Corruption, bureaucratic tangles, political violence etc., are major obstacles to the development of the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has recently embarked on an ambitious agenda to bring about extensive reforms in the state institutions.
She deplores the pervasive corruption and plundering of national wealth by a handful of dishonest people, which pushed the nation into an awkward position. As such the Prime Minister has set curbing of corruption on top of all agenda and directed the law enforcing agencies to go all-out in this regard.
The fundamental problem that relates to corruption in Bangladesh is the dominance of the vested interests, irrespective of changes in the power matrix. The remedy should rest with a cleaning drive from the top tiers. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), however, is failing to take pragmatic steps for curbing corruption, where no corrupt person would be spared because of political connections.
Conscious citizens of the country have realised after a long time that progress at the national level is not possible if corruption is kept at its present level. The magnitude and scale of corruption in the country can be gauged from various surveys and studies.
If the present government succeeds in making the ACC a truly functional anti-graft body, it will fulfil a long-felt demand of the people. But this must be done without compromising the independence of the commission.
The people at large are really anxious to see a truly activated ACC. They are also expecting the ACC to take action against the high-ups of the government, if specific allegations of corruption could be substantiated.
We must not expect the anti-corruption drive to achieve wonders, because it would be less than pragmatic to think that our substantially corroded officialdom would be suddenly inspired by honesty and a strong sense of accountability to the people. The need is to exhort and encourage proper leadership in all organs of the state, and different sectors of national life, in order to obviate the reliance on the Anti-Corruption Commission only to fight the major ills of our society.
The all-pervasive corruption has to be fought on several fronts in order to bring it down to a tolerable state. The sectors catering to the basic needs of security, justice, education and health, among others, demand priority in the anti-corruption drive.
It has to be ensured that people's faith in the foundation of the society is not lost. Exemplary deterrent actions in regulatory sectors will have a favourable impact.
Curbing corruption is urgently needed for alleviation of poverty. A large segment of the country's population lives below the poverty line. All the governments since independence sanctioned huge sums of money in the budget for poverty alleviation. A major portion of the money allocated for poverty alleviation was obtained from foreign aid and grants. But it is alleged that 75 per cent of this allocation was siphoned off; thus the desired level of poverty reduction has not yet been attained.
This 'systems loss' appears to be present in all sectors of the society.
Added to this, lack of institutional reform, severe confrontational politics, 'criminalisation' of politics and deterioration of law and order are hindering the country's sustainable economic growth.
The failure of the political leadership to address the socio-political causes of corruption and to bring the bureaucracy under control helped corruption to take a firm root.
The anti-graft body should make coordinated efforts to help the government undertake drastic reforms in every sector. Implementation of the reform agenda is a long-felt demand of the people for helping the nation recover from the social vices.
Proper use of political power can only ensure fairness and accountability in society. Corruption will be controlled and contained in such an environment.