Explore “tanks” in the United States and Australia!
Zahid Huq |
June 30, 2022 9:25:47 PM
Would you believe that high, low and middle-ranking government officials from Bangladesh travel to the United States of America and Australia to gain hands-on experience in managing Arctic char (an area of land emerging from the sea or a river by the accretion of silt and sand)?
A group of nine civil servants are said to have recently concluded a visit to Australia and enriched(?) their knowledge of improving the living standards of the “tanks”. Another group of 11 are currently preparing to travel to the United States soon for the same purpose. Even a secretary-level official is included in the group.
It is understood that news of officials making such a trip would not evoke any surprises. For, officials have made similar trips for many years, largely wasting state and donor funds. There were questions about the selection of officials, the purpose and destinations of these visits. None, however, ever bothered to give answers to the questions. And similar trips have taken place, although the relevant authorities are well aware of the widespread irregularities involved in these.
The trip in question is being carried out as part of a Tk 110 million project titled Char Development and Settlement Project Bridging. The United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing most of the funds for the project. A proposal on overseas visits by government officials under the project won approval from the relevant authority just days before the foreign travel restriction imposed by government officials to help save the reserve from the country.
How could a proposal for such a redundant visit pass all the official stages? Haven’t they seen all the peculiarities involved in the proposal? What has IFAD done? As the main funder, he was supposed to oppose such a meaningless trip.
It does not require any elaboration that the interested officials themselves prepare the so-called study program, select the destinations and take it through various stages to carry out pleasure trips. It is easy to understand the outcome of the trip because one of the nine officials who has just concluded the trip to Australia must join another ministry and another will retire next September.
A vernacular daily revealed the story in its issue last Wednesday giving details of a study trip to Australia and the United States. Similar stories have also appeared in newspapers in the past. But nothing could dissuade government officials from organizing such unnecessary trips.
According to the allegations, although there is no provision for similar overseas visits in the original project profiles, a section of officials later do the same and insist on including it. Donor agencies should raise objections to such irregularities and withdraw the funds. They have no reason to succumb to any pressure.
Approving authorities must also prevent the waste of public funds on trips such as this. They are expected to review the suitability of study abroad trips and other programs before giving their stamp of approval.