UP chairmen, members to get extra-tenure

The chairmen and members of Union Parisahd (UP) across the country, who had been elected for five years, are getting the opportunity to serve for more than their terms this time due to Covid-19 situation.

The government is likely to extend the tenure of chairmen and members for some months as elections to over 4,300 UPs are being delayed following the rise in Covid-19 cases. Tenure of 4,300 UPs is going to expire soon.

Local Government and Rural Development (LGRD) Minister Md Tajul Islam said that although elections to many Union Parishads have been postponed due to the Covid-19 situation, the current chairmen and members of the UPs will conduct relief activities and other activities in their respective areas.

He asked the officials of Local Government Division (LGD) and directors and deputy directors of various projects to oversee the activities of the ministry and the projects through using digital devices.

The minister was speaking at a views exchange meeting with the LGD officials virtually from his official residence on Mintoo Road in the capital on Saturday.

He said that elections in many unions in the country were scheduled to be held this month, but the elections had been postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic. Chairmen and members of the unions are now in confusion over their participation in relief and development activities. There is no confusion as incumbent chairman and members will conduct all the activities in their respective areas until the elections are held, he added.

Tajul Islam said that directives were issued from the ministry that the development activities will continue amid Covid-19 situation. So, the activities should be supervised through using digital devices. No substandard work will be tolerated, he warned. 

He said that government funds are now being allocated to the bodies of local government, including union parishads, upazila parishads and municipalities. The allotment must be utilized properly and must be monitored, he added. 

The Election Commission had postponed the first phase of Union Parishad (UP) elections following an increase in Covid-19 cases across the country.

The elections to 323 Union Parishads from 63 upazilas of 20 districts in the country were scheduled to be held in the first phase of balloting to the lowest tier of the local government on April 11. A total of 73 ruling Awami League chairman candidates in the first phase were elected uncontested.

Of the about 4,500 Union Parishads across the country, more than 4,300 are eligible for the elections this year as well as by June and July. The last UP elections were held in six phases in 2016. According to the Local Government (Union Parishad) Act, the election should be held within the period of 180 days of the expiration of the term of the Union Parishad.

 However, the tenure of the chairmen begins from the day of his first meeting in office, and elections can also be held before the tenure ends. The source said that if it is not possible to hold election government even within the end of the current chairmen's tenure, the government has another option in hand. They can delay the elections citing reasons.