Caitlin Burnett

Caitlin Burnett (Blind Education and Rehabilitation Development Organization – BERDO): Caitlin is a native of Williamsburg, Massachusetts. She received her BA in psychology and politics from Ithaca university in 2005. At the time of her fellowship, Caitlin was studying for a Master’s degree in ethics, peace and global affairs at the School of International Service at American University.

the cost of corruption

05 Jul

“There is a problem with your paperwork,” he said, after consulting in Bangla with his fellow workers. At that moment I was seated in a chair on the opposite side of the overburdened desk of an immigration official at the Bangladesh/India border. “What sort of problem?” I asked. “You see there is not the appropriate stamp on this card,” he responds, “We can let you through, but it will cost money to send your documents to Dhaka be fixed – 5,000 taka.”

While I didn’t have 5,000 taka (approximately $75 USD) on my person, the border official didn’t object when I emptied my wallet for him. Nor did he provide me a receipt to document the “fee” that I had just successfully paid. Unfortunately, according to my Bangladeshi friends and colleagues, this “fee” is certainly nothing uncommon as people attempt to navigate the bureaucracy of Bangladesh.

Lately there is a lot of talk about corruption, especially around Dhaka. I’ve taken to reading the newspapers in the morning and each and every day there are more reports of this official who has been arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab, a military entity), another who has been tried by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and yet others who are surrounded by rumors of their bad deeds and resigning from their posts.

In fact, the entire purpose of the military-backed caretaker government- who has held power under the authority of emergency rule since January 11th- is to address the corruption that has gripped the nation in a vice and lined the pockets of its most unscrupulous bureaucrats.

Most Bangladeshis say that sacrificing democracy is a price that they are willing to pay in order for change to take root. “While I am suffering,” my friend asserts, “it will be better for our country in the long term.”

The suffering that he notes rises out of the very real negative changes that are taking place in the midst of anti-corruption drives: the price of basic goods is skyrocketing and unemployment is staying high. In fact, this morning’s paper was abuzz with news that the caretaker government will take steps to ban the export of Hilsa fish, a popular and quintessentially Bangladeshi food, in order to ensure that there would be enough of a supply to meet demand in local markets. The story in the next column was titled “Fertiliser hungry farmers ransack UNO office,” detailing angry farmers who rallied against the improper distribution of a critical feature of their livelihoods.

It seems to be an indication of the current political situation in Bangladesh that corruption is so in the lime light. Certainly corruption of those in power has a long and vigorous history in Bangladesh. In the wake of the country’s independence of the early 1970’s, “rather than peace, the guardians of ‘law and order’ had brought extortion, banditry, and terror.”* While the terror may have subsided in many ways, the extortion and banditry continue to impact the lives of people in Bangladesh on a daily basis- and it both saddens and infuriates me to have witnessed it first hand.

The questions that continue to haunt me are these: if the caretaker government fails and corruption continues, is the price of democracy still an appropriate price for Bangladesh to pay? If the anti-corruption drives fail, who will be held accountable? Will the same rationale lead to the ouster of another democratic government in the future? If it does, where will that leave Bangladesh?


*Hartmann and Boyce, “A Quiet Violence: View from a Bangladesh Village,” Dhaka, Bangladesh: University Press Limited. Pg. 242.

Posted By Caitlin Burnett

Posted Jul 5th, 2007


  • danny W.

    July 18, 2007


    Caitlin I have been following your adventures and admire your courage in this endeavor. You are sure far away from the sleepy New England Village you were raised in. Traveling opens eyes and minds so keep up the good work and continue to face the challenges like poverty, corruption and prejudice. It is ignorance that hurts us most in the USA and you and your assignment with its frequent reporting will make us all who read it more aware.

  • Suffering Groups

    April 6, 2009



    Dear Sir,
    From 1972 after independent, Bangladesh Nationals started to set up small scale Industries investing family resources ,using Innovative Technology as self earner so as to produce daily necessities and to achieve economic freedom & for creation of jobs for millions of unemployed
    Government also started to help these fast growing PRIVATE SECTOR INDUSTRIES AS IMPORT SUBSITUTES and for EXPORT having fund from International Loan Giving Agencies and are distributed through different Banks from 1979
    But the Owners of these Industries became helpless victims of continuous harassment, willful negligence’s, malice activities anti propaganda including fraudulent activities of Bank Officials due to lack of any effective laws to protect the owner of Private Industries till date
    The Bank officials failed to fixed up production capacity of imported machineries, to provide minimum required working capital in. time and all these have been done willfully and in pre planed way to jeopardize the Government Industrial Policy as well to terrorize the Owners of Industries of Private Sector finally to occupy the mortgage properties of the owner of the Industries of Private Sector. As a result Thousands of Industries have been destroyed by Bank Officials.
    Over and above due to illiteracy, ignorance and extreme poverty of vast majority of Bangladesh Citizens Bank Officials managing the concern authority enacted black / oppressive laws to hide out their offences denying the right of Owner of Industries.
    Now in Bangladesh due to such laws the Courts are compelled to protect the offences of Bank Officials openly. .
    This is another type Conspiracy to damaged or tarnish the image of Judiciary for creating uncertainty and total insecurity in the society .
    Most of the Industries have became in-operatives and have lost their cash capitals, growth rate , and expatriate capabilities and became helpless victims of oppressive/ black laws due to absence of minimum accountability and laws to protect the owners of industries.

    In 1992 & 1996 Government of Bangladesh identified and registered many Industries as SICK INDUSTRIES declaring not as Defaulter of Bank Loan but victims of Violation of Contract , Negligence , Fraudulent Activities or Malpractices of Bank Officials. due to Lack of Accountability. Which are no more a hidden matter.
    THE HELPLESS OWNERS OF INDUSTRIES ARE LOOKING FOR JUSTICE, BUT THE DOOR OF JUSTICE ARE TOTALLY CLOSED due to enactment of ARTHA RIN ADALAT ACT ( Bank Loan Recovery Act ) on 1989 which were amended on 2003 and 2007
    And Bankruptcy Acts of 1997 depriving the Owners of Industries from not only basic right but also from fair justice like those of Colonial Period WHEN THE HANDS OF THE PRODUCER AND TECHNICIAN OF MOSLIN FABRICS ( which were only produced in Bengal of undivided INDIA) were cut down to stop production of Finest Fabrics by Bengali Technicians and Producer.

    It is heard out of Total of outstanding defaulted Bank Loans, about 60 to 70 % are lying with Nationalized / State Sector and less then 10 % are lying with Small and Medium sized Industries of Private Sector . And Bank Official can explain well about the remaining of the Loan Amount.


    Due to which BANGLADESH HAS BECOME A HEAVEN FOR REPRESSION / EXPLOITATION forcing the process of increasing Poverty level in geometric rate , helping the process of Lawlessness , Social Restlessness , Insecurity for life and Properties of citizen which are at increasing rate now a days .
    The Owners of Industries of Private Sector can not claim any set – off or compensation on the suit filed by BANK & OTHER THE LOAN GIVING AGENCIES for Loan Recovery under Artha. Rin Act for the above offences .like violation of contract, negligence, malpractices and fraudulent activities.
    AS A RESULT NUMBER OF SICK / DISTRESSED INDUSTRIES are increasing in every year due to lack of accountability of Bank Officials. And other lending agencies .

    BANKS or OTHER LOAN GIVING AGENCIES HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TOTAL INDEMNITY OF LAW for violation of contract , negligence, fraudulent activities and malpractices , . These have been done to hide out existing high profile malpractices and corruptions as per opinion of Expert Personals.
    The Owner of Industries of Private Sector have no Legal Right to protect themselves from the oppression of Bank Officials and lending agencies which are now known to all , no more a hidden matter ,rather a part of the on going conspiracy to destroy the piece , security including individuals life and properties. .
    Although in neighboring countries Like INDIA there are “ DEBT RECOVERY TRIBUNALS (DRT)”FOR LOAN RECOVERY where the Owner of Industries or Borrowers are allowed to claim Set off or claim compensation in same suit as filed by the Banks or Loan Giving Agencies or can run compensation suit simultaneously also.
    But in BANGLADESH Owner of Industries or Other Borrowers of Bank Money or other lending agencies are completely deprived of any of such opportunity rather with provisions to hide out malpractices , violation of contract , negligence and fraudulent activities of Bank Officials & loan giving agencies have been given TOTAL INDEMNITY OR LICIENCE FOR UNENDING CORRUPTION OR MAL PRACTICES or Violation of Contracts & negligence with vested interest
    And Owner of Industries or Borrowers of Bank loans are completely deprived of any type of JUSCTICE
    Common people are also facing another type of repression UNDER CERTIFICATE CASE for realization of Government Taxes . small loan of farmers , weavers etc ,
    Industrial Entrepreneurs can only file separate suit for compensation in a separate Civil Court which will be a matter of life long litigation with of no result due to absence of TORT LAW
    As per Artha Rin Act nothing can be raised against the Order or Decree of Artha Rin Court to Higher Court without Payment of 50 % of the suit value or Decretal Amount as such no one can go for appeal to the higher court

    The door of justice as a whole are closed denying the Legal right of Owners of Industries. as per Sections 12, 12 ( kha) , 18(2) & (3),19, 20,21,33, 34,40,41,42,44, 47 and 50 of Artha Rin Act.
    The above mentioned Section of Arthan Rin Act are conflicting with ARTICLE 8, 15, 26, AND 27 of BANGLADESH CONSTITUTION AND THE GOVERNMENT INDUSTRIAL POLICY AS ADOPTED TIME TO TIME & major obstruction for democratic process & may encourage to force Citizen to frustration . Shall help Wrong Doer also .
    Now there are no other alternative way or remedies , but to draw the attention of concern Authority of Bangladesh Government including PATRIOT POLITICALL EADER, CIVIL SERVANT, INTELLECTUAL PERSONS, LEADER OF CIVIL SOCIETY AS WELL AS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO VERYFY the above laws and help for restoring EQUAL RIGHT for JUSTICE . and to help and Protect the Owner of Industries including Workers, Staffs of Industries who are already in Distressed Condition due to lapses of Policy Maker an Bank Officials and of the Oppressive / Black Laws .
    And to help just to restore the accountability in all organizations including BANKS other Loan Giving Agencies etc for the greater Interest of Nations.
    We would also request to kindly Circulate this appeal among Honorable Members , Partners of your organizations or in your News Bulletins and in Printed or Electronic News Media for Transmission this appeal among all organizations working for suffering peoples and to come forward to PREVENT LEGAL ABUSE and OPPRESSIVE LAWS and also to consider the followings :

    1-. Humble Appeal before the Government of Bangladesh to amend the above laws allowing Owners of Industries to claim SET OFF or COMPENSATIONS for Negligence , Violation of Contract , Fraudulent or Malice Activities in the same suit filed by Bank or loan giving agencies as of the similar provision of DRT ( DEBT RECOVERY TRIBUNALS ) OF INDIA

    2- Considering the heavy Loss / Damages of Government Registered & Identified SICK INDUSTRIES of 1992 & 1996 may of kindly be granted 100 % weaver of all types of Bank Loan closing all Pending Suits for recovery of Loan unconditionally .

    3- The Existing System of Mortgage of Landed Properties as security / co lateral securities need to be completely abolished to stop ever growing corruption , malpractices and fraudulent activities which exist in Banking Sector and are much Proven Facts for the greater interest. of the Nation .

    4- All pending Suits in Atrha Rin Court may kindly be transferred to Civil Commercial Court abolishing Sections 12, 12( kha) , 18(2) & 18(3), 19,20,21,33, 34,40,41,42,44,47 and 50 of Artha Rin Acts including Sections 28 ( Kha) of Banking Company Act Creating Democratic Opportunities similar to DEBT RECOVERY TRIBUNAL S ( DRT ) of INDIA for the end of JUSTICE or may be include compulsory arbitration law for finding the malpractices, negligence and to fixed up the responsibilities.

    5- And to take immediate steps to abolish the system of CERTIFICASE CASE which are nothing but
    abuse of LAW and worst one like that of COLONIAL RULE .

    6- And such laws are compelling the judiciaries to protect& help – the offenders or wrong doer openly.

    Suffering Groups of Owners of Industries of Bangladesh.

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