EC rejoinder says trainers were paid for training, not talks

Staff Correspondent | Update:

The Election Commission (EC) has issued a rejoinder, refuting the report, ‘CEC, commissioners, secretary, pocket Tk 20m to speak,’ which appeared in Prothom Alo on Tuesday.

In its rejoinder, the EC said that the report was not based on facts, and was false and motivated. It also said that the heading of the report dishonoured a constitutional institution like the election commission. It said that the commission strongly protested the baseless report.

In the rejoinder signed by the assistant director of the EC secretariat’s public relations department Md Asadul Huq, it was said that the function of the commission was to ensure smooth management of the election and an environment conducive to the election. It was to ensure that the law enforcement agencies carried out their duties and that the election officials conducted the voting and duly announced the results. It was with this objective that, based on past experience, a work plan on election training and a budget was prepared and approved. The training programme was carried out on the basis of the approved work plan and budget, after which the parliamentary and the 11th parliamentary election and 5th upazila elections were held.

It said that over one million officials involved in the election at the central, district and upazila levels were given training. In order to ensure the success of this massive task, a course consultant, a course director, course coordinators, supervisor trainer and monitoring officers were appointed to prepare and implement the training. The Election Training Institute does not provide any separate training allowance and that is why provision was made for a special allowance for this difficult task.

The EC claimed that the work plan gave scope for four special speakers in each upazila. They provided training and guidance to the upazila and district level trainers. They only drew allowance from the places where they provided training. The district and upazila election officials deposited the remaining funds to the government treasury. So simply using math to divide the total allocation does not give the accurate picture. The claim that the funds were not used, but were misappropriated, is completely baseless.

The rejoinder went on to say, the Prothom Alo report claimed that the training took place in all upazilas in two days, which was untrue. This was not true in the case of either the parliamentary election or the upazila polls. The upazila polls were held in six phases. In no district was training arranged for several upazilas at the same time. The training was given in six phases, two days each at various times, totalling 12 days. It was not expected that an important daily like Prothom Alo would based its report on false information.

The EC also said that the special speakers’ instructive training was for election management and trainers, not for polling officers. That is why their activities in this regard were not restricted to 18 days. It began from long before. The information in the report regarding training trips was not factual or correct.

The rejoinder went on to say that the trainers received their honorarium after signing the receipts and the deduction of taxes. This was audited by the government’s AG office which did not issue any objection regarding irregularities.

The trainers were paid for training, not for delivering talks, the rejoinder said, adding that the report seemed to have no objective other than to render the election commission and the election commissioners disputable. The information in the reports was not factual. This report would serve to create confusion in the readers’ minds, which was unfortunate, said the rejoinder.

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