The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has identified 14 sources of corruption at land ports across the country, including the release of goods without payment of import duties and appointment of incompetent contractors violating rules.
ACC Commissioner Dr Mozammel Haque Khan handed over a report on the Bangladesh Land Port Authority (BSBK) to State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury at his secretariat office on Wednesday.
Dr Mozammel said that the report, submitted by an ACC team, also made a 28-point recommendation to curb corruption at land ports. Meanwhile, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury told the media that the ministry will take appropriate measures after reviewing the report.
As per the ACC report, sources of corruption, including the scope for different irregularities such as bribery and nepotism, remain at the land ports because of the appointment of the same people as part-time members in the BSBK directorial board.
Utilising the inadequate security at most land ports, traders – with support from some dishonest employees at ports and customs – often release goods without paying import duties.
The Government Purchase Act and other regulations are not properly followed at land ports in the procurement process and for recruiting contractors. Local influential people participate in the tender process by cheating.
So scopes for corruption and embezzlement of funds remain there.
Due to outsourcing in manpower recruitment, there is a difficulty in monitoring the lack of transparency in recruitment process and payment of salaries. Utilising this scope, vested quarters withdraw money by issuing bills in the name of people absent in work.
On the other hand, working at same office for years, officials of land ports and syndicates of traders have built rackets, which are spearheading the corruption.
While releasing the goods from ports, customs officials sometimes do not check the export-import documents properly, which in turn aids culprits in committing irregular activities.
The ACC has also found evidence of stealing goods from sheds and warehouses of the ports by an influential network, in collaboration with a section of dishonest employees.
Some port officials have assigned locals unofficially to work at the ports, but later those workers play the role of mediators for giving and taking bribes.
The ACC report recommends measures such as automation at ports, formation of a single or multiple vigilance teams comprised of customs and port authorities, ensuring administrative, legal and preventive measures after collecting information with the help of several organisations, including the customs intelligence.
Other steps are – ensuring transparency and accountability of all activities at land ports, using own equipment for goods handing, monitoring operational activities, including security, and the formation of separate cells for monitoring.
The anti-graft body had formed 25 investigation teams to identify successes and limitations of state-run organisations in providing public services, legal complexities, harassment of service receivers and cause of corruption, and make recommendations to curb such issues.
As per the ACC direction, the teams have already submitted reports on 16 organisations, including health, education, Biman, Rajuk, Wasa, Public Works Department and Civil Aviation Authority.