It also demands accountability in public procurement
Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has called for strict and unbiased enforcement of the prime minister’s pledge that no irregularity shall be tolerated in the government response to the crisis related to Covid 19.
A statement issued to the media on Wednesday says that the prime minister’s statement confirms TIB’s demand that there is no alternative to highest level transparency and effective corruption control as a prerequisite for a successful response to this type of major crisis.
TIB says that it now remains in the hands of her party leaders, activists and beneficiaries at all levels, administration, law enforcement agencies including the Police to enforce the Prime Minister’s pledge.
“On the other hand, in this extraordinary situation, although public procurement may genuinely need to be fast-tracked, all measures must be taken to ensure accountability. TIB also calls upon the government to guarantee that the supply chain of food and other essential daily consumables remain intact,” reads the statement.
Referring to its statement on Coronavirus related crisis issued on March 28, TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said that the prime minister’s strong statement was well-expected.
He said: “As much as the prime minister’s pledge is encouraging, it is now incumbent upon her party leaders, activists, supporters and beneficiaries to effectively enforce it. People would expect them not only to be respectful to her pledge but also refrain from taking advantage of this extraordinary national crisis by involving in illicit practices for political mileage, corruption, abuse, misappropriation, and extortion.”
Referring to the good examples in Shibchar of Madaripur and Bahubol of Hobiganj set by the prompt action taken against perpetrators of misappropriation of government-supplied low-price rice and edible oil, Dr Zaman said: “Although those involved were locally influential with links with the ruling party or otherwise, the rigour with which the relevant administration officials and police acted has encouraged us. But on the other hand, a credible complaint has been reported that some members of the police misappropriated money from cash boxes of some shops in Shitakundu on the pretext that the shops were kept open. We want to consider this Sitakundu incident as an isolated one and hope that the Shibchar and Bahubol examples will be the model to follow by everyone in administration and law enforcement across the country. In case of any deviation, exemplary disciplinary actions must be ensured”.
The executive director furthered: “The fact that governance deficit and corruption, particularly in a section of personnel in administration and law enforcement in Bangladesh is widespread, which is common knowledge. On the other hand, in the current extraordinary crisis situation it is only natural that in addition to the added responsibility and power, they are being entrusted with additional resources. Those who are prone to corruption in normal conditions, will be even more tempted to further their corrupt practices. The Government must, therefore, attach top priority to mainstreaming anti-corruption, transparency and accountability at all stages and aspects of management of the Corona crisis.”