Taking newly promoted officials into account, the number of additional secretaries in public administration will stand at 505 whereas the number of posts is only 212. On Tuesday, the public administration ministry promoted 89 joint secretaries to the rank of additional secretary in two separate notifications. Two of the promoted officers are currently working at the Bangladesh embassies in Saudi Arabia and Germany. Others are working in various ministries and departments in the country. As per the rules, all of them have been made special officers in charge of the Ministry of Public Administration.
On 26 September last year, the government promoted 98 joint secretaries to the rank of additional secretary. According to the media reports, there were 372 eligible officers to be promoted this time. Of these, 89 have been promoted and others have been deprived. The number of additional secretaries in the administration, including the promoted officers, is 505. There are 2.38 additional secretaries for each post. No other country in the world is known to have such a precedent.
In any modern state the structure of the administration and its posts and personnel are determined according to demand. If the government thinks that 89 new people need to be promoted to the post of additional secretary, then it must create posts first. Not only additional secretaries, but also there are more secretaries, joint secretaries and deputy secretaries than the number of posts. Last year, 751 officers were promoted to the rank of joint secretary against 450 posts and 1,633 officers were promoted to the rank of deputy secretary against 1,006 posts.
It sets a bad precedent to be promoted in public administration without a post. This reduces slows down the administration and may create chaos. In the past, there have been incidents of agitation among officials over such promotions. It is not acceptable for additional secretaries and joint secretaries to be appointed to the same posts. There have been cases of promotions without posts previously. However, during the three consecutive terms of the Awami League government, it has become more prevalent. This culture of promotion without available posts needs to stop.
What does the state minister for public administration Farhad Hossain say about the administration when the government is promoting officials? He expressed anger over the behaviour of government officials and said that mistreatment of people and service-seekers is also corruption. Besides, the state minister also said that there is no rule for government officials to be addressed as 'sir' or 'madam'.
The hard truth behind this statement of the state minister is that the people come to government offices and are harassed by officials at different levels. Sometimes unpleasant things happen, which is utterly unwarranted. Service seekers often do not even get a chance to meet the officials in charge.
They are forced to get the job done by bribing a lower level employee or with the help of a middle-man. If this is the ‘work culture’ of the secretariat or field officials at the heart of the administration, then no matter how many promotions awarded, the people will continue to be deprived of services.
In fact, in order to make the administration people-friendly, government officials need to change their mindset. The government must ensure accountability at all levels instead of offering blanket promotions.