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State of the Administrative

Accountability in Bangladesh

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Part: 01 Accountability

Accountability:
Accountability is the capacity to call officials to account for their actions. This is the best way to
build the government’s capacity. If the accountability is transparent and clear, then we can call it
an effective accountability. Effective accountability has two major parts:
1. Answerability
2. Consequences
1. Answerability: This is the requirement to respond periodically to the questions concerning
one’s official actions. It helps the employees to be clear and transparent in their work place.
2. Consequences: It means the result of something that has happened. For accountability, there
always should be predictable and meaningful consequences. Without a meaningful consequence,
the accountability is nothing but a time consuming formality.

Types of Accountability:
There are two types of accountability according to the political scientists. They are:
1. Vertical Accountability
2. Horizontal Accountability
1. Vertical Accountability: It involves differential power relationship where the executive can be
forced to change course or can be dismissed. It means, in this process the Electorate can any time
dismiss the executive or can force to change its course.
2. Horizontal Accountability: This is the situation where no party or group has the absolute
power to over-ride. Bangladesh follows this process. Though the Electorate has the sovereign
power in Bangladesh to dismiss the government, but in between elections, which must be held
every five years, the Electorate has absolutely no ability to influence government actions.
Every country follows both internal and external accountability. Internal accountability is the
administrative accountability where the subordinates are accountable to their superiors. And the
external accountability is where the whole administration is accountable for its actions. External
accountability through feedback from service users and citizenry can now be obtained at a low
cost and a greater variety of government activities, and is an essential adjunct to improve
efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery.

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Part: 02 Administrative Accountability

Administrative Accountability:
Administrative Accountability means making the civil servants answerable for their actions. In a
democratic government system usually the civil servants work in the government for the people.
For that it is important to make the public officials accountable for the job performed and
exercised by them.
Administrative Accountability has to be understood in relation to make public policies and to
implement them. It means accountability of those administrators who in some ways contribute to
the decision making process.

Types of Administrative Accountability:


The concept of Administrative Accountability has three dimensions. They are:
1. Political Accountability
2. Legislative Accountability
3. Judicial Accountability
1. Political Accountability: In a democratic state, the administration is accountable to the
political executives in the first instance. The bureaucracy work as an advisor of the political
executives on matters connected with policy execution and policy formulation.
2. Legislative Accountability: The political executives are accountable to the legislature.
Whatever policy decisions are taken by the top administrator is questioned in the parliament.
This happens not only to inform the ministers of public reaction but also to keep a discipline in
the administration.
3. Judicial Accountability: Citizens of the democratic country are provided the necessary legal
means to challenge the policy decisions as well as administrative decisions of the government. In
Bangladesh, Supreme Court and High Court can issue a variety of writs challenging the decisions
of the government.

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Part: 03 Institutional Arrangements in
Bangladesh

Existing Institutional Arrangements in Bangladesh:


Both internal and external accountability exist in Bangladesh. The institutional arrangements in
the internal mechanisms are:
1. The Parliament
2. The Supreme Court
The institutional arrangements in the external mechanisms are:
1. The Media
2. Civil Society Organizations
3. Progressive Private Business
4. The donors

Internal Mechanisms:
1. The Parliament: Parliament is the top most institution in Bangladesh’s accountability system.
Parliament empowers government and gives it its legitimacy. Through parliament people
determine who to rule. This is the place where the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers are
supposedly subject to constant oversight and the actions of the Executives are asked in
committee.
2. The Supreme Court: In Bangladesh, Supreme Court issues orders requiring the government
to come before it and justify its actions. The citizens of the democratic country are provided the
necessary legal means to challenge the policy decisions as well as administrative decisions of the
government. Supreme Court works in the defense of citizen’s rights and civil liabilities.

External Mechanisms:
1. The Media: Of all the information checks on the abuse of executive power, the media is
undoubtedly the most important. The media includes all the television channels and the press.
Bangladesh is blessed with a free and out-spoken media. Despite difficult conditions, the media
is playing a significant role in the life of the nation. There are over 1,100 daily and

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Weekly publication- newspapers, periodicals, and magazines published in both English and
Bangla. There are also 9 television channels including 1 government channel.

2. Civil Society Organizations: Civil Society includes trade unions, private business, political
parties, non-government organizations (NGO) and other interest groups. Each interest groups and
association has its own agenda. But ultimately it is public opinion expressed through organized
civil society that holds a government accountable.

3. Progressive Private Business: A class of dynamic young better educated entrepreneurs has
emerged whose attitudes differ markedly from the small group of “crony capitalist” who thrived
under the martial law regimes. There are significant numbers of export oriented enterprise that
can only survive and thrive if they can compete in global markets. For them it is crucially
important to reduce transaction cost. They need efficient transport, ports, financial services,
telecommunications, power and the like. They are potentially a powerful lobby for improved
governance.

4. The Donors: Bangladesh has a great dependency on the donors. This is no more evident than
in matters of accountability, where the pubic often seems to look to the donor representatives to
raise issue of poor governance with the authorities and is often expected to insist on reforms as a
condition of their assistance. At the same time, the imposition of conditionality is widely and
deeply resented.

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Part: 04 Effectiveness of Existing
Arrangements
Effectiveness of Existing Institutional Arrangements in Bangladesh:
The institutional arrangements, both in internal and external mechanisms, are not much effective
in Bangladesh. At first we will discus about the internal mechanisms- the parliament and the
Supreme Court.
Under the present constitutions, strong ties of party loyalty make it unlikely the Parliament will
become an effective instrument for holding the executive to account. This is because the party
with the majority controls both the executive and legislative branches. The parliamentary
members of the party do not investigate their own party’s ministers. If they turned up evidence of
incompetence or wrongdoing, they would be undermining their own party with the electorate.
They would also be jeopardizing their own position.
The Supreme Court of Bangladesh is a quite effective one. The growing role of the Supreme
Court in holding government accountable underlines the importance of moving forward with the
government’s proposed judicial program. To the extent that the program succeeds in improving
operations of the Supreme Court, by automating its case handling procedures, upgrading its
facilities and equipment.
The external mechanisms are- the media, Civil Society Organizations, Progressive Private
Business, and the donors.
Among all the informal checks on the abuse of executive power in Bangladesh, the Media is
undoubtedly the most important. The media of Bangladesh is free but not wholly independent.
While most newspaper and TV channels have some political slant affecting their objectivity,
professionalism is gradually taking root.
The Civil Society Organizations are the ultimate source of accountability. Through them the
people are able to express their opinion to the organized civil society that holds a government
accountable. Now-a-days many NGOs in Bangladesh helping the poor people to participate in
holding the public agencies accountable for the delivery of services to them.
The progressive private business is trying to be effective in the institutional arrangements. But
they can not, because of the conflicting lobbies among them.
The Donors inevitably do impose extensive conditionality and this is widely and deeply
resented. This somewhat schizophrenic attitude springs from the public’s frustration bordering on
despair that their rules don’t govern better and underexposed to public opinion.

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Part: 05 Recommendations

► Ensure the proper accountability of the civil servants for their actions.

► The government should be transparent to the administration and the people.

► Stop corruption in the judiciary, customs service, and government bureaucracy;

► Non-tariff barriers to trade, such as import bans and quotas as well as strict labeling and

licensing requirements;

► The media should not be influenced by the politics and the politicians.

► Control the fiscal burden of government, which encompasses income tax rates, corporate tax

rates, and trends in government expenditures as a percent of output;

► The rule of law, efficiency within the judiciary, and increase the ability to enforce contracts;

► Regulatory burdens on business, including health, safety, and environmental regulation;

► Restrictions on banks regarding financial services, such as selling securities and insurance;

► Labor market regulations, such as established work weeks and mandatory separation pay; and

► Stop informal market activities, including corruption, smuggling, piracy of intellectual

property rights, and the underground provision of labor and other services.

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Part: 06 Conclusion

Robert Klitgard from the University of Natal, South Africa enunciated an equation of corruption.
Today the expanded form of that equation is:
C=M +D–A–S
Here, C = Corruption; M = Monopoly; D = Discretion; A = Accountability and S = Public Sector
Salaries.
So, it is clear from the above equation that corruptions take place when there is no
Accountability. Effective institutions for public accountability are the key to good governance.
Bangladesh, as a parliamentary democracy, has the potential to build such institutions. But yet,
for the most part, the government has not done so. A political party when forms the government,
they use their enormous power not to develop the country, but to fill up their pockets with black
money. None of this would happened if there was a proper system of accountability where all the
civil servants are answerable for their actions and the parliamentary members of the party in
power investigate their own party’s ministers. The people of the Civil Society should demand
that all parties recognize that once in power they rule only by the will of the people and
consequently have an unquestionable obligation to account for their actions, not just at each
election, but also on a continuous basis between elections. If the constitutional and political
structures, that regulate accountability and transparency, are effective then the people of
Bangladesh will assert their right to good governance and the traditional and constitutional ways
of enduring good governance will work.

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