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Problems of Democracy- Absence of Accountability and Transparency

Accountability and transparency in both government and administration are two inevitable prerequisites of the success of democracy. Accountability is a key way to ensure that this power is used appropriately and in accordance with the public interest. Accountability means the effectiveness with which the governed can exercise influence over the government and this government accountability is ensured through legislative debates, the vigilant works of parliamentary committees, question-answer session etc.
But in Bangladesh, there is no gesture of accountability and transparency in government and administrative officials despite having constitutional arrangement that both the political and permanent executives will be accountable to the parliament for execution of public policies, programmes and activities. The parliament hold the ministers directly accountable and the civil servants is in turn accountable to the ministers and thus indirectly to the parliament. Although government officials are expected to be accountable to the public for all action they take, but in practice this does not happen for mechanisms of ensuring accountability are very weak in the country. An Ombudsman which is expected to acts as watchdog against any administrative irregularity has yet to be created in Bangladesh despite having constitutional obligation. Rather political leaders and activists of the ruling party unduly interfere in functions of public officials to serve their parochial interest. ‘Political accountability over public services degenerated into political interference in the day-to-day activities of public servants’.[1]
Transparency and openness in government transaction is a necessary part of effective democracy. And press and media fulfill these two necessary elements of government. ‘A popular government without popular information or means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both’. So there should be unhindered flow of information of government transactions.[2] But there is no semblance of transparency in both government and administrative functions. Since independence both radio and TV have been using as mouthpiece of the government. This is why there appears to be a fairly large audience for non- Bangladeshi radio-sources, including All India Radio, BBC and VOA. Both BNP and AL had avowed commitment to the people that they would give autonomy to the state-controlled radio and TV. But nothing positive has yet been done. Government is still continued to influence and control over press and electronic media. Publicly owned radio and television are still under state control but private television channels have started to disseminate information freely.[3] This continued control of the government over television and radio has adversely affects citizens access to information.[4] Newspapers and other publications now have a more freedom of expressions compared to the pre-1991 situation, but attempts are still made to influence the views of print media by pursuing a selective and discriminatory advertisement policy. That’s why, a large part of the population is still mispercieved about the government policies, rules and regulation due to weak information mechanism structure. Government officials do not let the mass people know what policies and programmes has been undertaken in the lame excuse of confidentiality. Most members of public do not know ways various actions are taken by public officers. This tremendously curbs the right to information of the mass people to be exercised.
[1] Khan, M. Mohabbat, ‘Good Governance: Concept and the Case of Bangladesh’ Chowdhury, H. Mahfuzul (ed) Thirty Years of Bangladesh Politics, UPL, Dhaka, 2002, p. 68
[2] Halim, M.A. op. cit.,
[3]Jahan, Rounaq, “Political Development” Bangladesh in the Twenty First Century’, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, Dhaka, 2003, p. 57
[4] Khan, M. Mohabbat , op. cit., p. 71.