Standing committee’s foreign trip

It is expensive to run a permanent diplomatic mission in foreign lands. Yet most of the countries across the world operate such offices in the maximum number of countries. The key objective of these missions is to get various updates besides information on diplomatic decisions and trade in the quickest possible time. Bangladesh is no exception. The question is, despite the opportunity to obtain information through foreign missions, why did the standing committee of home ministry make an expensive plan to travel abroad to collect information?

The committee members proposed to visit the countries including the United States and UK where Bangladesh already has its diplomatic mission. Besides those missions have separate wings under the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is true visits may be required in some contexts. It is important to find out, how much information did the committee generate so far through the mission about the subject they intend to inquire by travelling to those countries. We do not know yet if the committee has confirmed about their subject of inquires which is very unfortunate.

The proposal of monitoring passport and visa issuance in various foreign missions in person is seemingly ridiculous in all respects.

People will not understand why they want to travel to nine countries if they do not finalise their objectives and matter of interests. Bangladeshi missions in foreign countries are not the only sources to collect information about passports and visas. Those countries have their missions in Bangladesh, too. We do not know if the standing committee has ever had any talks with the missions regarding the issue. The decision of flying abroad after the pandemic to collect information without any homework will certainly raise questions.

People may ask if the practice of travelling abroad with people’s money will ever come to an end. The grappling economy will not improve immediately after the pandemic ends. Moreover, the pandemic may bring a greater recession worldwide. So this is high time the country must control its expense and take austerity measures.

There have been doubts over foreign trips during the tenure of every government. Questions arose over standing committee’s trips to different countries. That is why the prime minister and the former finance minister gave instructions on foreign visits. The PM rightly thinks that the expenses of foreign trips should be met from the budget of the parliament. The finance minister said, the foreign tour of the MPs with the money of the ministry is a violation of financial discipline. In fact, the issue is in conflict with the spirit of separation of powers. The job of the standing committee is to hold the ministry accountable. Their moral strength will falter if the members of the committee go abroad in the ministry’s expense. It creates a conflict of interest.

The proposal of monitoring passport and visa issuance in various foreign missions in person is seemingly ridiculous in all respects. The committee needs to give an acceptable explanation so that people can be convinced that it is not a luxury trip of some influential persons or a class of privileged people to visit or shop abroad with the tax money of people. In fact, it is more a matter of ethics than government spending. If there is a big crisis in ethics, the downfall of the states discipline is inevitable.

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