No sign of zero tolerance towards corruption

According to a 2021 report by Transparency International (TI), the Berlin-based anti-corruption organisation, Bangladesh has a score of 26, the second lowest in South Asia. Afghanistan is the only country below Bangladesh. In global ranking, Bangladesh stands at 146th among 180 countries which is 13th last in the list. This means that 146 countries are in better position than Bangladesh. Only 12 countries have more corruption than Bangladesh. Changes in other countries’ status in terms of corruption changes the rank of Bangladesh. The country's score has remained unchanged at 26 since 2018. This means the corruption is not declining, but had remained steady. This is very disheartening.

Needless to say, the data in this TI report contradicts the government's declared zero tolerance policy against corruption. While many countries of the world have been able to eradicate the unsavory reputation of the past by conducting anti-corruption drives, Bangladesh has remained in the same position. No country got full marks in TI index. Three countries are at the top with the highest points of 88 as least corrupt countries. As such, Bangladesh's position is well below the global average score of 44. Is the promise of zero tolerance against corruption in the election manifesto or the speeches and statements of the leaders just empty words?

We may not compete with developed countries in anti-corruption campaign. But why should we lag behind Asian countries? Among the South Asian countries, Bhutan scored 68 points and ranked 25th from the top. India and Maldives are in 85th position with 40 points. Even Pakistan is in a better position than us with 28 points.

We do not need the TI report to understand the rampant nature of corruption in the country. Government policymakers do not pay attention to the daily media reports on the blatant corruption of officials and employees of various government agencies and institutions. They try to fool people by catching some low-key corrupt persons every now and then. During the crackdown on casinos, many names of big fish came to the fore. While some of them are in jail, most of them remained out of reach.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), a state body to curtail corruption, has not been able to gain the confidence of the people yet. They are campaigning against the corrupt who are out of the government's good books. The protracted nature of the corruption cases and the relentless negligence in the investigations, have also hampered the anti-corruption drive.

It must be reflected in the government’s efforts that it has been trying to stop corruption. Instead of scuffling over which government under which political party became he champion of corruption, the authorities must concentrate on bringing all those involved in corruption to trial. It is necessary to ensure that no corrupt person can slip through the loopholes in the law or by abusing power. We must eradicate corruption from our country once and for all.