Widespread corruption in the health sector has been exposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, says TIB in its report
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Thursday described the study report of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on good governance in facing the Covid-19 pandemic as partial and politically motivated.
“TIB’s study is partial and it is more political than research-oriented,” Quader, also the road transport and bridges minister, told a press briefing at his official residence on parliament premises, reports BSS.
Mentioning that TIB’s study was carried out from a severely negative perspective, the minister said the study talked about the Digital Security Act and withdrawing of all cases filed for harassment while giving recommendations on what to do to face Covid-19.
Quader said researchers dubbed the TIB report as a political report instead of calling it a study.
About irregularities in the health sector mentioned in the TIB report, the minister said the government has already taken steps against those irregularities in a self-motivated way.
“The government has taken actions against all sorts of irregularities and misdeeds and is bringing all offenders to justice in a self-motivated way, not on recommendation or demand of any agency, organization or party,” he said.
Mentioning the government’s robust stance against corruption, he said if TIB gives a list by specifying where irregularities and corrugation are taking place, the government would take actions.
In its survey report titled “Governance challenges in tackling Coronavirus.”, TIB said the widespread corruption in the country’s health sector has been exposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the crisis has also created new opportunities for corruption in the country.
The study found that a tendency to serve personal interests through irregularities in relief and incentive programs still persists, depriving the real affected families at the field level.
Politically influential persons who were involved in the irregularities were not properly identified and punished, except in a few instances.
The survey also found that there was a tendency to hide irregularities, corruption and mismanagement by imposing restrictions in disclosure of information.
The government has taken some policies that reduce the number of testing and case detection, accordingly. In this way, the government reduced the number of Covid-19 positive cases and claimed success in keeping the pandemic in check, showcasing it as a political achievement, the report claimed.
The government announced Tk111,141 crore in 20 stimulus packages to absorb the economic shock but, so far, only 26% has been disbursed.
The dispensing rate of the package for large industries and export-oriented industries is very high (73%-100%), allegedly due to political influence and lobbying.
Corruption and irregularities — such as negligence of duty, absenteeism of health workers, supply of low quality PPE — were found at 35% of hospitals.
Two high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Health and the DGHS in a corruption investigation were not included in the case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), although there were allegations of direct involvement.
Actions was taken in some cases, such as against Regent Hospital and JKG Health Care. Besides these, no action — other than transfer and resignation — were taken against any officials of the Ministry of Health or DGHS accused of being involved in irregularities and corruption.