Stop unnecessary foreign trips
We are quite concerned at the way state officials, including ministers, members of the parliament and government high-ups, are going on non-mandatory foreign trips funded either by the government or, more dubiously, private firms implementing public projects. In the latest case, a lawmaker along with her personal assistant and two Roads and Highways Department engineers are said to be going to the US and Canada to "inspect" pothole repair and crack sealing machines to be shipped for a project. We wonder what the lawmaker, who is also chairman of a parliamentary committee on the road transport and bridges ministry, will do there since she apparently has no technical knowledge to inspect the items. And what purpose will her PA serve there?
From the nature of these travels and the background of officials selected for them, it won't be wrong to call them pleasure trips as the nation eventually gains close to nothing from them.
Unfortunately, over the years, a culture has been created in the country where high-ranking government officials are offered foreign trips to inspect materials for various projects or for "training" purposes. These trips are often funded by different project implementing agencies. And in many cases, the people who are chosen for these trips are senior officials who are nearing retirement or have few years left of their service, and whose "training" is seldom put at the service of said projects or the country. The question is: Why organise such tours then? Is there some kind of underhand dealing behind these all-expenses-paid trips for people in decision-making positions? And how will soon-to-retire officials even utilise the knowledge gained from such trips?
Only recently, we showed in this column why this practice is nothing but a sheer waste of money, and is completely illogical and immoral. In July, the government placed restrictions on non-mandatory foreign tours of state officials considering the ongoing economic crisis. But showing complete disregard for that directive, officials from different government agencies have continued to go on such trips. For instance, several officials of the Chattogram Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (CWASA), including its managing director, went abroad recently as part of a project that had over 80 percent of its physical work already completed. Similar trips by the civil aviation authority, Wasa, and DAE officials have also been reported. And recently, the Dhaka Wasa MD has taken this practice to another level by including himself in a study tour while on leave.
From the nature of these travels and the background of officials selected for them, it won't be wrong to call them pleasure trips as the nation eventually gains close to nothing from them. Coming back to the issue of the MP set to go abroad to inspect road repairing equipment, we think the visit is neither mandatory nor beneficial to the cause cited. Such trips should not be encouraged by the government at all.