Corruption in Finance Minister's sight finally (The News Today (Bangladesh))

The finance minister has finally admitted unbridled corruption in Bangladesh lending credence to what the Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB) has long been highlighting, much to annoyance of the government. Interestingly, the minister preferred to describe corruption as social terrorism that is causing 2 to 3 percent loss to GDP growth. But he possibly does not know that by terming it a social terrorism, he has only hurt the sentiments of millions of ordinary Bangladeshis who abhor acts of corruption, leading simple and honest life-styles.

What is more alarming is the fact that there have been political and administrative influences on the country’s corruption watchdog – Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) – and curbing its administrative power is the key reasons behind the worsening situation.

The government’s failure to implement pledges to fight corruption, lack of professionalism and moral courage of ACC, curtailing independence of ACC and grabbing of land, rivers and wetlands have overshadowed Bangladesh’s profile in corruption. Loan default under political patronage, Hall Mark, Destiny, Padma Bridge, railway recruitment and share market scams and Rana Plaza collapse have also contributed to Bangladesh’s poor ranking.

The highest deposit of ill-gotten money to the Swiss Bank is from Bangladesh while the second highest number of buyers of ‘second home scheme’ in Malaysia is also from Bangladesh. These are some examples of wealth accumulation by the powerful quarters disproportionate with their known income. It is just an outcome of corruption in a collective manner at political and administrative levels.

The government’s sweeping denial of corruption and a culture of impunity and protection of those accused of corruption have contributed to Bangladesh’s downslide in stopping corruption. Corruption in Bangladesh goes on unchecked, as the constitutional institutions like the parliament and judiciary and statutory bodies like human rights commission, anti-corruption commission and information commission cannot assert their power and play due role because of an overriding influence of the executive branch everywhere.

There is no alternative to a functional parliament, an effective and independent anti-corruption commission, rule of law, law enforcing agencies free from political influence and coordination among ACC, law enforcing agencies, attorney general, Comptroller and Auditor General, National Board of Revenue and Bangladesh Bank to overcome the dismal situation.