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The local government of Bangladesh shows all the characters of a colonial one since our country was under the British Raj for 190 years and under Pakistan for around 24 years. During the British and Pakistani periods, even after independence, several structural changes were made to the local government bodies under different regimes. Despite all those efforts, Bangladesh has been known to be among the most centralized countries in the world. Over the past decade, however, major efforts have been undertaken to strengthen the role and capacity of local government institutions (LGIs). Currently, LGIs in Bangladesh have separate systems for rural and urban areas which are guided by its own separate and operational framework. However, the way the legislations are enacted and executed, each tier and unit has become a water tight compartment. The interdependence and inter-organizational relationships are generally ignored. All these have hampered the comprehensive growth of local government. Moreover, despite the recent legal empowerment of LGIs, the bulk of public services continue to be managed directly by central line ministries and their local administrative offices without systematic involvement of the elected local government institutions. Hence, a conflicting scenario is created between the elected decentralized LGIs with the administrative decentralized bodies which affect the quality of public service delivery. This article attempts to analyze the local government system in Bangladesh, with the intent to identify whether the current local government system is constraining the performance of local governments.
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