Govt firm on office of ombudsman: Mirza Aziz
Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Finance adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam has said the government is firm to set up the office of ombudsman to increase transparency and accountability.

"We are considering it sincerely as you all may know the council of advisers returned Ombudsman Amendment Ordinance 2008 to the law ministry for further scrutiny (Sunday)," he told reporters Monday after inaugurating a workshop on procurement reforms and performance.

The three-day workshop titled "Asia Regional Workshop on Implementing Procurement Reforms and Improving Procurement Performance" was organised by the planning ministry's Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) in association with the World Bank, ADB, DFID and AusAID.

Senior government officials from the countries of the Asia and the Pacific and representatives of foreign missions and donor agencies are attending the workshop.

Mirza Aziz said one of the prime objectives of the caretaker government was to establish an effective governance system.

"It can be achieved through increasing accountability, transparency and reducing corruption," he added.

The initiatives such as separation of the judiciary from the executive, reconstitution of the Anticorruption Commission and Public Service Commission and introduction of the Right to Information Ordinance were a part of that process, the adviser said.

"In addition to that we enacted the Public Procurement Rules 2008 which would reduce fraud and help a great deal to combat corruption in the arena of public procurement and are planning to set up an office of ombudsman," he said in his speech.

Mirza Aziz also spoke of establishing a 'management information system' to monitor implementations of government projects.

He suggested greater harmonisation of procurement rules among the regional countries as it would decrease the transaction cost of doing business with the governments and lessen confusions among the bidding community.

"I would also ask for harmonization of rules among the development partners as we sometimes find it hard to implement projects financed by more than one donors as their procurement guidelines differ," added the adviser.

IMED secretary Sk AK Motahar Hossain said at least a quarter of procurement expenditures was lost on a lack of transparency and accountability.

He said the aim of public procurement reform was to improve governance in the public procurement area.

"The reform process will increase efficiency, transparency and accountability in the procurement of goods works and services by the government ministries, public sector undertakings and other public bodies," Hossain said.

ADB country director Hua Du stressed strengthening technical capacities of agencies involved in procurement and needs to improvise e-governance.

Xian Zhu, country director of World Bank, said potential gains from such policy and institutional reforms were not the only key to fully implement procurement reforms.

"In Bangladesh's case, there remain several cross-cutting institutional and governance constraints. Clearly much more needs to be done to make it sustainable with contributions from public officials and bidding community," he added.

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