POST TIME: 20 August, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Demi-official letters galore for bureaucrats’ promotion
Ministers, MPs write for govt officials

Demi-official letters galore for bureaucrats’ promotion

In the run-up to the upcoming promotions to the post of joint secretary in the civil bureaucracy, a section of bureaucrats, working in different ministries and divisions as deputy secretaries, are getting certificates on patriotism, integrity and efficiency from ministers and MPs of the Awami League (AL). Many officials, either not fit for promotion or deprived of promotion, are hunting for ‘testimonials’ to change their fortune. When visiting some ministries and divisions at the Bangladesh Secretariat, this correspondent came across a number of such certificates, known as demi-official (D.O.) letters, issued by some ministers and MPs for promoting their ‘favourite’ officials to the post of joint secretary.

The public representatives recently sent the D.O. letters to the secretary of the public administration ministry, recommending that the officials be promoted to the higher post.

Talking to The Independent, people in the know said the "D.O. culture" does not bode well for the civil bureaucracy and it cannot be an acceptable way to judge promotions.

If the authorities concerned take such D.O. letters into cognisance and promote officials to higher posts on their basis, it will hamper good governance by creating inefficient and biased officials, they said.

The public administration ministry secretary, however, said promotions are given on the basis of Superior Selection Board’s recommendation.

Sources in the public administration ministry said that members of the Superior Selection Board (SSB) are holding several meetings at the Secretariat for recommending deputy secretaries to the post of joint secretary.

Primary education minister Mostafisur Rahman said he has issued D.O. letters to keep officials happy. “Candidates for promotion or job seekers of my area always want such D.O. letters,” he added.

Mostafisur Rahman has issued a D.O. letter to a deputy secretary and it was forwarded to the secretary of the public administration ministry, recommending promotion of the official.

The primary education minister also said issuing D.O. letters for this kind of purposes is nothing new, adding that ministers in the

previous BNP government also issued D.O. letters in favours of officials.

The letter says: “He (not mentioning his name) is an administration cadre official, working in the religious affairs ministry as deputy secretary (DS) for the last 10 years. He is a resident of my parliamentary constituency and has been discharging his duties with honesty, efficiency and sincerity for the last four years.”

 “He is son of a freedom fighter. But he was deprived of promotion twice in the past, though his juniors, two batches behind him, had been promoted to the post of joint secretary,” it states.

Like the D.O. letter, another letter has been issued by another minister. The letter was forwarded to the secretary of the public administration ministry, asking that the official be promoted to the post of joint secretary.

“His (official) integrity, work efficiency and patriotism are an example for others. He was deputy commissioner of a district and had discharged his duties as a believer in the spirit of the country’s independence and the liberation war. If he is promoted, it will bring new dynamism and exhilaration in the civil administration. I believe that the nation and the country would be benefited if he is promoted,” the minister said in the D.O. letter.

Like the ministers, some members of Parliament (MPs) were issuing D.O. letters for promotion of bureaucrats.

The MP of Rajbari-2, Md Zillul Hakim, has issued a D.O. letter in favour of a deputy secretary for promotion.

The MP, in the letter sent to the secretary of the public administration ministry, said: “He (official) is a deputy secretary in the public administration ministry, now working on a project of the food ministry as deputy project director.”

“He is an official of the BCS railways cadre. He is a resident of my constituency. He and his family are devoted supporters of the Awami League and belong to pro-liberation forces. Both his brother and sister are presidents of the local Awami League. He is known as efficient and is a well respected person in his village home. I am requesting you to promote him to the post of joint secretary, considering his honesty, efficiency and goodwill,” the MP in his D.O. letter.

The secretary of the public administration ministry, Faiz Ahmed, told The Independent that the bureaucrats are being promoted on the basis of recommendations by the Superior Selection Board (SSB), not on the basis of D.O. letters. “Yes, we’ve received D.O. letters from some ministers and MPs. The D.O. letters sometimes help us compare information about the officials contained in the D.O. letters and agency reports,” he said.

Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder told this correspondent that D.O. letters are undesirable. “These are beyond the jurisdiction of the ministers and MPs,” he said.

When contacted, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) chief Dr Mozammel Haque Khan said issuing of D.O. letters is not ethical. “We can say that the issuance of D.O. letters and receiving them by any official for his/her promotion falls under corruption and is an offence,” he said.  

At present, the public administration ministry is going to promote at least 500 officials from the rank of joint secretary to the post of additional secretary, deputy secretary to the post of joint secretary and senior assistant secretary to the post of deputy secretary within this month.

As of August 9, a total of 78 senior secretaries, secretaries and acting secretaries are working against 75 duty posts, while 478 additional secretaries are working against 110 posts.

A total of 779 joint secretaries are working in different ministries and divisions, against 341 sanctioned posts, while 1,759 deputy secretaries are working against 828 sanctioned posts.