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We ask thieves to return the stolen public money as insisted by IMF

02 February 2023 Editorial Desk
We ask thieves to return the stolen public money as insisted by IMF

The corruption watchdog Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has published the Global Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2022 with Bangladesh ranking the 12th globally and second in South Asia. There is no surprise in the news. People in Bangladesh no longer express any consternation at this kind of revelation because they do not have to look for findings of any watchdog to what extent corruption is going on in the country.

Hardly any public-funded project is materialized in Bangladesh now without corruption, and hardly any government service is available without bribes. Corruption has gone so deep in society that people show a kind of disdain to the power that be, because with the nature of government that is in place nothing better can be expected.

Where does the misappropriated money go? Most black money is laundered outside Bangladesh, that also under the watch of the government itself. In fact, it is alleged that people in the government are directly responsible for this capital flight. Due to massive corruption as Bangladesh's economy has come to the brink of collapse now, the existing corrupt government approached the IMF for a package of bailout loan which the lending organization granted to Bangladesh recently with a list of conditions and economic reforms.

To have the loan granted, ostensibly, the government has already taken certain measures including raising the fuel oil, fertilizer and gas prices. Within just 20 days, power prices have been hiked two times by executive orders without going through public hearing through BERC. The relevant law has been changed in this regard to bypass the BERC. Adoption of these measures has caused the prices of almost all daily essentials to go up so much that the poor and lower income groups of people are no longer able to manage two square meals a day.
When the crisis in the country's balance of payment has been caused by capital flight as well as misuse of foreign reserves, it is the majority of common people who are now bearing - and will bear more in future, the brunt of IMF loan conditionality. This is sheer oppression in economic terms.

After the grant of loan economic experts point out different suggestions including initiating reform for the country's sake not for IMF loan, thinking about poor people while adjusting prices, going slow on subsidy cuts, etc., but none has come with the urgent need for bringing back the laundered money or stopping the illegal practice of it.

According to an estimate, between 2008 and 2017, Bangladesh lost a staggering USD 7.53 billion per year on average to trade misinvoicing. If the huge money that was siphoned out of the country could be brought back, Bangladesh would not have to approach the IMF and the people would not have to bear the burden of IMF loan. The sad truth is that neither the TIB nor economic think tanks or experts point this out when the IMF finalises the loan terms.  

We can confirm that the people are not ready to suffer for the financial burden about the IMF loan when the financial crisis was created by government resorting to unbridled corruption and its reckless waste of money on useless mega projects for mega corruption.

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