Jan 052013
 

Dhaka, Jan 5, 2013: Large population and corruption are the main obstacles to Bangladesh’s economic progress, according to a survey of Gallup, a Washington-based opinion poll surveyor.

In the survey, 60 per cent of the respondents identified population and 56 per cent saw corruption as major barriers to the country’s economic advancement. Poorly qualified population, crime and lack of security were the other factors inhibiting the progress, said Gallup.

A major portion of the respondents think the economy performs either “only fair” or “good”, and it’s getting better with the improvement in their living standards, said the recently published “Insights South Asia—Bangladesh Survey 2012”.

Thirty-eight per cent rated their current economic condition as “only fair” and 37 per cent as “good”. Twenty per cent termed it “poor” and only 3 per cent rated it “excellent.”

Gallup in collaboration with South Asia Democratic Forum conducted the survey through 1,000 face-to-face interviews on 13 broad issues in Bangladesh’s six divisions.

The topics include economy, living standards, the role of religion in political system, fight against corruption, migration, security threats of South Asia, connectivity, regional cooperation and obstacles to establish closer ties in the region.

The interviews were done in May 2012. Thirty per cent of the respondents were from Dhaka division, 22 per cent from Rajshahi and 18 per cent from Chittagong. The rest 30 per cent interviewees were from Khulna, Sylhet and Barisal divisions.

According to the survey, 62 per cent of the respondents think living standard of their families had improved in the past five years.

Twenty per cent said living standard got worse and 19 per cent said it “remained the same”.

Young respondents, especially between 15 and 24 years, held a more optimistic view of their current and past standard of living, said Gallup citing that 65 per cent of the 15-24 years olds believed their families’ standard of living had “improved” in the last five years.

Replying to which South Asian country had the biggest impact on Bangladesh’s economy, 59 per cent mentioned India.

Gallup said India and Bangladesh, with other South Asian countries, have taken a number of initiatives over the years to remove trade barriers such as tariffs and some non-tariff restrictions at the unilateral, bilateral, and regional levels.

“Therefore, as the bilateral trade relationship continues to grow, India will have an even greater impact on Bangladesh’s economy,” it said.

Forty-five per cent said other than the South Asian countries, the USA had the biggest impact on their economic conditions.

Sixty per cent choose education as the most important issue in their personal lives. Religion and spirituality came second followed by family, work and living condition.

On corruption, 57 per cent said they were happy with the government’s initiatives to fight corruption while 39 per cent were dissatisfied with the government initiatives. And 6 per cent did not answer the question.

“More likely to be dissatisfied with the government’s efforts to fight corruption were those with university education or higher and those living in large cities,” said Gallup.

In the survey, a vast majority of respondents — 85 per cent—rejected violence as a means to resolve conflicts within Bangladesh. Only 9 per cent favoured violence as a way to resolve conflict.

Thirty-two per cent wanted religious principles to be the most influential factor in political decisions. Twenty per cent said religion should have a major influence on the political system together with other factors, followed by 16 per cent who thought religion should have only a minor influence.

But 17 per cent of the respondents wanted a completely secular political system.

The respondents also pointed to terrorism as the number one threat to regional security in South Asia. Religious fundamentalism and rivalry between India and Pakistan also pose major threats to regional security, according to Gallup.

Respondents saw Pakistan as the biggest security threat to regional security. India came second. Among countries outside the region, the USA was perceived as the greatest threat to security in the region.

“But respondents with higher levels of education were more likely to see India as a major threat to security than were those with lower educational attainment,” said Gallup.

On migration, 59 per cent confirmed that they would like to continue their lives in Bangladesh. The rest expressed willingness to migrate to other countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, the USA and India, temporarily or permanently, if given the opportunity.

In the survey, a large majority of the respondents acknowledged the importance of regional cooperation. Fifty-five per cent identified historic animosities and 46 per cent pointed to arms race between India and Pakistan as the two major obstacles to regional cooperation.

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Sep 202012
 

Dhaka, Sep 20: After a series of hectic negotiations, the World Bank has decided to return to Padma bridge project after meeting Prime Minister’s Advisor Gawher Rizvi in Washington, online newspaper bdnews24.com reports.

Bangladesh Ambassador to the United States Akramul Qader confirmed bdnews24.com about the development on Thursday, it says.

“The World Bank has decided to engage itself in Padma bridge project and informed other lending agencies (ADB, JICA) about the decision,” Qader said.

He expected a formal announcement to this effect Thursday night.

Earlier in the day Finance Minister AMA Muhith at a function said that they were expecting a positive signal from the World Bank for revival of its Padma Bridge loan deal, but want the announcement in this regard from the global lending agency first.

“We’re expecting a positive announcement from the World Bank (for revival of the loan deal), but we want the announcement from their (World Bank) end first,” he told reporters at a programme at Cirdap Auditorium in the city.

Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) organised the event with its founding president Selima Ahmad in the chair.

BWCCI president Sangita Ahmed and senior vice president Munmun Rahman were also present at the seminar, titled ‘A Pathway Towards Women Entrepreneurs’ Development in Bangladesh: National Budget 2012-2013.’

Replying to a query, the Finance Minister said there will be no involvement of the Prime Minister’s Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman in the project.

Amid confusion over Mashiur Rahman’s proceeding on leave, the government reportedly sent an envoy to Washington with an alternative proposal — Mashiur will remain disengaged from government responsibilities instead of going on leave – for the revival of the Padma bridge loan deal.

Responding to another query, a smiling Muhith said, “The World Bank and others donor agencies – Jica and ADB – will together make a formal announcement. We hope we’ll have a chance any time. Then we’ll share it with you (media).”

Insisted, Muhith said, “Right now I don’t want to tell you much about the matter…and I can’t tell you exactly when the good news will land.”

He said they, from the very beginning, had engaged their best efforts to have the World Bank’s decision changed. “…to reach an understanding, we had to sacrifice a lot and they (WB) too.”

Muhith said they had taken many steps what should not be taken.

The Finance Minister lauded the role of the World Bank and said, “We receive foreign aid. May be it’s less now, but it’s very important for us.”

He criticised the opposition for apparently not getting them beside the government during its crisis period.  “Over the last three years, the country’s budget and resources have doubled. It’s a big achievement…particularly in the context of global crisis.”

He also said ‘political opposition’ is very powerful which never recognises any achievement of the government. “They never recognise it, they don’t want to recognise actually.”

Meanwhile, sources at the World Bank Dhaka office said they are waiting for the message from Washington as the negotiation to revive the cancelled loan deal is at a positive stage.

The World Bank, Dhaka office will formally announce it if it gets the message from Washington.

The World Bank, the lead co-financer of the Padma Bridge project, cancelled its committed $1.20 billion loan on June 29. Since then, the government has been trying to convince the global lender for revival of its fund it cancelled on the allegation of corruption in the selection process of consultant for building the 6.15-km-long bridge.

Sending Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman on leave was one of its (WB) four conditions to revive the loan.

Dismissing media reports that he has gone on a month-long leave, Mashiur on Tuesday said he is still doing what is his job.

The government undertook the Padma Bridge project in August 2007 estimating the cost then at $1.40 billion (Tk 101.62 billion).

Later, the project cost was revised upward to $2.9 billion because of the rising costs of construction materials and foreign currency fluctuations.

Later, the lenders -– the WB, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) — made separate commitments to provide an aggregate amount of $2.35 billion as credits to build the bridge.

Though the WB cancelled the loan, the ADB and the Jica extended the loan effectiveness for the first time on July 31 by one month to August 31.

Meanwhile, the ADB and extended the loan effectuation timeline by a month for the second time while Jica by three weeks from September 1.

The two major lenders have also asked the government to settle the matter with the WB within the timeframe before getting their committed funds for the Padma Bridge project.

The Manila-based ADB had earlier committed $615 million, Jica $400 million and the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank $140 million in loans for building the bridge.

PM’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi is now in Washington to discuss the loan revival issue with the World Bank. World Bank Country Director Ellen Goldstein is also in Washington.

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Sep 192012
 

Bangladeshi children carrying placards inscribed with anti-corruption slogans

Dhaka, Sept 19: The officials of Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch of Sonali Bank were involved in illegally disbursing over 35 million taka, said an assistant general manager of the bank on Wednesday.

“I never think that they (officials of Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch) disbursed the loan –Tk 3,500 crore – unknowingly,” assistant general manager Shaymol Kanti Nath (Vigilance and Control Unit) told reporters after he was grilled by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) of Bangladesh at its office in Dhaka.

After seeing newspaper reports on the Sonali Bank scam, he said, a three-member team, including him, visited the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch and found massive irregularities in disbursement of the loan.

“As we aren’t experts in this field, we brought the matter to the notice of the foreign exchange unit of the bank saying that it’s impossible for us to conduct inspection of such massive loan scam,” said Shaymol Kanti.

The ACC on Wednesday also interrogated four officials of Sonali Bank over the allegation of illegally disbursing over Tk 3,500 crore.

An ACC investigation team grilled Sonali Bank deputy general managers M Morshed Alam and Nesar Ahmed, assistant general managers Abdul Momin Patwari and Shamim Akhter.

After facing the ACC questioning, Nesar Ahmed alleged that deputy general manager AKM Azizur Rahman was involved in the massive loan scam. “If you hold him (Azizur) and grill him, you’ll be able to know everything.”

The team started questioning them at 10:30 am and continued it till 5:30 pm, ACC Public Relations officer Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya told reporters at the ACC in the afternoon.

The ACC has already grilled 45 bank officials and 10 officials of Hall-Mark and DN Sports, and will quiz 7 bank officials in connection with the loan scam.

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Sep 192012
 

Dhaka, Sept 19 : The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) of Bangladesh will send a team to Canada to probe into the alleged Padma Bridge graft depending on positive response from the Canadian government, ACC Chairman Ghulam Rahman told journalists on Wednesday.

“The probe into the alleged Padma Bridge graft can’t be completed without visiting Canada. Anyway, this visit depends on the positive response from the Canadian government,” he told reporters after a meeting with attorney general advocate Mahbubey Alam at the ACC headquarters in Dhaka.

The chief of the anti-graft agency observed that the tendency of misappropriation of public wealth is on the rise among people in the country and sought help of the attorney general’s office to provide legal assistance to the Commission to accelerate its activities.

“The Attorney General is the top most law officer of the state. Without his help, it’s unlikely to take forward the ACC activities. During the meeting, we sought legal assistance from him to probe the country’s big graft cases,” he said.

The ACC Chairman told reporters that the Attorney General assured him of providing all-out support to the Commission to probe the allegation of big graft swindles.

He said the government is going to enact a new law to check corruption in the country. “I hope this law will remove many ambiguities,” he added.

Ghulam Rahman stressed the need for reactivating the ‘Sachetan Sangha’ all over the country, aiming to create awareness among the young generation about the worse consequences of graft. “The veteran thugs cannot be made monks, but the ‘junior ones can be made patriots,” he said.

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Sep 072012
 

DHAKA, Sept 7: Awami League Advisory Council member and minister without portfolio Suranjit Sengupta on Friday said all directors of public sector banks should be appointed through search committees like election commissioners, reports BSS.

“It’s not fair to put Chhatra League and Juba League leaders in the board of directors of public sector banks when Awami League assumes power and Chhatra Dal and Juba Dal leaders when BNP comes to power,” he said while speaking as the chief guest at a discussion in the city.

Suranjit said the government is very sincere to get back the money from those involved in the Hallmark scam and if required, criminal cases will be lodged against the accused.

Bangabandhu Sangskritik Jote organised the discussion at Public Library auditorium at Shahbag in the capital in observance of the 120th birth anniversary of Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy.

Jote general secretary Arun Sarker Rana chaired the discussion, also addressed, among others, by Industries Minister Dilip Barua, State Minister for Law Advocate Quamrul Islam, Awami League Organising Secretary Ahmed Hossain, Janata Bank Director Balaram Poddar, Krishak League Vice-president MA Karim, Abahani Limited Director Sheikh Jahangir Alam and Poet Rabindra Gope.

Suranjit, a senior parliamentarian of the ruling Awami League, said, “It will be an instance of broadness of the Finance Minister in the way he has sought apology in the Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament) for his remarks and it is also a rare exposure of his for democracy. For his (Finance Minister) good gesture, those who are hurt for his comments will get solace and it is also a positive sign for democracy to seek apology for one’s remarks on the floor of the House.”

He said senior members of the parliament did not feel shy to criticise the Hallmark scam and in the real sense of the term, they played the role of the opposition in the ongoing session of the House.

Dilip Barua said a vested quarter has been trying to create anarchy capitalising on the Grameen Bank issue to thwart the forward march of democracy in the country.

Advocate Quamrul Islam called upon the forces loyal to democracy, progress and independence to forge a greater unity to build a strong resistance against the evil forces.

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Aug 302012
 

DHAKA, Aug 30: Sonali Bank Limited, the largest bank in Bangladesh, on Thursday suspended 17 of its officials for their alleged links to the biggest financial forgery of Tk 35 billion by textile company Hall-Mark Group and some other firms.

The suspended officials of the state owned bank include deputy general manager ANM Hedayet Ullah, assistant general manager Golam Nabi, Ashraf Ali Patwari and Wahid Uddin Ahmed of the bank’s general manager’s office. The bank also wrote to the finance ministry to take action against three of its top officials, a bank official said.

On August 26, Bangladesh Bank (BB), the central bank of Bangladesh, directed Sonali Bank to suspend 31 of its officials, including two deputy managing directors, on charges of their involvement in the scam by Thursday.

The BB also asked the bank to take steps against the officials under the criminal laws. The BB has also requested the government to reconstitute the Sonali’s board of directors. But finance minister AMA Muhith turned down the proposal saying that making such suggestions was not the duty of the central bank. He blasted the BB officials for failing to monitor things. Bangladesh Bank had asked the managing director of the bank for taking action against those officials so that they could not hinder the bank’s activities.

Kashem Humayun, a member of the board of directors of Sonali Bank, told reporters that the suspended officers also included six officers of the Rupashi Bangla branch of Sonali Bank from which Hallmark Group siphoned off the money.

They are senior officers Ujjal Kishore Dhar, Tushar Kanti Das, Jesmin Nahar and Mihir Chandra Majumdar and junior officers Wakil Uddin Ahmed and Saidur Rahman. Deputy managing director of the Sonali main branch, Sheikh Altaf Hossain along with assistant general manager Shafiz Uddin Ahmed, senior executive officer Moklesur Rahman, executive officers Sohrab Hossain and Ekramul Haq Mandal and inspector Kamrul Hossain Khan are also in the list. Abul Momen Patwari of vigilance and control department has also been suspended.

Sonali Bank earlier sent seven senior officials into retirement in connection with the scam. The bank has decided to request the ministry of finance to take legal action against them. The Bangladesh Bank on Sunday asked Sonali Bank to suspend 31 of its officials by August 30 for their involvement in the illegal lending of Tk 3,547 crore to Hallmark Group and its five other companies.

A BB investigation earlier found that Sonali Bank’s Ruposhi Bangla Hotel branch had given Hallmark Group and five other companies Tk 3,547 crore in loan between 2010 and May this year on fake documents.

The businesses allegedly embezzled the whole amount that belonged to depositors in collusion with some bank officials. Of the Tk 3,547 crore, Hallmark Group alone took away Tk 2,686.14 crore, T and Brothers Tk 609.69 crore, Paragon Group Tk 146.60 crore, Nakshi Knit Tk 66.36 crore, DN Sports Tk 33.25 crore and Khanjahan Ali Tk 4.96 crore.

On March 28 this year, Hallmark opened local letters of credit worth Tk 500 crore in favour of Anwara Spinning Mills, Max Spinning Mills and Star Spinning Mills to buy yarn. The three companies are also clients of the bank’s same branch. Following Hallmark’s guarantee to repay the LCs, the bank purchased the acceptance bills and disbursed the money to the accounts of the three spinning mills.

A few days later, the three mills asked the bank branch to transfer the money to the account of Hallmark Group and the branch duly obliged. Later, Hallmark transferred the money to a current account of Century International, a concern of the group. The probe found that the three spinning mills are non-existent.

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Aug 232012
 

Abul Hossain languished in prison for 22 years for no crimes. High Court acquitted him 10 years back. But the court order lost its way to jail gate.

Dhaka, 16 Feb 2012: Now free at around fifty after having lost the prime of his life in jail, Abul Hossain recounts how corruption and over-exercise of power by a section of policemen and some employees in the judiciary pushed him into a fate almost worse than death.

The simple uneducated man had to pass his 22 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, as is proved by his ultimate acquittal after so long a time.

“I did not commit the murder. But I had to go to jail. I went to jail in my youth. Now I am nearly 50. I could not even marry. They have destroyed my life,” said the middle-aged man, one of those implicated in the case of murder of his neighbour Altaf Mia.

The High Court had acquitted him, but the authorities apparently did not care for his release. He walked to freedom at the Supreme Court’s intervention.

He says corruption and over-exercise of power by some in the police and the judiciary resulted in the miscarriage of justice.

An investigation by daily sun also found that greed of some selfish persons in society, lack of education and a psychological gap between people and the government functionaries were responsible for the injustice.

According to the case history, the body of Altaf Mia was found on 15 May 1988 near the residence of neighbour Abul Hossain in Mothurandanga village of Satkania in Chittagong.

An unnatural death case was filed in this connection. Later, then sub-inspector Rezaul Karim of Satkania Police Station filed an FIR, implicating a number of persons from Abul Hossain’s family.

Police arrested a number of persons, including siblings Abul Hossain, Abul Hashem and Abul Kalam, their father Yusuf Ali and uncles Ishak Ali and Idris Ali.

Kalam, then only 12, spent 17 days in jail. Police allegedly tortured the boy mercilessly to get a confessional statement.

Yusuf Ali, the father, had to stay in jail for three months—and he was also tortured.

“My octogenarian father still feels the pain from the beatings. He has to take painkiller regularly,” said Hashem, the eldest son.

“We had to give police Tk 50,000 for my father’s release. Second officer SI Bhupal Babu took the money. We had to sell almost all our property to arrange the amount,” he added.

“ There was no SI named Bhupal Babu in 1988 at the police station”, claimed OC Abdul Khalek.

The accused in the case were uneducated and inexperienced in the matters of offices or courts. It was because of this case that they visited Chittagong city nearly 30 kilometres away from their village. Many people in the “foreign” place took the opportunity of their naivety to deceive them.

The state had appointed advocate Dipak Chowdhury to defend Abul Hossain and Abul Hashem as the accused were not solvent enough to hire a lawyer.

But Hashem or Hossain, or anybody of their family, for that matter, never even knew the fact. They did not know Dipak because the lawyer never talked to them.

It is not clear how advocate Dipak prepared the case for defending his clients without talking to them ever.

When asked, Dipak recently told daily sun that he had not contacted the accused assigned to him by the state as he had no intention to take money from them.

In their last effort to free Abul Hossain, Hashem recently met advocate Nur Ahmed, a lawyer hailed from Satkania, who practises in the High Court.

“I gave Tk 15,000 to advocate Nur Ahmed 12 days before Eid-ul-Azha. Hossain was released 14 days after Eid. The contract with the lawyer was actually Tk 20,000, but Abul Hossain came out of jail before I gave him the rest of the money,” Hashem said.

Mohona Khatun, their mother, borrowed the money from Grameen Bank. A few people in the area also collected a sum to help them out, said family members and local people.

Advocate Nur Ahmed, however, denied having taken any money from them. “Mahmud Islam, a youth from Satkania, brought Hashem to me. Mahmud was known to me, and I knew he was not honest and dependable. I agreed to appeal in the High Court. I charged the minimum sum of Tk 15,000 as the expenses of collecting case documents and moving an appeal,” he said.

Nur Ahmed said, “I appointed my clerk to find the case documents, and he came to know that the High Court had already acquitted him [Hossain] 10 years ago. I met with the Supreme Court registrar and informed him about it. He might have taken the initiative later to release the innocent victim.

“As I did not have to process any appeal petition, I returned Tk 9,000 to Mahmud, who may have deceived Abul Hashem,” he said.

Mahmud could not be contacted for his comment.

“At first I was in Chittagong jail,” said Abul Hossain. “Later, I was shifted to Comilla Central Jail. In 2006, I was sent to Sylhet jail for treatment. I was brought back to Chittagong jail in 2007.

“I did not kill Altaf. Then why was I jailed? Sometimes, I would become angry, but to whom should I show my anger! I mourned. I would just pray to God for justice,” a disillusioned Abul told daily Sun.

“I told my tale to other prisoners. Some of them suggested that I appeal through the jail authorities. So, when I was in Sylhet jail I appealed through the jail super. I filed petitions with the High Court several times. But nobody told me that the High Court had already acquitted me,” he said.

Pointing to the tea stall this correspondent was interviewing Hossain in, he said, “I was here when the dead body of Altaf was found in a field in the evening. Everybody knows it. Along with many people I rushed to see the dead body.”

Ramjan Ali, 70, the owner of the tea stall, had the same tale to tell. “It was 28th Ramadan. At about 8:30pm, we heard that Altaf had been killed and his body was lying in a cropland. When we heard the news, Abul Hossain was here.”

Many elderly people, who gathered there, repeated the same tale.

“I want trial of those who made me suffer although I had not committed any crime,” said Abul Hossain, caring little to suppress his inner anguish.

Abul Hossain’s family have gone through undue sufferings unnecessarily. The man who was killed is also yet to get justice as the law enforcers failed to detect the real killer.

All who know now came to the conclusion that the executive failed to ensure good governance. The judiciary failed to ensure justice. Thus the state apparently failed to ensure the wellbeing of its citizens.

By Pulack Ghatack, courtesy: Daily Sun

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Aug 152012
 

Two ships sold by state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, to scrap yards in Pakistan and Bangladesh contained hazardous materials, a violation of both Mexican and international law, an environmental group said.

“The arrival of these obsolete vessels, the Sebastian and the De Marz, in South Asia without notice and without first being pre-cleaned of the tons of hazardous materials built into each ship is a clear violation of the UN Basel Convention and Mexican law,” Basel Action Network, or BAN, said in a statement.

BAN monitors compliance with the Basel Convention on the transborder shipment of hazardous wastes.

“Mexico has violated its own laws and international law. In accordance with Mexico’s obligations under the Basel Convention, these toxic ships must be repatriated immediately,” BAN Green Ship Recycling Campaign director Colby Self said. “The governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan must be told to return the ships and under no circumstances allow them to be scrapped on their beaches.”

The environmental watchdog group said it first contacted the Mexican Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat in October 2010 to warn officials that Pemex planned to sell the obsolete vessels to foreign salvage yards.

“At that time, the government replied, stating that they had intervened to block the sale of three Pemex tankers and imposed restrictions on Pemex’s future sales to prevent the illegal export of the vessels,” BAN said.

The environmental group notified the government on April 6 that Pemex planned once again to sell the ships on the grounds that the vessels would continue to be used for maritime purposes.

Pemex’s move was “an apparent attempt to bypass the Basel Convention rules on disposal of hazardous waste,” BAN said.

“Nevertheless, Mexican officials disregarded BAN’s warning and allowed the vessels to depart for alleged re-use, only to sail directly to Pakistan and Bangladesh for scrapping last month,” the Seattle-based environmental group said.

“BAN is now calling on the newly elected Mexican Government to take immediate corrective action by repatriating the two vessels to Mexico,” the environmental watchdog group said.

Neither the Environment Secretariat nor Pemex have responded officially to the allegations made by the environmental group.

Aug 122012
 

Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB) has found 18 sectors at the office of the Controller General of Accounts (CGA) are plagued with corruption, requiring a bribe of maximum 15 percent for getting a job done.

The findings came through an investigation which prompted the civil society organisation that monitors and publicises political and corporate corruption to make a set of 23 recommendations to check corruption.

TIB revealed its investigation outcome at a roundtable held at CIRDAP auditorium on Sunday.

Former Comptroller and Auditor General Hafizuddin Khan, a member of TIB, blamed absence of government’s attention for prevalence of corruption at one of the most important administrative offices of the state.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, however, questioned the investigation.

The areas overwhelmed with corruption includes formulation of new pay scale, disbursement of first salary and bonus, contractor’s payment, transportation maintenance and fuel expenditure, internet and telephone bill, courier bill, labour payment, conveyance bills, contingency bill, pension and time scale formulation.

Regularisation of staffs, annual increment, consultant fee, recreation fee, outfit allowance, cheque delivery, provident fund and amending incorrect information in reports prepared by CGA are also among the other corruption infested.

The Berlin-based watchdog’s local chapter also found corruption in appointment, promotion and transfer at the office.

According to TIB observation, the CGA office is institutionally weak, stumbling into lack of skilled manpower against a problematic and complex organogram. Accounts system at the office suffers from lack of transparency while poor coordination between the office of CGA and the Ministry of Finance is hindering the institution’s activities, said TIB.

The problems TIB held responsible for making the office’s condition deplorable are interference by politicians and the ministry, lack of accountability and supervision, inadequate logistics support and absence of training for CGA officials.

The investigation reports said, as a result, state expenditure is increasing, financial accounts are not reflecting the reality properly, right decision cannot be taken in the budget and economic development is being hampered.

TIB asked for making the CGA office independent by amending the Constitution in its recommendations.

Moderated by TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman, the roundtable was presided over by TIB Trustee Board Chairman Sultana Kamal.

Finance Minister Muhith was present when the investigation report was made public.

“TIB reports are not always right as those are prepared on public perception. But it is generally perceived that it (irregularities) prevails there,” he said.

Muhith lament the office’s failure to hand over pension to people timely. “I regret delay in getting pension. Pension is withheld for any piece of paper. You (CGA officials) do not abide by laws, (you) create laws.”

Hafizuddin Khan wondered why the position of Comptroller and Auditor General has been vacant for the last seven months.

“The office that keeps account of the state’s expenditure does not have a chief for seven months. I don’t think anybody is willing to care about getting a man in the office,” he added.