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German envoy on corruption

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28th-Oct-2017       
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GERMAN Ambassador to Bangladesh Thomas Prinz's observation in the city on Wednesday that corruption is the main barrier to foreign investment here from Germany and other European countries is a fresh reminder that we are not doing enough to combat it to win confidence of the investors. His comment at the monthly luncheon meeting of Foreign Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) was quite open and sincere as he said German investors are extremely careful about such problem. He said Bangladesh has a lot of potential for investment because of being densely populated and located between two big economic powers, China and India. He believes low investment is failing to take advantage of its high growth potential for faster growth.
The other factor he said is lack of enough infrastructures. It is working as the biggest bottleneck to investment from abroad. He aired a sense of frustration when he said diplomats are engaged to bring reforms in governance and other sectors of the economy but success seems to be very slow.
Infrastructure is so important he said for quick mobility within the country and connectivity for shipment of exports and imports. Deep-sea port, fast running railway and other multi-modal transport system are very important. The fact is that we have many such mega projects in hands but progress is not enough and incompetent leadership, inefficient bureaucracy and corruption at contract awarding agencies and other high places of the government are causing delay to their quick implementation.  
There is no doubt the corruption issue is on regular discussion in public and private forums; everybody knows how it is impacting the development. But there is hardly any effective move by concerned government agencies and credible leadership to decisively dealt with the malaise. There is no effective accountability to fight back crime.
Our public institutions like Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), specialized police agencies, judiciary and such other watchdog bodies not doing enough to detect and punish corruption. Their success is not much visible as most corruption is taking place under the shelter of powerful quarters in the government.  Such people grabbed huge bank deposits of several state owned banks but none - neither the anti-graft bodies nor our justice system was able to play their desired role to recover the money and punish the perpetrators of the crime.
Demand for undue commission by people in powerful quarters from foreign investors when they come with investment proposals or even selling land by dishonest people using fake documents are highly disturbing to investors from developed countries that they can't cope with. Their system does not allow it under transparent accountability regime.     
As it happens the German Envoy has spoken at the very appropriate forum but we can only hope that government leaders and local big corporate houses will take the issue seriously to slowly make our investment climate clean. There is no alternative to win foreign investors confidence.

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