Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Justice Sultan Hossain Khan Sunday admitted that the anti-graft watchdog body was yet to achieve the desired success in the first year of its inception, reports UNB.
But he was optimistic of the ACC becoming fully functional within the next few months.
"Today we'll forward the revised organogram and rules to the government for approval," said Justice Khan in an exclusive interview with the news agency at his office.
"Hopefully, the organogram and rules will be approved within 15 days," he added.
The virtually nonfunctional ACC completes its first year Monday still waiting to be recognised as a capable institution to combat the widespread corruption in Bangladesh -- branded as the most corrupt country for four consecutive years by the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI).
Asked who is responsible for the nonfunctioning of the Commission, he said: "The government is 75 per cent responsible and we are responsible for the rest."
On November 21 last year, the ACC was established dissolving the Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC) with the hope to fight the rampant corruption in the country.
Due to various constraints, mainly internal feud and lack of manpower, the Commission that is constitutionally independent and neutral has been unable to conduct its activities.
Justice Khan said that after the approval of the organogram and rules, the recruitment of manpower might take another two months. After completing the recruitment, the ACC would begin to function fully, he added.
About the recent writ petitions, the ACC chairman expressed the hope that within one month this problem would be sorted out.
Justice Khan was of the opinion that the main reason behind the virtual nonfunctioning of the ACC was lack of manpower.
"In the ACC's first year, we had to work with only 15-20 officials of whom half were on deputation," he said.
He added: "Without implementing the clauses of the law, the commission could not function properly."
Despite lack of manpower and rules, the ACC had tried its best to play its due role to prevent and combat widespread corruption across the country, Justice Khan said.
Detailing the measures taken by the Commission since its inception, he said due to the actions taken by the Commission to prevent rampant corruption in the Customs House and seaport in Chittagong, and the Customs House and landport at Benapole, corruption has been reduced significantly in these government bodies.
"As a result, revenue earnings have increased", he said, adding: "To me, it is the most significant success of the Commission."
When his attention was drawn to Bangladesh being billed as the most corrupt country by the Transparency International (TI) even after the establishment of the ACC, Justice Khan questioned the credibility of the methodology adopted by the TI.
"There are many countries in the world more corrupt than Bangladesh," he said. "I don't believe and accept that Bangladesh is number one in corruption."
About the recent comments made by Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman that the ACC could not function because it had been granted excessive freedom, he said the independence had been given by the parliament and "it is difficult to work if the obstacles on the way are not removed."
Since its journey, the ACC failed to file a single corruption case, which leads majority of the people to believe that the Commission simply failed to deliver what it was supposed to do.
Even one year after its inception, the Commission failed to act on about 5000 corruption complaints received from across the country. Despite the existence of a committee headed by the ACC secretary, none of the complaint letters has reportedly been opened.
In the whole of its first year, the ACC's activities confined to holding a seminar, having meetings with the National Board of Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh Police and few departments of the Ministry of Education, and visiting Chittagong Customs House and seaport, and Benapole Customs House and landport. All these initiatives have been taken mainly to exchange views with the authorities for preventing corruption.
Common people and members of the civil society are of the opinion that the government does not want the Commission to function properly. Even, many ACC officials squarely blamed the government for the nonfunctioning of the ACC.
"If the government wants, the ACC can be functional within 24 hours," said some officials while talking to the news agency on Sunday.
They said even after one year of the ACC's inception, the government had failed to approve the Commission's organogram.
Requesting anonymity, the officials said that as the Commission failed to start functioning even after one year, people started losing their faith in the anti-graft watchdog body.
According to them, among many reasons, absence of any coordination among the high-ups is the principal one behind the nonfunctioning of the ACC. From the very beginning, in every aspect, its chairman and two commissioners took decisions individually rather than collectively.
The ACC that remained virtually nonfunctional since its formation intended to be a bit functional after the government had approved a skeleton organogram with 500 personnel in August. But it became totally nonfunctional after the High Court rulings upon a few writ petitions.
Until the writ petitions are resolved, the ACC will remain nonfunctional dashing the people's hope of having an anti-graft watchdog capable of fighting the rampant corruption in the country.