Why would there be corruption even after raising salaries

Mahbub-ul-Hanif, Motahar Hossain

Two members of parliament of governing Bangladesh Awami League (AL) have expressed their grievance over the corruption of public servants during the budget session in parliament.

Mahbub-ul-Hanif, also AL joint general secretary, asked why there would be corruption even after raising the salaries of government employees?

He also demanded provision for submission of asset accounts in the form of affidavits by government employees at the time of joining the service and at specified intervals.

At the same time, Hanif sought to make the law stricter so that government employees do not get involved in corruption.

Another MP of Awami League, Motahar Hossain, alleged that government officials build homes in and outside the country, deposit money in Swiss banks but politicians bear the blame.

Corruption couldn’t be controlled

Participating in the general discussion on the proposed national budget for the 2024-25FY in parliament on Tuesday, Mahbub ul Alam Hanif said that corruption is dimming all the achievements of the government. Though the government has repeatedly announced a “zero tolerance” policy against corruption, corruption could not be controlled.

He stated that corruption regulations have been made rather flexible and relaxed. They (the government employees) are allowed to retain their jobs with a nominal penalty.

The AL leader said everyone points their fingers to the politicians whenever the issue of corruption is raised for discussion. There is a saying in this country that politicians are involved with corruption, but none but the ministers have executive power.

How could they commit corruption?

Mentioning that corruption is committed in various development projects and government procurement, Mahbub ul Alam Hanif said, “Where is the scope for politicians there (in development and procurement) if the government officials are not involved in those? Allegations of corruption against 1,000 officials and employees were submitted to the public administration in 2018. Thousands of Matiur (NBR’s former member Md. Matiur Rahman) are there.”

Taking a dig at the practice of sacrificing cows worth Tk 10 million and goats worth Tk 1.5 million in the Eid-ul-Azha, the AL lawmaker said only those who have ill gotten money can buy animals at that price.

He also advised the government to rethink the government employees act-2018. He pointed out that no permission is needed to arrest a politician if a criminal case is filed against them but such a permission from higher authority is required in case of a government employee.

Slamming the law, he said this act has been encouraging the government employees to commit corruption.

Hanif said to stop corruption, the ways of consumption have to be curbed. Let’s collect a list from the car and jewellery shops and ask the buyers their legal sources of income. The same could be done with the people who registered lands, homes or apartments in their names.

He also advised to make submission of wealth accounts compulsory during appointment and after every five years and promotion.

In favour of whitening black money

The ruling party MP spoke in favour of keeping the provision of whitening the black money but instead of the proposed 15 per cent tax, he requested to raise the tax rate  30 per ent for this.

Another AL lawmaker AKM Bahauddin also reiterated the same.

MP Motahar Hossain said, “We are in a dire situation now. When I was elected upazila chairman back in 1985, there were 10 unions in Hatibandha. I conducted a survey in 1987 and found that 92 per cent of the pucca houses belong to government officials.”

This treasury bench MP said, “There are so many houses, and so much land but no one of our intelligence (detectives) noticed this! That is what happens when the gamekeeper turns into a poacher. Everything is in their hands. We are allotted TR, Kabikha. Now DCs, divisional commissioners, UNO are given that. Who are we? This is how our importance is declining.”

Motahar Hossain also alleged that the government officials are constructing residences at home and abroad, and in Begumpara (in abroad with laundered money), keeping money in Swiss banks, but politicians are blamed.

Former state minister Motahar further said, “We politicians are becoming unclassified... We have fallen behind. When we meet the minister for allocation, he asks us to speak to the secretaries. We have fallen into a critical situation.”

Independent MP Ekramuzzaman said that scope of whitening the black money was kept in earlier budgets too but that did not produce the expected results.

He sought an opportunity to invest black money in the stock market and industries.

Jatiya Party MP Shariful Islam Zinnah said that defaulted loans are one of the crises in the banking sector. The amount of this loan is about Tk 3 trillion. This money is being laundered.