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Empowering watchdog to fight graft

Publication Date : 31-08-2012


It is much welcome news that the parliamentary standing committee on law ministry has made a number of useful recommendations that would help transform Bangladesh's anti-graft body into an effective organisation. Once recommendations have been incorporated and enacted into law in the next session of parliament, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) would be in a position to take any steps it deems fit against allegations of corruption of public officials without seeking prior approval from the government.

Concerns however remain as to precisely how effective the ACC will be in discharging its duties. Such premonition arises out of the fact that various institutions have been asked to furnish information to ACC, but we believe this is not realistic. Given the level of existing institutional corruption, we would much rather have the ACC develop a public grievance redress mechanism. Such a step would be akin to putting into effect a complaint response mechanism in the ACC branch offices. In this regard, the ACC will require proper staffing and logistics and resources to that effect need be provisioned by the government in its annual budgeting.

We have always advocated for the ACC to be free from the Executive. By the ACC chairman's own admission earlier, the body had been rendered a toothless tiger and it is yet to be freed from Executive control. This is more so since the present practice involves the ACC to submit its annual report to the President, which then maybe forwarded to the parliament. Since the president works on the advice of the prime minister, an element of executive control is built into the present dispensation. The whole point of having an autonomous ACC is not to have a carbon copy of the pre-existing bureau of anti corruption which worked nothing more than an appendage to the Prime Minister's Office. Therefore, we are for unfettered, professionally sound working of the ACC as a fully autonomous anti-graft body as we see in the case of India and USA.


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