The Problem: Corruption
Being one of the poorest countries in the world, Bangladesh faces a number of development challenges, which range from economic to social and political. The main development problem that the country faces at the moment is economic.
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The economic development problem is caused by many factors, but it is mostly precipitated by corruption. In Bangladesh, corruption is considered an endemic problem, which is encouraged by the weak system of government and the inadequate bureaucratic transparency in the country (Knox, 2009).
There are statistics that show the extent of corruption in Bangladesh and the effects of the problem in the country’s economic development. A study conducted by Transparency International (TI) in 2010 revealed that about 85% of the families in the country had been victims of corruption in that year of the survey.
Another study conducted by the same body in 2011 showed that between April 2011 and April 2012, close to $2.7 billion was used by different business people and other individuals to bribe their ways. This amount, according to the TI, is about 14% of the total national budget of Bangladesh (Dreher, Kotsogiannis, & McCorriston, 2007).
There are factors that are known to cause the spread of corruption in Bangladesh. The first one, lack of accountability, makes it easy for the high-ranking personnel to practice corruption. Nepotism is the second factor that encourages corruption among other unlawful practices.
Nepotism results in the appointment of individuals with low level of competency into high and critical positions in the government, which negatively impacts the country’s economy. Another cause of corruption in the country is the weak government system, which cannot set stringent measures for investing, arresting, and prosecuting the individuals who get involved in the corrupt deals (Knox, 2009).
The problem of corruption has a direct relationship with Bangladesh’s economic development. The problem negatively impacts the economic development of the country. Corruption, in particular, affects how Bangladesh relates with other countries and international organizations, especially the financial ones.
Bangladesh, as a result of its high corruption index, rarely receives financial aid from financial international organizations such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the Islamic Development Bank (Knox, 2009).
Theoretically, corruption in Bangladesh can be explained as a hindrance to economic development in the country, which emanates from the weak management of the state. The vice spreads in the country as a result of the existence of individual companies that exercise monopoly power over the limited resources in the country.
The monopolistic organizations influence most of the important decisions that regard the allocation and the use the resources in the country. The organizations, through their influence in the public and private sectors, interfere with the integrity of those responsible for the discharge of public wealth and utilities (Dreher, Kotsogiannis, & McCorriston, 2007).
Background of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is situated in southern Asia between India and Burma and it borders the Bay of Bengal; it was founded in 1971 as a result of separation of Bengali East from the union it had with West Pakistan. Initially, Bangladesh was referred to as East Bengal.
The union the country forms with West Bengal is called Bangal. The union is less powerful and is not well known outside Asia. Bangladesh has more than 145 million people, a population that cannot adequately be supported by the meager resources of the country (CIA World Factbook, 1998).
The country does not have adequate resources to support its population. The main economic activities in the country are agriculture, animal keeping and fish rearing. The agricultural sector employs more than 50% of the country’s population, which leads to excessive exertion of pressure on natural resources such as land.
The natural renewable resources in the country include water, energy, forests, and domestic animals such as fish. The non-renewable resources include coal, gas, rock, oil and sand. The country enjoys plenty of ground and surface water, which it uses in agriculture, fishing and generation of electricity. It also occupies a large area with mineral resources that it exports to other countries for economic gain (CIA World Factbook, 1998).
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Bangladesh is one of the Asian countries with a unique type of government. The form of government in Bangladesh is described as a unitary secular parliamentary, which is elected by the citizens. The type of the elected government is referred to as the Jatiyo Sangshad.
It is this unique type of government and the high population densities in Bangladesh that make the country one of the most popular states in the globe. Although the Bengali people make up the highest percentage of the country’s population, there are other indigenous groups in the country especially in southeastern and northern districts (CIA World Factbook, 1998).
The problem of corruption has negative impact on the natural resources and the citizens of Bangladesh. The problems influences the way these resources are allocated to the citizens. In most cases, corruption results in an unfair distribution of the resources in various regions in the country. Companies, politicians and business people use their power and wealth to acquire these resources unfairly.
These groups, after obtaining large portions of the resources, use them to control how the country is managed. The unitary secular parliamentary type of government that exists in the country is a weak regime, which cannot deal with the issue of corruption. This form of government has been blamed for the spread of corruption in Bangladesh (CIA World Factbook, 1998).
History of Corruption in Bangladesh
Corruption is not a new phenomenon in Bangladesh. The problem has existed in the country for so many years despite the strategies that the government has put in place in to reduce it. The problem began immediately after Bangladesh disintegrated from its union with West Pakistan. The disintegration resulted in a number of conflicts, which made a number of citizens of Bangladesh seek refuge in the neighboring countries.
All this mayhem caused a state of uncertainty and unrealistic expectations, which made people in the country, begin scrambling for power and wealth. The rich people use their wealth to gain power and have influence over most parts of the country. The end result of these uncertainties has been the problem of corruption (Ades & Tella, 2009).
The problem of corruption continues to exist in the country despite the pressure mounted on the government by the international community. It is evident that the problem cannot reduce at the moment because of lack of proper mechanisms to deal with it.
The problem is even worse in the main arms of the government that are supposed to address it. The two arms of government, the police and judiciary, which should be fighting corruption in the country, are heavily involved in it (Ades & Tella, 2009).
Strategies to Deal with Corruption
There are several strategies that the government of Bangladesh has put in place to assist in the fight against corruption in the country. The main project that the government has initiated in this fight is the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). ACC was created in 2004 to act as an independent institution that formulates and enact policies that fight corruption in both public and private sectors (Aidt, 2009).
However, the studies conducted by the International Crisis Group on the work of ACC revealed that it is incapable of reducing the incidents of corruption in the country. The efficiency of ACC in dealing with corruption is affected by the government’s influence on the operations of the commission.
The commission has to get permission from the government before it launches an investigation on public high-ranking personnel, public corporations and the government itself. The commission is never as independent as it was intended to be (Knox, 2009).
The last strategy enacted by the government involved declaring the judiciary as an independent body that should operate on its own. This scheme was to allow the criminal justice system to prosecute and imprison individuals found guilty of corruption. The courts were to impose heavy fines and punishment on individuals proved to have a hand in corrupt deals.
This system also has never been effective since the government controls most of the cases and operations of the criminal justice system. In addition, most of the court officials are corrupt and they accept bribes to change the course of justice (Knox, 2009).
Apart from the government, the international communities have also made a number of initiatives in the fight against corruption in Bangladesh. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other international financial bodies have, on several occasions, placed sanctions on Bangladesh in an attempt to reduce cases of corruption in the country (Aidt, 2009).
For example, in 2012, the World Bank withdrew its assistance from multi-billion Padma Bridge Project. The mechanisms of the international communities have never been successful as they make the common citizens of Bangladesh suffer instead of the government officials, for whom they are intended. In most cases, the communities withdraw such bans before their effects are felt for fear of hurting the poor citizens of the country (Blackburn, Bose, & Hague, 2006).
Causes of Corruption in the Country
There are several factors that contribute to the high index of corruption in Bangladesh. The first one results from lack of proper laws to guide accountability of the public servants. Bangladesh is one of the countries that still lack stringent measures to deal with cases of corruption.
The public officials take advantage of this to practice corrupt deals. Most of the public servants make away with the gains they accrue from corrupt deals since there are no strict laws to prosecute them (Blackburn, Bose, & Hague, 2006).
Another contributing factor is the existence of dishonest politicians; they use their power and wealth to reverse the course of justice in their favor. Despite the staggering economic status of Bangladesh, the members of the parliament and other senior government officials are awarded so many luxurious facilities that are purchased by the country’s resources.
For instance, the officials are allocated large pieces of land, tax-free costly cars, and houses among other things. With all these amenities, the officials seem to have been put above the law (Ades & Tella, 2009).
Lastly, the incidents of corruption continue to spread in Bangladesh because of weak religious and family values that do not condemn acts of corruption. Most of the households in the country seem to have lost the battle against corruption and are slowly joining the shoddy deals.
They believe that they too can prosper through corruption and some give out bribes to enable their children to secure good jobs and places in learning institutions. Although the Islamic religion practiced in the country condemns corruption, it cannot succeed on its own without the assistance of the relevant bodies (Blackburn, Bose, & Hague, 2006).
Theoretical and Practical Solutions to the Problem
Corruption is a common phenomenon in many parts of the globe; it can never be eradicated completely, but it can be reduced significantly if the right measures are put in place. There are a number of strategies that can be used to reduce corruption in Bangladesh. Firstly, the problem can be reduced by educating the common citizens on their rights and the relevance of the laws that govern their lives.
The people of Bangladesh can only fight corruption effectively if they understand their rights and know how the law operates. It is has been discovered that there are low percentages of corruption in the regions where many people are educated (Knox, 2009).
Secondly, the occurrence of corruption can be thwarted by creating an independent anti-corruption commission and a strong criminal justice system. The commission created should be given all the power it needs and be allowed to operate as a full independent branch of the government.
The commission should ensure that it works together with the criminal justice system, which should also be independent and powerful. The commission and the criminal justice system should set very heavy punishments for individuals found guilty of corruption (Aidt, 2009).
Lastly, the government should reform the Electoral Commission to ensure that it only allows individuals of high integrity to vie for various positions in the government. The commission should develop ways of grilling aspirants to determine their level of integrity before they are cleared to vie for any position. This implies that only those individuals who have never been implicated in corruption scandals can hold electoral positions (Ades & Tella, 2009).
Conclusion and Recommendations
Although corruption is a common economic problem in the world, it seems more prevalent in developing countries. Bangladesh is one the developing countries in the world that experience the most number of corruption cases.
The high percentage of corruption in Bangladesh is mostly caused by lack of proper laws to deal with the problem. The incidents of corruption in the country are expected to continue for a long time unless an independent criminal justice system and a self-governing anti-corruption commission are formed.
This paper recommends the following strategies to be implemented by the government of Bangladesh to assist the country in the fight against corruption:
- The government should create a judiciary that is powerful and fully independent.
- The government should establish a powerful and independent anti-corruption commission in the country to assist in investigating cases of corruption.
- The parliament should pass strict laws that carry heavy punishments for corrupt individuals.
- The government should ensure that there is equal distribution of the country’s wealth to all regions of the country.
- The government should not interfere with investigations that involve cases of corruption.
Ades, A., & Tella, R. D. (2009). The causes and consequences of corruption: A review of recent empirical contributions. IDS Bulletin, 27(2), 6-11.
Aidt, T. S. (2009). Corruption, institutions, and economic development. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 25(2), 271-291.
Blackburn, K., Bose, N., & Hague, M. E. (2006). The incident and persistence of corruption in economic development. Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, 30(12), 2447-2467.
CIA World Factbook. (1998). Bangladesh. Retrieved from http://www.worldrover.com/vital/bangladesh.html
Dreher, A., Kotsogiannis, C., & McCorriston, S. (2007). Corruption around the world; Evidence from a structural model. Journal of Comparative Economics, 35(3), 443-446.
Knox, C. (2009). Dealing with sectoral corruption in Bangladesh: Developing citizen involvement. Public Administration and Development, 29(2), 117-132.