The Financial Express

Graft: A fresh reminder  

| Updated: February 01, 2021 22:08:19

Graft: A fresh reminder   

Bangladesh has to bear with a few unsavoury developments. Corruption is one of those. This particular vice being pervasive has been dwarfing the nation's many remarkable achievements on both economic and social fronts. The just-published Corruption Perception Index (CPI), the flagship annual research of the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) has come as a fresh reminder of the state of graft situation in the country.

The country having scored only 26 points out of 100 has been ranked 146th among 180 countries in this year's CPI of the TI. It has failed to improve in terms of both ranking and score. The country slipped two notches in the ranking to become the 12th most corrupt country in the world. In South Asia, only the war-torn Afghanistan is trailing behind. Overall, it is not at all a happy sight.

Bangladesh's score in the CPI has remained almost unchanged for more than a decade, starting from the year 2009. There have been minor fluctuations in its year-on-year scores. The country's ranking also saw no major improvement except for a couple of years. Its ranking went up a few steps only when the number of countries performing worse than Bangladesh was more. The reality is that factors that promote corruption have always remained intact.

The incumbent head of government, on several occasions, expressed her resolve to eliminate corruption from the country. Unfortunately, most others running the state entities and institutions down the line are not equally committed to combating corruption. The country's slide in the CPI ranking in 2020 highlights this fact. The unveiling of a few scams in the banking, health and financial sectors and the arrest of a lawmaker for his alleged involvement in money laundering in a Gulf country might have been responsible. In the recent past also, many such irregularities had figured prominently in the CPI.  

None would dispute the fact that corruption in Bangladesh is systemic. It is not easy to deal with or curb systemic corruption as unscrupulous section of people are out to make unearned income at all tiers of the administration. As none in the initial years of the nationhood had taken a meaningful and effective move to curb it, corruption extended its ugly tentacles deep into society.

Many tend to believe that patronisation from high places---this is not regime-specific---has helped corruption thrive. Such a notion may or may not be right. None has ever made any attempt to know the truth. Undeniably, the political culture and the inaction of the state institutions, including the so-called anti-graft body, have helped corruption become pervasive.

There is no denying that it is hard to curb extensive corruption by one or two institutions or watchdog bodies. It has to be an all-out movement, bolstered  by the state. Yet much depends on the role of the anti-graft watchdog. If it meant business and pursued a few high-profile corrupt elements, there would have been an impact on the graft situation. Hopefully, this year's CPI would create the much-needed urge among the relevant parties to rein in graft in the country. 

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