A news report that was published in the front page of a leading Bangla newspaper on August 6 gives us pause to think about the flagrant way in which money is spent by the Election Commission (EC). EC records show that each commissioner has given 520 speeches in 18 days, which translates into 14 public speeches every day—a feat that is not possible for any human being!
It is the job of the EC officials to carry out training for its officials to conduct elections. So why should they be paid to give lectures? We are informed that people who took money as “special” guest speakers include the chief election commissioner himself, and the four election commissioners. These officials can at best take travel/daily allowance to go to various venues in the country, but what sort of message does it give out when they take money for giving lectures which is their job?
A former election commissioner has stated that during his time in office, no EC official received any monetary benefit for speeches they gave in different parts of the country as part of training officers on the conduct of electoral procedures. The report also points out that a particular secretary, who had been deputed to the EC during the last national elections, had received Tk 47 lakh as a course “adviser”. We are aghast to think that a part of the public money for the purposes of training—a total of Tk 123 crore which was allotted to conduct training for the last general election and upazila elections—has been squandered!
The EC is a constitutional body and it plays a crucial role in conducting elections in the country. The officials employed by the EC are supposed to be people of integrity and hence when questions are raised about the way money meant for training is being spent, it shows blatant disregard for public money by the people running the EC. This is a serious matter and it needs to be properly investigated. As the government has adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy towards corruption, no stone should be left unturned to preserve the sanctity of the office of the EC.