Corruption Perceptions Index 2019: Bangladesh now 14th most corrupt country; TIB stressed on political integrity to ensure Zero tolerance against corruption
Bangladesh scored 26 out of 100 points and was ranked 14th from the bottom and 146th from the top among 180 countries in the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2019. As per the latest CPI which ranks countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption each year, Bangladesh scored far below than the global average score (43) and its position remains 2nd lowest for the 7th consecutive years among eight South Asian countries- lower than all except Afghanistan. TI Bangladesh called upon the government to take more drastic and effective steps beyond pledges and short-term operations against corruption.
Releasing CPI 2019 findings through a press conference in its Dhanmondi office on 23rd January 2020, TI-Bangladesh’s (TIB) Executive Director Dr. Iftekharuzzaman said, “Bangladesh’s score is still much lower than the global average score of 43. Counting from top, Bangladesh positions itself 3 steps higher (146th) than in 2018 (149th) while counting from below and ranked 1 step higher(14th) than in 2018 (13th). Among South Asian countries, Bangladesh remains the second worst – better than only Afghanistan, which is the 5th lowest in the global list. Also, Bangladesh is 4th lowest among 31 Asia-Pacific countries as per the index.”
Terming the performance of Bangladesh as “mixed”, Dr. Zaman observed, “the only good news is that the score remains unchanged, however, there is no scope of complaisance due to insignificant improvement in ranking. Rather, it is still embarrassing and worrying for Bangladesh as it scored far less than the global average score and continued being the second-worst among the South Asian countries.”
Expressing disappointment over Bangladesh’s performance, Dr. Zaman said, “Bangladesh could have performed better if good governance was ensured through political integrity and strict enforcement of the law regardless of position and identity. One of the core factors which might have contributed to Bangladesh’s poor performance in the global index is the lack of effective implementation of the anti-corruption commitment or political will though we do have heard such declarations. Here, one of the main obstacles to the implementation of the Prime Minister's declaration of 'zero-tolerance against corruption' and 'not spearing anyone' is that the political and otherwise positions around power are considered and used as licenses for personal benefit and wealth acquisition, thus creating deficit in trust among public about end-result of high-profile anti-corruption drive."
Dr. Zaman also pointed other possible factors which might have influenced Bangladesh's position in the index, including deficit in political integrity and intrinsic linkage of politics with big money and corruption; high-profile corruption being rarely addressed; weakening institutions of accountability; impunity; deficit of effectiveness of Anti-Corruption Commission, especially in case of “big fish”; shrinking media and civil society space; lack of tolerance of dissent; political and policy decisions reflecting powerful vested groups with little reflection of public interest; and deficit in electoral integrity and transparency of political or electoral finance.
According to CPI 2019, among South Asian countries, Bhutan is on the top with same score and rank as the previous year (score 68, rank 25 from top) while Afghanistan remains in the bottom scoring only 16 with 173rd position which is globally the fifth-lowest, and lowest in the Asia-pacific region. Except Bhutan, all South Asian countries have received lower than the global average of 43. India ranked 80th with a score of 41. Sri Lanka scored 38 with 93rdin the rank, followed by Nepal that scored 34 with 113th position. Then Pakistan scored 32 with 120th position and Maldives gained 130th position scoring 29, 2 points less than the previous year. Denmark and New Zealand top the CPI 2019 with 87 points, respectively. Somalia, South Sudan, and Syria are at the bottom of the index, with 9, 12 and 13 points, respectively.
Among others, Advocate Sultana Kamal, Chairperson, Board of Trustees; Professor Dr. Sumaiya Khair, Adviser-Executive management; and Sheikh Manjur-E-Alam, Director-Outreach & Communications, of TIB were also present at the event.
Stressing on the significance of creating a conducive environment for participation in anti-corruption activities by civil society and the media, Dr. Zaman said, “the countries which ensure and protect freedom of expression, freedom of information sharing, are successful in corruption control and usually perform better in the corruption index. As long as all obstacles to freedom of opinion and freedom of information, such as the Digital Security Act, etc., continue to remain in place, corruption will flourish. Therefore, It is the responsibility of the government to create a conducive environment for the participation of civil society, NGOs, media, and citizens at large in the anti-corruption movement. Drastic and comprehensive amendment of the digital security act is indispensable. The more a society considers critics as well-wishers and change agents to strengthen the scope of compliance and accountability rather than treating them as enemies, the better will be the performance in anti-corruption.”
Dr. Zaman further added that because of the lack of proper understanding about CPI, people of the country are blamed to be corrupt which is not right. “The majority of the people here are not corrupt but rather victims of it and they can never be blamed for the failure of our leadership to fight corruption,” Dr. Zaman concluded.
In the press conference, it was also clarified that no nationally generated data, including TI or TIB’s research or that of any other national chapter of TI is considered for the CPI. Unlike TI chapters of other countries, TI Bangladesh releases corruption perceptions index only.
Produced by the Research team of TI-Secretariat and launched in 1995, the Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International’s flagship research product, has become the leading global indicator of public sector corruption. The index offers an annual snapshot of the relative degree of corruption by ranking countries and territories from all over the globe. CPI provides an international comparison of countries by perceived prevalence of corruption understood in terms of abuse of entrusted power. It is a survey of surveys (13 in 2019) conducted by reputed international organizations. Information used in CPI relates to corruption in the public sector, particularly political and administrative; conflict of interest; unauthorized payment in the delivery of government functions, and in the judiciary, executive, law enforcement and tax collection. The government's capacity to control corruption is also considered. In 2012, Transparency International revised the methodology used to construct the index to allow for comparison of scores from one year to the next.