Planning Commission sent back midday-meal-project : Shameless corruption


THE Planning Commission has decided to send back Tk 19,296 crore midday-meal-project proposal to the primary education ministry for revision. As the proposal contains unreasonable provisions like sending 500 people abroad for training on midday meal distribution that earns much criticism of wasting public money, thus the planning commission send back it. Training abroad has been made a kind of wasting public money in Bangladesh to procure government employees' will of travelling abroad, though nobody knows the implication of such visits. The government must cut the budget for each project and programme that have a provision of wasting money and provide livelihood support with that money for the pandemic affected people.
The evaluation committee did not find any rationale of sending 500 people abroad for training to distribute midday meal at a cost of Tk five crore from the project. The committee has discouraged foreign trip with project fund amid the coronavirus pandemic as there have been midday meal distribution going on in many schools by the government for years. The Tk 19,296 crore government-funded midday meal project was designed to distribute fortified biscuits and khichuri (hotchpotch) among students.
The primary education ministry developed the project proposal after the Cabinet Division in August 2019 approved a draft policy in this regard. The policy stipulated distributing free midday meal to all government primary school children in the country's 509 upazilas with the public fund to help meet their nutrition needs and as a measure of controlling dropout. The draft policy presented at the Cabinet Division in 2019 stated that the government would need to spend Tk 2,835 crore per year for giving fortified biscuits to all government primary students six days a week, Tk 5,560 crore for giving cooked foods five days and biscuits one day a week and Tk 7,475 crore if egg, banana and bread are given all six days.
Training and foreign trip are two ways to burn annual budget for many ministries and departments though people are in a dire condition to provide tax to the government. The government must establish vertical and horizontal accountability to check procurement, foreign trip, training and other wasting programmes and activities. For sustainable growth, the government should invest more in quality education, health, sanitation, and employment generation.