Bangladesh will drop the provision for 'district budget' from the next fiscal year (2015-16) because couple of years of experiment in this regard has failed to ascertain its need and effectiveness, Finance Ministry officials said.
They said Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith is likely to exclude separate financial allocation for the districts in the next national budget because experts said it cannot be effectively implemented in the absence of strong local government.
Finance Secretary Mahbub Ahmed told the Daily Observer: "There is no strong local government administration in Bangladesh. For this reason, the district budget could not be implemented in the current fiscal year."
"If we implement district budget we will have to strengthen local government administration. But as of now it is lacking and developing this may not be possible soon," he added.
Officials said many bureaucrats and members of parliament also opposed the district budget concept.
Sujit Kumar, Secretary of Sylhet Zilla Parishad, said, "The Finance Ministry has informed us nothing about retaining or dropping district budget. We don't know anything about this."
While announcing annual budget for FY 2014-15 in June last year, Muhith proposed district budget (within the framework of the national budget) for Sylhet, Khulna, Chittagong, Barisal, Tangail, Rajshahi and Rangpur.
He said if these can be successfully implemented the provision will be expanded to cover other districts in phases.
But, Finance Ministry officials say the experiment has proved the system is untenable in the present context of local governance and as such it will be dropped from the next budget.
In the current budget, Tk 3500 crore was allocated for Khulna district, Tk 6000 crore for Chittagong, Tk 2,500 crore for Tangail, Tk 2,500 crore for Barisal, Tk 2,000 crore for Rangpur and Tk 2,500 crore for Sylhet.
Muhith first floated the concept in FY 2009-10. But MPs and experts said separate allocation for the districts without a "legal framework" would not be meaningful within the existing system of central budgeting.
However, the minister emphasised that local administration could be empowered through the district budget for the development of the country's socio-economic condition.
Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), suggested that the government should revise the methodology of formulating district budget and improve it as per demand of the local people.
A Finance ministry official confirmed recently that there would be no separate allocation for the districts in the next budget.
"The district budget is set to go off as there is no constitutional obligation to formulate it. Moreover, ruling party parliamentarians are also opposing the concept," said the official, requesting anonymity.
Badiul Alam Majumder, Secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan), said that a civic group working for good governance criticised the stand of the members of parliament against district budget. "It is very unfortunate," he said.