|dc.description.abstract||A 2001 study of Khan observes that one of the vital concerns in relation to decentralization in Bangladesh is greater autonomy of the local state. The principal premise of the thesis is that a greater autonomy of the local state helps improve the effectiveness of decentralization. The main research concern is the exploration of the nature, cause, and consequences of a specific deep-rooted problem concerning the dimensions of influences and magnitude of autonomy in budgeting decisions of local government Union Councils in Bangladesh. These dimensions of influences are likely to be affected by both de facto issues and de jure aspects.
The study explores what type of de facto and/or de jure issues are affecting the budgetary autonomy of Union Councils in Bangladesh, as well as how and to what extent the autonomy of the same councils is being affected, and the consequences of this autonomy to the local governance.
There are four key research questions of this study:
i. What are the key factors or phenomena that influence the budgeting decision-making process of Union Councils/Parishads(UPs) in their local governance? What are the de facto and de jure phenomena here?
ii. What is the relative influence of aspects/issues in UP-budgeting decision-making process and decisions? Do they collide with the autonomy of the Union Councils in their budgeting decisions?
iii. Why does such influence occur? What is the root cause of the problem? How does such influence occur in the UP-budgeting decisions? To what extent such influences affect the autonomy of UPs’ budgeting decisions?
iv. What are the theoretical and practical implications of such influences of the affecting issues, as well as the affected autonomy in budgeting decisions, leading to the local governance of Union Councils/Parishads (UPs)?
The unit of analysis of this research is the Union Council/Parishad, one of the important rural local government institutes in Bangladesh. As such, analysis of the budgeting decision-making process of democratically elected Union Councils/Parishads (UPs) of Bangladesh in their local governance falls under the domains of political psychology, applied economics and public management (i.e. decentralization, local government finance, and local governance, and relates to the organization and budgeting theories).
Summary of the findings and inferences
Almost all the influencing phenomena - source of resources, previous year budget, scarcity of resources, local demands, political and personal traits of the Chair, local problems, legal aspects, UP competence aspects, and council management - hold both de jure and de facto characters, except political and personal traits of UP Chairs, and legal aspect. There is no de jure ground for political and personal traits of UP Chairs, excluding the fact that they must be elected by the electorate of the community, while the legal aspect holds entirely de-jure nature.
A rising scale of community demands, a limited scope of revenues, an excessive dependence on governmental transfers as well as a high magnitude of conditionality of the same, an absence of highly competent and responsible UP leadership as well as councils, the government politics with local government i.e. keeping UPs highly dependent both administratively (e.g. staff shortage and legal dominations) and financially (e.g. leaving UPs with very limited revenue sources), and the limitations of law or legal constraints all help make excessive as well as diversified effects of the influencing phenomena in the UP-budgeting process and decisions.
The causal relationship between the influencing phenomena and UP budgetary decisions governs the causal mechanism as well as the influence process in UP budgeting and governance, considering the social spectacles, experience, reality, practice, organization, and social relations. The influence of concerned phenomena in UP-budgeting decision-making process does not certainly collide with the autonomy of UPs in the budgetary decisions, but their effects are evident with varying degrees and dimensions on the budgetary autonomy of UPs, even to the UP overall management and local governance.
The indicator-based empirical analysis reveals that the magnitude of influences is almost double than that of the budgetary autonomy of UPs at Sunamganj district in Bangladesh. The local government UPs seem to be homogeneous in Bangladesh. Thus, the budgetary autonomy of local government Union Councils is a serious apprehension in the study of decentralization and local governance in Bangladesh.
Moreover, the rationality of the government conditions and control on local government Union Councils is tied with the crisis of self-responsibility and competence of Union Council Chairs and members. Local governments in Bangladesh, particularly Union Councils, are yet to grow with a high sense of self-responsibility, commitment as well as competent leadership and capable councils. Once these grow, the basis for lessening government conditions to the inter-governmental transfers and/or increasing the local tax base at the local level will pave the way.
In summary, the originality, as well as the significance of the thesis, is that it has contributed in the literature stream of public administration, specifically in decentralization, local government finance as well as budgeting, and in local governance studies. The study findings to some extent have substantiated the rationality of conditional national government transfers to the sub-national governments in Bangladesh. Beyond the general theoretical and practical significance of the study, its findings have led to inviting a fundamental debate on the national-local tax base system and appreciated the fact that central hindrance towards effective functioning of the local government Union Councils in Bangladesh is the crisis of ownership and competence of UP representatives.
Importantly, there are two issues in this thesis that require further study.
First, the further study requires an in-depth understanding of how the influencing phenomena affect beyond the UP-budgeting decisions to its overall management as well as local governance. In other words, to what extent do these influencing phenomena affect the autonomy of UPs in their overall management and local governance?
Second, further study is necessary to understand the reasons why UP representatives are interested in being elected and what kind of incentives are attractive for them to be elected despite their salary and formal benefits being very poor. ||th