Corruption perception index: Continuous decline triggers concern

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Whatever be the reactions of the ruling party leaders over the report of Berlin-based Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI)-2023, we can’t help but worry over the unabated decline in the corruption index.

TI publishes a report every year to provide an idea about the magnitude of corruption across the world. According to their report, Bangladesh is the 10th most corrupt country. In 2022, Bangladesh was the 12th. According to the CPI, the definition of corruption is ‘the misuse of the government’s power for personal gain’. According to CPI data, the highest corruption took place in Bangladesh in 2023 in the last 16 years.

The continuous slip in CPI reminds us of earlier times when Bangladesh was identified as the most corrupt country for five consecutive terms, with four times during the BNP in power and one time during the Awami League.

According to TI, Bangladesh is behind all the South Asian countries except Afghanistan as corruption is higher here than the others. Among the South Asian countries, Bhutan obtains 68 scores, India and Maldives 39 each, Nepal 35, Sri Lanka 34, Pakistan 29 and Afghanistan 20. Bangladesh obtains 24.

Denmark has obtained 90 in a scale of 100 and ranked as the least corrupt country in the world, while Finland got 87. New Zealand stood the third least corrupt country, Norway the fourth. Somalia is the most corrupt country with only 11 points. The country is followed by South Sudan, Syria and Venezuela.

It does not require the survey of TI or any other organisations to know that corruption has increased in Bangladesh. Millions of taka is being laundered every year while reports are being published that the banking sector is being looted. But the example of taking tougher measures against corruption is very little. We cannot but get worried when we learn that corrupt people like PK Halder have connections with the high-ups of the government and the banking sector.  Who will reduce corruption if the protectors become the predators?

The government policymakers are certainly aware of corruption and at times they talk about taking tough action against this. But there are doubts about how far they could take steps against corruption. After the publication of the TI report, the way an influential cabinet member reacted, this is nothing by showing sympathy towards the corrupt people in practice. Just a few days ago, several ministers and ruling party leaders expressed anger over the TIB’s report on the recently concluded 12th parliamentary elections.

Speaking about the TI’s report, TIB chairperson Sultana Kamal said, “When we talk about corruption and human rights, they (the government) smell conspiracy.” Who is conspiring against whom? TI is a globally renowned organisation. Expressing doubts over its report is nothing but an attempt to hide the corrupt people.

If the government truly wants to rein in corruption, it needs to come out of conspiracy theory. Taking actions against the corrupt people is more important than providing data of corruption during the time of other governments.