A research by the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has found various irregularities and corruption in the identification of differently-abled persons and their allowances.
The corruption includes taking bribes for enlistment in the differently-abled category and political influence in the listing, according to the findings of the research, entitled "Inclusiveness in Development and Disability: Governance Challenges and Way Forward", published on Thursday.
The qualitative research was carried out between December 2019 and November 2020.
It states, "Receiving disability allowances at field levels depends on the will of public representatives. There were allegations of political influence in getting allowances while differently-abled people in some cases had to pay Tk1,000-Tk3,000 each to the representatives for the listing."
TIB says many of the newly enlisted 2 lakh differently-abled in the 2019-20 fiscal year had to pay 24%- 67% of their first allowances to social welfare officials, bank staff and union parishad-level public representatives.
Meanwhile, some public hospital doctors and their assistants have been accused of taking Tk1,000 to Tk1,500 per person illegally to identify individuals as differently-abled, says TIB.
"People who are not meant to receive Suborno Card [the identification to get the allowances] are getting them through political lobbying. A section of lawmakers and secretariat and district administration staff are recommending that their relatives and acquaintances be awarded the cards," the TIB study noted.
TIB's Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said the differently-abled fell victim to widespread corruption and irregularities in accessing their services due to inadequate supervision and audit of the service providers.
The National Foundation for Development of the Disabled Persons provides conditional financial support to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which work with the differently-abled people.
The research found that a section of NGOs receives grants from the foundation by bribing public officials. The bribes in order to come by grants range from Tk20,000 to Tk70,000.
Transparency International Bangladesh says the NGOs that get grant through graft do not provide the services the grants are meant to ensure.
It found that therapy machines and other assistive devices bought by the disabled persons' foundation were of poor quality, though such purchases received adequate funding.
The study also found a lack of supervision in various services and projects for the differently-abled.
The research revealed that there had been no audit of upazila social service offices, disability service and help centres and disabled persons' foundation since 2016.
Many upazila committees for differently-abled persons prepared minutes of meetings without any meetings taking place.
Meanwhile, TIB thinks the action plan to implement the "Persons with Disabilities Rights and Protection Act 2013" has slowed down owing to a lack of coordination between the Ministry of Social Welfare and the National Disabled Development Foundation.
The anti-corruption watchdog said allocations for differently-abled people in the national budget were neither realistic nor adequate. Besides, allocations did not properly reach those for whom they were meant due to irregularities and corruption.
Based on the results of the study, TIB put forward a 14-point recommendation for a remedy of the situation.