Allocate funds for MPs, election expenses to curb corruption

ACC chief urges government
Staff Correspondent, Rajshahi
Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Ghulam Rahman yesterday recommended allocating funds for the lawmakers and the election expenses of political parties from the national budget in order to curb corruption.
“If we can free our political parties, its activities and the election process from corruption, we can expect a remarkable reduction in corruption in our society and we can achieve the goals of our Liberation War — improving the living standards and eliminating the economic disparity,” he said at a discussion.
The political activities and the elections are very costly affairs, he said. “If one chooses to do politics or if a minister visits his constituency, he has to spend a lot of money for their supporters. Where would they get the money from?”
Progati (Promoting Governance, Accountability, Transparency and Integrity), an USAID initiative, organised the discussion in Rajshahi city to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day.
Speaking as the chief guest, Ghulam Rahman said a culture of cronyism and a business-politics nexus have developed in the country in the long absence of democracy.
“Parliament is the head of the country. If it is tainted by grafts, the entire country will gradually be involved in corruption. So, we have to combat corruption at the top first,” he added.
Ghulam Rahman called on the countrymen to unite and launch a social movement to resist corruption.
He said the economic condition of South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand was similar to that of the then East Pakistan 50 to 60 years ago. “But today, those countries have developed a lot while almost half of the population in our country is still ultra-poor.”
Speaking on the occasion, US Ambassador James F Moriarty said corruption reduces Bangladesh’s GDP by about two percent or 1.5 billion dollars a year. “As a direct result of corruption, tens of thousands of Bangladeshis remain unemployed, uneducated and impoverished.”
He, however, observed that Bangladesh has made progress in ensuring good governance and strengthening the democratic institutions.
He termed the participation of 80 percent of voters in the last general election ‘an outstanding feat in any democracy’.
The independent Anti-Corruption Commission having investigative capacity, the formation of the Information Commission and Human Rights Commission and a very successful Election Commission helped the country make some progress in the annual Transparency International Corruption Perceptions index, he said.
“While it is heartening to see that Bangladesh is one of the nine countries that improved most in their rankings in 2009, the country still ranks near the bottom at number 139 out of 180 countries. Bangladesh still has a long way to go,” the ambassador added.
Describing the activities of Progati, he said the project is helping improve transparency and accountability in public resource management. It works closely with the Jatiya Sangsad and the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.