MORE than 75,000 calls made in a week to the hotline that the Anti-Corruption Commission set up on July 26 to receive complaints against corruption in the public sector seems very well to be a pointer to the level of corruption the sector is riddled with. Although the commission could not receive the calls made at weekends and after and before office hours, it has narrowed down the calls that the commission’s complaint centre received to 103 as being serious and forwarded them for inquiry and investigation. Yet it also shows the level of corruption, petty and serious, that people need to face when they receive services, big or small, from the public sector. It was in the launch of the commission’s complaint centre hotline on July 26 that the finance minister said that the corruption runs in the blood of people and, hence, everyone in society is indirectly corrupt. While the first part of his statement appears to be true mostly in cases of public servants, the second part of the statement appears completely nonsensical. Such an appallingly high number of calls purporting to lodge complaints of corruption against a relatively small number of public servants is a testimony to this.
The complaints of corruption that the commission has received in the week were, as New Age reported on Thursday, mostly against public servants in utility services, public hospitals, state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Agency, Bangladesh Railway, government schools and land records offices. The concentration of corruption, as is evident in a week’s calls made to the corruption complaint centre, clearly shows where the Anti-Corruption Commission and the government need to put their focus in their fight against corruption. Such efforts of the Anti-Corruption Commission are, therefore, worth praising. But fears are there that after the initial noise, inaction, because of the commission’s own problems or of any intervention that the government might make, could shadow the hotline service of the complaint centre. This should not be. The complaint centre of the commission has started showing a ray of hope, just the beginning of the beginning though, and the commission should continue with the mechanism as a device in its fight against corruption. This, over a considerable period of time, might also highlight a corruption pattern, showing the areas where it takes place and where it mostly takes place, along with their gravity, giving an insight for the government and the commission into what they need to do and where they need to do it if they mean to effectively stop corruption in society.
While the government and the commission, under the circumstances, must look into complaints of serious corruption and deal with them properly, they must also make the complaint mechanism easier and more friendly to the victims of corruption. This will not only help the government to rid society of corruption if it really means to, this will also arm the victims of corruption up with a tool to fight against corruption the way the government and the commission do, and should, use it.
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