More than routine works on despite electoral restrictions

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Rozina Islam | Apr 18, 2015

Appointments and promotions at offices, allocation of shops and various development works are on in the two Dhaka city corporations even after the announcement of the election schedule last month.

The electoral code of conduct states that no development project can be approved and no funds can be released for approved projects of the corporation, once the election schedule is announced.

Senior officials of the city corporations, however, said that as there have been no people’s representatives at the two corporations since 2011, the works are simply continuing as they have been proceeding all these days.

The officials have not received any instructions from the local government division or the election commission, they claim.

Local government expert Tofail Ahmed told Prothom Alo that this is not right on the part of the corporations. “This is neither normal nor the norm. There is no justification of making new appointments at this juncture when a new mayor and councillors will be elected in just a few days. Promotions are out of the question,” he said.

This happened previously in Gazipur, said Tofail Ahmed, adding that the election commission should place importance on this matter.

“Such action is simply creating problems for the newly elected mayor,” the expert pointed out.

Dhaka North city corporation officials say there have been no elected representatives since December 2011. That is why the corporation at present has no involvement in the election. It would have been different if the contestants had been involved in the corporation’s activities.

Dhaka South city corporation administrator Shawkat Mustafa said to Prothom Alo, “We are carrying out routine works. Appointments, promotions and coordination committee meetings are all routine works. It is different in the case of Chittagong city corporation. There are panel mayors there.”

He said, “We have not received any instructions from the local government division about these matters. We have submitted a letter to the division seeking directive.”

Dhaka South city corporation sources said, after the election schedule was announced, a notice was posted for the appointment to 109 vacant positions there.

Asim Uddin, councillor candidate of ward 34, wrote a letter to the election commission and city corporation in this regard. He said that the election schedule had just been announced a few days ago.

In the meantime, the oral exam was held for promotions and the selection committee meeting was held. Written exams were held for the post of secretary and lower grade assistant-cum-computer operator. Now there is a hurry to hold their oral and practical exams. On 27 March written exams were held for the posts of cleaning inspector, accounts assistant and caretaker. Many unqualified persons were passed in this exam. Such appointments and promotions are unlawful once the election schedule has been announced.

Asim Uddin told Prothom Alo, “Tenders are being invited for development work. There are no funds. Once the mayor and councillors are appointed, they will be in a fix.”

After Asim Uddin’s letter, the Dhaka South city corporation posted a notice in the newspapers announcing that all appointment exams were “suspended due to unavoidable reasons.” But the appointment process has started once again.

On 5 April the Dhaka city corporation chief executive officer Ansar Ali Khan issued a letter to the local government division secretary. He stated that the city corporation was a service providing institution and the vacancy in various departments, branches and regions was hampering work. That is why the initiative to make appointments was taken.

The local government division, in turn, issued a letter on 15 April to the election commission, asking for a no-objection letter regarding appointments.

Acting secretary of the local government division Abdul Malek told Prothom Alo, “There is no problem with appointments. These appointments should have been made a year ago. Even so, we have asked the election commission’s opinion so that they cannot say we hadn’t consulted them. We hope to receive their reply by Sunday.”

Election commission secretary Sirajul Islam told Prothom Alo, “We received a letter from the local government division in this connection and now will examine the matter. We will then give our decision.”

Dhaka north city corporation sources said, the process of appointing drivers is on there. Development work is also being carried out.

Dhaka north city corporation administration Rakhal Burman told Prothom Alo, “We are carrying out routine work. Neither the local government division nor the election commission has made any prohibitions.”

Currently, work worth Tk 170 crore (Tk 1.7 billion) is being carried out in the Dhaka south city corporation area. There are cases with the anti-corruption commission regarding shop allocation in Nilkhet, but a four-storey market is being constructed there.

After the election schedule was announced, shops are being allocated in the Hatirpool multi-storeyed kitchen market. And 100 shops have been allocated in the Sayedabad bus terminal. There are allegations of all sorts of irregularities in the allocation of these shops.

Dhaka south city corporation administrator Shawkat Mustafa said, “Certain quarters are spreading these rumours. All of these are false.”