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Introduction

Corruption is a major impediment to development and democratic governance. From the


point of view of governance and democratic institutionalization, corruption weakens
institutions, leads to low or distorted participation and to erosion of the trust of citizens in
leadership, public office and institutions. Corruption erodes public trust in government, and
breeds injustice. By distorting the political and economic structures and weakening the social
fabric, corruption can also be a potential source of insecurity of the state. Corruption is also
increasingly linked to violation of human rights and spread of the culture of impunity. There
are strong evidences that corruption increases poverty and impedes the institutional capacity
to reduce it.
The present government of Bangladesh has taken the challenge of combating corruption
seriously as part of its election pledge implementation since it came to the power in 2009.
Accordingly, it has shown concerns for collectively fighting corruption and fixing it firmly on
the agenda of policy makers in state and non-state institutions in order to create avenues for
overcoming the barriers. Through a process of wide-ranging stakeholder consultations, the
Government approved the National Integrity Strategy (NIS) in October 2012. NIS has a
comprehensive set of goals, strategies and action plans aimed at increasing the level of
independence, accountability, efficiency, transparency and effectiveness of the state and non
state institutions to improve governance and reduce corruption in a holistic manner.
The objective of this paper is to offer an understanding of the role of National Integrity
System in preventing corruption in Bangladesh. The paper first attempts a brief conceptual
overview of corruption and the factors behind it. Then it then moves on to analyze the
relationship between NIS and corruption prevention. The paper finally proposes some
recommendations to implement NIS more effectively in order to fight corruption in the
country.

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Review of Literature
Corruption
Corruption is among the most frequently experienced problems in life anywhere in the world,
though with varying degree of spread and depth. It is well-researched and well documented
that corruption is inversely related to growth of democracy and democratic institutions and
economic development. There are strong evidences that corruption increases poverty and
impedes the institutional capacity to reduce it.
The word corruption comes from the Latin verb corrupts, which means to break. Corruption
is a behavior or act that breaks away or contradicts from ethical and moral standard,
traditions, laws and civic virtues. Corruption is defined by Transparency International as
abuse of public office for private gain. Corruption may also include any or a combination of
such acts as embezzlement, fraud, nepotism, negligence of duty for private gain or promoting
any vested interests - financial, political or otherwise, misuse of public or institutional fund
and extortion. Corruption, therefore, is more than bribery. The wide variety of acts that are
classified as corruption make definition of corruption wide and flexible, which is also partly
the reason why corruption is studied under several disciplines economics, political science
and governance, development studies, sociology, anthropology and psychology.
We can define corruption as the abuse of power for private gain. In this sense, the abused
power does not have to be in the public sector alone, because power-base can be outside the
public sector as in case of business or corporate sector for which the financial power is the
key. Similarly, institutions outside the public and private sectors national or international
and non-governmental organizations - are not necessarily free from corruption. The same is
true in situations of corrupt activity that takes place by abusing social power or power drawn
from knowledge, intellect and information. Nor does power have to be entrusted as in cases
where power is usurped by extra-constitutional means such as military or military-backed
rule.
Factors behind Corruption
The key institutional factors that create entry points for corruption are:

Lack of transparency and integrity in appointments, promotions, postings and


transfers, especially if these are not based on performance and merit but on political
influence and bribery
Lack of disclosure and a culture of secrecy preventing disclosure of information
relating to decisions and transactions affecting public life
Lack of enforceable Code/benchmarks of Ethics and Integrity, monitoring and
oversight and control mechanism
Scope of power abuse, low or no accountability, and checks and balances
Conflict of interest, rent-seeking, partisan political and other forms of influence in
decision-making affecting public life. In other words, failure to place public interest
above personal or political consideration
Collusion between key decision-makers, particularly between politics, business and
public office

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Inadequate rules, regulations, laws, enforcement and institutions and institutional


capacities, especially key institutions of democracy and oversight such as parliament
and parliamentary committees, law-enforcement bodies, judicial system;
Anticorruption Commission, Comptroller and Auditor Generals office, public
service, media and civil society.

Individual factors behind corruption consist of a combination of incentives drawn from


compulsion or need and greed. As earlier mentioned, incentives for corruption in the public
service arise from partisan political influence and bribery in appointment, promotions,
postings and transfers, rather than merit.
Corruption in Bangladesh
Corruption occupies a prominent place in public discourse in Bangladesh. Presence of
widespread corruption and its debilitating impact in the society, polity and economy are
acknowledged by all major political parties - in the Government or outside
There are no comparable data on Corruption that could help longitudinal analysis of the
prevalence of corruption. According to the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)
published by Transparency International, Bangladesh was ranked for five successive years in
a row at the bottom of the list from 2001 until 2005. From 2006 the ranking and score of
Bangladesh in the index gradually improved as in 2006 Bangladesh was ranked 3rd, 7th in
2007, 10th in 2008, 13th in 2009 and 12th in 2010.19 In a scale of 0-10, Bangladesh has in
2011 scored 2.7, which is 0.3 higher than in 2010, and has occupied 120th place among 183
countries compared to 134th among 178 countries in 2010. In terms of ranking from below
Bangladesh has been placed in number 13 this year, one step higher than last year.20 The
following slide shows the score of Bangladesh according to the CPI for the period since
Bangladesh was included in the index in 2001.

Bangladesh's Scores in CPI


3
2.7
2.5

2.4

2
1.7
1.5

2.6

2.7

2.4

2.1
2
2
CPI Scores 0- 10

1.5
1.2

1.3

1
0.5

0.4

0
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Chart: Scores of Bangladesh in CPI.


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The Concept of National Integrity Strategy


National Integrity Strategy is developed on the understanding that entrusted power will be
used for its publicly justified and democratically endorsed ends and reduce the likelihood that
those powers are abused. NIS can thus vary from country to country with similar functions
being performed by different institutions. A NIS can also vary in terms of its coverage,
completeness and effectiveness, but there are almost always some common elements which it
can be built on. The NIS as a concept thus acknowledges variations around the world, but
generally covers common integrity pillars of a given society which is seeking to govern itself
in an accountable fashion.
NIS thus proposes a set of objectives, elements and pillars which are more than a mere anticorruption strategy, but can be treated as a normative model for the entire political system.
In 2007, the Government of Bangladesh acceded to the United Nations Convention against
Corruption (UNCAC) and prepared a comprehensive report on the domestic institutions that
could support implementation of the Convention. This report on UNCAC highlighted that
corruption thrives on systemic weaknesses. In Bangladesh, just as in other countries, anticorruption strategies can only be effective if they proactively address the need for prevention
through the eradication of the causes of corruption as well as its detection and prosecution.
Both public and private sectors have key roles to play here and the task of eliminating the
causes of corruption will only be successful if a multi-disciplinary approach is undertaken.
National Integrity Strategy (NIS) is a comprehensive set of goals, strategies and action plans
aimed at increasing the level of independence to perform, accountability, efficiency,
transparency and effectiveness of state and non-state institutions in a sustained manner over a
period of time.
Objective of National Integrity Strategy
The National Integrity Strategy has been formulated with a view to preventing corruption and
establishing integrity in the State and society in Bangladesh. Proposals have been made for
capacity development of important institutions and organizations of the state, civil society
and the private sector. Action plans have been tailored to implement the strategy through
existing laws, rules, systems and their reforms and in some cases promulgation of new laws
and rules. In the action plans, implementation periods have been proposed as short-term
(within one year), medium term (within three years), and long-term (within five years)
measures. The state institutions identified for this purpose are: (1) Executive organ and Public
Administration, (2) Parliament, (3) Judiciary, (4) Election Commission, (5) Attorney-General,
(6) Public Service Commission, (7) Comptroller and Auditor-General, (8) Ombudsman, (9)
Anti-Corruption Commission, and (10) Local Government Institutions. In addition, the nonstate organizations covered in this strategy are (1) political parties, (2) industrial and
commercial organizations in the private sector, (3) NGOs and civil society, (4) family, (5)
educational institutions, and (6) media.
The objective of the National Integrity Strategy is to map the institutions and the interinstitutional dynamics of integrity systems, and assess those systems capacity, performance
and institutional strengths and weaknesses to address and improve the overall integrity
system.
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NIS in broad terms aims at to:

To promote and enhance democracy and economic development;

To establish a condition where the ethics infrastructure can perform effectively,


irrespective of political or economic change; and

To promote integrity as a desirable personal quality.

Methodology
Secondary data has been used for the preparation of this report.
Finding and analysis
Bangladesh has formulated its National Integrity Strategy (NIS) as a comprehensive good
governance strategy to prevent corruption and improve national integrity in all spheres of
life.NIS has identified 10 state institutions and six non-state institutions for implementation
of its action plans for prevention of corruption and ensuring integrity.
The effective functioning of a National Integrity System (NIS) can play a significant role in
combating corruption and addressing poor governance. Rather than looking at separate
institutions, rules and practices, and implementing stand-alone reform programs, the NIS is a
holistic approach, embracing all issues of contemporary concern in the area of anti-corruption
and good governance. It is results-oriented, aiming at public participation and the promotion
of national solidarity against corruption. In brief, NIS is playing the following roles in
preventing corruption:
1. NIS is strengthening the relevant institutions of accountability such as the Election
Commission (EC), Parliament and Judiciary It is aiming to mobilize State & Public
to identify and formulate adequate institutional framework to institute integrity in the
public service and administration and in institutions of accountability such as the
legislature, Public Service Commission (PSC), and the Anti-corruption Commission
(ACC)
2. It is trying to make an effective use of civil society, media, and the private sector as
partners in formulating and implementing governance reforms including in particular
measures to improve the allocation and use of government expenditure.
3. A well functioning public sector that delivers quality public services is consistent with
citizen preferences, efficient in service provision without undue fiscal and social risk
and accountable to citizens for all actions; The NIS seeks to mobilize existing
resources and expertise to develop and implement social and citizen owned
anticorruption accountability mechanisms at the centre and local levels.
4. It is focusing on strengthening current internal control measures across selected public
sector agencies.
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5. It is developing an ethics-and values-based foundation for the public service to


complement the existing rules-based systems.
6. It is taking strategic measures against forms of corruption which have been identified
through a broad based consultation.

Recommendations
In order to implement NIS more effectively for curbing corruption the following approaches
may be undertaken:
The NIS implementation should be evaluated each year. An independent review will
be undertaken to document progress against all Strategic Objectives and highlight
areas that need particular attention.
Annual high level forum with prominent leaders of the community needs to be
conducted. It will be appropriate to identify and group of leading figures in society
from business, academia, the arts and civil society who will be invited to meet from
time to time to discuss at a high strategic level societal issues pertaining to integrity,
ethics, values so as to encourage a wider national debate on these critical issues for
society.
Consensus among the political parties for sustained commitment towards NIS
implementation is required.
It is required to mainstream the mass media, educational institutions and the family
into the process of national integrity building, fighting corruption which involves
rigorous civic and parental education, community awareness, teaching civic virtue at
school and media campaign programs.

Conclusion
Change will not come overnight, but through a long and arduous process. The main challenge
is to create an environment in which corruption would be hated and rejected by everyone, and
demands and pressures will become strong enough to generate and sustain the political will
and strengthen the effectiveness and independence of the key institutions. The longer it takes
to creating such conditions and the longer abuse of power flourishes in the legitimacy contest
for political space, the farther will be the success of control of corruption. Driven by top
leadership and developed by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) the NIS has offered a
vision to the development and implementation of reforms to promote better governance and
combat corruption in Bangladesh. The NIS has highlighted institutional failures to strengthen
internal controls in State institutions and trying to induce a culture shift by encouraging the
adoption of citizen-owned accountability mechanisms in Bangladesh. If we can implement
National Integrity Strategy properly then the desired outcomes will be possible to achieve.
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