The Finance Minister's estimate that widespread graft takes 2 to 3 percent off the economy has serious implications for the country's development. The minister has quantified the loss to as much as TK 24,735 crore in the last fiscal year. Earlier in parliament, he expressed his frustration in taking punitive action against corrupt officials involved in major financial scams because of political backing.
Thus the minister has very frankly pointed out to the cancer of corruption that plagues every sector and seeps into every sphere of public life. The World Economic Forum estimates that the costs of corruption equal five percent of GDP. A 2012 Transparency International Bangladesh report has shown that about TK 22,000 crore is lost annually to bribery and unauthorised payments.
This is not news to the ordinary citizens who bear the brunt of this corruption on a daily basis. The PM's insistence that the government has 'zero tolerance' for corruption sounds like rhetoric amidst the conspicuous absence of steps to contain it. Till date we have not seen any minister, high level bureaucrat or high profile businessperson being held accountable for corruption. The culture of impunity enjoyed by errant functionaries of the state, which has been quite blasé about corrupt practices, has led to such corroding levels of graft.
We appeal to the Prime Minister to empower the government's anti corruption commission to investigate into cases of suspected graft and punish the offenders. Unless the government is serious about combating corruption, the country's goal of achieving a growth rate higher than the present six percent, not to mention overall social and economic development, will remain elusive.