Ministry/Division national level units of administration organised as part of the Bangladesh Secretariat for the conduct of business of the secretariat. In The Rules Of Business of 1996, division is defined as a self-contained administrative unit responsible for the conduct of business of the government in a distinct and specified sphere and declared as such by the government. Ministry is defined as the division or a group of divisions constituted as a ministry. Business of the government is allocated among the different ministries and divisions. The responsibility for allocation of business rests with the Cabinet Division. Under each ministry or division there are Attached Departments, subordinate offices and para statal bodies. Details of the typical organisational set-up of the ministry or division run as follows:

An additional secretary or a joint secretary working just below the secretary is normally designated as the head of a wing. Wing means a self-contained subdivision of a ministry/division for conducting specified duties of a distinct nature. Below the wing is branch. Branch means sections grouped together headed by a deputy secretary or an officer of equivalent rank. Below the branch is section, ie a basic working unit in a ministry/division, placed under the charge of an assistant secretary or a senior assistant secretary.

The secretary is designated as the administrative head of the ministry/division who is responsible for the administration and discipline and proper conduct of business assigned to it. He is further responsible for careful observance of the rules in the ministry/division, attached departments and subordinate offices. The secretary is required to keep the minister informed of the working of the ministry/division. The secretary is further designated as the principal accounting officer of the ministry/division, including its attached departments and subordinate offices. He has to ensure that funds allocated to the ministry/division and other organisations attached to the ministry/division are spent in accordance with rules/laws for the time being in force.

Under the rules of business, the role of the ministry/division is limited to: (a) policy formulation; (b) planning; (c) evaluation of execution of plans; (d) legislative measures; (e) assisting the minister in the discharge of responsibilities to the Jatiya Sangsad (f) personnel management at the top level, ie of the officers not below the rank of member/director in the cases of public statutory corporations, and officers not below and level of National Pay Scale-V in the cases of attached departments and subordinate offices; and (g) such other matter/matters as may be determined by the Prime Minister from time to time.

Policy formulation remains one of the important functions of a ministry dealing with a specified subject. In formulating policy on the subject allotted to more than one ministry, inter-ministerial consultation is mandatory. After inter-ministerial consultation, the policy in draft form is placed before the cabinet for approval. In respect of planning functions each ministry draws up development projects which are generally of two types, ie foreign aided projects, and projects which are funded entirely by government resources. The projects so drawn up require the approval of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC). Approval process requires prior scrutiny of the Planning Commission. Approved projects are executed by the relevant agencies under the ministry. The evaluation and monitoring of such projects are done by the ministry in monthly meetings held to review progress of each project. The ministries remain accountable to the ECNEC and the National Economic Council (NEC) for efficient and timely completion of the projects.

With regard to legislative measure, whenever a law is to be framed, the relevant ministry initiates the proposal, holds inter-ministerial consultations and then seeks the views of the ministry of law. Based on the views of the ministry of law, draft proposal is submitted to the cabinet for approval. Upon approval by the cabinet, the ministry of law gives legislative shape to the proposed law, and after that it is referred to relevant standing committee in the Jatiya Sangsad. Based on the views of the committee final draft of the proposed law is placed before the Sangsad for approval.

One of the important tasks of the ministry is to assist the minister in the discharge of his/her responsibilities to the Jatiya Sangsad. There are two broad aspects of such assistance to the minister. First, to oversee the functions of each ministry there is a parliamentary standing committee. This committee consists of elected members of Sangsad representing various parties. Minister is also a member of it. The task of the ministry is to assist the minister and the other members of the committee to deal with issues that are raised in the committee. Second, when the Sangsad is in session, it’s members raise questions regarding various subjects related to a ministry. The ministry provides the facts and other supplementary information to enable the minister to face such questions in the Sangsad.

As regards personnel management at the top level, the ministry is responsible for deployment of certain categories of officers including matters relating to their promotion, training and discipline. In dealing with such issues, the ministry is guided by laid down rules and instructions issued from time to time by the Ministries of Finance, Establishment and the cabinet division. Generally, bigger ministries have more than one division. Thus Ministries of Finance and Planning each has three divisions. Each of these divisions, however, is headed by separate secretaries, all of whom work under one minister. In some cases, a division of a ministry may be headed by a state minister. Similarly, a ministry with more than one division may be headed by a state minister. Some ministries headed by ministers may have state or deputy ministers.

There is no fixed rule about who will be the head of the ministry, a minister or state minister. This is left to the discretion of the Prime Minister who alone is responsible for deciding about the appointments of the ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers. He or she is also the final authority to allocate the portfolio of ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers. The allocation is subject to change at the discretion of the Prime Minister. Again, it is also left to the discretion of the Prime Minister to reorganise ministries by merger or separation. [AMM Shawkat Ali]

Bibliography 1. Secretariat Instructions as amended, 1976.