Economists reject TI report

Tasneem Khalil

Tasneem Khalil

[Dhaka Correspondent] Leading economists of the country have rejected Bangladesh’s ranking in the Transparency International’s corruption perception index (CPI), saying that the report did not include broader perspective of corruption that can reflect a realistic picture.

When their attention was drawn to country’s slight elevation in position in 2007, not in terms of score in the index, the economists said it was an unjust treatment for Bangladesh, where at least 90 per cent of the people are not at all involved with corruption.

“There is no reason to be complacent about the change in our position. I question the very methodology followed by Transparency International in judging corruption committed by the elite here,” Abul Barakat, economics professor of Dhaka University, said in his reaction to the corruption perception report released Wednesday.

Asked if anti-corruption drive by the interim government played any role in improving Bangladesh’s position, he said the corrupt elements in society amounting to around 10 per cent have now gone into hibernation. “Corruption is embedded into the system which remains the same.”

Economist Hossain Zillur Rahman termed this a mere perception and attributed the change in Bangladesh’s position to the changes in perception that had taken place in the last 7-8 months. “This method has no scope to measure institutional corruption. It is more important to look into the whole perspective of corruption,” said Zillur, the executive chairman of Power and Participation Research Centre. He also regretted that Bangladesh is the only country where “hue and cry” is witnessed about the findings of such a report based on perception.

Atiur Rahman, another economist, observed that Bangladesh’s position might improve further if the ranking is made on completion of at least one anti-corruption drive. He, however, stressed the need for making a balance between anti-corruption drive and economic activities so that commoners do no suffer. “We want to throw away polluted water not the pot itself. So we have to be careful in dealing with corruption,” he said underlining the need for strengthening institutions such as the Anti Corruption Commission. “Otherwise, anti-corruption drive will not sustain in the long run,” he added.

Abdul Barakat pointed out that if all factors relating to corruption in comparison to other countries are taken into consideration, Bangladesh’s position would have been 70 in the index.