Punish the corrupts
TWO government probe committees have found anomalies involving Tk 36.4 crore in purchasing furniture and other household items for officials of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Pabna. The bodies, formed by the Housing and Public Works Ministry, have also recommended departmental and legal actions against 50 officials, including Engineer Masudul Alam, former project director of Green City Housing Project under the power plant, over the irregularities.
On May 22, Masudul was made a Reserve Officer at the Public Works Department for his alleged involvement in the irregularities. The committees on Monday handed over a probe report to the Attorney General's office for submitting it to the High Court. According to the probe report Tk 113.63 crore deal was signed with three companies for supplying furniture and electrical appliances for four buildings of the Green City Housing Project. But the actual price of those items was 77.23 crore.
The committees suggested taking action to realise the Tk 36.4 crore that was paid through anomalies by officials. Following a writ petition, the HC on July 2 asked the Attorney General's office to collect the committees' reports and submit those before the court in two weeks. It also issued a rule asking the government to explain within four weeks as to why it failed to ensure transparency in purchasing the items.
Public sector corruption is nothing new in Bangladesh. However it is remarkable that the amounts involved were so large as to warrant a government probe. The prices of the goods purchased were essentially inflated by over 50 percent. This is such an egregious amount that it boggles the mind since most corruption usually involves the payment of bribes and not direct embezzlement from the government coffers.
But it is equally worrying that the High Court sought to know the steps taken by the government against the officials. This implies that the Hon'ble Court has doubts about the government's ability or willingness to take direct action against corrupts. All those guilty must be tried and punished to set an exemplary example for others who seek to do such actions.