Sharique Celebrates a Decade of Implementation

Local Governance Programme Sharique of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) celebrated a decade of its implementation today at Hotel Le Meridien in Dhaka in a national conference. In addition to the celebration, Sharique shared its learnings and experiences with the distinguished stakeholders. The conference was attended by the honorable State Minister for the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Mr. Mashiur Rahman Ranga MP whereas Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, the former Minister in India for the Ministry of Panchayet Raj and the eminent speaker on grass-root democracy in the region and Mr. Christian Fotsch H.E. the ambassador for Switzerland in Bangladesh graced the conference as the key speakers and the Special Guests.
Le Meridien, Dhaka, 15.12.2016
The main session of the conference started immediately after a detailed presentation on the local governance programme Sharique by Tirtha Sikder. Mr. Mashiur Rahman Ranga MP and honorable State Minister said that the government has been working sincerely to ensure good local governance and decentralization of power the result of which is already evident in the country. He appreciated the cooperation from the developed nations and said that the mutual cooperation can play catalyzing role in ensuring good governance and Swiss government in this regards deserves a deeper thanks. He said, “There is no clash between Members of Parliament and locally elected government representatives to provide good services to the people. These components should work complementing each other for the betterment of the country.” “Our government is working to strengthen and empower the local government. We need more time to ensure the empowerment of the local government beyond the party interest. As part of our empowerment of the local government, we have already ensured accountability to finish the project in due time,” said Mashiur Rahman Ranga. State minister for LGRD also said they will discuss the increase of the honorarium of the elected members of local government and create new posts for local government. He also advised to work for increasing revenue in their own way as they can spend more for the people. 
Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh Christian Fotsch praised Bangladesh for ensuring the rights of women to vote so early. Though his country gained independence almost 400 years ago, the right to vote for the women was ensured only in 1971. Mr.  Fotsch mentioned that the Swiss government is committed to support towards strengthening good local governance in Bangladesh and Sharique programme is part of the implementation of that commitment. He also added that the Swiss government recognizes the success of the Sharique programme in the last ten years.
In the key speech on “the state of local governance in India from the perspective of local economic development and inclusiveness” Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, former member of LokSabha and RajyaSabha and former Minister for the Ministry of Panchayet Raj, India made a detailed analysis on the local governance and decentralization along with examples of good practices of Indian local governance. Mani Shankar Aiyar delivered his lecture on ‘the State of local governance in India from the perspective of local economic development and inclusiveness’. He said “It’s a big challenge to coordinate the root level elected member with government. The successful government can manage this.” “Growth alone cannot ensure governance unless it practices inclusion and reduces nondiscrimination in the society” he added.
The third phase of the Sharique project focused on the strategic planning and fiscal autonomy of the local governments, as well as poverty reduction and social inclusiveness to contribute to the empowerment of local citizens to make and implement inclusive, gender sensitive and pro-poor collective choices about their lives and livelihoods through more democratic, transparent, inclusive and effective local government systems. 
The conference included three panel discussions on three technical topics such as “The institutional role of Union Parishad to respond to natural disasters: systems and practice”. The key note was presented by Mr. Md. Shah Kamal, Secretary, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Bangladesh. “Budget coverage of Union Parishad vs. Upazila Parishad: concept and practices” was presented by Mr. Md. Habibur Rahman, Joint Secretary (Budget), Ministry of Finance, Bangladesh and “Own resources of Union Parishad beyond household tax (rates, fees, tolls etc.): systems and practices” was presented by Mr. Nurul Islam, Research officer, NILG, Bangladesh.
Representatives from the governments, renowned national and international organizations, academicians, NGOs, researchers and elected representatives from Union and Upazila Parishads of Sharique intervention area attended the event. A book launching ceremony of the Sharique Publication (Handbook) was held while a panel discussion was held with the presentation of three different papers. Country Director of HELVETAS Swiss Interco operation, Bangladesh Kaspar Grossenbacher and Sylvia Bitter the Sharique Director also addressed at the conference.

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  • Chief Guest Honorable State Minister for the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Mr. Mashiur Rahman Ranga MP
  • Moni Shankar Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar, the former Minister in India for the Ministry of Panchayet Raj and the eminent speaker on grass-root democracy in the region