CCC mayor’s foreign trip: Let this ‘bad precedence’ end

The “main task” of our people’s representatives and the high officials in the administration is to go abroad on any excuse. The reasons for their foreign trips include checking lifts and even acquiring knowledge of lunch distribution among the students.

Due to the ongoing financial crisis, the finance ministry has decided that none can go abroad at government expenses unless it is essential. Gazette notification has been issued several times as well. But nothing could stop their foreign trips, maybe nothing could be done even in the future.

A Prothom Alo report in this regard said Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) mayor Rezaul Karim Chowdhury went to Finland on a 10-day visit on 5 November last year. Earlier, a delegation of Finnish company, Haba Service, arrived in Bangladesh, met the mayor and showed their interest in investing in waste management in Chattogram city.

According to an office order, issued by the local government ministry, all the expenses of this visit will be borne by Haba Group of Finland. Before and after this, the mayor also visited Japan and South Korea at the expense of organisations of the two countries that are interested in doing business here. That too was related to waste management.

Chattogram city Awami League joint general secretary Rezaul Karim Chowdhury took over as the mayor of the city corporation on 15 February, 2021. Already three years and three months have elapsed. But waterlogging, the main problem the Chattogram City Corporation residents face, has not been addressed.

The Chattogram city gets inundated whenever it pours. Even an hour of rain this month left the city dwellers in indescribable misery. The city corporation could not complete any of the projects on time that it had undertaken to alleviate the waterlogging problem.

Still, the city mayor, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, had been abroad for 74 days after assuming office.

Like many others, the city mayor might have a hobby of foreign trips. If he had travelled on his personal fund with due permission from the government, no one would have said anything. But his foreign trips should not be financed by the companies that are interested in investing in the development projects of the city. 

It gives rise to questions on the ethical ground. The companies that financed his foreign trips will seek to reimburse the costs after getting the contracts, and it is the public who would bear the brunt.

Local government expert Tofail Ahmed has termed the Chattogram city mayor's foreign trips with funds of businesses as a bad example. He questioned why the mayor should travel abroad with the funds of those who will work on the city projects. What are the companies' interests? Why would they spend money to take the mayor abroad?

Not only the Chattogram mayor, there are many such people in the administration and elected institutions. In a country where government officials travel abroad to gather experience in providing lunch to students, it is not easy to prevent the top officials from the foreign trips.

We demand a fair investigation into the mayor’s foreign trips. Being an elected representative does not mean that he is above the law and accountability.