Sunday, January 20, 2019 | ePaper

Parliament to govern the government

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Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :
Parliament is the national legislative body having supreme legislative powers in the state. It can be termed; the symbol of democracy. Bangladesh is a newly born country. Its Parliament is also new. The newly building Parliament of Bangladesh is moving slowly but steadily towards establishment of democratic norms in the country. To scrutinize the activities of the government agencies is an inherent power of Parliament under the Constitution. It exercises the power through different Parliamentary Committees. Bangladesh Parliament has undertaken reformative programmers to develop an institutional base for promotion of democratic culture and expertise in the country. The official name of Bangladesh Parliament is Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad. Bangladesh is a unitary nation. The Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad is also unicameral. Out of 330 seats for MPs in the Sangsad 30 seats are reserved for women. About 700 officers and staff are there in Parliament sectt with a Secretary as its head. The executive head of Sangsad is the Speaker.
Eventually, Bangladesh won independence on 16 December 1971. The Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came back home on 10 January 1972 from the captivity of Pakistani rulers. On the following day of his return, Bangabandhu as President of the People's Republic of Bangladesh under the Proclamation of Independence promulgated a Provisional Constitution Order. He also promulgated a Constituent Assembly Order on 22 March 1972. The Constituent Assembly was composed of 403 MNAs and MPAs of Bangladesh part. The Assembly held its first session on 10 April 1972, the day of formation of the Provisional Government of Bangladesh in 1971.
The Assembly appointed a 34 members committee to prepare a draft Constitution for Bangladesh with Dr. Kamal Hossain, the then Law Minister, as its chairman. The Committee submitted a draft Constitution before the Assembly on 12 October 1972. It then adopted the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh on a November 1972. The Constitution, however, came into force on 16 December 1972. The first general election of Bangladesh was held on 7 March of 1973 under this new Constitution.
The first session with the newly elected MPs of independent Bangladesh was held on 7 April, 1973. Parliament started functioning in a House at Nakhalpara in Dhaka that was used for Provincial Assembly in the then East Pakistan. Responsibility means accountability of a person or body to another person or body. The term responsibility in relation to modern democratic Governmental system means political responsibility i.e., responsibility to the people or a body representing the people. The MPs have a responsibility to keep a continuous watch on government ensuring that it is responsive to the needs of the general public it serves, accountable for tax payers money and transparent in all its functions. Parliament is the supreme representative body. It has become the forum not only for articulation of people's grievances and even frustrations, but also for realization of their hopes and dreams, urges and aspirations. Therefore, the MPs must have active voice on the floor of the House that speaks of the problems of his constituency. They should also remind the government machinery that the people are the source of all power and government runs with the tax money that are paid by the people.
Unfortunately, Jatiya Sangsad could not function continuously because of military interventions. Jatiya Sangsad could not, therefore, emerge as a modern one to settle issues of democratic norms and values. Due to managerial lacking coupled with the failure to observe ethical standards of parliamentary norms and procedures, MPs could not show desired results in the past. They do not have individual offices and staff or access to research services. They are constrained in their ability to participate knowledgeably in debates and committee discussions. The remuneration and allowances of the MPs are very low in comparison to that of the government officials. Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat delivers very special and sensitive kind of services to Parliament. Unfortunately, the secretariat's present human, technical and financial resources are inadequate to meet the day-to-day requirements of an active national legislature. The top-level officials at the Secretariat are working on deputation from different ministries. They are generalists; none of them has acquired expertise on dealing with matters relating to the parliamentary practice.
UNDP has funded a project titled Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy for a period of five years. UNDP and Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat in a joint study have come up with recommendations that Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad needs development of an institutional capacity to help MPs contribute better policies and participate in fruitful debate both in the House and in the Committees. The main features of the project are to give orientation discipline to the MPs, training to the officials of Jatiya Sangsad, computerization, modernization of the Sangsad library, establishment of a permanent institution named Institution of Parliamentary Studies, office space for every MP, providing them with logistic supports etc. The main objective of the project is to provide viable input to the Sangsad so that its activities can influence the government towards building good governance. Bangladesh needs institutionalization of democracy. It may take up constitutional reforms leading to reforming Jatiya Sangsad itself. The reform must empower Parliamentary Committees so that the ministries become more accountable to the Sangsad. Ultimately, the Sangsad needs to assert its sovereignty over the machinery of the government.
Parliament must be made effective and potential. Without the efficiency and good leadership of Parliament member Parliament can never control government. They must be over prudent, experienced and tested to party and people. A corrupt and dishonest leader cannot manage himself. He is a problem for himself, family & society. A mean minded and non-sophisticated person can never be an ideal friend of society. He cannot create example of peace, progress and prosperity. He cannot help people; rather people are being exploited by those dirty leaders. But to day there are leaders who can exhibit the power of money, man and muscle. Society is handicapped. They are not quality leader so the cannot nourish quality leadership. As a result, society suffers from getting due rights and privileges and gradually society loss the structure of ideal and identity society. So to make a strong parliament its members position must be upgraded in respect of education, culture and leadership qualities. Our parliament members must have their proper training to understand the needs of people and to implement necessary plan and projects for their welfare. So parliament so arrange seminar, debate, symposium, workshop and short courses inviting parliamentarian experts from abroad. Only then our parliament will get status of world standard.

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