State minister complains to minister over stalled GED 

Almost all sectors have taken a heat from the Covid -19 pandemic and in particular, business, employment, poverty, investment, education, health sectors have faced a blow from the pandemic. 

When the nations were in the recovery process from the pandemic shock, the Russia-Ukraine war appeared in the scene and the situation started going downhill yet again and Bangladesh could not remain out of the turmoil. 

But, the authorities here do not have any updated information about the socio-economic condition of the country. Updates on various socio-economic indicators are regularly disclosed through the sustainable development goals (SDG) progress report, which help the policy making bodies take decisions.

The general economics division (GED) of the planning commission did not prepare any SDG reports after the year of 2020.

State minister for planning Shamsul Alam has repeatedly asked GED member (secretary status) Kawser Ahmed to prepare the SDG update reports, but received no response from him. 

Left with no choice, he even complained to the planning minister against the GED member, saying that the member paid no heed to the reminders for preparing the report.

The state minister alleged that the GED has failed to discharge its duties and its activities came to a standstill.  

Incidentally, Shamsul Alam served as GED member for 10 years before assuming the position of state minister. 

The nuisance in the planning ministry began four months ago when the state minister officially issued a letter to the GED member on 26 June, instructing him to prepare an updated report on some certain facts. 

The letter, signed by the minister’s private secretary Abdul Aziz, read as the GED is the government's focal point on poverty and SDG issues. This division formulates short, medium and long term plans for the government and regularly evaluates and monitors those.

The third progress report on the SDGs was supposed to be prepared in the first half of 2022, but it is yet to happen. Hence, the  report needs to be prepared as soon as possible.

The letter also directed the preparation of a second 'SDG Action Plan' in line with the eighth five year plan. 

A gentle reminder was also incorporated in the letter, saying the formulation of the action plan is a routine duty of the GED. The third year of the eighth five year plan is going to be finished, but the action plan is yet to be formulated.  

In conversation with Prothom Alo, GED member Kauser Ahmed said that they could not start their work on the reports due to various difficulties, including the manpower crisis.  

“Now the work for preparing these reports has started. The report will be published soon,” he added. 

Meanwhile, state minister Shamsul Alam himself wrote to planning minister MA Mannan over the issue. He said, “It is unfortunate that the GED is showing failure to fulfill its duties on time, which is demeaning the image of the planning ministry as a whole.” 

The letter also noted some more failures of GED. Although three years have elapsed since the formulation of the eighth five year plan, no initiative has been taken to publish the interim report on the plan so far. At the same time, the final evaluation report of the seventh five year plan has not been prepared yet even though it expired three years ago.

In the last part of the letter, the state minister said, “The GED was requested to resolve the above issues as soon as possible, with your concern. But the result was not as expected. It seems that the activities of the division have come to a complete standstill. In this context, I seek  your necessary guidance and intervention.”

State minister Shamsul Alam refused to make any comment over the issue when he was contacted. 

According to the sources, the GED has been suffering from manpower crisis. Several letters were sent to the public administration ministry seeking manpower while the planning secretary held meetings with the public administration ministry over the issue. 

Currently, several high-rank positions, including joint chief, are lying vacant at the GED.