Interview of Tajul Islam
Industry Desk : Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Md. Tajul Islam MP, holds a master’s degree from Chittagong University and an MBA in Marketing and Finance from Southern University and the International Business School of Scandinavia. Elected Member of Parliament from Laksam-Manoharganj constituency in 1996, 2008, 2014, 2018 and 2024. He has been given the charge of Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. Talked to media about his future work plan around the ministry.
Question: Newly took charge of the same ministry. What is the target this time?
Md. Tajul Islam: In the last five years, I have tried to fulfill my duties properly while being the local government minister. Similarly, in the coming days too, we will work according to the national program to fulfill the goals of the country and the nation. Each of our organizations is working to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Our goal is to elevate Bangladesh to middle income country by 2030 and developed Bangladesh by 2041. We are working to become a developed country. We are looking to see if we have any deficiencies anywhere. Deficiencies found will be filled as soon as possible.
Question: What kind of challenges Bangladesh may have to face in meeting SDG targets?
Md. Tajul Islam: Our goal is certainly challenging. Transform a poor country into a lower middle-income country today. Bangladesh is now seen as a role model among countries that have struggled and prospered as poor countries. Whatever we have achieved so far is the product of our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s thinking and spirit. Going forward according to the target. This trend will continue in the future.
Question: What is the government’s plan to deal with a political crisis in the country?
Md. Tajul Islam: We have kept in mind what kind of political challenges may come in front of us while working and how to deal with them. National policies are formulated with specific goals in mind. The rest of the policies are determined keeping in mind the main objectives.
Question: What are the powers of your government to advance Bangladesh according to the goals?
Md. Tajul Islam: Many things have become our priority. Our priority is to build road infrastructure in different regions of the country, alleviate poverty, build a poverty-free Bangladesh and transform Bangladesh into a developed middle-income country.
I want to improve the country’s agriculture. We want to give priority to the creation of rural markets. We want to rationalize the country’s supply chain. We want to improve clean water and sanitation systems across the country. We have achieved the status of Open Navigation Free Country. Among our subcontinent and neighboring countries, no one else has done it except Bangladesh. We have been able to achieve the status of Open Navigation Free Country, leaving behind many countries including India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan.
Question: What steps will be taken to strengthen the local government system?
Md. Tajul Islam: We need to make public representatives aware of their responsibilities. For this purpose, an institution named National Institute of Local Government of Bangladesh has been created. People’s representatives are trained there. Training capacity has been greatly enhanced. In 2019, when I took charge of the minister of the concerned ministry, three thousand people’s representatives were trained in one year. In the last year we have trained 43 thousand representatives. So, it is clear that our level of training is much higher than before. The more the public representatives are aware of their responsibilities, the more the local government system will progress. Efforts are underway to change the law to establish accountability in the local government system.
Question: Dengue has emerged as a major problem in Bangladesh. What is your plan to deal with this?
Md. Tajul Islam: The most important task in combating dengue is creating public awareness. Increased publicity to increase public awareness. Dengue is spread by Aedes mosquito. And Aedes mosquitoes do not breed in rivers, canals or ponds. Aedes mosquitoes breed in homes where little water is stored. It is possible to prevent the spread of Aedes mosquitoes by cleaning the balconies, roofs or containers lying around the house.
We can get rid of Aedes mosquitoes if people are aware and keep their yard clean and regularly monitor Aedes breeding grounds. Apart from this, the government institutions will work equally. Last year I myself walked in many buildings in many places of the city corporation. A significant change has been observed in the respective fields. We have seen many Aedes mosquito larvae accumulate around people’s houses or in buildings under construction in other years, not so much this year. That is, I think the people of Dhaka city have become very aware. Dengue infection occurs mainly in Dhaka city; But this year it spread across the country. Urbanization is increasing in the country, the number of mature houses is increasing. Due to these reasons, Aedes mosquito infection is increasing in many places outside Dhaka.
Question: I would like to know about your achievements during 5 years as minister…
Md. Tajul Islam: We have more or less worked on the subject. Municipalities could not pay their employees earlier, now employees get paid on time. Apart from this, the condition of municipalities has also improved. We have changed the Upazila Parishad and Zilla Parishad laws. Union Parishad law change is in process. Thus, we are trying to strengthen local government institutions through legal changes.
Question: What role is the local government ministry playing in the implementation of the Prime Minister’s promise?
Md. Tajul Islam: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had promised to build ‘my village my city’ in the 2018 elections. The Prime Minister has promised the people to bring the same facilities to the villages as the cities. Normally, the responsibility of village infrastructure development lies with the Ministry of Local Government. Since taking charge, I have been trying to ensure that the Prime Minister’s promises will be implemented as the work progresses. Our Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) is playing the biggest role in this work.
Question: What kind of steps will be taken to improve the quality of work of the local government?
Md. Tajul Islam: In infrastructure development, I have emphasized on completing the work on time while maintaining standards. The quality of work has improved considerably compared to earlier. The structural design of the work has been changed. There are several instructions from my side to follow the prescribed procedures of the work properly. This instruction is published in written form. Engineers are following these guidelines. Due to this, the quality of work is better than before.
Earlier, many questions were raised when roads, bridges and culverts were constructed. That’s why I formed a committee with some engineers from BUET after taking charge. Later, we proceed with the work by determining where the bridge and road are necessary in a logical sense. This change in work style was very important. Maybe some money is being spent more. But the quality of work is sustainable. The design of the bridges has been changed. More importance is being given to ensure that there is no problem in water and boat traffic.
An ID number is issued for driving anywhere in the country. As a result, it will be understood how much the road will play a role in human communication, how much it will play a role in agriculture, how much it will be useful in the field of commerce, including fisheries, etc. That is, the opportunity to build unnecessary roads is closing. Besides, I tried to increase the allocation of this ministry. The Prime Minister has also increased. As a result, radical changes are coming in the rural infrastructure.
Our goal is only one, to complete the construction work while maintaining the quality standards. If anyone is found negligent, he is warned. Many have been warned before. As they later reformed themselves, there was no need for severe punishment. But everyone in the ministry had to study a lot to give proper instructions. Many in the ministry have taken note of them. Listen, my instructions will be published in booklet form, so that they will be useful to everyone in future.
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