Disapproving HM Ershad’s proposal to divide the country into several provinces, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said it will only mount pressure on the state coffer.
“I don’t think there’s any necessity of this (creating provinces), it’ll simply increase the public expenditure, nothing else,” she said at a function after inaugurating Mirpur-Airport Road Flyover at Army Golf Club of Dhaka Cantonment.
Former President and local MP HM Ershad, Communications Minister Obaidul Quader and Secretary of Road Division MAN Siddique also spoke on the occasion.
In his speech, the Jatiya Party chief said the development activities across the country would get a boost if the country is divided into several provinces.
“A provincial system can help reduce the burden on the central government,” Ershad said referring to power exercised by Pashchimbanga Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee. “One Mamata Banarjee could stop the Teesta deal,” he said.
Ershad, a former dictator, has long been advocating for introducing provincial system in the country to improve governance. “I don’t agree with you, the services won’t increase. Instead, the public expenditure will make an upward jump at once as the government has to build administrative structures in the provincial headquarters,” she said.
If the provincial system could be introduced, Ershad said, there would no hartal in the country. “Now anyone can cut off Dhaka from the rest of the country, it’s so easy. They just put barricades on the roads and uproot rail lines. If there’s provincial system, no one will come to Dhaka,” he said.
Referring to the ongoing confrontational politics, Ershad mentioned that now the opposition can talk about laying a siege to Dhaka. “If there’s a provincial system, no one will come to lay a siege to Dhaka as the power will be decentralised,” he said.
The former army chief-turned-politician said he is with the grand alliance. “It’s tough for you (Hasina) to solve all the problems, it’s not possible to solve the problems of 16 crore people by one person…people are with you and so I am,” he said.
He requested the Prime Minister to encourage the army and remain beside them. “They’ll also remain with you,” he said.
Ershad made the comments at a time when opposition leader Khaleda Zia said the army cannot play “a silent spectator” if peace remains absent in the country. Khaleda hoped that the Bangladesh Army would “play its due role in due time” to maintain peace in the country. She said this while addressing a wayside rally at Matidali intersection in Bogra Sadar Upazila on Sunday.
About hartal, Ershad urged the political parties to find out alternative to shutdown programmes.
The Prime Minister said the government wants to strengthen the local government to increase the service so that it could be reached at the doorsteps of people.
“There’s no reason to increase public expenditure,” she said.