10 months ago

Grievance Redress System—1

Govt's GRS in low gear

Only 48,660 complaints redressed in 4 years

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Government offices connected with the GRS system have all together received 48,660 complaints in the last four years, deemed too few compared to umpteen problems facing people.

Stakeholders doubt if people are even aware of the Government Grievance Redress System and get their desired services yet from the relevant government offices through the system due to existing 'bureaucratic tangles'.

However, they lauded the government effort to create such platform where people can file their grievances online or on hotline.

Of the data available, the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection received 6,022 consumer rights-related complaints since November 1, 2018 till December 31, 2022 while the Department of Immigration and Passports got 1,196 passport service-related complaints.

The Department of Immigration and Passports settled the lowest 66.39 per cent of the grievances among ten government organisations like the Department of Environment, Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, Dhaka Wasa, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), Law and Justice Division under the Ministry of Law, Justice.

A complaint filed against a government department or a service provider registered under the law regarding a citizen's dissatisfaction with the promised service or product or service- delivery method or unlawful acts related to the service paid or rendered or refusal to provide the citizen's legitimate rights shall be treated as a civil complaint, according to government definition.

More than 11,000 government offices are now serving the people across the country while some 3,000 are connected to the system so far, people familiar with the developments told the FE.

All the offices or the officials concerned have not come under the training yet, they said.

Complaints are often made on various platforms, including social media, about the promised services, service-delivery methods and quality of services or products of government departments and subordinate departments or organisations.

But they often do not reach the proper authorities and create a bad impression among other service-seeking citizens about the department concerned.

The government's different departments have the aforesaid Grievance Redress System or GRS to deliver redressal for citizens' complaints.

Currently, citizens can submit complaints to government offices in writing. Apart from this, there is also an opportunity for citizens to file complaints through the website and the national helpline 333.

Filing complaints through the GRS via digital means was launched in 2018. Before that, the government had initiated the system in full-fledged manner after it came to power in 2009.

Md. Reazul Haque, deputy director, Certification Marks Wing, BSTI, Dhaka, said he received only 10 complaints through GRS in 2022.

"Even most of the complaints are not related to the BSTI services rather lodged for factories' product quality or related issues and product- buying matter from shops," Haque, who is also responsible for complaint-settling officer at the BSTI, told the FE.

The Cabinet Division and a2i jointly with the support from the UNDP launched a pilot project in this regard in Sadar and Asashuni upazilas of Satkhira district mainly to make the system easier and people-friendly.

Based on the outcome of the piloting, system upgrade will be completed and all the offices to be linked to it, they added.

Talking to the FE, Md Shamsul Arefin, Secretary, Coordination and Reforms, Cabinet Division, said it is vitally important to know the satisfaction, dissatisfaction, suggestions and remarks of service-recipients in the remote areas to increase the quality of service.

"Under the project, the service-seekers in the country's south-western district are contacting through 333 and placing their grievances," Mr Shamsul said.

Saying that there was no technical complexity to implement the project, he said the creation of mass awareness remains the biggest hurdle to the launch of the project across the country.

The country is yet to popularise the system as expected, Arefin added.

The a2i project director, Dr Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, says to popularise the system people's confidence should be boosted and fear should be removed through a wide range of publicity.

"The concerned offices must focus on redressing the complaint with much sincerity in line with their gravity and merit," he adds.

The complainants should file their complaints with truthfulness and seriousness, he explains. "It is not just that we are lodging a complaint hoping not to get a remedy".

Terming the system a very positive step and time-befitting, Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik(Shujan) Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar said the government should make the platform people-centric to give the actual benefit to them.

"The country's people should make themselves aware of their rights to establish their due and fundamental rights," he told the FE.

He suggests that the government should play a proactive role in implementing the system more usefully in line with the Grievance Redress System Guidelines 2015 (Revised 2018), Mr Majumder said.

"It is matter of investigation whether the people, after filing their grievances, are actually getting expected services or their real grievances settled or not," he opined.

Question remains how the related officials give the feedback regarding their personal interests, Dr Badiul added.

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