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An indictment of incumbents̢۪ failure to curb corruption

THE global corruption perceptions index for the year 2013, released by the Bangladesh chapter of the Berlin-based Transparency International at a press conference in the capital Dhaka on Tuesday, as mentioned in a New Age report on Wednesday, has ranked Bangladesh 16th from the bottom among 177 countries. Last year, the CPI ranked the country 13th from the bottom among 176 countries. Although the country appears to have seen some improvement in the corruption index this year, it is still among the countries mired in rampant corruption. Moreover, with it scoring 27 out of 100, the country was rated by the CPI as the second most corrupt country in South Asia where Afghanistan with a score of 8 topped such countries. It may be pertinent to recall here that the country scored 26 in the perception index last year. Overall, one has reasons to believe that the marginal improvement Bangladesh made in the CPI for 2013 is attributable more to the failure of some other countries to curb corruption than to the Awami League-led government’s attempt to comply with its election pledge to take ‘multi-prong measures’ to fight corruption.
The government may come up with the clichéd argument that it is their predecessors who are to blame for such pervasive corruption, and thus the country cannot get rid of the problem overnight. However, such a statement cannot rule out the widespread allegations that the government has hardly been serious and sincere about curbing corruption ever since it assumed power in 2009. Additionally, in defiance of enormous criticism from conscious citizens and the media in particular, it has withdrawn thousands of cases, many of which involve corruption, lodged earlier against the ruling party leaders and activists. One can also refer to the fact that the Anti-Corruption Commission has continued to fail to come out of its lackadaisical approach to fight high-profile corruption like the Padma Bridge scam, the railway recruitment bribery, share market scam, Hallmark and Destiny money laundering, etc. Unfortunately, the pressure by the government on the commission to remain so has also been too obvious to ignore. More importantly, the latest amendment to the Anti-Corruption Commission Act with the controversial provision that the commission must take permission of the government before filing any graft case against any public official just a few weeks ago has reinforced the idea that the incumbents like their predecessors are unwilling to help the anti-graft body effectively fight the menace.
It is needless to overemphasise that corruption not only significantly hinders the expected growth of the economy but also illegally benefits a few at the expense of the rest, a problem that may end up pushing society into a permanent chaos. The government would be well-advised to take into account the TI report that underscored ‘the urgent need for a renewed effort to crack down on money laundering, cleanup political financing, pursue the return of stolen assets and build more transparent public institutions.’

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