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Governance and anticorruption takes high precedence within any development agenda. Over the past decade, empirical research has provided evidence to the effect that poor governance, manifested in various kinds of corruption, is a major setback to economic growth and investment and has had a profound impact on the poor. These quantitative findings have been given shape and life by intensive case studies, unearthing the reality that corruption is actually detrimental to the individual, community and the entire society. Public awareness of the harmful effects and the magnitude of the problem has increased globally as concerns have been raised by the media, nongovernmental organizations and policy institutes around the world to levels that were hitherto unperceived.
In its simplest terms, corruption is the misuse or abuse of power by an individual or group of individuals in a position of authority. In most of the circumstances, the abuse of power is channeled towards personal gain or the benefit of individual to which an allegiance is owed. There are various things which may motivate corruption, among them, greed, the desire to increase or maintain one’s powers or the belief that it may lead to the achievement of a greater good. While the term is in most cases used to refer to the misuse of public power, notably by politicians and civil servants, it generally denotes a pattern of behavior which may be found in every realm of human life.
The development community and various governments are still locked up in the struggle of devising ways to translate their understanding of the subject into meaningful action despite the piling evidence and increased awareness. An analysis of the popular press points towards the fact that corruption is a perversive phenomenon that permeates ideological, economic and social divergences. No country in the world can escape the corrosive influence of corruption even though some societies are more vulnerable than others. Corruption has existed ever since men begun to form social organization. However, despite its seeming prevalence, there is no clear indication that it has become more widespread. The only difference today is that various governments have been unable to conceal the evidence of its vices owing to the availability of information about practices considered corrupt. The public has also become more intolerant of the practice and the values of democracy also suppress its growth.
There are key areas where corruption typically occurs regardless of the level of political, social and economic advancement of a country. Generally, corruption occurs where the public and the private sectors intersect, most notably in situations that involve direct responsibility for service provision or application of particular levies or regulations. Among these are the public procurement and contracting, collection of revenue, licensing and land rezoning. Tax and revenue collection systems are especially vulnerable to corruption. Corruption is also involved in the public appointments. In some instances, politicians who are corrupt sell favors to interested individuals regardless of whether it has a negative impact on the pubic good or not. Politicians may also use their positions to take bribes from companies (Norris, 1999).
Governance and corruption
Unlike any other organization in the society, governments represents the interests of the entire community since it is by the consent of the majority that it is normally instituted. As such, whenever there a state shows elements of bad governance due to corruption, the majority of the citizens are often left to suffer. Governments administer and represent the interests of the majority and hence high levels of integrity is expected among individuals who are at the positions of power. In their role as the representatives of the interest of the citizens, the conditions under which businesses should operate within its boundaries are defined by them. This role normally become distinct especially when it comes to restricting businesses. It is the role of governments to impose regulations on companies on how to operate. Environmental regulations, taxes on corporate profits, issuance of jobs, among other things are just some of the roles that are left for the government.
Corruption in Bangladesh and Chad
Corruption ratings in 2005 by Transparency International placed Bangladesh and Chad in the bottom place. One apparent fact is that these two countries are victims of bad governance even though it is an amazing fact that being the most corrupt country in the world has not deterred Bangladesh from not only growing but also adopting considerably reasonable economic policies. There is a stringing correlation between development and corruption within a state. Regardless of the level of opportunity and resources available in a country, corruption has an effect of impeding on development. Most of the developed nations have low levels of corruption as honesty in dealings may guarantee that a nation’s well being economically, politically and socially are not only maintained but also improved.
An example of how corruption may impact on development is provided by a case in Chad where the ministry of finance released money that was intended for improving the health services in the rural parts of the country. A survey carried out in 2004 to track the money, with the modest purpose of finding out how much of the money reached the clinic. The purpose was not to investigate whether the money was put into its actual use or whether the staff of the clinics had an idea of what to do with the money. The aim was to find out if the money actually reached the clinic. Interestingly, less than one percent of the money reached the clinic, with ninety nine percent failing to reach its destination (Collier, 2007). This is a clear indication of the level of corruption that goes on in Chad. The issue of bad governance matters in Chad more than it matters in Bangladesh since in Chad, it is the responsibility of the government to provide services, an option that has been locked out by corruption.
Anticorruption laws and systems that exist in democracies serve to guarantee the public that it is in their interest that the government is working. Within the United States, the government has developed anticorruption systems so as to maintain the confidence of the people working in government institutions. The system is not entirely perfect as some cases are still recorded. For instance, corruption cases are still being persecuted. However, the United States has been remarkably successful in managing the risks of corruption. The success of corruption management in the United States is proven by the small number of persecutions and actions. The United States system is efficient in controlling corruption and blocking the new chances of it coming into fore especially with regard to technology or invention by humans (Campos & Pradhan, 2007). In the United States, corruption is incidental both in reality and perception. The systems in the United States are unlike any other system as the laws that govern corruption are derived from individual states.
The two main types of corruption exhibited by states are political and bureaucratic corruption. Even though these types of corruption are different, they both become entrenched when they are monopolistic, organized and perversive. When these three characteristics are combined, their effects may be damaging to a country. The system that exists in the United States cannot facilitate neither political corruption nor bureaucratic corruption. Again, the general system that exists in Iceland and Finland cannot facilitate corruption. In many corrupt countries, corruption has been institutionalized and is in most cases organized. There is much internal coordination in organized corruption and a general vertical exchange of benefits (Stapenhurst et al 1999). Organized corruption facilitates an internal economy which links principals and agents. The role of the principals is to make major decisions and provide protection while at the same time controlling the agents’ discretions and powers.
The political and bureaucratic alternatives of the clients are often closed off by organized corruption with the result that it offers the organization more leverage for corruption. A network of operatives is created which not only share rewards but also risks. Hence, they are always compelled to have stakes in the protection of corruption. An organized corruption is an indication that the political oppositions is weak. However, when there is no meaningful opposition to extensive corruption, it becomes monopolistic. This form of corruption is more difficult to eradicate. Some of these features that have been outlined characterize the political, social and economic systems of Chad and Bangladesh.
Among the most important things that determine the course of a nation, be it moral, economic or political, the system of governance plays a greater role (OECD, 2002). Governance is also dependent upon the people’s confidence in the political authority. In many countries, the public is normally concerned about the integrity of individuals that hold power. In most democracies, the public is very keen on the capacity of the political elite to be entrusted with the nation. In the United States, a large percentage of individuals believe that they can trust their government to do what is right, with this regard, not to be involved with corrupt deals. However, in most corrupt countries like Chad, the public normally has no confidence in their leaders and as such, individuals in the position of power normally grab every opportunity to enrich themselves and show favors to their friends and families at the expense of the great majority of the individuals. The system of governments that exist in Finland and Iceland makes it difficult for corruption to thrive. It may be said that in most of the corrupt nations, politicians hold double roles, acting as representatives of the people while at the same time standing as business men.
The ethics of occupying dual roles in politics and business is somewhat questionable and is likely to lead to corruption. It may however be reasoned that it is to some extent advantageous for politicians to have experience with business while it may also be good for businessmen to have experience with politics. When politicians have experience with business, they have the upper hand of understanding the realities that are involved in making economic decisions (Arndt, & Oman 2006). Again, the industry experience would impart on the politician a more professional style of decision making and work as compared to what normally goes on within the bureaucratic structures of the public realm. These factors combined may guarantee a more efficient approach to political work. With this regard, it could be said that the politicians are working in the best interest of the society.
A close relationship between politics and business may also auger well for the projects and industries whose success is based on political factors (Crane & Matten 2007). In Iceland and Finland in particular, the principle of ‘the flag goes and business follows’ has proved very successful with regard to entry into foreign markets. Actually, there is a general view that a close overlap between business and politics may benefit a country. However, this link may prove to be the avenue for corruption in countries that lack a system that integrates accountability and public responsibility. Corrupt politicians may use there knowledge in business to further their own selfish interest, creating a business empire out of the public funds instead of using them for the greater good of the society. In countries like Bangladesh and Chad where corruption is at its peak, politics and business have been mixed in a way that the issuing of contracts is characterized by much favoritism. As such, there is no transparency and accountability, something that makes these countries to plunge into the dungeons of poverty even as a few individuals languish in luxuries.
There are significant ethical concerns linked with the close integration between politics and business since politicians are supposed to set the rules upon which businesses operate. One cannot set the rules of a game and at the same time be a player. There is bound to be biasness. This could just be one of the reasons why some governments score high with regard to distinguishing between politics and business while other score low. It is thus not surprising that government regulations and in particular, the general governance system of a state, play a significant role in the overall corruption index. The difference between the United States, Iceland, Finland, Chad and Bangladesh with regard to corruption levels depend on the institutions that have been put in place to curb it and the level of integrity among the individuals in positions of power. All these are based on the system of governance which may prove efficient or inefficient.