Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Minister (LGRD) Minister Tazul Islam said the municipal councils must focus on increasing income or face dissolution as the government plans to change the law in this regard, said a press release.
"City Corporations and municipalities follow their own laws. They must take responsibility for generating and increasing their revenue as per their laws. If they fail to pay the salary of their staffs for 12 months, we are planning for their dissolution," he said adding that it is not believable that the inhabitants of municipalities cannot pay tax.
The minister was addressing a National Policy Dialogue on "Strengthening the Urban Local Governments in Bangladesh" at a city hotel.
Livelihoods Improvement of Urban Poor Communities Project (LIUPCP) of the Local Government Division (LGD), Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and UNDP Bangladesh organised the dialogue in collaboration with Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) Bangladesh and IPE Global (India).
Executive Chairman of PPRC Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman chaired the dialogue while LGRD Senior Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson, and Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh Sudipto Mukerjee also spoke.
British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson said, "Bangladesh has made significant progress in poverty eradication and several human development fronts in recent years, although sustaining progress has proved more difficult in the urban context in recent years. Addressing urban poverty and marginalisation is therefore a top priority for FCDO to ensure that no one is left behind."
"Empowering urban local governments is important to achieving the sustainable development goals, and we aim to support continued collaboration on this, he added.
Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh Sudipto Mukerjee said many of the challenges in eradicating urban poverty have remained unaddressed in Bangladesh. The country needs serious investments in urban social protection. Bangladesh is yet to finalise its national urban policy, he said.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, only about 18 percent of urban households were covered by social protection according to the World Bank. "With a prolonged crisis that has resulted in a significant rise in urban poverty, cities will require greater social protection coverage specifically targeting the newly created—as well as the previously existing-urban poor," Sudipto said adding that the LIUPC project has been playing a considerable role as tried and tested model for urban social protection which can be considered for scale-up by the government.
City corporations and municipalities of the Local Government Division are responsible for delivering the basic urban services to the citizens. But they face tremendous challenges to tackle urban poverty for lack of resources and capacity.
The LIUPC project commissioned a series of research works in 11 city corporations and municipalities to identify their institutional and financial capacity gaps and make recommendations to overcome the gaps.
The studies recommended for revision and approval of National Urban Sector Policy which has been in a draft format since 2013. The studies also recommended enabling the national government to mainstream urban poverty reduction efforts at the national and municipal levels.
Narayanganj City Corporation Mayor Dr Salina Hayat Ivy, Mayor, Sylhet City Corporation Mayor Ariful Huq Chowdhury, Secretary General of Municipal Association of Bangladesh Md Rafiqul Islam, and Additional Secretary (Admin Wing) of LGD Dipak Chakraborti were present as distinguished discussants of the dialogue.
Moderated by Ashekur Rahman, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh, LGRD Joint Secretary Abdul Mannan, among others, also spoke on the occasion.