Golam Mostafa Jibon: Allegation has intensified that officials and employees of Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), also a government agency under the Ministry of Industries constituted for the purpose of controlling the standard of service and quality of the goods, have been embezzled around Tk 107 crore in different means in the last three years.
This money has gone into the pockets of almost everyone from the sweepers of the office to the Director General. Such assertion of the government’s audit department has recently been submitted to the Ministry of Industries.
According to the audit department’s account for those three years, BSTI officials embezzled an average of about Tk 36 crore every year. There is evidence that another Tk 43 crore has been plundered in the previous seven years.
The people concerned think that, the amount of money looted in the last 20 years will exceed Tk 700 crore. In order to divert this money from BSTI’s own income, the officials and employees of the company have violated two laws, one of them is job regulations and another is discipline of the Ministry of Industries.
The current manpower of BSTI is 625 persons including permanent and temporary. Each of them received a share of the money looted in different ways. Due to this, no departmental action was taken against the identified officers and employees so far. None was punished.
Officials from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said, “Tk 107.40 crore of BSTI’s regional offices across the country including Dhaka was not deposited in the government treasury in the last three years from FY 2018-19 to FY 2020-21. The officers and employees of the company have pocketed the money in the name of risk and incentive allowance. This means mainly fees including receipt and renewal of licenses received from various organizations, which are supposed to be deposited in the government treasury as per BSTI law have been pocketed.
Ministry officials said that, in the 2018-19 financial year, salaries and allowances from the national budget for the officers and employees of BSTI have been spent a little more than Tk 10.7 crore. At this time, all the regular and irregular officers and employees of the organization have taken additional allowance of more than Tk 28.20 crore from the funds of BSTI. This means the money was income from different sectors including license acquisition and renewal fees taken from different companies. At this time, the officers and employees have taken 26 times more than their basic monthly salary. In the 2019-20 financial year, they have received 24 times the incentive allowance of the basic salary. And in the last financial year, They have taken 25.50 times more than the basic monthly salary.
On November 20 in 1991, the Ministry of Industries approved a BSTI Discipline on Private Income. It is said that, the private income of BSTI is the income from the standard test of the product for issuing the license of the organization cannot be shown as private income in anyway. If the quality of this product is tested in the laboratory of BSTI on the basis of the application of a private manufacturer without interrupting the regular work of BSTI, the test fee can be shown only as private income. Some 40 percent of such private income can be distributed among the officers and employees of BSTI. The remaining 60 percent of the income has to be deposited in the BSTI fund. But officials at the company, ignoring the ministry’s directives, have slashed the test fee by 40 percent for samples taken by private companies to obtain and renew new licenses. It is a waste of government money. The officials of the Ministry of Industries further said that, according to the regulations of state and autonomous employment, Article 13 (3) of the BSTI Salary and Allowance Order 2015 states that the officers and employees cannot avail any other financial benefits other than the financial benefits described in the order. Even the BSTI’s employment rules did not provide for the provision of risk allowance.
Reviewing the government’s audit report, it was found that almost everyone from peon or office assistant of BSTI to the director general of the company has taken money from various companies as incentive and risk allowance. In June 2020, Md. Nazrul Anwar became the Director General (Grade-1) of BSTI. His basic salary is Tk 78,000. As of March 2021, he has received 26 times higher of the basic salary and allowances. One of the previous two directors general said Muazzem Hossain took 25 times higher of the basic salary and another one Sardar Abul Kalam took 15 times higher salary. The directors of BSTI run the company mainly under the leadership of the Director General. All the directors of the company have received an allowance of 25 to 30 times higher than their basic salary. Thus, the money was misappropriated by several officers and employees without any hindrance.
Staff Correspondent: Bangladesh is far behind the target for collecting locally produced w…