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Wednesday, March 21, 2018 07:19:51 AM
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Lavish pay for local body leaders without care for voters

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THE government decision to double the pay and allowances of public representatives of elected bodies will no doubt enhance its popularity but to the common people it seems to be an extra generous spending as if the government is short of any other productive way of spending public money. There are about 65,000 elected representatives in the country from city corporations and municipalities' mayors and councillors on the top to zila, upazila and union parishads chairman and members at the bottom. They are already drawing hefty salary and allowances, besides benefiting from many sources of unaccounted earnings including money from local government projects.

They are mostly wealthy people who can spend lakhs of taka together to get elected. One can't be blamed for asking the question why the government is going to double their salary with retrospective effect from July last year when the condition of ordinary people, the ones who elect them is only getting from bad to worse in absence of any fixed source of income. The cost of living is soaring, as the income gap is also growing between the rich and the poor. Such huge benefits to representatives of the local bodies, in our view will only further exacerbate the income gap and social tension. 

We know that the salary and allowances of the government officials were doubled two years back and doubling the remuneration of the representatives of local bodies this time is creating the pattern of an equilibrium after similar pay hike from Prime Minister, ministers, MPs and such other functionaries. But one may raise the legitimate question that they are not regular employee of the government and if the government pay them who will pay for the ordinary people outside the government. Why this discrimination within the society. In fact, people are taking the brunt of the tax load but the government is now apparently using it to build its power base within the bureaucracy and local bodies to win elections. This is unfair and unjust. 

The government is claiming huge success in the development of the country, but looking at the distributive justice of national income and wealth, it appears that development is basically remaining stuck up with the higher echelon of the society and ruling party establishments. Higher economic growth shows a bigger figure that is not reaching the  poor. We must say that a properly elected government could not take such moves that discriminate the rich against the poor. But since the voters have no direct bearing to winning of any election the government is apparently looking for ways to win any election with the help of bureaucracy and local government bodies. It is using public money as an important toll to buy their allegiance. But we must say misuse of public money can't be acceptable for political purpose and public can't be forced to pay for it.   

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