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TIB: Senior public servants are promoted for their politics, not merit

  • Published at 03:46 pm June 23rd, 2019
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Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) officials at the unveiling ceremony of study tilted 'Integrity in Public Administration: Policy and Practice,' at its Dhaka office on Sunday, June 23, 2019 Collected

TIB government has increased salary and allowances of employees, but failed to curb corruption

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) says that senior government officers, especially  deputy secretaries and upwards, are promoted for their political affiliation rather than their integrity, merit, performance, skill, or seniority.

The anti-corruption watchdog made the statement in light of a study, “Integrity in Public Administration: Policy and Practice,” unveiled at its Dhaka office on Sunday.

The report was based on interviews of cadre and non-cadre officials, senior government officers, journalists, researchers, Anti-Corruption Commission officers, and retired public servants. It also gathered information from different websites, laws, rules, and reports.

The report said there is no longer any process of fair promotion from deputy secretary to secretary, further claiming that the lack of exams for posts is causing merit and competence to be ignored.   

“Though public servants have to appear in examinations to get their jobs regularized and upgraded, there is no such provision for deputy, joint, additional secretaries, and secretaries,” the report added.

According to the study, the government prefers “intelligence reports” before promoting an official, despite there being no such provision in the promotion rules.  The same dependence on using these so called intelligence reports to confirm the political affiliation of individuals, was also found to be applicable in the appointing of deputy commissioners.    

Addressing the media, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said regular promotions and the 2015 pay raise structure for public servants failed to prevent corruption.

He also said “officer on special duty” (OSD) was a term of respect, but has now become a means of victimization.

Iftekharuzzaman continued: “This is very unfortunate that the OSD cannot work despite getting paid, which is a professional disrespect to them. Political affiliation is a major reason for them to be made OSD.”   

The study noted that as of July 2018, there were 159 OSDs including a secretary and 12 additional secretaries. However, a TIB researcher citing unofficial sources, said the number could be as high as 700.

Iftekharuzzaman expressed concerns that the Public Services Act 2018 will largely help increase irregularities among government employees as it requires the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to take permission before arresting a public servant in any criminal cases.

“The ACC has the right to even arrest  the prime minister for any anomalies. But under the law, it does not seem feasible since higher authorities will not allow for her arrest.” he said.

The law, he said, is hindering efforts to contain irregularities in the public sector and makes it an uphill task to try highly placed officials accused of corruption.  

Demanding cancellation of Section 41 (1) of the law that suggests the prior permission to arrest government employees accused in a criminal case, he also said that the current atmosphere is not equipped to prevent corruption.

Pointing out several other loopholes in the administration and  government actions, Iftekharuzzaman said: “I hope the government will react positively (regarding the findings of the report).”   

TIB Program Manager (Research) Mohua Rouf read the findings of the study at the press meet, where TIB Director (Research) Md Rafiqul Islam and Sumaiya Khair, adviser to TIB executive management, were also present.