Transparency and accountability in distribution of relief and incentives is of paramount importance

Many real poor people and farmers missed out on flood relief, Covid-19 assistance and agricultural incentives due to nepotism and political bias. To ensure transparency, government officials at the upazila level need to be directly involved in relief and incentives distribution instead of union parishad (UP) chairmen and members, speakers at a discussion have said.

The online discussion, titled “Covid-19, flood relief programs and agricultural incentives: Effectiveness of government services,” was organised by Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Oxfam in Bangladesh, and European Union on Sunday.

“UP chairmen and members do not distribute relief and incentives properly to the real poor people. They allocate part of it and sell the rest to businesses,” said Poverty Elimination Organization Chairman Md Zakir Hossain.

Moniruzzaman Dilu, a Netrokona resident, said: “UP chairmen and members make lists to serve their own interests. Their lists are based on nepotism and political considerations.”

Kamal Hossain, a Netrokona-based journalist, said: “A meeting should be held with civil society members of every village before making a list of relief and assistance beneficiaries. Upazila agriculture officers should distribute seeds among the real farmers, as chairmen and members do not keep their commitments.”

Rojina Begum, a UP member of the district, called on the government to raise assistance for the poor from Tk2,500 to Tk5,000. 

“We got enough assistance for 785 people, where there are thousands poor in Netrokona. The government also needs to provide seeds to farmers in October instead of December for the sake of proper cultivation,” she said.

CPD Distinguished Fellow Professor Mustafizur Rahman said the common people should be involved at all stages of relief and assistance distribution for the sake of transparency. “A mismatch is found in relief and incentive distribution due to the lack of a proper database. Transparency and accountability should be ensured while providing relief and incentives.”

Netrakona Deputy Commissioner Kazi M Abdur Rahman said flood and Covid-19 had posed many challenges.

“We took many initiatives to tackle those challenges. The government allocation has been increased in several phases this year compared to the previous one,” he added.

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