Revitalizing governance: A Manifesto for progressive change

Published : 03 Jan 2024 10:00 PM | Updated : 04 Jan 2024 03:08 PM
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It is essential to include promises for governance-related reforms in an election manifesto to promote openness, accountability, and efficient governance within a political system. These pledges work as a strategic plan for a candidate or party's vision and dedication to enhancing the efficacy of governmental institutions. Political entities exhibit their commitment to establishing a fair and responsive governance framework by explicitly delineating concrete reforms, such as promoting public engagement, enforcing accountability and transparency, bolstering anti-corruption measures, and upholding the rule of law. Given the significance of governance improvements, the current ruling party has prioritized good governance in their election agenda, which has been a highly discussed topic over the past few years. The primary objective of this article is to emphasize the Awami League's pledges to enhance governance in the nation, as stated in its election manifesto. 

The party has made a commitment to uphold openness, accountability, good governance, and democratic ideals in all areas of state administration, recognizing the significance of strengthening democracy, holding elections, and maintaining an efficient parliament. Additionally, they promised to promote the involvement of educated, talented, intelligent, and incorruptible individuals in politics. 

The Awami League has given significant attention to upholding the principles of equality, justice, fundamental human rights, and the rule of law as stated in the Constitution of independent Bangladesh. This commitment to law and human rights aligns with the vision of the Father of the Nation, who led the drafting of the Constitution. The government has committed to addressing the weaknesses in establishing the rule of law. It will safeguard universal human rights and respond firmly to any violations or misinformation about human rights. The government will also protect the autonomy and prestige of the judiciary, ensure basic human rights by upholding the Constitution, and take steps to maintain the independence and efficacy of the National Human Rights Commission. 

Recognizing the significance of media freedom as a crucial element for effective administration and seeing it as the fourth pillar of the government, the Awami League acknowledges the need to safeguard media freedom. Nevertheless, the government has undertaken many measures to guarantee media freedom, yet further actions are required. The ruling party has promised to maintain the free and unrestricted flow of media in the country, protect journalists from torture, intimidation, and false accusations, enhance the Cyber Security Act 2023 to safeguard privacy and data, prevent misuse, establish the 10th Wage Board to ensure timely adjustment of salaries and benefits for journalists, prevent discrimination in its implementation, provide additional support for infrastructural development and collaboration with the National Press Club, and ensure a fair and balanced policy for distributing advertisements. 

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The ruling party is prioritizing the establishment of a welfare-oriented, accountable, and smart administration to deliver enhanced and high-quality services to citizens, promote good governance, and ensure transparency and accountability. This aligns with the government's previous commitment to a citizen-centric, knowledge-based, data-driven, and integrated approach. To achieve this objective, the ruling party has committed to creating a competent and innovative administrative state that relies on information technology, is free from corruption, and prioritizes the public's welfare. This will be accomplished by recruiting qualified individuals based on merit and taking proactive measures to eliminate corruption, bureaucratic red tape, and all types of harassment. Decision-making and implementation processes will be expedited to prevent unnecessary delays in policy formulation. Additionally, a new pay structure will be established to ensure that compensation for the workforce is fair and aligned with commodity prices. 

The Awami League government has always prioritized the establishment of contemporary, sophisticated, compassionate, and citizen-oriented law enforcement institutions. Nevertheless, there was much scrutiny during the last few years over the efficacy of law enforcement authorities. The party has committed to incorporating advanced information technology to enhance the intelligence and modernity of law enforcement agencies in alignment with the Smart Bangladesh initiative. Additionally, they aim to augment the human resources of all law enforcement agencies, expedite operations against extremism, sectarianism, and terrorism, develop a policy for drug testing, establish additional DNA and forensic labs to enhance the quality of scientific investigations and strengthen border protection measures for the BGB forces. 

Although significant progress has been achieved in the past fifteen years, the ruling government has faced criticism for its inadequate ability to manage corruption effectively. Hence, the party has reaffirmed its dedication to implementing a Zero-tolerance policy towards corruption in the election manifesto. The party has committed to maintaining its zero-tolerance stance on corruption and implementing stringent steps to eliminate the acquisition of unlawful riches, bribery, abuse of authority, nepotism, violence, and racketeering. The party will further guarantee openness and accountability in selecting projects, determining costs, and conducting audits to assess the quality of finished projects. In addition to corruption, the party has demonstrated its dedication to implementing a strict zero-tolerance approach to counter-terrorism and militant operations. 

The party has prioritized the establishment of a efficient, responsible, and customer-focused local government system to guarantee improved services directly to the residents at the local level. The party has also committed to persisting in its earlier endeavors to expand the advantages of urbanization to rural areas, as seen by the "Amar Gram-Amar Shahar" (My Village-My Town) initiative. In addition to prioritizing infrastructure development and upkeep, the party has placed significant emphasis on enhancing the skills and capabilities of local government officials in terms of budget planning and executing projects. Furthermore, it has committed to maintaining the transfer initiative from the central government to local government institutions, guaranteeing a distinct allocation of duties among Zilla, Parishad, Upazila Parishad, and Union Parishad. Lastly, the party has committed to maintaining its efforts in digital land management, which has resulted in significant transformations in land management. 

If the aforementioned pledges on the enhancement of the nation's governance can be effectively executed within the upcoming five years, it can be confidently asserted that the country will make significant strides towards developing a system of good governance. The Awami League's manifesto demonstrates a commendable recognition of its past shortcomings and proposes measures to enhance the state of governance in the country. Upon examining the governance-related portion of the election manifesto, one may discover the party's dedication to upholding the rule of law, freedom of media, combating corruption, guaranteeing accountability and transparency across all sectors, and bolstering local government nationwide. It is now necessary to examine the perceptions of the inhabitants of Bangladesh about these pledges and how the new government (if the party remains in power after the January 7 election) carries out the obligations outlined in its election platform. 

The writer is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the 

University of Rajshahi.