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Symptoms are surfacing

October 27, 2014

Governance crises, as evident from several incidents, are showing up in Bangladesh.

Symptoms are indicative of a deepening problem. For the moment, AL government seems complacent with future GDP growth rate, forecast by several local and multinational development partners.

Employment situation however does not look so bright. Official employment data are overestimated and never give a true picture of current employment scenario.

The real employment data could dilute the complacent mood of the ruling coterie.

Employment at the rural level is grimmer. Its impact can be found from Thai jungle to the overcrowded and rickshaw-clogged streets in Dhaka.

The desperate job seekers from suburbs and remote regions have increasingly fallen prey to traffickers. Thai Police found hundreds of Bangladeshis working as slaves in a Thai jungle.

Less desperate ones run towards the big cities. The number of illegal rickshaws swells as thousands of agricultural workers throng into the capital during the post harvest and cropping seasons in search of jobs.

Corruption and collapse of chain of command in the civil and police administrations aggravate feeble governance at the grass root level. PM’s political advisor intervened to defuse tensions when district civil and police administration were at loggerheads over who holds greater power at district level.

Differences between finance ministry and planning ministry surfaced once again over Annual Development Program (ADP) spending. Later, state minister of finance termed the ‘minor’ discrepancy of TK 50 billion ADP spending as a financial reporting problem. According to him, the discrepancy is mainly due to the two ministries’ current practice of following two different reporting methods.

In one of my earlier posts, I wrote that in order to make corruption season trouble-free the government passed several tailor-made laws. Such laws start to pay dividend: a Singapore based company has recently been awarded a contract to set up a plant without going through a transparent tendering process.

As the political difference over the next election and duration of the present government remain unresolved, uncertainty still looms over the economy and the society. Consequently, domestic investment is showing no sign to increase in future, let alone the foreign direct investment. Furthermore, exports to key markets have fallen in Q1 in FY 2014-2015.

In this drying climate of private investment, government is seeking foreign partnership to finance its mega projects like the Paira port. The only interested party in this port had been denied to invest in this kind of venture in USA on security grounds.

The telltale signs of poor governance and poor communication between administration and people representatives are more apparent in remote parts of the country. The voiceless minorities from remote regions are paying the price. In Bandarban, a group of indigenous people is in danger of losing their habitation to make room for a new BGB camp.

In the absence of a formidable opposition force, government seems little bothered about these signs and has mistaken the lull for a stable situation.

Will it continue to pretend that all is well?

A pragmatic leadership will fix the political problems—even when it faces little opposition—for a longer and stronger economic prosperity removing all kinds of uncertainty.

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From → Analysis

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