Vol. 5 Num 418 Sat. July 30, 2005  

ACC's going afield good idea
But it should play a defined role
The Anti-corruption Commission, formed last November, and hitherto ensnared by internal dissension and governmental indifference, has started showing positive dynamism at last. On Thursday and Wednesday in the preceding week, a delegation from the ACC led by its commissioner Prof Maniruzzaman visited the police headquarters and the National Board of Revenue (NBR), the nerve centres of organisations known for a high degree of corruption in the public perception. The ACC representatives met with the police and NBR chiefs, exchanged ideas with them and hunkered down to a minimum programme of action to combat corruption and improve the services.

It is heartening to note that Inspector General of Police Abdul Quiyum responded positively to the ACC proposals for joint surveillance, formation of a committee to review corruption situation every three months, and putting up of a list of GDs and cases field on a notice board at every police station with a copy of the same transmitted to higher authorities. The last-named suggestion is to address the oft-heard public grievance that thana officials refuse to diarise complaints about criminal offences. The IGP sounds forthright when he says he 'loves to work with the ACC as a complementary force.' The assurances of a cooperative approach as distinguished from an adversarial one to the challenge of corruption is, needless to say, a welcome development. These of course, will be as good as their implementation.

But the point worth pondering is that taking the ACC on board and vice-versa in pursuit of a common goal for containment of corruption might dilute the oversight role of the Anti-corruption Commission.

The National Board of Revenue is also willing to work with the ACC for tackling stemming corruption in its different unit offices. Some good suggestions were point on the table such as bringing down the number of stages in export and import operations and computerisation of the processes which will go a long way in curbing graft. Let's see how much of the area of agreement is followed up on and lived up to. The fact that a tax ombudsman would hear out complaints does not mean that the ACC will be circumscribed in this sphere.

Again, on the issue of collaboration, we would like to say that it could be a good preventative agenda but only as part of what ideally should be the ACC's role. Principally, the Anti-corruption Commission will have to deal with specific allegations of corruption through investigation, arraignment, prosecution and finally assisting the court in delivering verdicts with a hugely deterrent effect.

Sooner the ACC attends to specific cases of corruption, the better it will be for it to assert its independent authority.