Cleaning up the Mess
The interim government must focus on certain priorities
The ever-increasing prices of essentials have robbed ordinary people of their real income. Inflation, coupled with the spiralling market prices of daily necessities have hit the middle and lower income groups hard. The so-called syndicates run by a certain quarter it seems are still at work: BDR's Operation Dal-Bhat remains a mere drop in the ocean. Though prices of rice and vegetables are gradually going far beyond the means of the masses, farmers and producers have not been beneifitted from this price-hike; a group of middlemen rules the market, a market that has gone out of control of the government. Market economy does not mean that the government will have to fiddle while some unscrupulous businessmen will be given the ultimate control over the lives of the people. Some steps taken by the government (like a constant surveillance of the market) are welcome, but more are needed to control the market, especially because the month of Ramadan is only a few weeks away. More open markets can be set up; a crackdown on the syndicates is the order of the day. But it should be clearly mentioned here that the sellers are hardly to be blamed for the price-hike; the government may set up a price range for certain commodities, which should be constantly monitored, the help of the media can be taken to publicise the price range. This is a serious issue, it should be handled seriously.
The war on corruption that the government has waged is a unique one, and it has to be pursued vigorously. Coordinator of National Coordination Committee for Combating Crime and Corruption's (NCC) Lt. General Masud Uddin Chowdhury has lately complained about a scarcity of resources to nab the corrupt. So far the NCC has done a commendable job, its role needs to be institutionalised, the committee has to be properly equipped so that it can deliver to its potential. The war on corruption is a long and laborious one, and there is no room for any failure. For the last few years we have witnessed a world of degeneration in every sector, from the civil service to the judiciary every major institution of the state has been politicised. Some recent arrests in the ongoing drive have given us the impression that no one is above the law, that the government is not going to spare anyone, no matter who it is. The government must set some long-term goals, and the civil administration should go through a major overhaul to make it free of corruption and people-friendly. Our bureaucracy is a legacy of the colonial era and is immersed in jobbery. While honest, sincere civil servants should be given monetary incentives, corrupt bureaucrats must face justice. The arrest of Osman Gani, former chief conservator of forest, has given us a grim but necessary reminder of how corrupt our civil service has become. There are more Osman Ganis at large who should be immediately brought to book.
It is high time that the government puts an all-out emphasis on the building up of democratic institutions. Judiciary must be separated from the executive, the Anti-Corruption Commission must be properly equipped to fight corruption cases, the Right to Information Act has to be enacted, the Election Commission has to be made independent, the government can also form a Human Rights Commission. A National Security Council, like the ones other countries have, can be formed to ward off any internal and external threat to our national security. This is of utmost importance at a time when the whole world is facing the menace of extremism and intolerance. Sixteen years of quasi-dictatorial rule of Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina have led many to believe that a balance of power between the President and the Prime Minister is needed. Valid though this thought is, a decentralisation of power can be a better option. Everything in our administration is Dhaka-centric, local government bodies can be given more power, and laws must be amended, and opportunities have to be created so that the ordinary people get the right to have a say in governance. The electoral process should be freed of the dynastic influence, a dangerous trend that has divided the nation for so long. A constitution review committee comprising of members of the civil society and eminent jurists can be formed. A good planning and coordination among its different ministries and organisations is also needed. So far the caretaker government has taken some courageous steps to steer the country towards a prosperous, economically independent future. The government must strengthen these achievements and, at the same time, it must put an all-out effort on the nation building process.
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