Crisis of \'coordination\'

Shamsul Huq Zahid | Published: December 13, 2015 22:13:06 | Updated: October 24, 2017 04:42:57


'Coordination' is the rarest commodity as far as the decision making by regulatory bodies and government agencies in Bangladesh is concerned. The policymakers do often mention about the problem, but instead of getting resolved it becomes more acute. 
The other day the acting chief of a regulatory body that deals with capital market issues, while speaking at the opening ceremony of a function in Dhaka, vented his strong dissatisfaction over the lack of coordination among the regulators, namely the Bangladesh Securities and Exchange Commission (BSEC), the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), the Bangladesh Bank and the Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority (IDRA). He alleged that the central bank, BERC and IDRA are taking their individual decisions on issues that have a bearing on the capital market. He said the regulators concerned tend to overlook a government advice to consult the BSEC prior to taking any decision that relates to the capital market. 
In this context, he referred to a recent development in which the IDRA scrapped the operating licence of the Standard Insurance, a company listed with the country's bourses. "What will be our reply to the shareholders of the company concerned? ", he sought to know.  
A member of the IDRA was present at the function. But he did not give any reply. None, however, did expect a reply for the problem of lack of coordination is manifested everywhere. 
Take the old case of agencies involved with providing civic services to the residents of Dhaka city. If a road or a lane is repaired or carpeted today by one of the two city corporations, the Dhaka WASA or the Bangladesh Telecom Company Limited (BTCL) or any other organization might start cutting or digging the same for its part of 'development' work within days or weeks.  People do experience this kind of development works very often. But they wonder why are not the agencies concerned developing a coordination mechanism?  
Similarly, water-logging has been a serious problem in Dhaka city. The two city corporations are blamed for the problem. But the onus lies with the Dhaka WASA. But most people have misconception about the issue as they feel that the city corporations are responsible for keeping the city clean and free from water-logging.  The incumbent mayors of two city corporations, coming under pressure, are now making promises to solve the problem of water-logging.  With effective coordination among all the agencies concerned in place, the Dhaka city, which has been adjudged as the world's second worst liveable city, would have been relatively cleaner and better liveable.
Experts and individuals who presided over the affairs of Dhaka City Corporation from time to time, thus, pleaded for establishing a mechanism to ensure coordination among the agencies involved with managing the affairs of Dhaka city.  But the proposal has failed to get due support from the people who matter, particularly due to opposition from the ministry concerned. 
The idea of forming a metropolitan government was mooted by the late first mayor of DCC and a ruling party stalwart Mohammad Hanif. But the proposal could not make much progress as a section of policymakers then had looked at it with certain amount of suspicion. 
But the fact remains that there has to be an umbrella organization that would ensure the most essential coordination among the agencies involved with the development of Dhaka city and also with other major cities and towns of the country. 
Coordination is also essential among all the government and non-governmental organisations when it comes to safeguarding the public interests. However, in a country like Bangladesh, it does not come automatically. The use of an element called 'compulsion' becomes necessary to ensure it.
For example, the regulatory bodies and government organisations are governed by their own rules and regulations framed under acts of parliament or presidential ordinances. Those do not ask the regulators or the agencies to go for coordination with each other while operating in accordance with the law. So, the agencies concerned do not attach much importance to the issue of coordination. 
But all the regulatory bodies, government agencies and local government institutions are maintained with taxpayers' money. So, it remains their responsibility to offer best of services to the taxpayers, meaning people. And that can be done individually and also collectively. While carrying out jobs individually, coordination with others becomes essential. Otherwise, the people might suffer. The policymakers often talk about 'effective' coordination, but they have not taken up the issue seriously at the appropriate level. Instead of providing lip service, time has come for them to do something concrete to ensure 'coordination' where it is needed most. 
zahidmar10@gmail.com
 

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