• Thursday, Jul 07, 2022
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TIB: Upto 67% of disability allowance embezzled from public allowance grant

  • Published at 04:45 pm February 11th, 2021
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The logo of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Collected

Corruption and lack of surveillance prevail among the disabled community in Bangladesh, according to a recent study by the TIB

A Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) study says that money from a government grant provided to the differently abled community is reportedly being embezzled.

It stated that 24% to 67% of the money provided by the grant was being embezzled from the differently abled disability allowances. 

The study was revealed on Thursday via a virtual press conference by the anti-graft watchdog. The study was conducted from December 2019 to November 2020 through interviews, group discussions, observations and the review of relevant documents and books.

Local representatives are responsible for the payment of disability allowance to the disabled community at the field level. Allegations against a section of them state that they have enlisted themselves into the beneficiary list by exchanging money illegally, according to the TIB study. 

The anti-graft watchdog also said there are allegations of political influence, stating that political moves were used to receive disability allowance cards.

NGOs have to bear the pressures of bribe money when releasing financial grants from the National Foundation for Development of the Disabled Persons as well, the study adds. 

Although seats are reserved in public transport for people with disabilities, there are no special arrangements for lifting wheelchairs. As a result, differently abled people cannot avail the seats reserved on public transportation. Those who have not received specialized identity cards could possibly be denied state benefits.

Low budget allocation

In the last three years, budget allocations among the special expenditure sectors under the Ministry of Social Welfare have increased, considering inflation and increasing numbers in the differently abled community. However, the increase is not sufficient when the demand is considered, the study stressed.

There is no specific allocation in the budget to conduct the activities of committees at different levels (e.g. upazila, city and district levels). As a result, regular meetings are not held, the study read.

In the Department of Social Services, 16% of people registered with disabilities are not under the coverage of the disability allowance. 

A total of Tk20,000 for every four months is allocated as office expenses for the Disability Service and Help Centers, which is less than what is required, the study also found. 

There has been a dearth of allocation in the budget to create access to employment for the disabled community. There is also a lack of initiative in educating them and teaching them to become skilled manpower, said TIB.

Lack of technical skills

There is a lack of human resources for technical and specialized knowledge, such as occupational and speech therapists in the Disability Service and Help Centre. 

A section of the therapists and their assistants at the Disability Service and Help Centre lack specialized training on therapy and the use of technical equipment, stated the report.

Lack of transparency and accountability 

The TIB reports that the Ministry of Social Welfare website lacks information about the committees, budget allocation for the differently abled community, the number of people receiving allowances and how to receive the allowances. The audit is also not done properly.

There is also a lack of detailed information on rehabilitation activities for burnt and disabled people and the dissemination of information and awareness activities of different services catering to the needs of the community.

Recommendations

In regard to laws and regulations, TIB urged the reformation of laws and regulations in a realistic manner, also calling to ensure implementation.

In the national budget, separate allocations should be made under different ministries regarding disability. The budget of the Ministry of Social Welfare should be increased according to the demand related to disability, concerning institutional capacities, TIB suggested.

Concerning transparency in accountability to prevent corruption, TIB said the websites of all concerned organizations should become informative and should be under effective supervision.

The number of people with disability registered with the Department of Social Services is 21 lakh 43 thousand 353 as of 30 November 2020. 

The study was presented by Farhana Rahman, the Program Manager of the Research and Policy wing at TIB.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of the organization said that there is a lack of regular surveillance in this sensitive sector. Corruption is also dominant, he added.

According to the estimates of the World Bank (2011) and some NGOs, around 9% to 10% of the population in Bangladesh is differently abled. At 9%, the total number of these people in Bangladesh in November 2020 was 1 crore 54 lakh. 

This implies that about one out of every seven people are registered as differently abled within the Department of Social Services.

Corruption in various services related to disability

Types of services

Amount of bribe or extra money/percentage

Disability identification in government hospitals

Tk 1,000-1,500 

Inclusion of names in the database

Tk 100 - 200

Receipt of Suborno card

Tk 1,000-3,000

Inclusion for disability allowance

Tk 1,000-3,000  

Getting disability allowance

 24% -67% Embezzlement

Financial grants for NGOs from the National Foundation for Development of the Disabled Persons 

Tk 20,000-70,000

Source: TIB

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