There is no visible decline in corruption by government officials and employees despite significant increases in their salaries and other benefits over the years, the Transparency International Bangladesh has found in a study.
The study cited Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and former finance minister AMA Muhith expressing frustrations about corrupt practices by government officials.
“We have raised salaries, allowances and other benefits to a great extent. Why indulge in corruption then?” the study quoted the PM as telling government officials on January 17.
Earlier on March 29, 2018, Muhith said corruption by public servants did not decrease although their salaries had been increased.
For example, a section of government officials who were given cars still use vehicles from the transport pool, putting pressure on the pool cars, said the study report released yesterday.
Done between June 2018 and March 2019, the study also found promotions to the posts of deputy secretary and above are still given on political consideration, and not on the basis of “merit, skill and honesty” as stipulated in the public service law.
In many cases, senior officials are superseded by their juniors just because of their political affiliation, said the study titled “Integrity in Public Administration: Policies and Practices”.
Such promotions are disrupting the structure of the civil administration, with multiple officials holding the same post creating problems in the division of work, the study said.
The study, based on interview of current and former officials as well as newspaper reports and public data, also found an increasing trend of making officials Officer on Special Duty, sort of a punishment these days, because of their political affiliation. As of July last year, there were 159 OSDs who are drawing their salaries without doing anything.
And while 23 percent of the public posts remain vacant, in some posts there are way more people than the number of posts who have been hired or promoted in an unplanned way.
Latest data show there are 1,697 deputy secretaries against 1,006 posts, 862 additional secretaries against 411 posts and 496 additional secretaries against 121 posts, the study found.
According to the TIB, the Anti-Corruption Commission will not be able to go after government officials like before because of the Sarkari Chakori Ain 2018.
This law says public servants cannot be arrested until a court frames charges against them. Before the charge framing, they can be held only with permission from the hiring authorities or any other authorities defined in any other existing law.
“Through this law, the jurisdiction of the Anti-Corruption Commission has been curbed ... In the past, the Commission led aggressive drives and caught top government officials red-handed for corruption. It is not seen these days,” TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said at the launching of the study report.
He termed it discriminatory.
Contacted, ACC Chairman Iqbal Mahmood said, “The Act is not applicable for the Commission and the drop in the number of sting operations [against govt officials] had nothing to do with the law.”
The findings were presented by TIB Programme Manager Mohua Rouf at the TIB office in the city.
She said the National Integrity Strategy was adopted in 2012 to establish good governance in 10 state and six non-state institutions.
Quoting the Government Servants (Conduct) Rules 1979, she said government employees were supposed to declare their wealth at the time of entering the service and disclose their wealth statements every five years.
In practice, however, government officials do not submit their wealth statements every five years.
The study also pointed out serious discrimination between the officials of admin cadre and service cadre, which creates tension and frustration among officials.
For example, a deputy secretary in the admin cadre, who is treated as a “privileged officer”, gets interest-free loan to buy car. But the deputy chiefs of other cadres do not enjoy this benefit.
Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Maumder agreed with the TIB findings on continuing corruption by public servants. “Their findings are right. The increase in salaries could not curb corruption. Without strong political will, it is not possible to prevent corruption in public sector.”About promotion on political consideration, he said, “In many cases, it is true.”