Among the eleven strategies prescribed in the National Integrity Strategy (NIS) to bring in changes in the public administration, nearly half of the strategies were applied satisfactorily. However, the advancement leaves little effect in challenges of the sector especially in curbing corruption and ensuring merit and performance-based professionalism at public offices. Also, despite satisfactory application of couple of incentive-related strategies, corruption and growing politicization of administration shows no sign of lessening instead its alarming growth pose severe risk to professional excellence. Moreover, unfruitful implications of some practices due to politicization and other influences, are affecting the administration negatively. Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) came up with the findings and observations in a Press Conference while unveiling a research report, titled `Integrity in Public Administration: Policies and Practices’ on 23 June 2019 at its Dhaka office.
The study aimed to review the existing legal frameworks and practices under eleven strategies of the NIS in terms of the status of the implementation in the public administration activities. TIB also placed a nine-point charter of recommendations to resolve the prevailing challenges, which includes the amendment to some laws; ensuring transparency and accountability in recruitment and promotion; include asset declaration as mandatory in every five years in the Government Servants (Conduct) Rules 1979; and formulating the 'Career Development Plan' suitable for respective cadres through revision and research of the policies and practices prescribed in the NIS.
In the press conference, TIB Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman said “there have been significant improvements in some points of the NIS related to enhancing the facilities for public servants. However, other points in the strategy, which are crucial for ensuring accountability and transparency, are still being overlooked. Despite some progress, we are yet to get desired outcome in the NIS related to public administration.”
Assessing the 'Government Employment Act, 2018', the provision for taking permission to arrest civil servants has to be abolished and other risky clauses such as 6 (1) and 45 have to be amended, the study observed. Criticizing some clauses of the law, Dr. Zaman said the name of the statute is conflicting with the country's constitution. "We demand amending the name of the law to be public administration law," Dr. Zaman concluded.
In the press conference, TIB Programme Manager of Research and Policy division Ms. Mohua Rouf presented the research report conducted in between June 2018 to March 2019.
Acknowledging government’s decision to increase the salaries and other facilities of the public officials, the study identified government’s failure to put in a mechanism that should prevent them from engaging in corrupt practices. The study pointed out serious discrimination among the officials of admin cadre and other service cadres, which creates tension and frustration among officials. For example, a Deputy Secretary in the Administration cadre, who is treated as a “privileged officer”, gets interest-free loan to buy car where the Deputy Chiefs of other cadres do not enjoy this benefit.
According to the study, competitive promotion on the basis of seniority, knowledge and skill is neglected in many cases and the government seemed more intent on filling up higher positions only where most advantages lied. Regarding politically motivated promotions in higher positions in greater number than existing vacancies, the study observed that the number of Deputy Secretaries, Joint Secretaries, and Additional Secretaries were greater than the sanctioned posts in the organogram. The study noted that appointments of public officials were becoming increasingly dependent on intelligence reports whereas the practice should be through competitive examinations. The government was also increasingly going for contractual appointments, relying more on preferences than qualifications, said the research, the study pointed out. It says there is disappointment brewing in public services due to discrepancies of facilities in various cadres.
According to the study, in many cases, senior officials are superseded by their juniors just because of their political affiliation. Such promotions are disrupting the structure of the civil administration, with multiple officials holding the same post creating problems in the division of work.
Among others, Professor Dr. Sumaiya Khair, Advisor, Executive Management; Mohammad Rafiqul Hassan, Director, and Mr. Shahzada Akram, Senior Programme Manager, of Research and Policy division, of TIB were also present at the event.
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