Sunday, August 24, 2008

Move to regularise 72 RCC staff sparks controversy

A fresh controversy is racking Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) as the corporation authorities are getting ready to give permanent appointments to 72 temporary staff just ahead of the new mayor-elect's induction to the office.

The temporary staff had allegedly been hired on political consideration during the tenure of former mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu, a BNP leader currently in jail on charges of corruption.

RCC Mayor-elect AHM Khairuzzaman Liton is scheduled for taking the oath of office on August 29, and the recruitment move just before his induction has given rise to some questions in the city.

RCC officials said current Acting Mayor Rezaunnabi Dudu, who also claims to be a member of BNP, has been pressuring them to complete the recruitment process 'in a hurry'.

Liton, who won the recent mayoral election with an Awami League ticket, condemned the move and termed it a part of RCC authorities' 'recruitment business'. He already complained to the LGRD ministry about the matter and urged the authority concerned to take immediate measures for stopping the process of permanent recruitment.

The staff selected for permanent recruitment are two deputy tax officers, 18 lower level clerks, 13 tax collectors, 27 health assistants, four pump operators, four chauffeurs, one MLSS, one work assistant, one imam, and one tube-well installer.

Sources said Minu recruited around 500 temporary staff without any test in 2004, although he had put out an advertisement in the media for the recruitment.

Dudu, who had been the councillor of ward no 9 before becoming the acting RCC mayor a year and a half ago, identified some 300 staff as unnecessary.

He told reporters during a meeting about the corporation's budget in June that 500 temporary staff would be dismissed in July due to a budget deficit of Tk 17 crore, which in his words 'had been incurred due to unnecessary recruitment and corruption that had been plaguing the city corporation'.

Dudu also observed at the time that those staff 'do no work but take part in BNP and Jamaat events'.

But he however did not dismiss any of the staff till the August 4 mayoral election, in which he also was a candidate.

In an abrupt reversal of position after the election, the acting mayor is now hurrying to make permanent the 72 temporary staff, and also sent a letter to the LGRD ministry for sending a representative to the RCC recruitment board.

Meanwhile, Mayor-elect AHM Khairuzzaman Liton announced that he will dismiss political cadres and unnecessary staff who were appointed by Minu.

"The corporation is already suffering from a fund crisis and it has become difficult to pay even the salaries of regular staff. Under the circumstances when the authorities were planning to downsize, the sudden fresh move for permanent recruitment has utterly disappointed us," said a senior RCC official.

He also said the mayor-elect also requested the acting mayor and the staff to handle only the day to day affairs until his induction to the office.

"The move is a conspiracy. A certain quarter is trying to make things difficult for me ahead of my induction to the office. At the same time, some are planning to make some quick bucks from the recruitment process," Liton told The Daily Star.

When contacted, Acting RCC Mayor Rezaunnabi Dudu said, he initiated the process of making temporary staff permanent as he has 'a responsibility for them'. "Their permanent recruitment has been stalling for the last several years," he said.

Asked about his sudden 180 degree turn on the matter, he said, "The process was scheduled to begin before the election, but it was delayed due to the polls."

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