Editorial: Too many committees spoil the broth | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 04, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:46 AM, July 04, 2020

Editorial: Too many committees spoil the broth

Why form committees that will never fulfil their mandates?

From the onset of the pandemic, citizens have been confused and frustrated about the government's lack of vision and direction in addressing the health and socio-economic implications of Covid-19 in a holistic manner. From its casual handling of the risk of spread at the initial stages to opening up of garment factories in the middle of the "general holiday" to lifting the lockdown altogether when numbers of the infected and dead were at their highest—the government seems to be making arbitrary policy decisions at every stage, leaving ordinary citizens as well as experts in bewilderment as to what the government is really thinking and what it wants to achieve in the near and far future.

A report published on July 3 highlights that the government formed myriad committees to help it make informed decisions. Unsurprisingly, however, none of these committees have thus far proved to be useful or effective. In some cases, their recommendations were simply ignored. The highest-level national committee with the Health Minister Zahid Maleque, the cabinet secretary, senior secretaries and secretaries to review and implement strategies and issue new directives, have thus far met a total of three times, with the health minister himself admitting that—despite being the chairman of the said committee—he had no idea that the decision to open garment factories had been taken. Yet other committees were not even convened, added the report.

The advisory committees that did meet and put forward policy recommendations did not fare much better, with most of their recommendations on how to contain community transmission or improving the quality of services at hospitals being disregarded by the government, including a warning that the number of Covid-19 cases would rise unless certain conditions were met before easing the 66-day shutdown.

It is apparent that the committees formed have not fulfilled their mandates. Why, then, continue to form more such committees, as the DGHS did on June 27, and then form yet more committees to coordinate and oversee the activities of the previously formed committees? The government's bureaucratic-driven approach has been mired in inefficiencies, mismanagement and lack of coordination from the very start, and it is increasingly becoming evident that the government is not serious at all about developing and implementing a holistic way forward that takes into consideration the interests and well-being of all its citizens, particularly the most vulnerable.

We urge the government and its bureaucrats to take their mandate seriously—the well-being of the nation and its citizens depends upon it.

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