Bangladesh Railway Secretary Mofazzal Hossain claimed that railway itself unearthed the proposed high salary of railway staff and the proposal has been already investigated and sent to Planning Commission after a thorough review. Referring to recent media reports, he said the issue has not been properly reported as it was omitted that BR itself found out the mistake at first and took measures accordingly.
Observing that it does not reflect ethics of journalism to report on a draft proposal before it has been reviewed, he said, “When we make any proposal, we go through the draft several times, correcting or adding and deducting new things. Publishing a report highlighting the draft of a proposal without mentioning that it had been reviewed already is not right.”
Talking to Bangladesh Post the railway secretary said that they had identified the mistakes even before submitting the project proposal to the Planning Commission. He said, “It was a mistake. We have taken initiatives to amend the proposal before the Project Evaluation Committee (PEC) meeting of the Planning Commission. Moreover, not only the salary, the whole proposal has been reviewed to find whether there is anymore mistake or not. After thorough review, the proposal was again sent to the Planning Commission.”
Earlier the Planning Commission had termed the BR project proposal ‘unusual and unacceptable’ as they found irregularities in different level of the proposal and sent it back for correction. The Planning Commission also found irregularities in proposal of salaries for staff of the technical project. In the proposed project, more than Tk 4 lakh was sought for a cleaner’s monthly salary.
The irregularities were found in the Tk 256 crore technical project which was taken to improve the railway communication across the country.According to the Planning Commission, the railway ministry has proposed a budget of Tk 256.31 crore for the project ‘Preparatory technical assistance for the development of Bangladesh Railway communication system’. Of the total, Tk 180.50 crore will be taken as loan from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the rest of the amount will be spent from the government fund.
In the Development Project Proposal (DPP), supported staff salary was mentioned in page 95, where Tk 4.20 lakh monthly salary was estimated for a cleaner; Tk 83,950 monthly salary for office assistant, photocopy operator, computer operator and filed coordinator; Tk 16.25 lakh monthly salary for foreign consultant and Tk 1.25 lakh for CAD operator.
A total of 1434 consultants, of which 1153 are foreigners, were proposed to conduct feasibility study and ancillary works of the project. The commission opined that number of consultants for the project were more than necessity which can be minimized through proper discussion.
The Planning Commission further opined that a consultant’s salary has been estimated Tk 25 lakh each month, which must have to be corrected as per the recently approved ADB project. On the other hand, more than Tk 4 crore was estimated for consultant vehicle support, which is necessary to know the rationale for this expenditure.
The 11 projects are proposed in the technical proposal. Among others, feasibility study with detailed design for the construction of a new bridge parallel to the existing railway on Hardinge Bridge is worth mentioning.