It is always the hope that a report such as the recently released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2018, by Transparency International (TI), would be welcomed by our national institutions. Reports like the CPI provide a good reflection of what people think. Thus, for an institution like the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), it can be of great assistance if taken as feedback. The remarks of the ACC after the publication of the CPI 2018 are surprising.
Bangladesh has slipped six notches in the rankings among 180 countries according to the CPI—it now ranks at 149, the second lowest among South Asian countries, only above Afghanistan. The TI identified lack of commitment, little or no steps to stop high-profile corruption, uncontrolled scams and corruption in banking and financial sector, and the ineffective role of the ACC as reasons for this decline. We do not need the TI to tell us that corruption is indeed rampant in the country. The Bangladesh chapter of the TI in its annual household survey has consistently pointed out sector-specific people's perceptions in this matter. So, questioning the methodology or asking about specific sectors comes to us as a surprise. An index based on surveys by eight globally reputable sources cannot be called sweeping, despite what the ACC claims.
Since Bangladesh was included in the CPI in 2001, it has come some way from being the lowest-ranked. However, a ranking of 149 is hardly anything to be happy about—that too when, last year, we were ranked 143. The prime minister recognises the prevalence of corruption as reflected by her recent commitment to zero tolerance. In this situation, state institutions, if they really mean business, can take cues from such reports. The ACC needs to identify the institutional problems that it suffers from, and must be empowered to be able to work independently against corruption at all levels. Global watchdogs can do little but give us a guide to the experiences of the people in this country. It is the job of the ACC to identify specific cases. We hope that, given the PM's strong commitment, state institutions would employ all efforts to curb the menace.