IT IS not surprising that at least 68 per cent of the rural and 65 per cent of the urban people experienced bribery while seeking legitimate services from law enforcement agencies, road transport authorities, courts, land records and settlement offices, educational institutions and 11 other services sectors. A survey finds that around 76 per cent rural and 70 per cent urban people experienced bribery in law enforcement while 68 per cent rural and 61 per cent urban people had to bribe road transport officials for legitimate services. It is disconcerting that poor people have been compelled to surrender to corrupt service providers, compromising dignity because of the service providers’ lack of accountability and the institutionalisation of bribing in services sectors. According to the Transparency International, Bangladesh survey report, released on Thursday. an estimated Tk 10688.9 crore was paid in bribe in 2017, which was 3.4 per cent of the national budget for the 2016–17 financial year and 0.5 per cent of the gross domestic product.
There is a popular perception, which some government agencies support, that bribe is not illegal, suggesting that it brings speed to work, which once outraged rights groups that said that bribe, however sugar-coated, remains bribe at the end of the day. Such a situation leaves people with nothing to expect from any political parties, be they in power or outside, in rooting out corruption that has been pervasive. The survey says, 63 per cent of farmers, 57.5 per cent of fishermen, 54.6 per cent of transport workers, 54 per cent of cottage industry owners and 53.1 per cent of non-resident Bangladeshis were the top five categories of citizens forced to pay bribe to get legitimate services. If the authorities concerned could check corruption and ensure services delivery without hassles, people would not bother to provide bribe for public service providers. High-profile corruption such as the railway recruitment bribery, share market scam, Hallmark and Destiny money laundering, etc was committed with an unholy alliance between a section of politicians, some corrupt officials and a bunch of unscrupulous businessmen, affecting both the national economy and development. Besides this, the government has a predilection to come up with the hackneyed argument that the country cannot get rid of corruption overnight. However, such a statement cannot rule out the widespread allegation that the government has hardly been serious and sincere about curbing corruption ever since it assumed office. One can also refer to the fact that the Anti-Corruption Commission has continued to fail to come out of its lackadaisical approach to fight high-profile corruption.
It is time people came up with a sustained voice against corruption and bribery and mounted pressure on the government to end this culture of corruption.
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