Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  
Letters to Editor

Corruption-- root cause of poverty

In a recent discussion with fellow Bangladeshis, we were asking them to express what in their opinion is the most crying need for Bangladesh, in terms of priority, for the optimum development and rebuilding the nation.

Interestingly, each of the people present had a different suggestion for the most crucial priority for Bangladesh. One said we need Education before anything else, one said Leadership; another said Rural development, another Law and Order, Transport, Foreign Investment, etc. Each had a different opinion to start with.

Of course we need all those, but I asked what do we need before everything else, before we can implement all those grand visions of development? What do we need desperately right now as a priority before we can see any light? They all said - yes, their initial point - education or whatever was the crying need.

Then I pointed out that Bangladesh must unequivocally slice corruption before any other development. The country is certainly not short of programmes for development. Billions of foreign dollars are assigned through the government to endless programmes of education, electrification, roads, poverty eradication, rural enterprise, foreign investment, farmer subsidies, border control, environment, aviation, as much as the government can imagine. Unfortunately, 90 percent of these programmes begin and end at the government offices, and the money is channeled to the wrong hands. Nothing gets implemented, why? Because the funds and resources are both misappropriated and stolen directly from the ministries concerned, or they are abused so grossly that the programmes are totally crippled. Corruption is the disease that Bangladesh must curtail BEFORE making any dreams of survival - let alone prosper. Otherwise those goals and dreams, as we see before our eyes, end up as pipe dreams.

No programme of development whatsoever - absolutely none - will come to fruition unless corruption is removed in the first place. Funds, resources and master plans need transparent application. So although poverty is caused by lack of economic growth, the growth of the economy is road-blocked by corruption. Corruption is therefore the direct cause of poverty. The way to reduce poverty and develop a nation is to cut down corruption, and the Bangladesh government is obviously toning down this simple concept. Politicians and bureaucrats are wallowing in the world's biggest hotbed of corruption.

The outside world can see this glaring disease of corruption in Bangladesh, they politely tell Bangladesh to remove the scab, and they try to discipline and encourage Bangladesh with harsh words and even embarrass us openly with statistics. Yet Bangladesh and the people appear unconcerned, because they are uninformed and unaware of the damage and extent of corruption in Bangladesh.

Awareness, that corruption is the root cause of poverty, is the first step to national development. Please spread the word.