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Soaking up idle money from state entities  

Syed Mahbubur Rashid   | Published: September 16, 2019 22:13:31 | Updated: September 18, 2019 21:27:26


The government has recently decided to transfer idle money of state entities to the public exchequer with the aim to stop misuse of public money.

In defending the action, the Finance Minister made some arguments that are matters of great concern. The Minister stated that the state-owned entities did not utilise funds properly. He detailed that the entities spent arbitrarily, took salaries and incentive at will, and cared little about getting the government's approval though it is public money. Without permission from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), the state entities are said to have built big buildings.

Thus, it may be concluded that the mandarins of the entities are highly irresponsible and anti-people and lack patriotism. Reports of misuse of funds by these entities have been published in the media from time to time. Almost a decade ago, one entity purchased two cars at a cost of Tk 30 million for its part-time chairman. It could not be ascertained if any action was taken about that.

However, after withdrawal of the idle funds the government agencies will have sufficient money to carry out their activates comfortably, the finance minister reportedly assured all. He added that the soaked money would be kept in banks, not under the custody of the ministry. Despite the assurance, some wise men have raised concern about liquidity of banks as if it is the only fund to maintain liquidity. The prime responsibility of banks is to maintain their liquidity flow by its operational skills and efficiency. If a bank is inefficient and spends money on the plea of giving loans to defaulters and money launderers, why will they be provided with public money for their rescue?

However, the matter cannot end there, as there are stories behind stories. Looting and misuse of these funds have been going for long. Every entity is under the jurisdiction of a ministry of the republic.

Apart from the Planning Commission at the Ministry of Planning, there is a planning cell at every ministry manned by experienced personnel. What are the duties and responsibilities of the ministry? It is supposed to evaluate performance of the entities under its jurisdiction and monitor how earlier allocated funds are spent.

It is alleged that these entities are sources of accruing some benefits for the mandarins of the ministry as well. For instance, vehicles of the entities are used by the officials of the ministry for years together. These entities are also great sources of arranging foreign tours for the ministry officials on the plea of gaining technical knowledge. It is unfortunate that the ministries have proved themselves to be no less irresponsible than the entities.

Misuse of public funds is prohibited and a criminal offence, not only for the government entities but also for the government itself. It is a misconception that the executive authorities can spend money in whatever way they like. Allocations are made through budgetary provision duly approved by parliament. There should be accountability for spending every paisa of public fund. So, it is a prudent and pragmatic decision by the government to try to bring an end to looting and misuse of public funds.

It is expected that financial discipline will be strictly enforced in providing fund to the public entities in future. Excessive decoration and use of luxury items are seen at offices of the state entities, whereas austerity and simplicity should have been the motto of the administration of Bangladesh since its inception.

It is repeatedly said that we should be imbued with the spirit of the liberation war to establish social justice. Let's show some respect to three million martyrs and 300,000 women who lost their chastity. Everyone must be careful while using public money.

 

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