National Household survey 2017 on corruption in service sectors by Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) reveals that 66.5% households became victims of corruption while receiving services from different public and private sectors or institutions. However, the extent of bribery paid by households (on an average of Tk. 5,930 for services) has decreased in 2017 compared to 2015 (49.8% in 2017 compared to 58.1% in 2015). Among the victims of bribery in the 2017 survey, 89.0% households mentioned that they paid bribe or unauthorized money because services were not provided if bribe was not paid. The survey further observed that the bribe burden is comparatively higher on households with low income as they were forced to spend much higher portion of annual income in bribery than households with high income (0.12% vs 2.41% of their expenditures).
In the survey, the largest assessment of public opinion of Bangladesh on corruption in service sectors, TIB found law enforcing agencies services (72.5%) as the most corrupt sector followed by passport (67.3%), BRTA (65.4%), judicial services (60.5%), land administration (44.9%), education - Govt and MPO enlisted (42.9), health (42.5%), agriculture (41.6%).
Unveiling the survey in a Press Conference at its Dhaka office on 30 August, TIB said that nationally estimated amount of bribe paid to different service sectors was found Tk. 106,889 million which is 18,671 million BDT (21.2%) more than that of 2015, 3.4% of extended national budget of 2016-17 and 0.5% of GDP for the same year though estimated amount cover only the sectors taken under this survey; not necessarily all the service sectors operating in Bangladesh.
Conducted between January to December 2017, the survey findings and observations were presented jointly by Md. Wahid Alam, Senior Programme Manager; Farhana Rahman, Programme Manager and Mohammad Nure Alam, Deputy Programme Manager of TIB’s Research and Policy Division. Presided over by Chairperson of TIB’s Board of Trustees Advocate Sultana Kamal, the press conference was attended by Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Adviser – Executive Management Professor Dr. Sumaiya Khair and Director of Research and Policy division Mohammad. Rafiqul Hasan. The other members of the survey team Md. Julkarnayeen, Deputy Programme Manager; Kumar Bishwajit Das, Manager-Research & Information; Nazmul Huda Mina, Assistant Programme Manager, of Research and Policy, TIB were also present at the event.
TIB’s Research and Policy team conducted the survey through a three-stage Stratified Cluster Sampling method using the Integrated Multipurpose Sampling Frame (IMPS), developed by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS). To ensure scientific quality, accuracy and validity of the survey, the team was guided and assisted in different stages of the survey by a panel of experts consisting of eight nationally and internationally reputed experts. The survey, one of the main research activity of TIB collected general peoples experience of corruption in receiving services from different sectors which included bribery (transaction of unauthorized money, embezzlement of money), embezzlement of assets, deception, negligence of duty, nepotism, and different types of harassment. Data was collected from 10,155 rural households (65.2%) and 5,426 urban households (34.8%) covering eight divisions. The survey has covered 15 important service sectors i.e. Education, Health, Local Government Institutions, Land Services, Agriculture, Law-enforcement Agencies, Judicial Services, Electricity, Banking, Insurance, Tax and Customs, NGO, BRTA, Passport and Gas. Besides, based on data provided by respondents on various other sectors/sub-sector/institutions, another sector “Others” was also reported which included Pension, DC Office, UNO Office, BTCL, Post Office, Railway, WASA etc.
In comparison to 2015 survey, the overall analysis of this survey shows percentage of households facing corruption in service sectors remained almost unchanged. In 2017, the percentage of households facing corruption is 66.5% while it was 67.8% in 2015. However, overall the rate of households paying bribes in service sector has decreased in 2017 (49.8%) than in2015 (58.1%). Six out of sixteen service sectors where corruption has decreased significantly are education, passport, local government, land administration, tax and customs and law enforcement agencies. On the other hand, nine service sectors where corruption has increased significantly are gas, agriculture, judicial services, electricity, BRTA, health, insurance, NGO and other service sectors. However, corruption remained almost unchanged in banking services. The rate of corruption in service sectors is found higher in rural areas (68.4%) than in urban areas (65.0%). Similarly, the rate of bribery is found also higher in rural areas (54.0%) than in urban areas (46.6%).
Speaking at the press conference, Advocate Sultana Kamal said that corruption increased in service delivery system due to lack of accountability and has been compelling underprivileged the most of their rights to surrender to the corrupt service providers, compromising dignity. She decried that the culture of the bribe has now become as a part of our life which is a matter of disgrace. She stressed on political will and strong enforcement of law to curb corruption and ensure peoples’ right-based services.
Pointing slight positive changes of number of indicators and sectors included in the survey compared to 2015, Dr. Ifetkharuzzaman expressed grave concern on overall corruption scenario of the country. "Although the level of bribery declined in 2017 compared to 2015, the amount had increased." The people on low incomes became the victims of corruption compared to the well-off, he added. Dr. Zaman said salary hike and incentives of public officials have not contributed in decreasing corruption.
With regards to preventing corruption, Dr. Zaman stressed on political will in every aspects and suggested to bring more service area under scrutiny and accountability. He urged to make more space for law enforcement agencies, judicial system, administration, anti-corruption commission to perform their own respective duties which will strengthen overall accountability of the system.
Aimed to assess the nature and degree of corruption in selected service sectors on the basis of experiences of members of the households of Bangladesh, the survey report also put forward a number of recommendations to prevent and control corruption for implementation at policy and institutional levels, which included, among others: taking legal steps against Public officials engaged in corrupt practices and ensure punishments; taking legal action by ACC; adopting Code of Conduct: to ensure accountability and transparency; providing positive and negative Incentives; increasing people’s participation in service delivery processes; increasing of people’s awareness and effective roles of media; Proper implementation of Rights to Information and Whistleblower Protection Act; increase use of information technology; introduce grievance redress mechanism and implementation of Citizen’s Charters; making service processes easy; Increase manpower, infrastructure and logistics; political will and its proper implementation.
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