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Monday, March 18, 2019

Land officials` wealth reports should be made public

THE Land Minister after taking charge in January openly declared a crusade against the corruption, and directed the officials and employees to submit their wealth reports by February 28. As per his order, the wealth reports have been submitted but these were not made public.  Rather, Land Secretary says the Ministry might provide the wealth reports to government agencies in case of any inquiry. According to reports run by newspapers, the wealth statements have been submitted by about 17,208 employees, including Grades III and IV, serving at the ministry, five subordinate agencies and offices of eight Divisional Commissioners, 64 Deputy Commissioners and all Assistant Commissioners (land).
The corruption in Land offices is nothing new. A study conducted by Transparency International Bangladesh a few years ago had revealed that Land officials and employees take bribes ranging from Tk100-Tk20 lakh for survey and ledger transfer, mutation of name, registration, land development tax, collecting documents, provision of agro-land management, market management and leasing system, and land-related cases. Not only had the current one; all the previous Land Ministers expressed their frustration over the massive corruption in each and every tier of the Ministry's departments, from city to rural areas.  
It's an open secret that, the Land surveyors take bribes at the time of survey. In most cases, in absence of the land owner, the surveyors intentionally try to label the land as government khas land. Besides, political figures and influential people interrupt survey process on several plans. What's true is that common people are the victims of this syndicated corruption where not a single file moves without paying speed money. Though different land-related works have been digitalized in the recent days, the corruption is not yet stopped.
We think, if the Land Minister really wants to make his ministry's activities transparent enough, he should order to publish the wealth reports in the ministry's official website. There is a possibility that, a section of corrupt officials and employees would try to hide their actual wealth position in the reports. So, it will be difficult to punish the real corrupt elements by verifying their statements, if these are not made public.