An Outline of
the Structural Reforms of the State
(Prepared for the purpose of democratic reforms of the constitution, state-system and economic emancipation)
The ownership of the state that the people of Bangladesh established with the objective of democracy, equality, human dignity, and social justice, through a war of liberation for a sea of blood is no more in their hands. The current authoritarian government has totally shattered the structure of the state of Bangladesh. The state has to be repaired and rebuilt. With the aim of returning the ownership of the country back to its people, a ‘Public- welfare government of national consensus’ will be established with all the political parties participating in the ongoing mass movement, after winning a free, fair, credible and participatory election.
The ‘National Government will undertake the following transformative reform measures.
1. Over more than a decade the illegal Awami League government has irrationally brought about many illogical amendments to the basic structure of the constitution with the evil intention of clinging to state power. A ‘Constitution Reforms Commission’ will be formed to repeal/ amend all controversial and undemocratic constitutional amendments and changes after proper review. Democratic rights of the people shall be re-established through revival of ‘referendum’ in the constitution.
2. An inclusive and egalitarian ‘Rainbow Nation’ as opposed to the spirit of vengeance shall be established based on Bangladeshi nationalism through amalgamation of diverse views and paths. To achieve this, a new forward- looking ‘Social Contract’ is a must through continuous dialogue, exchange of views and mutual understanding. A ‘National Reconciliation Commission’ shall be formed in this regard.
3. In order to restore democracy and the right to vote and give the democratic process a permanent, constitutional and institutional shape, a ‘Poll-time non-partisan caretaker government system’ will be introduced.
4. A balance shall be put in place in the executive power of the Prime Minister of the government and the Cabinet of Ministers. The powers, responsibilities and duties of the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature shall be readjusted with the goal of establishing Checks and Balances in the state power.
5. No one shall serve as the Prime Minister for more than two consecutive terms.
6. In addition to existing legislative system, an ‘Upper House of the Legislature’ will be established comprising of eminent citizens, educationists, professionals, political scientists, sociologists and persons with administrative experience to run the state with expertise.
7. The issue of amendment of Article 70 of the constitution will be considered, subject to examination, in order to ensure scope to the Members of the Parliament to express independent opinion in the Parliament, except in case of no confidence motion, Finance Bill, Constitution Amendment Bill and issues involving national security.
8. The current ‘Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners’ Appointment Act- 2022’ will be amended for the sake of constituting a new effective election commission comprising independent, efficient, impartial, acceptable and determined persons based on the opinion of the political parties and distinguished personalities. Voting in all the centres will be ensured by paper ballot, and not by EVM. The RPO, the Delimitation Order, and the law for registration of political parties will be reformed. Use of party symbols in the local government election will be annulled.
9. All the constitutional, statutory and public institutions shall be reconstituted through necessary legal reforms in a move to restore transparency, accountability and credibility rising above parochial political lines. Appointment to the constitutional and other key posts in these institutions shall be subject to vetting by the parliamentary committee through a hearing.
10. Effective independence of judiciary will be ensured in line with the Bangladesh Constitution and the Masdar Hossain Case verdict. A ‘Judicial Commission’ will be formed to reform the existing judicial system. Control and discipline of sub-ordinate courts shall vest with the Supreme Court. A separate secretariat for the judiciary will be established to function under the Supreme Court. The erstwhile ‘Supreme Judicial Council’ enshrined in the constitution, shall be reintroduced to deal with the issues like impeachment of the Supreme Court Judges. For this, necessary amendments to the constitution will be made. The judges of the higher judiciary shall be appointed strictly on the basis of standard of knowledge, wisdom, morality, patriotism, reputation and sense of judgment rising above party considerations. In order to appoint judges of the Supreme Court, a law outlining specific qualifications and standards will be enacted according to Article 95(2)(c) of the constitution.
11. An ‘Administrative Reforms Commission’ comprising of qualified and experienced persons shall be set up to reform and reconstitute the ‘administration’ with the objective of building up a service-oriented public and police administration imbued with patriotism. Merit, integrity, creativity, competence, experience and training will be the sole yardstick for appointment, transfer and promotion in civil and military administration.
12. A ‘Media Commission’ will be set up comprising former Supreme Court Judge, media professionals and learned, experienced and acceptable media personalities for ensuring complete freedom of mass media and comprehensive reforms in the media sector. Environment for honest and independent journalism will be restored. For this purpose, requisite amendment shall be brought in ICT Act- 2006 and Anti-terrorism Act-2009 and all black-laws usurping fundamental human rights including Special Power Act-1974 and Digital Security Act- 2018 shall be repealed. Trial of all cases of murder and torture of the journalists including sensational Sagar-Runi murder case will be ensured.
13. There will be no compromise on corruption. A white paper will be published investigating money laundering and corruption that took place over the last one decade and a half, and persons identified as responsible shall be brought to book. Adequate administrative and legal measures will be taken to bring back home the money laundered outside the country. Transparency and accountability shall be ensured in the Anti-Corruption Commission through systematic reforms, in addition to reforming the Anti-Corruption Commission and Anti-Corruption law. ‘Ombudsman’ will be put in place as provided under the constitution.
14. Rule of law will be established at all levels. Human values and human dignity shall be restored. The heinous culture of enforced disappearances, murder, extrajudicial killings and inhuman physical and mental torture will come to an end. Human rights will be implemented as provided under ‘Universal Human Rights Charter’. Appointment to the Human Rights Commission shall be made based on strict and specific criteria. Trial of all the persons directly or indirectly responsible for all extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate killings in the name of crossfire, enforced disappearances, murder, abduction, rape, inhuman physical torture and all cruel and inhuman crimes committed over more than a decade, shall be ensured.
15. An ‘Economic Reforms Commission’ will be formed comprising renowned economists, researchers, experienced bankers, corporate leaders and people with administrative experience to ensure economic justice. Disparity between the poor and the rich will be eliminated through equitable distribution of the benefits of growth to implement equity, human dignity and social justice, the main tenets of our war of liberation.
The Constitution Reforms Commission, the Administrative Reforms Commission, the Judicial Commission, the Media Commission, and the Economic Reforms Commission will submit their respective reports within a definite timeframe so that relevant recommendations could be fast implemented.
16. Every individual will enjoy full right to exercise respective religious activities based on the fundamental principle of “Religion belongs to respective individual; state belongs to all.” Social, political, cultural, economic, religious and civil rights as well as security of life, property and dignity of the people including ethnic minority in the hills and plains irrespective of political affiliations, race, colour, caste and creed, as provided under the constitution, shall be ensured. Action will be taken against those responsible for damage to homesteads, business houses and places of worship of the religious and ethnic minorities and forcible occupation of their properties.
17. Fair wages of the working class will be ensured in keeping with inflation. Child- labor shall be stopped, and an appropriate environment and arrangement for exposition of their lives shall be ensured. A safe work environment and the right to democratic trade union shall be ensured. An initiative shall be taken to restart all closed industries including jute mills, textiles, and sugar mills. Arrangement shall be made for ensuring safety of life, dignity and work security of the expatriate workforce and hassle-free treatment at the airport including delivery of service in all sectors and expatriate voting-rights. Special programs will be implemented for equitable growth and eradication of disparity in the disadvantaged regions like tea gardens, slums, sands, haors and coastal belts.
18. All black laws including the Indemnity Act in the power, energy and mineral sectors will be repealed. The endless corruption currently being pursued in purchase of electricity from the anti-people quick rental power stations shall be stopped in order to prevent hemorrhaging in the national economy. Adequate steps will be taken for renewable and mixed energy-based power generation. Appropriate measures shall be taken for exploration and tapping of the neglected gas and mineral resources to cut import dependency. For expansion of industrial sector investment friendly policies shall be taken to attract domestic and international investment. Expatriate Bangladeshis shall be encouraged to invest, giving incentives and other opportunities. Planned and well-coordinated industrial infrastructure shall be developed country wide.
19. In terms of foreign relations, national interest, national sovereignty and national security shall be given topmost priority in all respects. Bilateral and multi-lateral problems shall be resolved on the basis of equity, justice, acknowledgement of international norms, rules and regulations. No terrorist activity shall be tolerated on the soil of Bangladesh. Stern measures shall be taken against terrorism, extremism and militancy. The use of terrorism as political tool to suppress the dissents and opposition political parties by misusing the anti-terrorist law will be stopped. This will facilitate identify the real terrorists and ensure punishment under the process of law.
20. To protect the sovereignty of the country, the Defense Forces will be well organized in a time-befitting manner imbibed with the spirit of patriotism. Defense forces will be kept above all controversies with its distinct dignity intact.
21. In a bid to comprehensive decentralization of power, the local government institutions will be made more independent, strong and empowered. These institutions will be brought under strict accountability so that they can play an effective role in different development and service-oriented works including health and education. Independent local government will be ensured free from the interference of the local administration and any public representative whatsoever. Appointment of government administrator in any local government institution will be stopped, except for vacancy created due to death of the incumbent or by an order of the court. An elected local government representative shall not be suspended/dismissed/removed by executive order unless sentenced by the court.
22. Arrangement shall be taken to confer state recognition of the respective individual contribution made in the war of independence in 1971.A list of the martyrs of the liberation war will be prepared under state initiative on the basis of intensive survey and they will be accorded due state status and recognition. Welfare policy for the martyred freedom fighter families will be formulated and implemented on the basis of the list. An accurate list of the freedom fighters will be prepared after intensive verification.
23. Modern and time-befitting youth development policies will be formulated in keeping with the vision, thoughts and aspirations of the youth.
Unemployed educated youth will be given ‘Unemployment Allowance’ till he/she gets employed, or for one year, whichever occurs earlier. Visible steps will be taken to achieve demographic dividends by enhancing the skill of the youth.
Multiple pragmatic programs will be taken to deal with unemployment problem. Necessary investment shall be made to develop human resources with utmost importance on health, education and nutrition.
Increase in age-limit for entry into the government service will be considered in keeping with the international standard.
24. With a view to ensure effective participation of women in the national building process, specific programs will be taken for women empowerment. Up-to-date development program shall be adopted and implemented for exposition of the standard of life of women and children. Women will be given preference, in principle, with regard to nomination for national parliament election. Initiative will be taken to increase women representation in the local government.
25. Need-based education at lower and mid-level and knowledge-based education at the tertiary-level will be given priority by removing current anarchy in the education sector. Special emphasis will be laid on research. Uniform standard of education and instruction in vernacular shall be given priority. Arrangement shall be made to hold regular election to students’ union in the education institutions to help build up future leadership. 5% of GDP shall be allocated in the national budget in the education sector to develop a capable, skilled and humane population. Allocation in public interest sectors like health and education shall be gradually increased in keeping with the country’s economic growth. All relevant sectors including education, technology and training shall be reorganized and reshuffled with a view to creating skilled human resources. Research and Development (R&D) shall be given top priority in education, industrial, scientific, technological and production sectors. Appropriate arrangements shall be made for the development of sports and exposition of national culture. Immoral sky culture and cultural aggression shall be prevented.
26. Considering health is wealth and based on the principle of ‘Health for all’ and ‘No death without medical treatment’, universal health coverage shall be introduced in line with ‘NHS’ in the United Kingdom. Health Card will be introduced for each and every citizen. 5% of GDP shall be allocated in the national budget in Health Sector. Social safety net for the disadvantaged ultra poor shall be further expanded till total alleviation of poverty.
27. Fair price of agricultural produce will be ensured. Government purchase-centre for agricultural products shall be set up at all the unions in phases. Crop insurance, livestock insurance, fisheries insurance and poultry insurance will be introduced by extending subsidy-support, if so required. Non-agricultural use of agricultural land will be discouraged. A strategic action plan for research and development in agriculture, fisheries and live-stock sector shall be chalked out on a priority basis and effective steps for its implementation. For this, incentives shall be provided to the export-oriented agro-processing industrial sector.
28. For overall development of communication network, a well-integrated multi- modal communication system shall be established by reforming the roads, rail and water ways throughout the country. Arrangement shall be taken for increasing regional and international trade and commerce through modernization, development and enhancement of skill of the country’s seaports and riverports.
29. To combat the hazards and loss due to climate change, sustainable and effective strategies shall be adopted. Institutional capacity to face natural disasters like floods, tidal bores, cyclone, and earthquake shall be enhanced by procuring latest modern equipment’s. Effective measures shall be taken to prevent pollution of the rivers and water reservoirs. Program for excavation and re-excavation of rivers and canals shall be implemented to prevent flood and drought. Arrangement shall be taken for prudent tapping, exploitation, preservation, and economic use of the sea resources (blue economy) on the basis of scientific survey.
30. Necessary steps will be taken to develop the information and communication (ICT) sector to the world-class level. Application of ICT in all sectors shall be given priority. Space Research and Atomic Energy Commission shall be enriched through enhancement of institutional capacity and practical facilities.
31. Planned housing and urbanization policies shall be taken and implemented through a national Masterplan, without wasting agricultural land in city and rural areas and through reduction of growing population pressure in the urban areas. Housing of all the poor people in the country will be ensured in stages.
This ‘Outline of the Structural Reforms of the State’ has been prepared, in line with the ‘19- Points’ of Late President Ziaur Rahman, BNP’s ‘Vision- 2030’ declared by ‘deshnetri’ Begum Khaleda Zia and in amended and extended form of the ‘27-Points’ program announced by desh-nayok Tarique Rahman.