Bangladesh betters its graft grading | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, November 17, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, November 17, 2009

Bangladesh betters its graft grading

Moves 3 notches down on Transparency's list of top corrupt countries

Bangladesh this year has been ranked 13th from the bottom, three steps up its position last year, in the annual corruption perception index (CPI) of 2009 released by the Transparency International (TI) yesterday.
Last year, Bangladesh was ranked 10th from the bottom and 147th among 180 countries, the report says.
This year it has been placed 139th among 180 countries in the corruption perception index.
According to the report, Bangladesh has made a significant progress in curbing corruption raising its score to 2.4 compared to last year's 2.1.
Bangladesh is one of the nine countries that performed the best. The other countries are Belarus, Guatemala, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Syria and Tonga. The worst performers are Bahrain, Greece, Iran, Malaysia, Malta and Slovakia.
“However, with the score remaining below the threshold of 3, the country continues to be in the league of those where corruption continues to be pervasive,” said Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman while presenting the CPI at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
“The anti-corruption drive and institutional reforms made by the last caretaker government had an impact even after the political government came to power,” he said.
Earlier, Bangladesh was placed at the bottom of the list for the fifth successive year from 2001-2005. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 Bangladesh was ranked third, seventh and tenth positions respectively.
In South Asia, only Bangladesh performed better this year compared to that of the last year. Score-wise, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka and Maldives remain in a better position while Pakistan and Nepal are almost similar to Bangladesh.
According to the CPI, New Zealand has been ranked the first with the score of 9.4, Denmark second with 9.3 and Sweden and Singapore were jointly ranked third with 9.2 this year. The countries where corruption is perceived to be the highest include Iraq, Sudan, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia.
The index published by the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog provides international ranking of countries in terms of perceived degree of prevalence of political and administrative corruption. Experts and business leaders were the main sources of survey of this report.
“The progress of Bangladesh indicates a positive assessment of the fact that many of those reforms made during the last caretaker government were carried forward, or so promised, by the newly elected government to their pledge to fight corruption,” the TI index says.
The improvement made by Bangladesh, however, will depend on the new government's will and capacity to deliver. Effectiveness of the parliament, Anti-Corruption Commission, Election Commission, Information Commission and Judiciary will largely impact the sustainability of the progress, Iftekharuzzaman said.
“Bangladesh would not have made good score if there had been no reforms in the EC, and the parliamentary committees were not formed and activated immediately after its formation,” he said.
Asked on changes in the ACC, TIB Trustee Board Member Professor Muzaffer Ahmad said there was not any major change that could bar strengthening of the ACC. Besides, the prime minister's pledge is also there to make it independent, he said.
TIB, however, expressed concern over the recent amendment to the public procurement act, saying allowing inexperienced bidders up to certain level to get public jobs cannot help ensure establishing transparency and accountability in public procurement.
Absence of the opposition in the parliament and poor presence of the lawmakers in the parliamentary sessions is another issue of concern, Iftekharuzzaman told newsmen.
“The issue of lawmakers' interests -- in local development activities or framing laws -- must be considered. More interests in their constituencies do not give good signals,” he said.
“Whether or not judiciary is free of political influence and the information commission is active is a matter of concern as well,” the TIB official said.
TIB former chairman Muzaffer Ahmad said there appears to be no accountability as to why there is an increase in education fees and user fees in the public hospitals. There is also absence of accountability in safety net programmes like Food for Work. “These are negative trends.”
TIB Chairman M Hafizuddin Khan chaired the press conference.

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