Governance in the country has deteriorated further though the government adopted a National Integrity Strategy to improve the situation in 2012, according to Transparency International Bangladesh.
“A dysfunctional parliament, an all-powerful executive, an exploited judiciary, and an increasingly politicised bureaucracy and police force have essentially eroded the check and balances that are pivotal to good governance,” the TIB said in a study report released at a press conference in the capital yesterday.
The anti-graft watchdog assessed the performance of 15 institutions, including the executive, parliament, judiciary, political parties, police and the media that constitute the NIS.
TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said they evaluated the state of the 15 institutions from August 2012 to September 2013 after the government adopted the NIS in early 2012.
Asked about the current state of governance, he said the situation has worsened further compared to the period of the study.
Speaking at the press conference at Brac Centre Inn, TIB Chairperson Sultana Kamal said, "Laws are there but those are seldom enforced. This is the main reason behind the deterioration in governance.”
Iftekharuzzaman told The Daily Star that politicisation in the administration has increased, and members of law enforcement agencies have been accused of violating laws and indulging in crimes.
There has been a lapse in ensuring accountability of institutions, as the Jatiya Sangsad has become an ineffective institution, he said.
Referring to the abduction of Abu Bakar Siddique, husband of environmental lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan, and seven murders in Narayanganj, he said everybody waits for the prime minister to intervene in such cases.
“It should not be like this. Law is there and it should take its own course under a system,” he said.
The TIB report said, “The prime minister, being the exclusive depository of absolute power, exercises authority over the executive branch of the government.”
On the PM's authority, Sultana Kamal said the prime minister has been given absolute power by the constitution that needs to be reformed.
The report said, “The division of power among the legislative, the executive and the judiciary has largely been uneven, and dominated by the Prime Minister.”
“There is no formal provision requiring asset disclosure by the head of the state or the government or cabinet members, nor is there any effective restriction on ministers and MPs involving in business with the government.”
On behalf of the TIB, Dhaka University professors Salahuddin M Aminuzzaman and Sumaiya Khair conducted the study. They jointly presented the summary of the study at the press conference.
The report said the ruling parties almost always focus on establishing hegemonic control over the use of public resources to further partisan interests under the facade of public interest.
“Despite an elaborate legal framework that provides the basis of democratic functioning of political parties, compliance is weak,” it said.
The political system has undergone a process of “criminalisation and commercialisation”. Devoid of transparency, political party funds are collected under duress or by extending favour.
The public administration faces serious challenges, including poor remuneration, weak accountability and corruption. It has been politicised over the years. Many civil servants have been made officers on special duty by successive governments on political considerations.
The report said the judiciary has been increasingly subjected to political manipulation under successive governments. Its independence is often found compromised by controversial appointments, promotions, removals, and conduct of judges.
The local government has also been under direct or indirect control of parliamentarians, and its leadership is also politicised and suffer from an image crisis for alleged corrupt practices.
Over the years, the police have drawn flak for their failure to protect citizens. Governments and major political parties have used the force indiscriminately for serving their interests.
According to the report, structural, institutional and political factors have affected the overall performance and effectiveness of the Anti-Corruption Commission, dubbed as a “toothless tiger”.
The ACC lacks strong political will. Besides, it has been inactive in respect of allegations against ruling party men, and also unwilling to initiate suo moto enquiries, it said.
Largely owned by big business houses, the media has become politicised over the years. It is evident from biased reports and analysis that reflect corporate interests and competition, added the report.