common features of our government. Although a lot of measures need to be taken for ensuring good governance. Yet it I think utmost importance need to be given to make the parliament efficient and strong by strong leadership, building institutional capacity and strengthening parliamentary oversight to the best interest of good governance. I hope, if sincere efforts can be taken for implementing the above-mentioned steps to make the parliament effective and the parliament play its role sincerely good governance will be ensured. On the other extreme, the opposition, civil society and social groups and organizations also have the moral obligations to help and cooperate with the governments in this juncture.
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