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Corruption in customs houses


THE officials of the Bangladesh Anti-corruption Commission (BAC), led by its chairman Justice Sultan Hussain Khan, made recently a surprise visit to Dhaka Customs House adjacent to Zia International Airport. There was no report about what they had found there. Earlier the BAC team visited the Chittagong Customs House, which is known as the most corrupt office of the country. Only a day after the visit, the BAC officials in the guise of businessmen caught three men for taking bribes at the Chittagong Customs House.
The visit of the Commissioners to customs houses is an indication that the anti-corruption commission is becoming active. The Customs officials and their employees, rightly or wrongly, have earned a notoriety that they are the most corrupt people in our society. Over the decades it has been the customs establishment itself, which has come to symbolise corruption in Bangladesh. Surprisingly, those people assured the ACC Commissioner Muniruddin Ahmed in Chittagong that they would not indulge in corrupt practices any longer.
I am not sure whether the BAC people are really assured that there would be no corruption in customs offices. But truly it did not assure us. The drive against corruption does not mean visiting offices or taking promises from people. There is a long, strong and thick nexus between corrupt people in the Chittagong customs house and many other government offices. One does not require much of wisdom or intelligence to understand how customs officers and employees have made themselves enormously rich over the years.
The ACC, like the CBI in India, can gather all the personal details of the officers and employees -- family background, local and permanent addresses, length of service -- on the basis of which they can conduct swift operations even at their homes.
There are other areas, the police department for instance, where good, honest and educated young men and women need to be brought in. The same theory should apply for the taxation wing of the government, the land registration department, T & T Board, PWD and many other areas. Radical changes are called for, in the overall administrative system of the country to wipe out corruption. Bangladesh, recognised as the most corrupt country in the world for years together, has to fight back.
Zareen Rafa
Niketon, Gulshan-1, Dhaka