The government has already appointed CEOs at 11 municipalities
The government has decided to appoint chief executive officers at all “A” category municipalities in the country gradually, but mayors are not willing to accept them.
According to the plan, the CEO will be an assistant secretary rank officer from the admin cadre service.
“When a CEO is assigned, revenue generation increases and municipalities will be managed smoothly through following rules and regulations,” said Helal Uddin Ahmed, senior secretary of the Local Government Division (LGD).
However, a group of mayors shared their misgivings regarding appointment of CEOs since mayors will not have any authority over them. Such government employees will get salaries from the government instead of from the municipalities.
The Municipal Association of Bangladesh (MAB) has also expressed its concern over the changed source of salary from local revenue to national revenue and reconsideration of the mayor's jurisdiction to provide Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of the appointed officers.
The decision of appointing CEOs at municipalities has been taken through discussions with the highest level of the government in line with the Local Government Act 2009.
The government has already appointed CEOs at 11 municipalities, including Benapole, Laksam, Bhairab, Hajiganj and Chowmuhani.
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There are 194 “A” category municipalities out of 328 across the country.
Preferring to be anonymous, one of the mayors said: “Under the existing law, a CEO can be appointed but his or her salary will be allotted from municipalities' own revenue and the officers will be under the mayor.”
However, with the new policy, the salary will be allotted from the ministry while the mayors will no longer give the officers’ ACRs.
“The government can appoint a CEO under the existing law. We hope it will bring mobility to the municipalities. But if they get salaries directly from the government and mayors don’t have access to their ACRs, the municipalities as organizations cannot perform their responsibilities properly,” said Md Asraful Alam, mayor of Benapole Municipality.
Mohammad Faruque Hossen, deputy secretary (municipal-1) of LGD, confirmed to Dhaka Tribune that mayors would not provide the ACRs of the CEOs.
“The salaries and other benefits of a CEO are usually allotted from municipalities’ local revenue. To ensure the appointed officers’ salaries the government has decided to provide them from national revenue for now, since the municipalities have yet to achieve their own capacity,” he added.
Criticizing recent bureaucratic developments in this respect, local government expert Prof Tofail Ahmed said: “This is not a government organization. Why is the government paying their salaries? The municipality is an institution of public representation. A certain portion comes from public money apart from government aid.”
He added: “Even if this is an interim support, the salary assistance should be provided through transferring it to the municipal fund.”
According to government employee rules and regulations, an employee can be shifted from one organisation to another in two systems: deputation and lien. The appointed person/officer will receive salary and other facilities such as provident fund from the organization the officers are being appointed to in both systems. Moreover, the first condition is that the organization should be willing to appoint the officer.
Helal Uddin Ahmed, the LGD senior secretary, said: “The position of CEOs in municipalities is not a sudden and new decision. We will gradually appoint CEOs through discussions with the mayors.”
In every tier of the government, public representatives and administrative officers work in parallel. “Due to being out of practice regarding the appointment of CEOs in municipalities for a long time and lack of knowledge among public representatives, the mayors are thinking that it has been forced on them,” he added.
However, when available, the authorities appoint officers to these positions, Helal Uddin said.
“A well-trained and skilled public administrative officer who is knowledgeable about government rules and regulations contributes greatly in his respective posted position while working. However, it is delayed due to a shortage of manpower and many officers' reluctance to go to the municipalities,” he added.