The number of expensive city in the country is likely to rise with the expansion of rapid and unplanned urbanisation that enabled the public officers to enjoy extra allowances to cope with the growing living costs there.
Officials said the number of expensive cities as per criteria of the ministry of public administration is going to be almost doubled to 11 in less than eight years’ time with a proposal now at the final stage to include Mymensingh, a new division, in the list.
Narayanganj, Gazipur and Savar Municipality have been included in the list in 2013.
The upshot of having declared a city ‘expensive’ is obvious. Once the ministry of public administration included a city corporation or a municipality area in its list of expensive cities, the public officers and employees working there receive some allowances at a higher rate, said Mymensingh Division additional commissioner Niranjan Debnath.
The allowances such as house rent, transport fee and daily fee will be at least 5 per cent higher, he said while talking to New Age on the proposal they submitted four years ago in the ministry of public administration.
Local government expert Tofail Ahmed noted that announcing more number of urban centres as ‘expensive city’ was nothing but a ploy by the government officials to get extra allowances and benefits.
They (public officials) have been earning extra benefits on many pretext for quite a long time although there was no improvement in services delivered by them, he said.
He also added that the government should evaluate the service quality of the public officials in the area of education, health and law and order by itself and/or by appointing a third party.
According to him, the highest amount of the annual budgetary allocation had been spent on public administration.
In the current national budget starting from July 1, the government has earmarked 18.5 per cent of Tk 5,23,190 crore outlay for maintaining the public administration compared to 15.2 per cent kept for education and technology.
Former adviser to the caretaker government Mirza Azizul Islam said that many facilities including interest-free car loan and monthly maintenance fee of Tk 50,000 given to deputy secretaries since 2017 was meaningless as it would increase government expenditure.
The policy was approved to ensure support of the government officials, he said.
On July 10, the ministry of public administration forwarded the proposal to the ministry of finance asking it for taking necessary measures to declare Mymensingh as an expensive city.
It placed the proposal after a three-year of bureaucratic exercise including a field visit by a team comprising representatives of the cabinet division, the ministry of public administration and the ministry of finance in June 2017 to know about the rising living cost by interviewing cross-section of people there.
Niranjan Debnath noted that recognising Mymensingh as an expensive city would also help the once neglected city to woo businessmen and investors.
At present, the ministry of public administration treats nine city corporations and one municipality as expensive areas.
They are Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal, Sylhet, Rangpur, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Savar Municipality, according a ministry document.
Since 2013, Narayanganj, Gazipur and Savar municipality have been included in the expensive city list of the government.
Savar municipality chief executive officer Sharaf Uddin Ahmed said public officers and employees of area have been receiving some allowance at higher rate since the introduction the current pay scale in 2015.
Narayanganj, Gazipur have been included in the list of expensive city earlier.
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