Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) wants to see effective implementation of the "zero tolerance" policy against irregularities and corruption in all sectors, including health, to offset the coronavirus fallout.
TIB is of the opinion that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and other relevant organizations should first stop messing around with the smaller players so that actual institutional and administrative initiatives can be taken up against rampant corruption perpetrated by the bigger players.
In a press statement on the eve of International Day Against Corruption on 9 December, TIB Tuesday reminded that the establishment of rule of law and accountability are critical to build a democratic country.
Therefore, TIB renewed its call to ensure neutrality, objectivity, professionalism and skilfulness of all democratic institutions, especially law enforcement agencies, administration, judiciary, election commission and human rights commission.
It also called for protecting freedom of expression of the people and media.
Noting "corruption has become a ubiquitous phenomenon in the country in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis", TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, "The question is aside from expressing frustration, what to do in this situation? Despite the declaration of 'zero tolerance' against corruption from the highest levels of the government, no one can say for sure what it means in the current scenario."
Iftekharuzzaman commented that the "zero tolerance" declaration only nets the small players.
"When we hear about shocking tales of rampant corruption, we must be aware of the big fish who operate behind of the scenes."
For example, the TIB cited a recent media report on a student leader who reportedly siphoned off millions from the country. "The activities of corrupt leaders at the top are beyond our imagination. We have never seen any investigation or effective legal action against any of these big players," added the executive director.
He claimed that political elites, businesspeople, and other influential quarters are enjoying impunity. TIB suggested that ACC shake off its weak outlook.
"The ACC chief is about to complete his stint, and the commission must take this opportunity to take control and establish the ACC as an effective anti-corruption body," he added.
TIB also said it seeks transparency in appointment of new ACC leadership and envisions the commission playing a more effective role.