Md. Joynal Abdin
The Financial Express on July 28, 2009
A thorough reform of the recruitment process for public officials is imperative in order to establish a civil service for the 21st century. Now, the Bangladesh Public Service Commission (PSC) recruits government officers to serve the nation. The PSC does often rightly or wrongly face criticism due to political influence that is exercised to facilitate the entry of politically favoured ones to public service. On its part, the PSC has otherwise been working efficiently to recruit the traditional cadre officers who cannot achieve all the goals of the Republic under globalisation.
The main objective of the PSC is to help the government establish a civil service for the 21st century by recruiting capable and efficient officers for the Republic, who should have integrity and dynamism. To achieve this goal, in this era of globalisation, through economic diplomacy, the PSC needs to undergo a thorough reform. The nation is eyeing to boost its export earnings. For accessing markets, Bangladesh signed a number of bilateral and regional trade agreements. Accessing markets depends upon how efficiently a country can deal with the issues on the negotiation tables in the bilateral, regional or multilateral frameworks of trade.
Does Bangladesh have any cadre service to handle the economic and trade issues? Does it have any specialised department or ministry to deal with trade negotiations for signing the agreements? Does Bangladesh have skilled trade negotiators? The answer is, ‘No’, though it is important to have the negotiators to achieve something out of the trade negotiations. As Bangladesh is going to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with other countries, it needs the negotiators.
A WTO Cell in the Ministry of Commerce handles the issues with support from Bangladesh Tariff Commission, Export promotion Bureau and other ministries and departments. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FBCCI) represents the private sector on the issues. To infuse professionalism, the WTO Cell in the Ministry of Commerce needs to be transformed into an independent “WTO, RTA and FTA Commission”, with the responsibilities of negotiating and updating international trade agreements. The PSC should recruit officers of this commission. Otherwise, the “WTO, RTA and FTA Commission” itself can be given the responsibility to recruit them. These officers should not be transferred to elsewhere.
Bangladesh needs a trade cadre, which should not be recruited through the existing examination system for the recruitment of the civil servants. The existing preliminary examination is not at all suited to recruit the officers for a skilled trade service. The existing examination is suited only for the recruitment of administrative officers.
The PSC now recruits only bookish people who memorise dozens of general knowledge questions to get through its preliminary exam. The question is how far the recruits are creative? For the trade service, the PSC should hold a special exam. to recruit the suitable officers who have the specialised education.
Trade service officers, to be posted in Bangladesh missions abroad, should be conversant in value creation, value addition and market access. Without these skills, an officer cannot be a good commercial counsellor in a Bangladesh embassy abroad.
So, Bangladesh needs a BCS trade promotion cadre to promote the country’s trade interest. The officers of the cadre have to be specialists in international marketing and not masters of all trades. To be an international marketing specialist, it is not necessary for an officer to be a master in Bangla literature, Bangla grammar or history and similar other subjects. But for an administrative cadre officer, it could be essential.
Each Bangladesh mission abroad should have a trade promotion officer. He should identify the demand for Bangladesh’s products in the host country to capture its market. It should be the duty of the trade promotion officers to liaise with the host government and trade bodies in the host country to create a congenial business environment for Bangladesh products.
The trade promotion office should have the responsibility to organise trade fairs in different cities of the host countries to introduce Bangladesh products. The trade officers should help Bangladeshi businessmen’s visits to host countries to facilitate export.
The trade promotion officers can also be recruited by the proposed “WTO, RTA and FTA Commission”, instead of the PSC.
In this age of globalisation, Bangladesh needs specialist professionalists more than ‘sabjanta’ (all-knowing) civil servants. There is nothing special, Bangladesh civil service can offering in this age of corporate culture. Multinational corporate houses are recruiting the best brains of this country by offer better pay and benefits. To stop the brain, drain the Bangladesh civil service exam. system should be reformed to recruit specialists.
The quota system should be abolished. All recruitments should be on merit. The civil service examination system needs to be redesigned to recruit professionalists in different fields. The preliminary examination should go. The written test should be held for the recruitment of specialists in different areas.
The objective of PSC cannot be achieved without the reforms. And it is the government that should initiate actions for such reforms with no partisan political interests on its agenda to serve so far as the recruitment of the best available talents in different categories of public service befitting the needs of the country in 21st century.