There is no need now to refer to the perception index of TIB to understand the extension of corruption. Addition of bribe to government services has become a common thing. People also do not utter any word about this. At times, it is not possible to escape only by paying bribe. Along with it comes harassment and negligence. It takes attempts of days and spending much money for the service suppose
d to be available free of cost or on payment of fixed fees. With the preparation for being harassed common people go to the officers and employees of government establishments posted at villages and towns for getting birth and death certificates, VGD or old age pension cards, mutation of land and for lodging diary at thana. People at government offices are not accountable to anybody for the harassment of public. There are provision of filing allegations by the public, but that is not effective. If the story of sufferings of the public is published in the media and it comes to the notice of some high ups only then sometime some remedy is available. On many occasions the results are the opposite. However, the government has taken initiative this time to remove this anarchy at the grassroots in providing service. Deputy Commissioners have been asked to fix a day of the week to hear the sufferings of the people in getting service. The DC will hear directly the statement of the sufferers and issue directive or take action to end the sufferings. Work has also started accordingly. Cabinet Secretary M Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said practice of “grievance redress mechanism” has already started. He said the government is set to apply this tool even at the grass-roots-level. Not only corruptions in the high place but also petty irregularities and harassments will be addressed. The common people are being harassed indescribably for even a simple mutation of their land. The file moves from one table to another. For inadequate or inaccurate information, the parties concerned are asked to go to the office next week again. To redress the public sufferings, the government would like to make the public hearing available at the interior areas. Such step has already started. Public hearing is being held presently at every DC office. People will enjoy similar facility at upazila and union levels. All government offices will provide the people with such facility gradually. It is learnt that three public hearings will be held at three upazilas under Jessore district. It is not all. The centre will monitor as to what solution given to the affected people after comprehending their problem. A guideline for national cleanliness strategy is being prepared. People were deprived of many services because of legal barriers. To eliminate such barriers, secretariat directive system has been modified. New system aims at introducing culture of implementing promises given by the government officials, simplifying service providing procedure, managing the public opinion and ensuring receipt of adequate information. At all levels of government office, innovative teams are being formed. Thematic groups are also being constituted to encourage the public officials to exercise their specialised knowledge. Implementation of work plan and its scrutiny are underway. Social safety net activities are being coordinated. The targets of these plans are the common people. The data of the service recipients is being enumerated in civil registration and vital statistics. Functions of 40 government offices are posted on the website to propagate the idea among people. The address of the website named Sebakunja is www.services.portal.gov.bd. The deadline for performing a work is mentioned there. Such citizen charter was displayed at various offices during the caretaker regime. Asked about the benefit of such system, the cabinet division acting secretary (coordination and reform) Md Nazrul Islam said “Displaying the citizen charter is not enough now. Rather, the public officials ought to oversee the implementation works. The coordination reform unit has been formed in this regard. People need to fill in forms for receiving many services. They have to buy forms from the district level offices. The online forms are available free of cost now. For those initiatives, some grassroots level government offices are providing positive information. Sub-registrar office is one of the places where people face harassment the most. Those sub-registrars made proposal of keeping photocopies of the deed documents so that they can supply the duplicate to the concerned receivers instantly. Earlier, the government formulated the National Cleanliness Strategy. The cabinet committee has given approval of the matter. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has termed the strategy paper “Pledge to build Sonar Bangla.” The main objective of the strategy paper is to trim down harassment for getting service at personal-level which was sent to the Deputy Commissioners’ office in all districts in the meantime. Cabinet Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan stated that through this initiative, the government’s political good will for controlling grassroots level corruption with the participation of government officials, ministers, MPs was reflected. But the government is not moving for the speedy implementation of the plan because there is a possibility for creation of internal conflict instead of good results. As a result the main objective of the plan might be hampered. So, the government is now reminding officials and employees about people’s rights for getting service. The Cabinet Secretary also said that we are not pressuring officials. In the light of strategy paper, every government organization will be able to chalk out their working process so that the people get expected service easily. Transparency International Bangladesh welcomed the strategy paper formulated by the government. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) showed their keen interest to work jointly. An initiative named ‘Government at your door’ has been taken in an Indian state where guaranteed services act has been formulated. If the stipulated time is expired then Rs 20 has to be paid as fine by the officer concerned for each day. But Bangladesh cabinet division of the secretariat is not thinking to adopt such rule at this moment. Cabinet division secretary said, “Many mega plans did not see any success, so we are advancing with small initiatives. We do not expect outcome overnight. But I believe that a culture will develop gradually among the government officials and employees to provide services.” The replying tendency of the government on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) regularly published by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) was not seen this year. Rather, expressing regret Finance Minister AMA Muhith said, “The salary of the government officials and employees has been increased. I hoped that corruption will decrease. But corruption has increased.” The scenario of increased corruption is found from the statement of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). On average everyday a corruption case on big amount of any individual or any organisation is registered with ACC. The influential are attending ACC office. But there is widespread corruption and harassment at the field level. And common people are the worst victims but there is none to mitigate their sufferings. The officials believe that the strategy titled ‘Sonar Bangla Gorar Prottoy’ (The pledge to build Sonar Bangla) will help grassroots people in realising their proper rights. Cabinet division secretary said, “It needs to hot the pot before heating the bread. We have started that work. It is hoped that there will be changes in providing services at the field level.” Political will is very much needed to accomplish these tasks and the government desires that, said the top official of the government.