Public administration ministry, Govt of Bangladesh
Public administration ministry, Govt of Bangladesh

It is essential to adhere to administrative discipline in the appointments, transfers, promotions and postings in the public administration. Other than a few exceptions, the process of establishing good governance will inevitably hit a bump if these guidelines are not followed. And posting is one of the main factors in ensuring good governance. Needless to say, this is one of the most important tasks of the public administration.

Much has been written about irregularities and corruption in appointments, transfers and promotions, but the issue of postings has been overlooked. While transfers and postings may seem synonymous, in many cases these are not one and the same thing. As far as possible, written guidelines should be followed in this regard. As in the case of appointments, here too allegations of financial corruption and nepotism have arisen.

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A Prothom Alo report has revealed that a number of ministers and members of parliament recently played an active role in the transfer and posting of physicians by means of DO (demi official) letters. A disconcerted health minister admitted that if important persons make such requests, it disrupts the 'scope of work'.

Another important question in this context is whether the health ministry delivers its services ethically. Have they been ensuring that the transfers and promotions in the hospitals and health complexes around the country have been carried out in keeping with the rules and regulations? Are they just being obliged to overlook the rules in order to acquiesce to the requests and lobbying made through DO letters?

There have been extensive reports in the media about discrepancies in the appointments and transfers of physicians and other administrative officers under the health ministry. Undoubtedly, when ministers and MPs make unofficial requests for transfers, all sorts of questions and tensions arise.

The ministers and members of parliament come after the prime minister in rank. But is it not that transfers must be made simply because they issue written requests in this regard. It should depend on the discernment and consideration of the concerned ministry.

Lobbying is never a good option, whether for police, physicians or any professional. It simply gives rise to further irregularities, corruption and deprivation

Lobbying in the public administration for transfers is not limited to physicians alone. The OCs, UNOs, DCs and others who are involved in providing public service are all more or less subject to such lobbying. Many ministers and members of parliament use their influence to decide where OCs and UNOs will be posted. These are not innocent interactions, but may have indications of underhand interactions too. No matter how credible these allegations may be, the fact remains that lobbying through DO letters is not acceptable in any way.

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Merit, efficiency and competence are plausible criteria for transfers and posting. In the police administration, for example, experts have long been saying that gradation of the upazilas and districts should be done according to importance because not all places are equal in terms of administrative area, population, geographic location, etc. The rules and regulations must certainly support postings and transfers of the smarter and more efficient officers to challenging posts.

It is unfortunate that the outdated colonial administrative structure handed down to us by the undemocratic West Pakistani rulers, has not undergone much change. In fact, whatever little good the system may have had, has also been destroyed. The lobbying behind every transfer in the administration is rife with corruption. This is no secret.

Lobbying is never a good option, whether for police, physicians or any professional. It simply gives rise to further irregularities, corruption and deprivation. Many say that if this corrupt lobbying could be halted in the appointment and transfer of police, a radical change could be brought about in the country's good governance. We appeal to the ministers and members of parliament to prepare appropriate rules and regulations in this regard and actively ensure that these are implemented.