AN ASSESSMENT of the National Integrity Strategy, drawn up in 2012 to effect good practices in public service governance, by the Transparency International, Bangladesh shows that the government has so far failed to implement many of the measures laid out there, leaving corruption in the administration to continue apace. It appears further worrying, as the assessment made public on Sunday shows, that the government appears to have only been interested in adopting the practices that would incentivise public servants, that too wrongly under a partisan framework and involving people that are loyal to the government, leaving unattended the practices that could improve public service governance by disincentivising public servants for the wrongdoings — a case in example being the enactment of the Public Services Act 2018 that readily stops the authorities concerned from taking action against public servants for aberrations from their mandated duties.
In contravention of the National Integrity Strategy, the politicisation of the administration has continued apace and the government has rewarded public servants loyal to it in persecuting the dissidents. Promotions of officers and employees have been made on political considerations, especially in higher positions of public offices. The strategy requires that the government should fill in vacant positions in public service regularly, but the government keeps filling in higher positions that give most of the advantages. Promotion is disproportionate in that while there are 1,697 deputy secretaries against 1,006 positions, 862 join secretaries against 411 positions and 496 additional secretaries against 121 positions, 27 per cent of the positions of senior assistant secretary has gone vacant and the figure is 29 per cent for positions of assistant secretary. While such appointments in the civil bureaucracy continue to be driven by political considerations, they have kept at bay the National Integrity Strategy recommendation for a performance-based evaluation in public service. The assessment shows that public servant promotion increasingly becomes dependent on intelligence reports and disregards qualifications in the process, pushing the government to go for more contractual appointments. In 2012, when the integrity strategy was drawn up, there were only seven people appointed on contract and the figure in 2017 reached 51, as the assessment says. The government increased the salaries and other facilities of public servants, but corruption has not declined and the government simultaneously has failed to put in place any mechanism to stop corrupt practices in public administration. The assessment notes that many of the ill practices are still where they were. The integrity strategy recommendation for the government to seek wealth statements of public servants every five years has not been put into practice. Public servants are also reported to have overstepped the bounds of the law by building houses or buying flats without the mandatory government approval.
All this paints a bleak picture as regards corruption in public service governance. It is said that the National Integrity Strategy, which was meant to improve public service administration, could entail benefits, but unless the required political will is put in, it is highly unlikely that the corruption in public service could be stopped and governance could be improved.
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