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All about study tours

| Updated: June 07, 2022 20:16:38


All about study tours

I have seen Zahid Huq's 'Opinion' writing of May 27, 2022, and thought that I should point out that this kind of corruption has been going on forever and is  clearly commonplace regardless of the government in power. It is the civil administration that is rotten.

From 2000 to 2006, I was European co-director of the Ministry of Land's project 'Adarsha Gram Project-II' (AGP-II), assisted by European Union funds. At the beginning of AGP-II in 2000, an 'Inception Workplan' had to be submitted to the Ministry of Land and the European Commission for approval to cover the first 6 months of the project. The European Commission approved the 'Inception Workplan' within one month but the Ministry of Land refused to approve it until 'study tours' had been added to that part of the budget to be funded by the Commission. To enable the project to officially start, the European Commission eventually agreed to the study tours. The project start had already been delayed by 6 months.

Subsequently, successive annual workplans included 'study tours', funded by the European Commission, which were led either by the project's national project director or an officer of the Ministry of Land. Members of these tours included officers from the Ministries of Planning, Finance and Land as well as officers from the project's Project Management Unit (PMU). These study tours visited countries such as China, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand and in reality they were glorified shopping and sightseeing trips. On one trip to the Philippines, the local tour company contracted to provide transport and interpreters to the Study Tour group, made a complaint of sexual harassment against a member of the group. The matter was "hushed up" as a relation of the officer concerned was a member of staff at the Bangladesh Embassy in Manila. On another occasion, I was scrutinising the accounts of one of the study tours which had been led by a joint secretary of the Ministry of Land. The hotel bills from a hotel in Penang, Malaysia, caught my attention as Penang had not been on the original itinerary and the invoices looked as if they might not be genuine. I therefore faxed the hotel and asked if the members of the study tour group had occupied rooms in their hotel on these particular dates and I listed the names of the persons and the room numbers. The reply came back that these people had not occupied their hotel on those dates and rooms with those numbers do not exist in their hotel. When I tried to initiate some remedial action and recover money, I discovered that the joint secretary concerned had already gone on LPR, 'Leave Preparatory to Retirement'.

 

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