Passport most corrupt sector | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 30, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:25 AM, June 30, 2016

Passport most corrupt sector

TIB survey findings show 77pc passport seekers fall victims to corruption

Passport sector has been found to be the most corrupt one, followed by the law enforcement agencies and education in the TIB National Household Survey 2015. 

While 77.7 percent households fell victim to corruption while securing services from passport offices, 74.6 percent bribed law enforcement agencies and 60.8 percent bribed educational institutions.

Overall, 67.8 percent households were victim of corruption in 2015. The rate was almost the same (67.3 percent) in 2012 when the TIB conducted its last household survey.

The amount of bribe paid by households last year was Tk 8,821 crore, which is Tk 1,497 crore more than that in 2012.

The survey titled “Corruption in Services Sector: National Household Survey 2015” was done on 15,206 rural and urban households from across the country between November 1 and December 25.

Over 58 percent of the surveyed households paid bribes last year against about 52 percent in 2012.

The home secretary has rejected TIB findings on law enforcement agencies and the passport department. The chief of the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) said the survey was done without visiting any passport offices.  

TIB researchers Waheed Alam, MN Alam and Farhana Rahman presented the findings at a press conference at the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) office in the capital yesterday.

“Corruption appeared to be an assault on our morality. Bribe has become a part of the daily life. Each and everybody gets involved in corruption, willingly or unwillingly. This is the greatest concern for us,” said TIB Trustee Board Chairperson Sultana Kamal.

It has become difficult to get services from the people responsible to provide those. And the most affected are the common people, especially those who have no one to back them up, she said. 

The TIB National Household Survey 2015 is the seventh since 1997, when the graft watchdog started doing such survey.

The service sectors it covered include health, education, electricity, local government institutions, banking, NGO, agriculture, land administration, insurance, law enforcing agencies, judicial service, passport, gas, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, tax and duty.

Conducted on the basis of experiences of the households, the survey is meant to expose the trend and extent of corruption faced by people in seeking various services from public or private entities, and to help authorities take effective measures in checking corruption.

PASSPORT

Authorities have introduced machine readable passports to ease passport service, but various irregularities remain high.

At least 3.5 percent of the households surveyed received services from the passport office, and 77.7 percent of them were victim of corruption.

On average 76.1 percent service recipients had to bribe Tk 3,120 each. Besides, 12 percent service recipients had to face unnecessary delays in getting services, 3.1 percent faced fraudulence and 1.7 percent faced nepotism.

LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES

At least 65.9 percent service recipients from law enforcers had to bribe, 6.5 percent faced threats or misconducts and 5.3 percent faced false cases, the survey found. 

Other irregularities include arrests for no reasons, negligence in accepting general diary or first information report, submitting false charge sheet and delay in issuing police verification certificates.

Service recipients had to pay the highest amount of bribe, Tk 7,697, to thana police, and the lowest, Tk 942, to the Special Branch of police (SB).

The respondents said they were forced to bribe because otherwise they would not get the services in time or not at all. Some also bribed to get illegal services or before schedule. 

EDUCATION

Nearly 58 percent service recipients had to bribe while paying exam fees, 39.5 percent in paying registration fees, 36.8 percent in withdrawing certificates and 25.9 percent faced corruption while taking admission or re-admission. The average additional amount they paid is Tk 95.

Besides, they faced irregularities in getting stipend, books and suggestions.

“The poor are affected the most as the burden of bribe is more for them,” said TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman.

According to the survey, the households earning less than Tk 16,000 a month each paid 2.16 percent of their income in bribe, while those earning more than Tk 64,000 paid 0.03 percent of their income.

The researchers observed corruption in 2015 went up in local government institutions and electricity compared to 2012, but went down in land administration and judicial services.  

Also, corruption in rural areas was more (faced by 69.5 percent households) than urban areas (faced by 62.6 percent households).

The government has an electoral mandate and a national strategy, laws and various institutions to check corruption, but its prevalence is rising, said Iftekharuzzaman.

“Those who are committing corruption are not being punished. This is the major reason why corruption is not falling,” he told journalists.

It is very unfortunate that the regulatory institutions that are supposed to check corruption and crimes get involved in corrupt practices themselves, he said.

He said there is also political influence on various institutions, recruitments and transfers. Such practices have to stop if corruption is to be checked.

“If the big corrupt people go unchecked, it has its ripple effects on the lower level,” the TIB official said.

Sultana Kamal said it was becoming difficult to take action to check corruption as there was a tendency on the part of the authorities to deny corruption allegations.

 'OLD INFORMATION'

Home Secretary Mozammel Haque Khan rejected the TIB findings on law enforcement agencies and passport department, arguing that the survey is based on “old information”.

“We hope the TIB will soon realise its mistake and withdraw their statement,” he told journalists at the secretariat.

Brig Gen Masud Rezwan, director general of the passport department, said if a person gave money to a broker, bank official or police member for passport-related activities, the DIP would not take that responsibility.

He added the TIB survey gave last year's picture of the department.

“After taking charge this year, I have motivated my officials who are working hard day and night to serve people. If the TIB now says the passport office is the most corrupt, how will these officials continue to provide services?” he said, adding that they already spoke with the TIB and protested the report.

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