The Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has called for developing a national strategy containing short, medium and long-term action plans to manage and steer the recovery process from socio-economic setbacks being caused by the extraordinary national crisis related to coronavirus.
In a press release on Saturday, the TIB recommended that a 'Special Fund' equivalent to at least 10 per cent of GDP be set up for this purpose.
Reminding that management of any crisis like this is always vulnerable to corruption, TIB also called for ensuring the highest standards of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the strategy with particular emphasis on financial transparency in all stages and aspects.
Recalling that in a speech to the nation on March 25 the prime minister declared the situation as a national crisis that needed collective action, Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of the TIB said, "There is no scope of relaxing in complaisance relying on home quarantine and some visibly insufficient and uncoordinated measures."
He also said, "The capacity to detect infection and treatment must be enhanced and decentralised across the country sooner than later. Doctors and health workers must get full protection and their valuable service duly recognised."
Commending the prime minister's initiative in aid of workers of the export-oriented sectors and ultra-poor, executive director of the TIB said, "The process to implement this important initiative including how its benefits will reach the workers must be clearly defined without delay."
"Similarly, the remit of such initiatives must be expanded to equally include the ultra-poor. Other disadvantaged sections of society, especially low-income groups like day-labourers, farmers, rickshaw-pullers, domestic workers, small traders and the self-employed who have already or may soon become jobless cannot be forgotten," he added.
During this crisis, despite all restrictions, the supply chain of food and daily essentials must remain active failing which in addition to covid-19, quarantine itself may cause human sufferings and deaths. The reportedly confused and indecent abuse of power by a section of police personnel in the name of enforcing home quarantine have accentuated public despair, which must be stopped, the statement said.
Parallel with government efforts, the TIB also urged the richer sections of society to proactively contribute.
A section of the business community and industrialists have from time to time thrived thanks to various forms of advantages granted by the government at the cost of the public exchequer. At this critical stage for the nation we want to believe that they will take their turn to act with a sense of responsibility in the public interest, said Iftekharuzzaman.
In this connection, TIB also drew the attention of multinational companies, foreign investors and businesses as well as regional, international organisations, and bilateral and multilateral development partners of Bangladesh.
"They have stakes in development and socio-economic stability of Bangladesh, many of whom have benefited and will benefit from their interest and operation in the country. We call upon them to stand by Bangladesh today in their self-interest," the statement said.
The TIB also said there is no alternative to ensuring the highest standard of transparency and accountability to overcome the crisis effectively.
Unrestricted and regularly updated disclosure of information must be ensured, especially in terms of detailed sources and itemised allocation and expenses of funds as well as purposes and processes thereof, said the press release.
On the other hand, a deficit of trust in the information provided by the relevant public institution is feeding rumours which are leading to further panic. Detailed and specific data on such matters as tests, infection, deaths, treatment and recovery must be unrestrictedly disclosed for public information which will help people to prepare themselves better. It will also enhance public trust in the government and the relevant agencies, said the TIB.