Bangladesh has managed to improve on only war-torn Afghanistan in terms of business bribery risk in South Asia, says a report by the TRACE International.
The country presents the highest bribery risk among all other South Asian neighbours even after jumping 12 notches up to rank 166th out of 194 countries and improving 6 points to 66 out of 100 in the 2020 matrix compared to last year, finds the latest bribery risk.
Last year, Bangladesh was ranked in the 178th position in the world with a score of 72.
According to the latest report released on Thursday, very poor score and narrow improvement in expectation in paying bribes keep Bangladesh in "high" risk of business bribery.
Moreover, the country has a high degree of government interaction and a high regulatory burden, it adds.
The 2020 TRACE Bribery Risk Matrix that measures business bribery risk in 194 countries was released on 19 November.
The matrix conveys and captures the multidimensional nature of bribery risk using 4 separate risk domains and 9 sub-domains.
The domains are business interactions with government, anti-bribery deterrence and enforcement, government and civil service transparency, and capacity for civil society oversight.
A higher score indicates a higher risk of business bribery.
Bangladesh has outperformed Afghanistan with a narrow margin of only 1 point, while it is still 5 points behind Pakistan. Pakistan could see an improvement by only 1 point, though.
Even though Bangladesh has better government enforcement of anti-bribery and accessibility of public sector information than Pakistan, a huge margin gap in high expectation to pay bribe and high rent-seeking behaviours keep Bangladesh behind Pakistan.
Commenting on the improvement of Bangladesh in the matrix, Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of the Transparency International Bangladesh, said, "There could be two probable situations when it comes to an international comparison in any index. First, we do better than the previous year or two and secondly, some other nations do worse than us."
"There is a need for assessment as to which one has happened this time around", he added.
"I think it is good news if Bangladesh actually improves 12 notches in the matrix and we can take it positively.
"However, to answer the question whether the tendency of bribery or corruption has really reduced, we must compare the national research with the matrix," he further said.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan are at the bottom of business bribery index among South Asian nations.
With 4 notches improvement, Bhutan (48th) has retained its position at the lowest risk of business bribery in South Asia followed by India (77th).
A massive 39 notches improvement has put Maldives in the 85th position in the world and the third in South Asia, followed by Sri Lanka (87th) and Nepal (107th)
Afghanistan is the only country that experienced a reduction in the global ranking.
Bangladesh's bribery risk level consistently high
Despite the improvement in the rankings, Bangladesh has not been able to break the brackets of nations with "high-risk" levels of business bribery.
The country has consistently been named a "high-risk" country on the TRACE Bribery Matrix since 2014, when the first matrix was released.
The only exception happened in 2016 when Bangladesh was ranked 183rd among 199 countries and it was mentioned as a country with a "very high" bribery risk.
Nexus between corruption, bribery and ease of doing business
A look at the corruption perceptions index, the bribery risk matrix and the ease of doing business rankings reveal an interesting correlation.
It has been seen that nations which have less risks of corruption and bribery tend to have a better appearance in the ease of doing business index and vice-versa.
Denmark emerged as the cleanest country in the world as it topped the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index released by the Berlin-based Transparency International.
The bribery risk there is also the lowest as the country is at the top of the TRACE Bribery Matrix.
Denmark has been placed at the 4th position in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business 2020.
On the TRACE Bribery Matrix, Norway was ranked second, followed by Finland, Sweden, and New Zealand.
On the other hand, Somalia was named the most corrupt country in the world on the corruption perceptions index. The East African country was found to have the highest bribery risk and was ranked at the bottom eight on the Trace matrix.
The country also ranked at the bottom in the Ease of Doing Business 2020.
However, Bangladesh was ranked 146th in the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index and ranked 168th in the Ease of Doing Business 2020.