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01st-Dec-2019

Stop unnecessary foreign trips wasting public money

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THERE is an old culture of availing foreign trips inside the bureaucracy wasting public money in the name of training, seminars, workshops and other less-important reasons.  It's often seen that, their experience gaining from foreign trips doesn't bring any good for common people. People know most of the trips are pleasure-trips where officials allegedly remain busy in shopping and sightseeing. News media reported that a team of soon-to-retire engineers along with an administration official is leaving for the US and the UK on a two-week trip apparently to learn about digging canals, protecting river banks, restoring embankments, and dredging rivers, which they had been doing for over three decades. The trip is part of a Tk195-crore project being implemented by Dockyard and Engineering Works Limited, an enterprise of Bangladesh Navy. The government officials have no direct role, except coordinating, in the project implementation. Only three days before their scheduled trip, the officials couldn't even say what advanced knowledge they were hoping to gain and from which institutions.
The foreign visit was proposed under Bakkhali River Flood Control, Drainage, Irrigation and Dredging project. The three-and-a-half-year project is scheduled to be completed in June next year and has already made about 40 percent physical progress. According to Water Resources Ministry order issued on November 17, the officers would be shown as on-duty while on the trip and they would be able to draw regular salaries and allowances. It is unlikely that the country would get benefit from such an expensive trip by the almost-retired officers.
A Minister, who got an international recognition a few years back for her unnecessary foreign trips wasting millions of taka, was excluded from the Cabinet in the wake of huge criticism. But what's unfortunate is that this trend not yet stopped. We can cite here several examples where a number of government officials and even Ministers avail unnecessary foreign trips. Sometimes, their foreign trips are arranged along with large entourages. This trend must stop.