Space For Rent

Space For Rent
Sunday, January 04, 2015, Poush 21, 1421, Robiul Awal 12, 1436 Hijr

The Year 2014 in retrospect
Irregularities galore in civil bureaucracy
Published : Sunday, 4 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 15
Mohosinul Karim
Promulgation of the Public Servants Act and introduction of 'Performance Based Evaluation System (PBES)' for the public servants to ensure accountability and resist increasing levels of politicization of the civil bureaucracy is still a big challenge for the administration.
A huge number of government officials, from Secretary to Assistant Secretary, are deprived of getting promotions and postings for a long time. Most of those public servants are even afraid of losing their jobs.
However, a section of opportunist public servants have been getting all the benefits including good posting and promotions showing their political loyalty to the government.
The increasing level of politicization is hampering efficiency and capacity building of civil bureaucracy. The discipline in the administration has been breached due to the non-stop competition of getting such benefits for a section and scarcity for others.
Despite having several successes including creation of new posts, promotion of a good number of public servants, upgrade of the status of some high officials, recruitment of new officers and employees and training of the public servants, the disarray in the bureaucracy could not be eradicated.
Had these been achieved, disciplines could be reinstated in the civil administration by ensuring good governance and equal opportunities for all, experts said.
Former Cabinet Secretary Akbar Ali Khan, also former adviser to a caretaker government, said, "The administration has been more politicized than ever before, affecting its quality. Politicization lowered the standard of the civil service and its capacity to deliver service to the public."
No positive changes took place in the administration in the last six years, he told the Daily Observer.
However, Public Administration Ministry's Senior Secretary Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury denied the allegation and told this correspondent,   'We have brought down the number of OSDs and taken the initiative to widen the scope of promotions to bring dynamism in the administration.'
When asked about the Public Servants Act to free the civil service from political influence, he said, the draft bill awaited 'higher authorities' clearance.
"Now the government emphasised civil servants' training to improve their efficiency. We are also going to introduce 'Public Administration Award' for them," said Chowdhury.
He, however, admitted that there were 'some grey areas' in professionalism of the civil service.
According to some officials, displeasure in the civil bureaucracy has increased after the January 5 (2014) polls as most of the civil servants are confused about the tenure of the present government. Although constitutionally it is five years, country's heating up political situation over opposition BNP's demand for early election stoked up such confusions, they said.
In this situation, most of them are not interested to take risks of doing anything which may hamper their future after the present government's tenure. They are only performing regular duties following the order of the superior officials, they claimed.
The officials also claimed that the initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to hold ministry-wise meetings with the bureaucrats to change the situation also failed to achieve any success.
According to them, the practice of backing and giving favours to a section created sharp divisions in the bureaucracy and lowered the morale of career civil servants. As a result, bureaucracy lost much of its dynamism and accountability and merit-based public administration became a casualty.
Open politicization made the civil bureaucracy slow and incompetent of providing coordinated response to future challenges and opportunities for the nation. The politicization of bureaucracy was hampering the government's commitments to provide service to all citizens without any discrimination, they claimed.
The government initiative on enacting a Public Service Act keeping provision of mandatory appearance in examinations for getting promotions has not seen day light for five years. No interest was showed to fulfil the commitment to introducing performance-based evaluation system for promotions to replace the outdated system of annual confidential reports.
Due to groupings around 300 senior assistant secretaries are marking time in their posts for years, though their promotions were recommended by the superior selection board a year back. Field-level officers who performed election duties on January 5 ignoring nationwide violent protests have been mounting pressure to get promotions, but held back due to the groupings.
Denied promotions and postings, over 200 officers are wasting time and public money as officers on special duty for the six years. Dozens of them already retired as OSDs getting no due promotions and postings during the period.
At present, around 550 Assistant Secretary to Secretaries are OSD. The numbers of OSD officers now are - Secretary 3, Additional Secretary 44, Joint Secretary 235, Deputy Secretary 90, Senior Assistant Secretary 130 and Assistant Secretary 50.
The National Pay and Services Commission led by Mohammad Farashuddin recommended formation of a commission under the Cabinet Division to restructure and reform the country's public administration.
A good number of former and present officials, including former Joint Secretary AKM Jahangir, who were deprived in last six years of the ruling government, met with Khaleda Zia recently to get her blessing in future violating the government servant's service rules.
According to the Ministry, 780 officials from Assistant Secretary to Senior Secretaries were promoted during the previous one year. At the same time, total 147,763 new posts of officers and employees were created. Around 2,300 officials received trainings from home abroad.
The government cancelled 210 fake freedom fighter's certificates of government officials and employees including thew four top-level bureaucrats for possessing forged freedom fighter certificates.
Though the certificates of those high officials were cancelled, none of them were punished for their proven offences. They have been given the scopes of getting voluntary retirement from the service.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]