TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman
File photo

Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Ifthekharuzzaman said the government is hundred times more active to control information than corruption.

Corruption in the health sector has been widely exposed in the media during the coronavirus pandemic and the government is seen to be very active to control the mass media. Many journalists have been harassed.

The TIB executive director made the remarks while unveiling a research report titled 'Combatting Coronavirus Crisis: Challenge of Good Governance in Managing Covid-19 vaccines' at a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

Ifthekharuzzaman said the government was dependent on single source for vaccines. It is now proved that the decision was not right. Third party has been engaged in procuring vaccines. The third party has been benefited by it. The people are bearing the burden of this.

The vaccine campaign was launched in February last year with Oxford's AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India. An agreement was made to procure 30 million doses of vaccines from Serum. As per the agreement, these vaccines were supposed to arrive in six months. However, Bangladesh received only seven million vaccines in two consignments. Besides, the country received 3.3 million of vaccines as gift from the Indian government. India imposed a ban on the vaccines in March as the infections spread massively there. As a result, Bangladesh faces uncertainty over procuring vaccines. Now the government is trying to procure vaccines from alternative sources.

Finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said 80 per cent of people will be brought under vaccination programme in phases. He said this while delivering budget speech in parliament on Thursday.

Referring to the finance minister's statement, Ifthekharuzzaman said there is no strategic guideline as to how and from which source 80 per cent of people will be vaccinated. The government has not drawn up any road map for that. There was a flaw in the management at the beginning of Covid-19 and it still exists.

TIB research fellow Md Julkarnain presented the keynote paper.

He said procurement rules have been flouted in purchasing vaccines. By engaging third a party, a total of Tk 2.31 billion has been given as profit. With this amount, some 6.8 million dose vaccines could be purchased.

The TIB research has been carried out taking quality and quantity into consideration. A survey was included in the research. As many as 1,387 people from 43 districts of eight divisions participated in it.