The country has turned into an international whipping boy for more than one reason. Pervasive corruption in the administration as well as in other sectors of the economy is one such reason. The international watchdog body, Transparency International (TI), has repeatedly branded Bangladesh as the most corrupt country of the world. But the culture of corruption has become so deeply embedded in every tier of the administration, business and different other sectors of society that the reality on the ground has hardly changed for the better, notwithstanding the TI-labelling and all the bad press at home and abroad.
After a lot of foot-dragging on the issue by the successive governments, the incumbents in power did finally demonstrates the courage to form the independent Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) on November 21, 2004 comprising a retired justice as its chairman and two other eminent personalities to act as the organisation's commissioners. Meanwhile, some 14 moths have passed since the formation of the ACC. Unfortunately, the anti-corruption body has failed even to put its own house in order, let alone deliver the goods. That is why one fails to see any difference in the behaviour of the organs of the administration that have earned the notoriety of being the hotbeds of corruption. The failure to deliver aside, the organisation is still far from standing on its own two feet before it can concentrate on the problems for which it was instituted in the first place.
What are the problems facing the ACC? On the face of it, one of the problems is the bad blood between two of the anti-corruption body's commissioners over the proper procedure of officially charging any individual or organisation with the crime of committing corruption. The other problem that surfaced since the formation of the Commission is the recruitment of manpower for the organisation. So, apparently, it is the bickering of the two commissioners that has rendered the ACC formed with high hopes in the beginning, ineffective. Strangely enough, they cannot even see eye to with each other to fight the social scourge of corruption, an issue about which people of their stature cannot disagree under any circumstances.
What was the government itself doing when the ACC was caught up in such unnecessary conflicts of interpersonal nature that stalled the very prospect of the anti-corruption body to deliver? The government, if it was really sincere, could have played its due role in time in order that the ACC might have overcome the undesirable crisis. Now it is at the Asian Development Bank (ADB)'s initiative that an attempt has been made to resolve the crisis plaguing the ACC since its birth.
The present government certainly deserves thanks for fulfilling the people's long-standing demand to form the anti-corruption body. But one should not also think that the responsibility of the government is finished with just the creation of the body to fight graft. Even an organisation with the loftiest ideal on earth cannot function if it does not have a well-defined structure and a set of rules as its guide to action. The ACC in question has been handicapped in this respect, too. It is reported that the proposal about the rules and an organogram has been sent by the Cabinet Division to the Ministry of Establishment for approval. The government bodies responsible for completing the formalities of approval do need to do their job without further delay. A lot of time has already been wasted in unnecessary bickering within and without the anti-graft body. As such, there should be no procrastination for approval of the rules and the organogram for the ACC. In this context, the spirit of the incumbent ACC chairman that he would resign if he failed to deliver his job, is welcome. All concerned would cherish the hope that the ACC chief would prove his worth by filing 45 graft cases in a week.