Hold back the unbridled mad horse
Abdullah Zobair
24 Jul,2015

Finance Minister on Thursday admitted that the all pervasive corruption in the government has gobbled as much as Tk 24,735 crore in the recently concluded fiscal year, thanks the minister for perceiving, though too late. The disclosure of widespread and indomitable corruption, which costs the economy 2-3 percent every year, has been floated at last from the ruling party folk, while the civil society, opposition politicians and development partners became tired after restless screaming over the years. When any allegation of corruption arises against the government from any corner, the pro-liberation force finds conspiracy of BNP-Jamaat and fingers out BNP for corruption during their regime (2001-2006) that disguises the ‘reign of corruption’ since 2009. After diluting all socio-political powers---- free media, nonbiased civil society, independent judiciary, responsible and professional bureaucracy, patriotic politicians and social resistance--- to combat corruption, the admission could be seen as shameless publicity of ‘success in setting corruption as a tool in governance’ as this minister once said “Tk 4,000cr loan scam is nothing big” and “bribe is not illegal”.

According to reports carried in dailies, the minister said corruption prevails in every sector. The minister said punitive and detection measures are not enough to deal with the problem, but why not the government let the Anti Corruption Commission and judiciary free to book corrupts? Without launching jihad against corruption inside the government and the ruling party, and liberating ACC and judiciary along with tightening clutch of accountability, the mad horse of corruption would not be stopped anyway. Corruption has economic, social and political costs as it slows growth and induces high levels of growth volatility. The World Economic Forum estimates show that the costs of corruption equal 5 percent of GDP. A 2012 report by Transparency International Bangladesh showed that about Tk 22,000 crore is lost annually to bribery and unauthorised payments, equivalent to 2.3 percent of 2012 GDP.

The minister feels the challenges of employment generation, foreign direct investment, private sector growth, sluggish investment for the economy. Showing a higher GDP growth is easy rather creating employment due to sluggish private sector growth. The private sector needs to be raised to 26.6 percent of GDP by fiscal 2019-20 from the current 22.07 percent. The country received only $1.57 billion in FDI last year, which is a far way below the $9.6 billion that the government is targeting for the final year of the seventh Five-Year Plan. The social parity and equality in terms of income and consumption of nutrition are not ensured due to rampant corruption and culture of impunity. Experts believe that special attention is needed for education, health, agriculture, and skill development.

In the wake of corruption spree and its unbridled mayhem, every stone set to build up development, every step taken to nourish governance and every planned thread for adorn life are washing away. A social resistance, a political integration, a national unity, a religiously harmonized decision and awakened mass people are immediately mandatory for suppressing corruption that could emancipate citizens from the clutch of corrupt government, institution and politicians. Time is running out quickly to pull the bridle of the mad horse of corruption.

Abdullah Zobair, Executive Director, Bangladesh Initiative for Political Development