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SDG attainment would be tough without effective bureaucracy

| Updated: February 11, 2021 09:07:14

SDG attainment would be tough without effective bureaucracy

Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Chairman Iqbal Mahmood on Monday said the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would be tough without effective and efficient bureaucratic practices.

"To make the bureaucracy proficient, assessment tests should be taken before promoting civil servants from 9th to upper grades in terms of seniority, qualification and written and viva voce exams," he said.

He also suggested establishing a 'Civil Service Reform Commission' to improve service quality of different state institutions.

The ACC chief made the suggestions while presenting the commission's Annual Report-2019, deferred by almost a year due to the pandemic, at a press conference held at the ACC headquarters in city's Segunbagicha.

Mr Mahmood took part in the programme virtually from his residence. ACC commissioner (Investigation) A F M Aminul Islam and ACC Commissioner (Enquiry) Dr Md Mozammel Haque Khan also spoke at the programme presided over by ACC secretary Dr Md Anwar Hossain Howlader.

The ACC Annual Report-2019 was presented to President Md Abdul Hamid on Sunday afternoon.

Referring to poor government service quality, Mr Mahmood said, "A civil service act is in place ... we still don't know how transfer of officers happens ... there are also allegations of corruption in the process."

Terming the complex tax return filing process a big barrier to trace corruption, he said the complex taxation system intensifies complications in graft investigations.

Stressing the need for simplifying the tax return filing process, he asked why taxpayers can't fill up and submit their tax returns online.

"I also struggled to fill up my own tax return, there are many unnecessary information to be included ... the process should be more simple and transparent to attract more people paying taxes," he said.

The ACC chairman also said everyone in the country having a national identification number (NID) must submit tax returns whether they are eligible for taxation or not.

He suggested that the National Board of Revenue (NBR) shorten the tax return form and meticulously scrutinize submitted files before issuing tax certificates.

He also slammed different government institutions as many of them don't give much importance to ACC's recommendations for administrative reforms to curb irregularities and corruption.

After the press conference, the ACC chairman participated in a view exchange programme with the Reporters against Corruption (RAC), a platform of professional journalists, where he responded to contemporary graft affairs.

In reply to a question about an Al Jazeera report alleging the army chief and some of his family members of graft, Mr Mahmood said, "I have seen the report but will not make any comment ... the strength of an investigative report depends on evidence but which I didn't found any substantial evidence in the report."

When asked about the progress of Basic Bank cases, he said the commission has filed 65 cases in this regard and found Tk 35 billion was misappropriated.

"I can't say when charge sheets would be ready, the cases are under investigation and I can't push the investigators to complete the investigation fast ... because it is not possible to prove the allegations before the court if we don't have concrete evidence," he said.

Presenting key points of the annual report, he said in 2019, the commission received a total of 21,371 complaints of which 1,710 were considered for enquiry.

The national graft watchdog filed some 263 cases throughout the year with submission of 267 charge sheets to different courts.

The conviction rate on cases handled by the ACC stood at 63 per cent in 2019.

Mr Mahmood said, "Because of the pandemic, the commission couldn't prepare the annual report of 2020 where the conviction rate would be around 77 per cent as far I was informed."

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