The government has taken no fruitful steps to implement Bangladesh Public Service Commission recommendations made time and again for simplification and reformation of the existing quota system in government job in a decade.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday virtually turned down the protesting students’ demand for a reform of the quota system though road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader promised demonstrators a review of the system.
The Public Service Commission in several annual reports recommended reforms of the quota system terming it extremely complicated, hard and time consuming, when the existing 56 per cent quota in civil service was not fulfilled because of lack of qualified candidates from the respective groups.
Presiding over the weekly cabinet meeting at her Tejgaon office, Hasina said that the quotas were maintained as per the ‘constitutional obligation’ and meritorious candidates were affected in no way, according to ministers.
She asked the public administration ministry and the Cabinet Division to explain rationale for the existing quota system.
‘The government has taken a plan to review the existing quota system,’ Obaidaul Quader, also the ruling Awami League general secretary, said after a meeting with a delegation of the protestors at his ministry in the afternoon.
Bangladesh Public Service Commission, the constitutional body mandated to select suitable and qualified people for the service of the republic, in its annual reports in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016 recommended simplification of the civil service examinations.
Students and job seekers have been demanding reduction of quotas for several years. Students of almost all public universities paralysed academic activities at the universities and traffic system across the country for reduction of quotas for the second consecutive day on Monday.
‘We have no plan for any reform of the existing quota system in the civil service exams,’ state minister for public administration Ismat Ara Sadique told New Age on Monday.
The government would not reform the system as it has a lot of work to do in the election year, she said. ‘Many protests will take place ahead of election,’ she added.
‘Meritorious candidates are not affected by the quota system as meritorious students from the backward sections of people are getting jobs in their respective quotas,’ public administration ministry senior secretary Md Mozammel Haque Khan said after the cabinet meeting.
The system, he claimed, was already reformed as vacancies were now being filled based on merit if eligible candidates were not found from quotas.
Currently 56 per cent quotas are reserved in government jobs – 30 per cent for freedom fighters’ children and grandchildren, 10 per cent for women, 10 per cent for districts lagging behind, 5 per cent for ethnic minorities and 1 per cent for physically challenged people.
Commission sources said that the quota system was introduced by an executive order in 1972 and was amended on several occasions.
The reserved quotas in government jobs were 80 per cent in 1972-1976 and 60 per cent in 1976-1985. In 1985, the quota was reduced to 45 per cent in Class I and II jobs.
In 2012, 1 per cent quota was introduced for the physically challenged people, increasing quota to 46 per cent.
The commission, in its annual reports in 2009, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016, recommended that the process of the civil service examinations should be reformed.
In its 2016 report, the commission said that because of complicated implementation method of quota system it was impossible in many cases to select the right candidates.
The commission in its 2014 and 2015 annual reports said that the implementation of the existing quota system was extremely complicated, hard and time consuming.
Many criticise quota system terming it discriminatory and it deprives many qualified people of the government jobs and that might cause the bureaucracy to suffer from lack of merits.
Former bureaucrats Akbar Ali Khan and Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad in a study titled ‘Quota system for civil service recruitment’ submitted to the commission in 2008 said that the quota system was unjust.
‘The recruitment of only 45 per cent of candidates based on merit is unconstitutional,’ the report said.
According to the commission annual reports and the study, many posts in quota in civil service are not fulfilled because of lack of qualified candidates. Before March 2018 the commission used to keep those positions unfulfilled.
‘But we have decided that the positions in different government jobs, which remain vacant for not getting eligible candidates from quota, will be filled from merit list,’ Ismat Ara Sadique said.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on March 21 at a rally in Chittagong said that the existing quota system in government jobs would continue.
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