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Bangladesh - 2 weeks ago

Govt employees don’t care rules

Unwilling to submit wealth statement

Mahfuja Mukul: Although there is a provision to give an account of assets to government employees every five years, many people do not follow it. They do not respect the rules of conduct of government service. And the authorities concerned who are supposed to take account of their wealth are also quite indifferent in this regard. In this regard, even if the code of conduct of government employees is violated, no action is taken. Because of this, government employees are extremely reluctant to account for their wealth.
It is known that in 1979, the provision of submitting the asset account of government employees every five years was introduced. It was added to the ‘Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1979’ to ensure accountability. It is said that the government employees should submit the asset account to their office every year.
However, in 2002, the rules were amended to introduce the provision of submitting accounts of employees every five years instead of one year. But for four decades this rule could not be fully observed. On the contrary, the revised rules are exempting the issue of asset account of government employees.
Experts say, disregarding the rules and not giving account of assets has become a normal thing. No one is accountable for this. They have agreed to bring exemplary punishment to those who disobey the rules.
Which is in rules
Rule 13 of the Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1979 provides guidance on accounting of assets. Rule 13 under the sub-heading ‘Declaration of Assets’ in the Rules states that every Government servant shall, at the time of entry into service, declare through the proper authority shares, certificates, securities, insurance policies and all immovables including ornaments of a total value of Tk 50,000 or more owned or held by him or his family members. And declaration should be made to the government about immovable property. In addition, the declaration shall mention the following:
(a) Name of the district in which the property is situated. (b) Each type of ornaments worth more than Tk 50 thousand should be displayed separately. (c) such other information as may be required by general or special order of the Government.
The rules also state that every government employee must submit to the government through the appropriate authority, every five years in the month of December, the statement of decrease and increase in assets shown in the declaration given under sub-rule one in the applicable case or in the statement of account for the last five years.
Employees do not obey rules
Sources from various ministries of the government have informed that many people do not obey the instructions to give account of assets every five years. In this case, the authorities do not take a strict stand regarding the government employees who violate the code of conduct. A kind of reluctance has been created among the employees to submit the asset account on this occasion.
In this regard, a senior official of the concerned ministry told on condition of anonymity that many ministry employees are not giving accounts of assets. In this case, the ministry is not taking any measures or being strict. In this opportunity, extreme reluctance to account for wealth has developed among them.
“I have seen in the past, some ministries have not received much response from their subordinate employees in isolation. It has now become the norm. They think, we are government officials, what is the account of our wealth!’
There should be an ACC clause in law
ACC Chairman Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah said in an event in the capital on June 10, there is no mention of anti-corruption in the laws and regulations of any ministry. All the ministries have opened the garage of corruption. Anti-corruption clauses should be added to the laws of the ministries. Proving corruption is very difficult. It is not possible for the ACC alone to suppress all types of corruption.
Claiming that the ministries are not taking action against corruption, he further said, ‘if they had taken action, so many complaints would not have come to ACC. If they take action against corruption, the ACC will receive less complaints – that’s what the ACC wants. It is important to prevent corruption in all cases.
Strongly demanded for submission of asset-statement in Parliament
Recently, after the discovery of large amount of illegal assets of former IGP Benazir Ahmed and member Matiur Rahman, who was withdrawn from the National Board of Revenue (NBR), the issue of corruption of government employees has started to be discussed and criticized across the country.
Members of Parliament (MPs) of the ruling party also added fuel to the fire of criticism. In the session of the National Parliament, they raised questions about the extent of corruption among government employees and emphasized on bringing them under control.
Awami League Joint General Secretary and Kushtia-2 Constituency MP Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif, participating in the discussion on the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 on June 25, said that corruption is dimming all the achievements of the government. Despite the zero-tolerance policy, corruption could not be curbed or controlled. Today the market is volatile, commodity prices rise, control becomes difficult.
“The market can never be controlled if there is free flow of corruption in the market. As a result, it can never be controlled.
He also said that this time two incidents have been discussed throughout the country. A cow was sold for Tk one crore. Who bought it, why? It cannot be purchased with legitimate means of income. Those who earn through illegal means, can buy extravagantly. He bought a goat for Tk 15 lakhs. Who can do it? Those who have illegal income. Money can never be thrown away if it is legitimate income. To control the market corruption should be controlled first.
Joint general secretary of Awami League said, before the election we have to give affidavit, we have to give details of assets. But government officials are not required to give an affidavit. My proposal would be to make the affidavit mandatory at the time of recruitment and after every five years or at the time of promotion, so that the nation knows the extent of his assets.
“90 percent of the government officials and employees are corrupt” – Hafiz Uddin Ahmed, MP (Thakurgaon-3) of the opposition Jatiya Party (Japa) has claimed this. Participating in the discussion on the amendment of the Finance Bill 2024 in the Jatiya Sangsad on June 29, he said that all those who work in customs (customs department) have two-three houses in Dhaka city. Those who work in the forest department have two or three gold shops. Corruption can be curbed only if the Prime Minister takes action.
At the rate, big officials and employees are corrupting without restraint, what will we do? We are helpless. There are many government officials, they are also helpless. Because, here 90 percent people are in that direction (corruption). What will 10 to 15 percent of people do better?’
Hafiz Uddin Ahmed proposed to bring the government officials-employees under the affidavit system like the candidates participating in the polls.
He said, “If the government officials-employees gave an affidavit while entering the service, then after five years, 10 years, they would give an affidavit again and if there was a discussion and criticism about them, then the key to corruption would be closed.” If not, it will not be closed.
In the midst of such discussions, the High Court ordered the implementation of the rules related to the submission and disclosure of the assets of the government officials-employees as per the Government Servant Conduct Rules on July 2. At the same time, it is asked to submit a progress report within three months regarding the steps taken to implement the relevant rules.
Violators should be given exemplary punishment
Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Iftekharuzzaman told, “Government employees do not give account of assets, there is nothing surprising here.” That’s because there’s no accountability, they don’t face accountability. That is not surprising.
Those whose responsibility is to ensure accountability, they themselves do not account! As a result, they themselves benefit. So, it has been transformed into a kind of normality. The rules which have been framed by the government itself, are being violated by the government or the government employees themselves.’
He said that the court has issued instructions to account for the assets before, this time the instructions have come again. This is embarrassing for the government. Embarrassing even for those who are government employees. But it is difficult to expect that they will take any remedy to overcome this embarrassing situation. Because, they surely do not want to give account of wealth because they acquire wealth or money that is disproportionate to legitimate income.
Regarding the remedy, he said, ‘Not following the rules is a crime. Controlling any crime requires exemplary punishment of the offender. There is no other option than this. Those who disobey, should be ensured exemplary punishment from the highest level. If this paradigm of punishment is established, then it is controllable. But given the way it’s built, it’s very difficult to expect.’

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