CHITTAGONG, Oct 1 (BDNEWS): The ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has failed to pay due attention to developing Chittagong, now plagued by innumerable problems, as a commercial capital, as promised by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
Khaleda declared Chittagong as a commercial capital at a public meeting in the city's Laldighi maidan in 1992. But most of its required facilities and even the basic infrastructures of a commercial capital are missing during her two terms in power.
A cabinet meeting held on January 6, 2003, with Prime Minister Khaleda Zia in the chair, had unanimously adopted a decision to develop Chittagong as commercial capital and made 16 recommendations to implement the decision.
But execution of the decision remained confined to laying foundation stones of nearly a dozen of projects that came as a disappointment to the city people and business community in particular.
Even a cabinet sub-committee, formed soon after the decision, with cabinet secretary Sa'dat Hussain as its chief, had made no significant progress to develop the basic infrastructure needed for a commercial capital.
The Chittagong circuit house, which was refurbished for holding cabinet meetings spending nearly Tk 10 million, remained unused for last one and a half years.
Chittagong is now smitten with appellations like "Gateway to Bangladesh," "Commercial Capital," "Healthy City" and "Mega City," but its vast potentials still remain unused.
"The main reason behind the delay in making Chittag]ong the commercial capital in true sense is the lack of goodwill and initiatives by the government in power," said Saifuzzaman Chowdhury, President of the Chittagong Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCCI).
"The concerned ministry is delaying the execution of the 16-point recommendations adopted at the cabinet meeting," he noted.
The CCCI has time and again alleged that government offices in Chittagong cannot function effectively due to lack of adequate authority. They have to wait days after days for decisions to be taken in Dhaka.
The CCCI president also recommended a series of measures for development of the city, which include upgradation of the Board of Investment (BoI) office in Chittagong, installation of a full-fledged unit of a National Board of Revenue (NBR) and some other government agencies in Chittagong to provide all necessary facilities for a commercial capital.
However, Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Abdullah Al Noman, who piloted the proposal to develop Chittagong as a commercial capital in the cabinet meeting, rejected the allegation that the government has failed to develop Chittagong as a commercial capital.
Terming the declaration of the commercial capital as eyewash and a political stunt, Chittagong city mayor A B M Mohiuddin Chowdhury said development of the city as a commercial capital is not a matter of declaration. Strong political will is needed to implement the plan, he added.
A senior political analyst said the culture of opposing things, no matter good or bad, had barred the port city from getting proper attention.