Lack of acceptable officers in administration

Some of the top posts in the administration are going to be vacant soon. Among them are the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. Their contract expires next December. These two positions carry special significance in view of the 12th parliamentary elections. However, there are various discussions about the senior officers who are in discussion regarding the appointment of the two posts. Again, some prudent officers are in discussion, but they are slightly behind in terms of seniority. In this context, the question has arisen, whether there will be contractual appointments again for the top posts of the administration, or will the government choose someone new. However, there is dissatisfaction in the administration regarding contractual recruitment. This information is coming from the words of the administration officials.

Cabinet Secretary is the highest post in public administration. It is customary to appoint a senior secretary of clean image to this post. The idea of ​​who will be appointed to this post is already known. However, no one can easily guess who will be the cabinet secretary this time. Although the appointment of the Cabinet Secretary, Chief Secretary and the Secretary of Administration is entirely the responsibility of the Prime Minister.

Senior officials feel that there has been a kind of vacuum in the creation of new leadership due to long-term contractual appointments at the top level of the administration. Good officers are retiring after working regularly. Some are getting contractual appointments in ministries or statutory bodies. As the continuity of senior officers in the general administration is not preserved due to contractual appointments, the responsible officials of the secretariat are also in doubt as to who will come to the important positions like Cabinet Secretary and Chief Secretary. Two such secretaries are still under contract in the current administration – scheduled to retire in 2017. Apart from this, there are at least six other secretaries who are scheduled to retire in 2019, 2020 and 2021 on contractual basis. In all, the number of secretaries and senior secretaries under contract is about a dozen.

The top two posts in the administration – the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister are both on contractual appointments for two years. Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam is among them for the third consecutive year. His normal tenure of government service ended in December 2019. Khandkar Anwar has also set a precedent in government service. This officer of special batch of 1982 has been in government service for 40 consecutive years. The Cabinet Secretary’s contract expires in mid-December.

Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister. Ahmad Kaykaus’ contract expires on December 31.

The previous two Cabinet Secretaries Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and Mohammad Shafiul Alam were appointed as Alternate Executive Directors at the World Bank after their service respectively. This time, the name of Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister Ahmed Kaykaus is heard for this post. So the current Cabinet Secretary is once again getting a contractual appointment – though it is rumored to be unlikely. In the present administration there are 85 officers of Cabinet Secretary, Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister, Senior Secretary and Secretary. According to the seniority list of the secretaries, including the first 8, a total of 12 are on contract basis.

The senior-most among the regular secretaries is Kabir bin Anwar, senior secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources and president of the Administrative Service Association. According to tradition, he is supposed to be appointed Cabinet Secretary. However, this officer of the seventh batch of the administration cadre has been criticized by the association in an incident in the local administration of Barisal in August last year. Top government secretaries questioned the language of the statement at the time. Apart from this, Kabir bin Anwar does not have the experience of working in positions like ADC, DC or Divisional Commissioner even though he works as a UNO in the field administration; Which is considered as an important criterion for the top posts in the administration. Apart from this, the service age of Kabir bin Anwar will end on January 3. If he is appointed to the post in December, the question of contractual appointment will again arise. However, Kabir Bin Anwar served in important positions in the Prime Minister’s Office. Known as trusted by the government. Still his name as Cabinet Secretary is not found in the discussion of any of the responsible officials of the Secretariat. According to sources in the Ministry of Water Resources, the issue of appointing him as the Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister is under intense discussion.

Mahbub Hossain’s name is in discussion as Cabinet Secretary. Although this officer is known as prudent in administration, he has no experience in field administration. That is, UNO, DC and Divisional Commissioner were not in charge. Almost the whole of his working life was centered on the secretariat. As a result, there is some limitation in his appointment to this post. Still, his name is being considered at the top level of the government. Apart from this, he is also in talks to get the appointment of the Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister’s Office Secretary Tofazzal Hossain Mia’s name is also in the discussion for the Chief Secretary. There is a strong possibility of him getting appointed to this post if the current Chief Secretary’s contract is not up. This official has been working in the Prime Minister’s office for a long time. Apart from this, he has long experience in field administration. He served as DC of three districts including Dhaka. Some people think that Tofazzal Hossain Mia is performing his duties efficiently as the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office. By keeping him in this position and appointing someone senior as the chief secretary, balance will be preserved in the administration. Apart from this, Ziaul Ahsan, the senior secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology, is in the discussion. This officer of the eighth batch of administration was also the secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate. Served as UNO and ADC in field administration. Defense Ministry Senior Secretary Hasibul Alam is also an eighth batch officer. Served as UNO and DC in field administration. Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education Aminul Islam Khan has also served as Secretary of Technical and Madrasa Education Department and Ministry of Liberation War Affairs.

An official of the rank of secretary told Samakal on the condition of anonymity that it would be good if the head of government would keep who among the qualified officials and appoint whom to the highest positions. But the situation is like this, in one sentence we will keep someone’s name in confidence – it is not happening. This was not seen earlier in the case of posts like Cabinet Secretary and Chief Secretary.

Some believe that public administration is deficient in long-term planning. An additional secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration said that some officials are eligible to become secretaries – it can be understood from the joint secretary. From there, the most qualified should be selected and promoted to important places. If not, there is a fear that this crisis will increase in the future. Related parties say that secretaries of eighth, ninth and tenth batch are playing an important role in the current administration. In order to plan efficient administration in the future, it is necessary to target 13th and 15th batch officials from now. The officers of these two batches are now serving as additional secretaries. In this case, the observers believe that the qualification of the officials should be considered as the only criteria rather than the batch, regionality and the likes and dislikes of influential people.

Asked to comment on contract-based recruitment, former secretary and NBR chairman Badiur Rahman told Samakal that the government should discourage contract-based recruitment in regular administration. Such appointment as Cabinet Secretary or any other secretary is absolutely unnecessary. This frustrates the budding officials, while the administration is blamed for party loyalty. He said, as a technical expert, someone can be retained on contract basis if there is a special need. Contractual appointments may also be made for short periods so as not to disrupt the continuity of a particular job. However, year-to-year contractual appointments in regular administration are unreasonable. All governments are harming the administration by doing this.

According to responsible sources, the practice of contractual recruitment is not new. So far 21 officials have retired as Cabinet Secretary. Among them, most of the cabinet secretaries, starting from Abdul Momen Khan and M Kermat Ali, were on contract basis. Apart from this, among the chief secretaries of the Prime Minister, there are precedents of contract-based appointment in almost all the governments. When asked about contractual appointments, the former cabinet secretary. Akbar Ali Khan said, I have written a lot about this, I have written in my book. I don’t want to comment anymore.

Talking to several officials of the secretariat and field administration, it is said that if there were no contractual appointments in posts like Cabinet Secretary and Chief Secretary, then the existing situation could have been avoided. However, there is a difference of opinion among the officials. They say that Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam was directly involved with the work of Padma Bridge. He was the secretary of bridge department for eight years. Padma Bridge was inaugurated when Khandkar Anwar was Secretary of the Bridge Department. Even after taking charge as Cabinet Secretary, he made the overall coordination regarding Padma Bridge. For this reason, his contractual appointment was necessary. On the other hand, since the beginning of Corona, Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister Ahmad Kaykaus has played an important role in administrative coordination and economic issues. Due to this he also got contractual appointment.

The article is in Bengali

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