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Syed Ashraful Islam, the Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives of Bangladesh who has currently been attending the Spring meetings of the World Bank group addressed a seminar entitled Decentralization and Development in Bangladesh organized by the Association for Economic and Development Studies on Bangladesh (AEDSB) on April 23, 2010 at the World Bank office in Washington, DC.
The seminar was attended by more than 30 persons consisting of prominent Bangladeshi Americans, senior members of the IMF and World Bank Staff . At the seminar which was also attended by Dr. Mashiur Rahman, Economic Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, the LGRD minister noted that decentralization of power is one of the key components of the present Government’s election manifesto. “Since coming to power, the present Government has tabled and successfully passed four Bills relating to the functioning of the different local government bodies from the lowest tier to the highest”.
Syed Ashraf mentioned that Bangladesh stands out as a vivid example among the developing nations as to how vast number of women have been empowered by playing constructive leadership roles in the local government bodies. “Their contribution is not confined merely to governance issues only, as they function a wide range of human development issues such as nutrition, healthcare, adult literacy, vulnerable group feeding and development, disaster management and so on”- he elaborated.
Responding to queries from the World Bank and IMF experts on the autonomy of the local government organizations, Economic Affairs Adviser Dr. Mashiur Rahman said, the present government is working hard to earmark district wise budget which would be one major step towards decentralization of power.
Both the LGRD Minister and the Economic Affairs Adviser expressed their hope that vast majority of the rural people in Bangladesh would reap the benefits of the present Government’s rural development initiatives within the next three to four years.