ACC was more lenient in 2018, data show

Morshed Noman . Dhaka | Update:

The number of cases filed and charge sheets and arrests made by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) decreased last year.

The number of punishments handed also decreased in the year, according to the annual report of the anti-graft body submitted to President Abdul Hamid on Monday.

Regarding the decrease in the number of cases and charge sheets, ACC said they spent more time over the issues that could be proved by documents.

In 2018, ACC filed a total of 216 cases while the numbers were 273 and 359 in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

The number of charge sheets framed was 236 last year, while it was 382 and 535 in 2017 and 2016 respectively.

The commission would not compromise with the 'standard' of any case, so the investigation procedure has been strengthened, ACC chairman Iqbal Mahmood said. Documents and evidences are being scrutinised intensively, he said.

The ACC drives and arrests over the last three years was a much-talked about issue, but the number of arrests declined last year. The anti-corruption watchdog arrested 388 people in 2016, 182 in 2017 and only 57 in 2018.

The arrest spree waned after the civil service act was passed in last October. Debates emerged over whether the civil servants could be arrested or not after the act was passed. Amid the debates, ACC arrested a revenue officer at Chattogram Customs House on 10 January. Later, a district commandant of Ansar-VDP was arrested while attempting to bribe an ACC officer on 24 January.

The number of written complaints dropped last year, too. ACC overlooked a large section of the allegations as they extra-schedule. Several other allegations were sent to the offices concerned who were asked to inform the commission after taking necessary steps.

The ACC thinks the number of written complaints has decreased due to the launch of the hotline. ACC said more than 1.7 million allegations were made through the hotline in 2018.

The enforcement team conducted 144 drives after being tipped off on the hotline. Luxurious cars owned by CBA leaders of government institutions were seized in such drives.

ACC report shows punishments were handed in 63 per cent cases last year while it was 68 per cent in 2017.

ACC was not seen that active in the last two years, said Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) executive director Iftekharuzzaman.

They were more active in taking preventive measures rather than controlling, he said.

They were more active in cases and probes dealing with people committing minor offences, but avoided catching the big fishes, Iftekharuzzaman said adding that the ACC were not so active regarding the banking sector.

The ACC has made around 120 recommendations in the report.

It stressed improvement of regular working methods at the ministries and offices as well as inventing new methods and speeding up works.

The report observed that most of the corruption take place due to procedural faults in government services. Also, inefficiency of the employees cause delay in delivering services.

It identified sources of corruption at government offices and service organisations and recommended strong measures.

The service rendering process is much complicated at many government offices, said Ali Imam Majumder, former cabinet secretary. If ACC had made appropriate recommendations, these could be amended and simplified accordingly, he observed.

*This report, appeared in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Nusrat Nowrin

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