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Bangladesh’s Parliament need be the watchdog defence corruption recommends TI-DSP

Two-thirds of parliament and legislatures fail to exercise sufficient control over their Ministry of Defence and the armed forces, according to a new report by Transparency International UK’s Defence and Security Programme (TI-DSP). Amongst those, 70 % of the largest arms importers in 2012 leave the door open to corruption. TI-UK released the report globally on September 17.

The study—a spin-off from the Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index 2013 (GI) analysed what 82 countries do to reduce corruption risks in the sector— places countries in corruption risk bands according to detailed assessments across seven areas in which parliaments play a vital anti-corruption role. It also shows, through detailed case studies, how parliaments and legislatures can improve oversight of defence.

According to the report Bangladesh was among 21 countries placed at the bottom of the banding exhibiting very high risk of corruption. China, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bahrain exhibit same level of corruption like Bangladesh. Fourteen countries were placed at the bottom of the banding, exhibiting critical risk of corruption due to lack of legislative defence oversight: Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. Only four nations—Australia, Germany, Norway, and the United Kingdom—were amongst the top performers, with very low levels of corruption risk, followed by twelve countries which are at low risk due to better performance by their parliaments.

Pointing to the recent huge defence purchase deal, Dr Iftekharuzzman emphasised on making the defence and security sector accountable to the parliament. Mentionable that the parliament and the people were kept completely in the dark about this deal. He questioned if anyone else could ensure transparency and accountability in defence earnings and outflows if the parliament particularly the concerned standing committee failed to do so.

The study recommended 15 measures for parliament, executive branch, audit office, civil society and media to ensure transparency and accountability in this sector. TI called on parliamentarians to establish cross-party committees and groups of external experts to empower their scrutiny and inform their debate of defence matters. The full report is available at http://government.defenceindex.org/parliaments