Abul Kasem Azizul Huq, former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of Bangladesh, passed away on July 19, 2013 in Dhaka. He was 84. He left behind two daughters and two sons besides many admirers. I had the rare privilege of having close acquaintance with him as a junior colleague while he was CAG from January 1983 to March 1989.
Late Azizul Huq had a chequered academic and professional career. He did Honours (gold medalist) and Masters in English from Dhaka University and served as lecturer there before joining the then Central Superior Service. He joined erstwhile Pakistan Military Accounts Service (PMAS) on January 25, 1954. Having been inducted in the Economic Pool of Pakistan, he worked as Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Finance of the central government. In Bangladesh he was Member, Finance, Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation, Joint Secretary and Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Secretary, Internal Resources Division cum Chairman, National Board of Revenue before taking oath as the third CAG in January, 1983. He did post-graduation on Advanced Theory of Economic Development at Manchester University, UK and course on Financial Policy and Analysis at IMF Institute, Washington, USA.
I had the opportunity of serving under him at the office of CAG in 1983. His working style and approach was dynamic, always aiming at resolving issues promptly with maximum care rather than causing unnecessary delay and indecision. His motto was “act, deliver and rectify” when required instead of remaining inert.
He undertook well laid down strategies to enhance the quality of audit to the expected standards by opening up doors of training, both domestic and overseas, for his personnel by convincing the government to allocate adequate funds for the purpose. In 1983, as one of the three members of the United Nations Board of Audit, he selected a good number of young officers in the UN audit teams to enable them to learn modern auditing skill and practices in the UN bodies like UNDP, Unicef, UNEP etc. to enhance their professional competence.
Azizul Huq played an active role during the discussions in the Ad-hoc Public Accounts Committee in the early eighties and later in PAC of the Parliament on audit report findings. He made great efforts to bring in a changed dimension in audit reporting by not merely raising audit findings but also addressing specifically the reasons behind the management weaknesses and recommending ways and means to minimise financial impropriety. He stressed on quality rather than on quantity of audit reports. This had a very positive impact upon the PAC deliberations.
He was very proficient in English literature and a voracious reader. Intellectually very enlightened, the natural beauty all around him was a constant source of his pleasant moments. After the sudden and premature death of his beloved wife Hamida Begum in 1985, he virtually lost all keenness to embark upon writing and even gave up posting entries in his personal diary. On the insistence of his children, he very recently agreed to start writing his memoir but the cold hands of death intervened.
While on an official visit to NY in 2006, it was my good luck to visit him. When asked about his pastime, his reply was: “Listening to the melodious music of the Hudson river.” He pointed his finger at the river just adjacent to his house, but alas I did not possess the excellence of his inner-self to hear it murmuring. May late A.K. Azizul Huq's soul rest in eternal peace.
The writer is a former Comptroller and Auditor General. E-mail: email@example.com