Saturday, January 19, 2019 | ePaper

Policymaking not only a domestic matter

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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
It is widely assumed that policy making is an exclusive preserve of the governmental structures and sub-structure as well as political system and sub-system. That means, the frontier of policy intervention is confined to politico-administrative super structure. Normally the government initiates policy moves and forward course of action as such, at various organizational levels like cabinet, large bureaucracies and autonomous bodies. Nevertheless policy inputs in the forms of problems, issues and demand take a concrete shape by the feedback mechanism via organized citizen and interest groups and civil societies.
The executive domain of governance may go on to adopt new policies or modify the existing ones through ordnance, decrees and quasi-legislation. Or the new policy initiative on a particular issue may come from legislature subject to the scrutiny of the concerned parliamentary committee. The treasury bench may try to influence the house to command consensus on the issue at hand on the strength of brute majority. Or the demands for new policies or modifying the existing one may come from the opposition bench.
In the realm of public policy attention is thus focused primarily on the government as the keynote of policy function and development. Government usually proceeds with 'projected programs of goals' or projected policy objectives for doing so many things.
Autonomous bodies, semi-autonomous bodies, NGOs and other private organization share, to some extent, the vast area of policy functions with political executives and public bureaucracies. Building up knowledge of the on-going dynamics of public life with emphasis on programs of strategic intervention with stated objectives constitutes the academic rationale for studying public policy.
We may have much to learn from the study of policy outcomes - impacts of various policy clusters - the level of achievement or the lack of achievement of various programs in operation. We get to know 'what impacts public policy has on the society'. The effectiveness of government programs in terms of the level of policy efficiency can be discerned by knowing the reactions of various interest groups and mass media.
However, it is evident that policymaking is not only a domestic matter. This is conditioned by exogenous forces transcending geopolitical boundary of a country. To put squarely various externals factors 'play critical role' in policymaking process. "The international relations and world economic trends are always important considerations to policy makers".  Public in any country has to respect global process of development and international context as such.
We are conversant with a plethora of development groups across the world trying to influence policy making process.  
"The Group of Eight (G8) refers to the group of eight highly industrialized nations - France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, Canada, and Russia - that hold an annual meeting to foster consensus on global issues like economic growth and crisis management, global security, energy, and terrorism.
The forum enables presidents and prime ministers, as well as their finance and foreign ministers, to candidly discuss pressing international issues. Its small and static membership, however, excludes emerging powers from important talks concerning the global economy and international security, and as an informal grouping, states have little leverage over other members with which to secure compliance on agreements beyond imposing reputational costs."
The Group of Seven (G7) or Group of Eight (G8) - like the G20 - may have much to mould perception about policy development on important fronts like women, child, human rights, micro credit , banking, food security, health etc.. 'Once a year they come together for a summit convened by the country holding the presidency that year. At the summit they discuss key global political issues, exchange views and try to develop constructive solutions. The presidency of the Group rotates each year among the members.' The meetings they participate have been the 'launch pad for a range of G7 (or G8) 'development policy initiatives - for example initiatives relating to debt relief, food security, health, raw materials and partnership.'
Usually consensus decisions are made within the G7 or G8.  Yet their   'the outcomes and commitments from the summits are not legally binding'. The concerned countries are not bound to abide by their policy prescription.  
'They are implemented by means of bilateral measures carried out by the individual member countries and by means of the enormous influence that these countries have in many multilateral organisations. The G7 countries make up 10.5 per cent of the global population and generate about 44 per cent of global gross national income. They are among the biggest contributors to the funding for international organisations and provide the finance for close to 70 per cent of all official development assistance (ODA).'

(The writer is a Professor (RTD), Chittagong University)

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