Corruption rife in Bangladesh, says global watchdog (Lead)

June 19th, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 19 (IANS) Corruption is rife in Bangladesh and is on the increase in all areas of government activity with a public interface despite a drive by the military-backed government against it, says Transparency International, a Berlin headquartered NGO addressing corruption globally. Down in the first six months after the caretaker government launched its campaign in January last year, corruption has again reared its head, said a report released by the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Wednesday.

Over 200,000 people, including about 200 high profile politicians, officials and businessmen, have been rounded up in the 16-month drive and many are being prosecuted under the drive that tops the agenda of Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed’s government.

According to TIB, corruption in education, health, land administration, local government and in different utility services sectors increased in the first half of 2007.

In terms of magnitude, law enforcing agencies, including the police and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), were found to be the most corrupt while land administration was found the most corrupt in terms of the amount of bribe that went into any sector, according to the National Household Survey on Corruption 2007.

Bribery claimed 3.84 percent of per capita income of the country during the period. The survey noted that corruption decreased between January and June of 2007 in law enforcement agencies, judiciary, power, banking and tax sectors compared to the records of the previous six months, The Daily Star newspaper reported.

“The severity of corruption, as we have seen during the past two elected governments’ tenures, still exists. This is a very disappointing scenario,” said Iftekhar-Uz-Zaman, executive director of TIB.

The fourth in the series of regular surveys conducted every two years, the latest survey covered 5,000 households - 2,000 in urban areas and the rest in rural areas in 62 districts - on incidents of corruption that took place between July 2006 and June 2007.

“The people of the country had to pay 54.43 billion taka ($9 billion) in bribes for different public and private sector services. No major distinction was found in the magnitude of corruption in urban and rural areas, which is a proof of the deep-rooted nature of the menace,” said Muzaffer Ahmad, chairman of the TIB trustee board.

The survey revealed that 96.6 percent of households experienced harassment and corruption while interacting with or receiving services from law enforcing agencies.

Ninety-four percent of them experienced harassment and corruption from police, 4.9 percent from the joint forces, and 0.8 percent from RAB.

“While taking services from local governments, 53.4 percent households had to face different types of corruption. A total of 52.7 percent households became victims of corruption in one or another way while taking services from the land administration,” the report said, adding that there was no government reaction to the TIB findings.

The government of former prime minister Khaleda Zia, under whose tenure (2001-06) the survey began, had accused TIB of anti-government bias.

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