Around 70.9 per cent of the country’s households have to pay bribes in getting government services from various sectors, said a household survey of the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Wednesday.
The survey, titled ‘Corruption in Service Sectors: National Household Survey 2021’, also revealed that the law enforcement agencies are the most corrupt service sector (74.4 pc) followed by the Department of Immigration and Passports (DIP) (70.5 pc) and Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) (68.3 pc).
Other most corrupt services sectors include judiciary (56.8 pc), health (48.7 pc), local government institutions (46.6 pc) and land services (46.3 pc).
The survey report said that the country’s overall bribery rate is 40.1 per cent, with the top three sectors receiving bribes being passports, law enforcement agencies and BRTA.
Up to 72.1 percent of the victims of bribery mentioned “service not available without bribery” as the reason for paying bribes, which means that bribery continues to be institutionalized.
Every household, on average, has to pay a bribe of Tk 6,636 annually and the three most bribe-taking sectors are insurance, judiciary and gas services, said the report.
The survey revealed that an amount of Tk 10,830 crore was exchanged as bribe in the services sector during the survey period from December 2020 to November 2021, which was 0.4 per cent of the country’s GDP in fiscal year 2020-21 and 5.9 per cent of revised budget of the same financial year.
The TIB has conducted nine National Household Surveys since 1997.
According to the survey, the rate of corruption in the service sectors has increased compared to 2017. In 2021, while the rate of corruption in the same sectors was found to be 70.8 percent, in 2017 this rate was 66.5 percent. Compared to 2017, the rate of bribes or unauthorized payments has decreased in 2021 but the amount of bribes has increased.
Due to the government’s digitization process, corruption in some sectors remains the same (law enforcement agencies, passport, BRTA, etc.) and has increased in some sectors (local government institutions, NGOs, insurance, etc.). In addition, compared to 2017, the rate of bribery increased in some sectors (local government institutions) and decreased in some sectors (agriculture, education and health) in 2021.
The survey shows that in 2021, the incidence of bribery in the service sectors was higher in rural areas than in urban areas (36.6pc vs. 46.5 pc). The burden of corruption is higher on low-income households than on high-income households. Low-income households are forced to pay a higher proportion of their annual income in bribes than high-income households in order to receive services.
The survey result also shows that female service recipients were victims of corruption more than male service recipients in some sectors (health, local government institutions, other sectors) and male service recipients were victims of corruption more than women in certain sectors (education, public services). In addition, service recipients aged 36 and above are relatively more victims of corruption compared to service recipients below 35 years.
The graft watchdog has put forward a 10-point recommendation based on the opinions of households which took part in the survey. The recommendations include ensuring legal accountability for those involved in corruption, digitalization of all government services, implementing the code of conduct for service providers and wide publicity of the government’s Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM).
Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of TIB, said this household survey does not have any connection with Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
The global body does not use the findings from this survey and other research conducted by the TIB while preparing the CPI, he said.