There is rising tendency towards corruption among government service holders. Many of them are also involved in business. Under such circumstance, experts suggest that the accountability of civil servants be ensured.

Several officials of the public administration said, there are mainly two reasons for government servants showing reluctance to submit details on the increase and decrease in wealth.

Firstly, there is an ambiguity over the punishment for skipping the submission of wealth statement. Secondly, government officials and employees submit to the National Board of Revenue (NBR) an annual return of assets showing any increase or decrease of property. Therefore, they do not bother to file separate wealth statements in every five years.

The public administration ministry is now mulling over an amendment of the existing rules. The ministry is considering inclusion of a separate form that the civil servants would fill with the information of their annual income statement and submit it to the respective ministry every five years.

Recently, the public administration ministry sent letter to all secretaries, instructing them to take necessary measures for the submission of the wealth statements of the government officials.

The letter directed all the ministries to create a database on the wealth statement of the government officials appointed under the 2018 government service rules.

Besides, request was also made to take measure on acquisition and sale of immovable property in accordance with the conduct rules and to inform the public administration ministry afterwards.

In June last year, the public administration ministry issued a similar letter instructing the civil servants to submit statement on increase and decrease of wealth every five years.

According to the sources at the public administration ministry, the majority of the officials did not abide by the instructions even after the two letters.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, a cabinet division official said he submitted the wealth statement of his department and he mainly mentioned the details from his income statement.

What the rules say

Section 11 of the Government Servants (Conduct) Rules 1979 states a government servant who intends to transact any purchase, sale or disposal by other means of movable or immovable property with a person residing, possessing immovable property or carrying on business within the station, district or other local limits for which such government servant is appointed, shall declare his/her intention to the head of the department or the government. No government servant shall, except with the prior permission of government, acquire or dispose of by purchase, sale, gift, will or otherwise, any immovable property situated outside Bangladesh; enter into any business transaction with any foreigner, foreign government or foreign organization concerned.

Section 12 also prohibits government servants from constructing by himself/ herself or by developer, or purchasing a building, apartment or flat without the permission of the government.

Possible amendment

According to the sources of the public administration ministry, initiative has been taken to make amendments to the existing rules. Along with several other issues, rules may be issued to introduce a separate form to submit the wealth statement by government jobholders in every five years similar to the wealth statement that civil servants file to the NBR every year.

According to the latest Statistics of Civil Officers’ and Staff report of the public administration ministry, currently there are a little over 1.5 million government officials and employees in the country.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said more persons would be necessary to review the wealth statements of such a huge number of government officials and employees.

The NBR collects the wealth statement every year and in case allegation of corruption surfaces against anyone, the Anti-Corruption Commission can look into it. They can also collect the wealth statement of any official or employee if it deems necessary. So, it is necessary to think further about the existing rules, he added.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna

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