Bangladesh Parliament on Monday unanimously passed the much-talked about bill to reinstate Upazila Parishad Act 1998 allowing the lawmakers administrative authority over the most crucial tier of local government system.
Members of parliament from either side of the aisle greeted the bill's passage by thumping desks. They thanked LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam for returning their say in the running of upazila parishads.
Due to opposition of the lawmakers, two proposals for amendments meant to curb the MPs' sway over upazila parishads could not be placed in the House.
According to the bill, lawmakers will be advisers to the upazila parishads in their constituencies.
The parishads must seek suggestions of the MPs before finalizing development plans. They will have to keep the lawmakers up-to-date with their functioning.
The upazila parishads, which are getting back into operation after around two decades, must send copies of their meeting minutes to the advisers.
The new provisions included in the bill following recommendations of the parliamentary standing committee on the LGRD ministry will largely limit the independence of the parishads.
AL lawmaker AKM Mozammel Haque sought to place a proposal for excluding the provision of taking lawmakers' suggestions in firming up development plans. But fierce opposition from fellow MPs bucked him up.
Another treasury bencher, Abdul Matin Khasru, too faced opposition from the ruling alliance lawmakers when he placed his proposal to make Upazila Executive Officers (UNOs) secretaries of the upazila parishads.
Earlier, in its report on the bill, the committee on the LGRD ministry recommended that UNOs be made chief executive officers of the local government bodies to provide secretarial assistance.