Absolute power of the executive creates scope for abuse: TIB

Absolute power of the executive organ of Bangladesh creates scope for abuse and prompts to take executive decisions on partisan basis, according to a study of the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).

The study reveals that the Prime Minister being the exclusive depository of absolute power exercises authority over the executive branch of the government. Critics have labeled it as ‘Prime Ministerial authoritarianism’, it said.

The study report, titled ‘National Integrity System Assessment: Bangladesh’, was released at a press conference at the BRAC Center in the capital on Wednesday.

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The co-authors of the report, Prof Salahuddin M Aminuzzaman of Dhaka University and TIB deputy executive director Prof Sumaiya Khair, jointly disclosed the study findings.

TIB chairperson Sultana Kamal and executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman also spoke at the press conference.

The study says division of power amongst the legislative, judiciary and executive branches of the government has largely been ‘uneven’ and ‘dominated’ by the Prime Minister. There is no provision requiring disclosure of asset by the head of the state or government, cabinet members and MPs.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the power of the head of the executive must be decentralised to make the state pillars effective. “Some changes should be brought in the structure of the constitution and the rules of business in this regard.”

About the integrity of judiciary, the study says that the issue of independence of the judiciary has received negligible recognition in political rhetoric, and despite formal separation of the judiciary from the executive, it has not met the people’s expectation of a truly independent institution since the ‘subordinate courts continued to be influenced by the executive’.

It highlighted that a weak national integrity system, bedeviled by wide gap of practice and implementation compared to legal provisions and institutional capacity, undermine the prospect of governance and nourishing corruption.

The study conducted on 15 institutions during August 2012 to September 2013 shows that despite having  relatively strong legal framework, resources and institutional framework their implementation and practice are largely inadequate and a culture of non-compliance generally prevails resulting in a lower than possible level of transparent and accountable governance in the country.

The 15 pillars of the National Integrity System (NIS) covered by the study are the Parliament, Executive, Judiciary, Public Administration, Local Government, Police, Comptroller and Auditor General, Election Commission, the Anti Corruption Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, the Information Commission, Political Parties, Civil Society, Media, and Business sector. Each institution has been assessed in terms of legal provision, capacity, governance and role.

The study placed 63 recommendations to strengthen these 15 NIS institutions and underscored strict implementation of the existing laws.

The recommendations included taking appropriate measures to make the parliament effective; reform of the Rules of Business in order to ensure checks and balance in the role of the executive; appointments of Supreme Court Judges by an independent body; reform of the legal framework for the police force to include extensive transparency, accountability, independence, professional integrity and ‘no impunity provisions’ in police operations; and strict punishment for police officials and staff who are found guilty of corruption, human rights violation and other offences.

Courtesy: UNB