Though there is a scope to make government officials accountable to people through public hearings, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) cannot utilize it as many allegations raised during its such hearings remain unsolved.
A new study of the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) reveals that only 27 percent allegations were resolved after public hearings and the remaining 73 percent remained unresolved for lack of cooperation by the authorities’ cooperation.
TIB senior programme manager (research and policy) Wahid Alam and deputy programme manager Md Shahidul Islam jointly presented the findings of the study titled ‘Public hearings of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC): Effectiveness, challenges and way forward’ at a press conference at TIB head office on Sunday.
The study was carried out on 13 public hearings held during December 2014 to December 2016. The main objective of this study was to observe the effectiveness of the public hearing, present its influence on public service agencies and identify its challenges.
TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman, its adviser for executive management Prof Dr Sumaiya Khair and director Rafiqul Hasan were present.
According to the study, about 69 percent of complainants say their allegations were not solved for lack of cooperation by the authorities concerned while 27 percent think illegal exchange of money stood in the way.
The ACC holds hearings on the services provided by public agencies like Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk), land office, electricity offices, sub-registrar office, passport office and health services.
The public hearings are arranged as part of the Commission’s graft prevention activities being carried out following the Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2004 and the National Integrity Strategy.
Speaking at the press conference, Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the public hearing is a potential initiative, which has the potential to make the service-oriented public organisations and agencies accountable to people. “To get effective results, the public hearing should be institutionalised,” he said.
The TIB chief said although the hearings put positive impacts on public agencies, the ACC is unable to monitor the activities of all the government institutions across the country.
Internal control and surveillance must be strengthened within the agencies concerned to minimise the trust deficit between service-providers and service-receivers, he said.
Iftekhar said the ACC must strengthen its follow-up activities so that the public hearings can bring positive results to make the common people aware of their rights and encourage them to raise their voice against corruption.