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Election, a need for dynamic business environment in Bangladesh

Dhaka, Thu, 05 Jun 2008 Kazi Mohoshin Al Abbas

When the interim government of Bangladesh is going forward through a Dialogue with political parties in its promise to restore democracy, the joint force is running with a fresh drive of mass arrest, which caused to make the government-political parties relationship into a dilemma, though the administration insists their campaign not politically motivated.

News reports coated Inspector General of Police (IGP) as saying that five thousand people have been arrested so far in this newly initiated law & order drive. Advisor of the interim government responsible for Home Ministry said that this initiative is not against any political parties or general people, it is to restore the law & order situation of the country, which was infuriating in current time. But political leaders reacted in different tones.

Acting General Secretary of Bangladesh Awami League (AL) told to the press that members of law enforcing agencies are involved in arrest of his party men that is not corresponding to the initiatives taken by the government to re-establish democracy through a dialogue.

It should be mentioned that, though dialogue is going on with the participation of sideline parties, major parties are yet unwilling to join in the process considering the fact that some of the top politicians are still under arrest under anti-corruption drive.

Meanwhile, the government had a meeting with FBCCI (Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry), the umbrella organisation of the businessmen of Bangladesh, to discuss about the total situation. Business leaders appraise the business scenario and said that dialogue with the political parties is a very good initiative to achieve the objective of establishing sustainable democracy in the country.

They also stressed on the need of Parliamentary election for a dynamic business environment and said no matter the dialogue is a successful initiative or not; an election is important for the nation in due course as stated in the roadmap of Election Commission (EC).

While government Advisors, responsible to sit with the political parties, were in the meeting with a left political group on June 4, 2008 few issues like contradiction in the provision of Constitution or violation of the provisions of Constitution was being discussed. After the dialogue, a government advisor said to the newsmen that if all concerned are agreed, a Constitutional reform Committee could be constituted to examine the issue and for recommendations, though this is a responsibility of elected political government.

The political parties, who are not yet willing to sit with the government, are also keen to see an election by December 2008. Business leaders have already demanded to fix the definite date for National Election; in fact it is the public aspiration as well. Government is very hopeful that finally all political parties will be on right track and EC would be able to meet the road map boundary.

As June is the last month of fiscal year, the government is to declare the budget for the fiscal year next. By this time two reputed think tank organisation had released their observation on governance and economics. These observations are also growing pressure for the interim government.

In a study, Institute of Governance Studies (IGS) observes that living standards, business confidence and investment dropped compared to the records of the year 2006, though the government delivery of services to the citizen improved last year. Besides, this improvement government’s accountability saw a decline and executive wing acquired more power. The study stated that, "Governance suffered a setback as the political, albeit non-partisan, power was further concentrated by the executive and the accountability mechanisms further weakened".

The message come out from the Study is not a good signal for the interim government. Reacting to the out come of the study many of the scholars and intellectuals of the nation said that it is the proper time for the government and the political parties to act properly for an acceptable election. Some of them also stated that, the psychology of people is ready to welcome an elected political government, concerned all should honour the people’s psychology.

Another influential think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) cited their recent study that between January 2007 and March 2008, the gross income of poor people decreased by 36.7 percent, mainly due to price hike of food and inflationary pressure. Here should be stated that, while the budget of fiscal year 2007-2008 was unveiled by the Advisor in-charge of Finance Ministry, he told that inflation control would be the main challenge for the government. As of the CPD study government was not able to meet the challenge. However, the study found robust export performance, higher revenue collection, bumper Boro rice production, and a rejuvenated capital market as some positive developments of this year's fiscal performance. When unveiling the study report, the economists present in the occasion also stressed on the need of an elected government.

As of practices, diplomats are frequent to comment on the politics and governance of Bangladesh. Recently US Ambassador to Dhaka Mr. Moriarty said that an election is not only essential for democracy; good governance, democratic practice and honour to the people’s hope are important essentials for a democratic society. His statement creates a mixed reaction among the concerned. Most of the concerned are confused in this sense that US has a great influence and the ambassador is seeing the election as a less important issue, so what would be the fate of up coming election?

With all consideration, government is walking on the right track, said political analysts, as the government and the authorities are preparing for an election. In this juncture, government should initiate to minimize the gap with major political parties and ask for cooperation.

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