Five top priorities

Posted: ফেব্রুয়ারি 10, 2009 in Uncategorized

THE new government has completed 30 days in office, which is too short a time to assess its performance. However, there are things that the people would expect the government to address on priority basis. The 5 top priorities are:

Maintaining law and order and establishing rule of law: With the lifting of emergency rules, completion of two important elections and establishment of a new government, it is natural that the law and order situation will tend to deteriorate. It now depends on how quickly and efficiently the government handles the situation.

If the government really means what it says, it should not be a big problem to deal with the situation. If it really believes that the criminals belong to no party, the task becomes easier.

The government should:

  • Carry out a thorough reform of the police administration.
  • Pay them handsome salary.
  • Make them strong and efficient.
  • See that they can work freely and independently without undue interference of the political parties, at the same time remaining under strict surveillance and accountability.

Bringing down the prices of food and other essential items: This will require not only close monitoring of the market mechanism but also a multi-pronged attack on several other fronts; such as: prevention of smuggling, hoarding, extortion and business monopoly or syndication. The other aspect is to increase production at domestic level and generate employment opportunities.

The performance of the new government in bringing down the prices of rice, wheat and edible oil is commendable. A kilo of coarse rice now sells at Tk. 25- 26, which was Tk. 30-32 only a month ago.

The price of wheat has come down to Tk. 26 a kilo, which was Tk. 46 a kilo when the government took over office. The price of edible oil is now Tk. 80 per liter, which was Tk. 116 a liter when this government assumed power.

The government has reduced the price of diesel, though not to the extent one would have expected. It is hoped that they will reduce it further so as to have some visible impact on transport and other costs. They have reduced the price of fertiliser to almost half, which is sure to give the farmers a great incentive in increasing food production.

Those who do not want to give any credit to this government, or try to belittle its achievement by saying that the reduction was possible because of sharp decrease in prices in the international market, quite conveniently suppress the fact that the decline in price in the international market began almost six months ago without making any impact in our domestic market, until this government came to power last month.

Addressing the electricity and energy crisis: There is a shortage of roughly 2000 megawatt of electricity. Taking into account the increase in demand of electricity at an average 600 megawatt per year, the government has to produce an extra 5000 megawatt of electricity by the end of its tenure if it really wants to carry out the development activities as promised in its election manifestos. The government is yet to unfold its program in this respect. The sooner it is done the better.

Tackling corruption issue with iron hands: If there is one thing that has eaten the very vitals of this country, it is the unbridled corruption that has found its way into every nook and corner of the society. The people will certainly like this government to carry on with the anti-corruption drive firmly and effectively. The plunderers of national wealth, whoever they may be, must not go unpunished.

The anti-corruption drive launched by the caretaker government failed to deliver the goods because it was directed not so much to eliminate corruption as it was to target the leadership of the two main political parties.

It does not mean that there is no corrupt person in the leadership of the two political parties, who have ruled the country by turn. There are many at both mid and higher levels of leadership of these parties, perhaps more in BNP, who have amassed huge wealth illegally and siphoned off millions of dollar to foreign countries.

At the same time, it will be a travesty of truth to say that only the politicians were corrupt. There are probably a lot more in the other sectors as well. It is the bounden duty of the government of Sheikh Hasina to bring these people to justice through due process of law if she has to bring about the “change” she has so emphatically promised.

Making the parliament effective: It is ridiculous to even think that the parliament of a country can run into deadlock on such petty issues as seat sharing with an opposition party, which has only 31 seats in the 300- strong parliament. Why not let the honourable members of the opposition bench sit wherever they feel like? But make sure they come to the parliament to explain their past deeds, if not for anything else.

Capt. Husain Imam is a retired senior merchant navy officer.

The daily star 10.02.2009




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