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Publication Date : 01-02-2013
For the first time the Transparency International has produced a government defence anti-corruption index, a review of corruption risk and vulnerability in defence ministries and armed forces in several countries. It offers an insight of the corruption risks in national defence and security.
According to it, Bangladesh is in high risk category because of absence of certain mechanisms that mitigate the risk of corruption. We feel that there are certain pointers in the report which we will do well to implement.
Unfortunately, public discourse on anything related to defence in Bangladesh has been made a taboo, more so when it has to do with defence purchase. That is an unacceptable situation, given that a huge amount of public money is spent on maintaining the military and on defence procurement.
Thankfully, we have a seen a departure recently, albeit slight, nevertheless commendable, when the government made public the one billion dollar defence purchase deal with Russia, although there are quite a few grey areas regarding that too, including the fact that the matter was not discussed in the cabinet.
However, we would like to see the purchase agreement with Russian as a start to a more open military deals in future, particularly where huge sums are involved and where new weapon systems are being inducted. Transparency in defence purchase has become a global imperative, and there are good reasons for it. National security and national defence are like conjoined twins, but unfortunately, in the name of national security many important issues of defence are kept out of public purview and even out of the scrutiny of the parliament, endangering national security in the process.
We feel that it is for the very reason of national security that large defence purchases and indeed the entire gamut of defence spending ought to come under close parliamentary oversight. There is need to thrash out the rationale of a particular purchase and the cost involved as much as the need to keep the parliament informed about the mode of payment or about any restrictive clause which may prove prohibitive for the country in the long run, so that we, as the purchaser, are not left at the mercy of the supplier.