Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has demanded deterrent punishment to those involved in irregularities in preparation of the list for delivery of the Government’s cash support programme for 5 million (50 lakh) ultra-poor in the context of the Coronavirus led national crisis. At the same time TIB has expressed deep disappointment that the investigation report on the N-95 Mask scandal has not yet be disclosed, nor any action taken.
Expressing deep concern that a section of the wealthy people and public representatives and their well-off relatives have been included in the list of beneficiaries of the Government’s cash support programme for the ultra-poor, TIB has also called for uploading the full list on the website as a means of ensuring transparency and proper delivery to the genuine target beneficiaries of the initiative.
Credible media reports show examples of irregularities like names of 200 people against one number for mobile financial service for cash transfer. Such irregularities cannot be wished away as an unintended mistake, said Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of TIB in a press statement released on 16 May 2020. He reiterated deep disappointment and concern over such corrupt designs and practices.
The worst affected are the ultra-poor, joined by a large number of low income people rendered jobless who are outside the usual safety net of the government. “It is absolutely unacceptable that the lofty purpose of the Prime Minister’s initiative to support the worst affected and needy is being undermined by inefficiency, irregularity and lack of coordination of those involved in delivery of the programme. The Government must ensure that the initiative benefits only those who it is intended to. To facilitate transparency and accountability through public scrutiny, the list of beneficiaries must be disclosed through website and other accessible means”, Iftekharuzzaman said.
Reiterating TIB’s concern over unabated corruption and irregularities in relief operation including theft and misappropriation of relief materials, the Executive Director said that the widespread allegation of involvement of a section of the well-off people and public representatives demonstrates their inhuman and savagely corrupt practices. “The explanation that the need to fast-track the process has caused mistakes is also unacceptable. We are disturbed that the Prime Minister’s repeated pledge of zero tolerance against corruption appears to make no difference. The latest announcement that the delivery will now be made ensuring consistency of the phone number with the national identity card raises some hope, but not enough. We call for exemplary punishment of those who are responsible for the irregularities”, he said.
Referring to the scandal involving procurement and distribution of poor quality masks in the name of N-95 which exposed the frontline health professionals including doctors to greater risk of life at this critical situation Iftekharuzzaman expressed further disappointment that the investigation report on this much-debated scandal has not been disclosed for public information, nor any action taken yet. He said, “Even the relevant Minister reportedly didn’t yet have the chance to see the report, which is deeply regrettable. Question may be raised if colluders or protectors of perpetrators are there among the powerful, or perhaps they are more powerful than the Prime Minister”. TIB reiterates that if perpetrators of such cases of corruption were properly held to account, the Government could have prevented such embarrassments.