Essay on Corruption and Accountability: Measures to Overcome the Problem of Corruption

This is an essay on Corruption and Accountability along with measures to overcome the Problem of Corruption for CSS & PMS. Find below the complete Essay on Corruption and Accountability. Here we have also discussed various steps to overcome the problem of Corruption in our system.


Definition of Corruption

  • Lack of accountability
  • Absence of rule of law
  • Low salaries
  • Lack of independence of the judiciary
  • Weak political institutions
  • Political collusion with top management of a department
  • Denial of the basic facility of life
  • Bad governance due to corruption

Findings of National Anit-Corruption Strategy
Example of Corruption
Effects of Corruption
Steps to Curb Corruption

  • Increase salaries of the government employees
  • Speedy judicial justice
  • Role of NAB
  • Police reforms
  • Judiciary and the legal profession
  • Access to justice program
  • Accountability courts
  • Public sector financial management
  • Financial oversight bodies
  • Independent Anti-Corruption Agencies
  • Local government
  • Freedom of Information and Media



Essay on Corruption and Accountability: Measures to Overcome the Problem of Corruption

“At length corruption, like a general flood (So long by watchful ministers withstood), Shall deluge all; and avarice, creeping on, Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun”. (Alexander Pope)

It is said that power corrupts, but actually, it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power”. (David Brin)

Corruption in Pakistan is on the decline, as Transparency International Berlin released its annual global report 2015 showing Pakistan further improving its ranking from the 50th most corrupt country in 2014 to 53rd in 2015. The political will of the government to fight corruption is lacking which has resulted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan taking suo moto action against mega corruption in NICL, Pakistan Steel, Rental Power Plants.

The CPI 2010 reveals that corruption in Pakistan is increasing, while in Bangladesh it is decreasing. Bangladesh was perceived to be the most corrupt country in 2001, 2002, and 2003 and its ranking in 2010 is the 39th most corrupt country. Reduced corruption has paid dividends to Bangladesh whose annual GDP growth last year was over 5%, while Pakistan’s GDP growth last year was near 2.4%. Delay information of an Independent Accountability Commission by the parliament may further aggravate the situation.

The word “Corruption” has its origin in the Latin verb “corrupts” meaning “to break”. Literally, it means “a broken object”. In simple words, corruption means “the misuse of entrusted power for
private benefit.” Conceptually, corruption is a form of behavior that departs from ethics, morality, tradition, law, and civic virtue.

The term corruption has various definitions. The United Nations Manual on Anti-Corruption, Transparency International, and the multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank define corruption as, “abuse of public office for private gains” The National Anti Corruption Strategy (NACS) has defined corruption as “a behavior on the part of officeholders in the public or private sector whereby they improperly and unlawfully enrich themselves and/or those close to them, or induce others to do so, by misusing the position in which they are placed.”

Section 9 of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 has defined corruption and corrupt practices in a comprehensive manner. It has enlisted about twelve different shades of corruption.
illegal gratifications, bribery, extortion, abuse of office, fraud, cheating, and criminal breach of trust are some of the corrupt practices mentioned in the NAO 1999 (Annex A).

Starting with the  Prevention of Corruption Act 1947, there are about sixty pieces of enactments and rules that deal with offenses of corruption and corrupt practices in Pakistan (Annex B). The most comprehensive definition of “corruption” can be found at the website of the Global Infrastructure Anti Corruption Center (GIACC) It says “In its wider sense, corruption includes one or more of bribery, extortion, fraud, deception, collusion, cartels, abuse of power, embezzlement, trading in influence and money laundering.”

The primary responsibility of ensuring the culture of sound management or what we generally call good governance lies directly on the shoulders of the civil administration. In a democratic dispensation, the process of accountability starts at the first stage of the “conversion process” – the elections, which is the connecting link between the rulers and the ruled. It is at this stage that the
the foundation of sound and transparent political culture could be laid.

The electorate ought to carefully demonstrate their first choice (right to vote) of the process and to exercise their right only under the dictates of their conscience. In return, the rulers who are the custodians of the political environs ought to honor the trust reposed in them and to judiciously exercise the powers they derive from that trust. In order to ensure consistency and sustainability of an accountable, transparent, and open political process, it is imperative to keep the connecting link intact.

Corruption is more prevalent because lack of accountability and regulation. If the money that the government receives is going in their pockets rather than being spent on the people who need it, on their education, health, and so on, then the consequences are obvious that many people do not pay taxes because they do not trust the government to spend it on the people, they think they are corrupt and the money would just disappear. And so this creates a vicious circle.

People do not see the government doing anything to help them, so they think it’s a waste of time to pay taxes. The government doesn’t get any money from taxes and so can’t do anything to help people.

Across the board application of rule of law, merit-based appointments, and easy access to justice is the only solution to save Pakistan from corruption, which is responsible for poverty, inflation,
terrorism, illiteracy, lack of electricity, and hoarding of essential food commodities.

The major reason for fast-creeping corruption is political instability, poverty, the unequal structure of society, unemployment, lack of accountability, weak political institutions and absence of rule of law. Resultantly they are affecting political stability, equal distribution of resources and power, the confidence of local and foreign investors, and political institutions.

The basic reason for corruption is low salaries as everyone is finding a way to better their living standard as much as they can; it’s also human nature that he has everything more and more. So mostly corruption is to be seen where there are people having fewer salaries they use corrupt ways to achieve the goal. It is true that they do not have any other way to fulfill their wants.

Incompetent judiciary in terms of not bringing the culprits into the gallows of law and absence of bringing the corrupt politicians and policymakers to the books is another decisive factor in today’s sorry state of affairs. In the same manner, the unnecessary delay in deciding the cases of corruption is a clear explanation of the adage: the justice delayed is justice denied.

On independence, Pakistan inherited weak political institutions. The performance of these institutions in the country over the years further damaged the culture of transparency and accountability. Admittedly, efforts at establishing a strong political dispensation have been facing frustrations head-on but these institutions have also failed to capitalize upon the available opportunities. Their internal democratic traditions are still weak and nontransparent. Due to a lack of respect for participative values, the mainstream political parties are generally dominated by a single person.

The menace of corruption has links to a multitude of vices. Its roots are linked to injustice, mistrust, suspicion, extremism, and terrorist activities. It creates a sense of insecurity, exacerbates poverty, and adds to the misfortune of the vulnerable segments of society. It also instills a sense of hopelessness and despondency and threatens the strength of good values which have been established over centuries of civilized struggle.

The corporate sector is also littered with failures due to corrupt practices. Scandals in the corporate sector are subjects of headlines in the media. Wrong practices seem too common, and
unacceptable behavior has become a normal practice. Corporate governance has been practiced only in form and not substance. Chairmen, chief executive officers, and directors are appointed on the basis of political and personal clout. Merit is a less visible commodity. Thus politicization and inefficiency at the top management levels have resulted in a steep decline in the quality of output. Illegal convergence of interest has encouraged insider trading which causes frustration and setback to the genuine investor.

Real demand and supply factors have a negligible role in shaping the market behavior which is predominantly controlled by the middleman. Prices are determined by unscrupulous profiteers through the middleman mafia. Counterfeit products have flooded the markets. Consumers are left with no option but to live with inferior quality stuff. There is no effective consumer’s rights protection regime. The monopoly control mechanism has turned out to be the least effective. The Monopoly Control Authority has to be improved to play an effective role in curbing the menace that has infected the corporate sector.

Need and greed are cited as the reasons for corruption and corrupt practices. Need as a reason is applied to low-paid employees especially those entrusted with service delivery powers and public
contact. Corruption occurs out of compulsion, as those indulging in corruption are in need of the basic necessities and lack access to social entitlement. However, need very easily merges with greed once the need is taken as a justification by those indulging in corruption and corrupt practices. It is because of this fact that corruption is linked to poverty which is tem1ed as a corruption of need. The absence of an ethical base in societal attitudes is also cited as one of the root causes of corruption.

Corruption and corrupt practices are indicative of breaches in the governance edifice. They pose serious threats to the sanctity of ethical and democratic values and weaken administrative,
political, and social institutions. The issues of corruption, poverty, and governance are cross-cutting. These issues are put together and form an integral part of the development literature. Recently, the terms governance and good governance are being profusely used in such literature. Good governance remains at the forefront of every aspect of our life, be that political, social or economic. Governance has to be good in its manifestation, and if it is not so, it is certainly no governance at all. The mere suffix or prefix of the term ‘good’ does not serve the purpose.

The essential components of good governance are the rule of law, accountability, transparency, and predictability. The rule of law means the equal application of the law, equal protection by law, and equality before the law. In the absence of the rule of law, institutions get weak and become hatcheries for corrupt practices. The realization of the goals of good governance and prosperity becomes a myth. According to the findings of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the National Corruption Perception Survey 2006 carried out by Transparency International, major causes of corruption in Pakistan are as follows:

  • Lack of effective Internal accountability mechanism
  • Discretionary powers and their flagrant abuse by the public office holders
  • Absence of and weakness of the watch-dog agencies
  • Elected government’s perpetual failure to develop proper ethical and business standards for the public and private sector
  • Political leaders’ incompetence and betrayal of public trust for self-enrichment
  • Lack of transparency in the government’s decision-making process
  • Lengthy and cumbersome procedures in the executive system
  • Weaknesses in the judicial system
  • The illiterate, apathetic, or ignorant populace with inadequate discernment of political choices
  • Power of influential people
  • Inadequate wage envelope

Many people in Pakistan believe that much of the development and a significant portion of the operations allocations are lost due to bribery and other related illegal and unethical activities. The
extreme poverty and lack of infrastructure and basic services in the rural areas of Sindh and Balochistan are in part fueled by bribery, influence peddling, extortion, and abuse of power. The people of Pakistan and the international donors must rise to the occasion and start pressuring the Pakistan government to curtail corruption and to improve governance. Failure to do so in a timely manner will continue to frustrate poor people and make them wary of the current democratic system and drive them to extremism.

There are many examples of corruption. A government official or government Minister or his/her business partner receiving money in exchange for awarding a contract, job, promotion, or approving invoices for payment (an example that involves Bribery and Abuse of Power and may involve Collusion). A policeman receiving the money to drop charges against someone or receiving bribes from someone to arrest another person is an example of bribery and misuse of power.

A contractor who uses sub-standard material in the construction of a large public project such as a university building, a road by-pass, or a village road. An inspecting engineer who receives bribes to ignore the use of defective material and/or workmanship and approves the project for payment. A senior manager in a public or private organization giving a job to a friend or relative bypassing a proper selection process is an example that involves Abuse of Power and Trading-in-influence).

A teacher who rarely goes to school to teach but collects his/her salary regularly. A bad village  leader (wadero) illegally occupies a school and uses it as a guest house is an example that involves
Bribery, Abuse of Power, Fraud, Deception, and Collusion.

General perceptions and actual public surveys about corruption show that Police, Power Sector, Judiciary, various Taxation departments (Custom duties, Income Tax), and irrigation departments are considered the most corruption-prone departments in Pakistan.

According to a report, appointments in the police force are often based on political considerations. The instances where conflicts of interest due to personal loyalties and family connections exist are numerous. Many complain that local landlords or urban groups with police support exploit poor people through extortion (bogus fines, etc.).

Some important areas affected by it are discussed as under:

1. The world economic forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2007-08) identifies corruption as the 3rd greatest problem for companies doing business in Pakistan after government bureaucracy and poor infrastructure (Sala-i-Martin and Porter, 2008) It is, therefore, a direct impediment in the way of the Direct Foreign Investment (OF!) which is so badly needed to generate economic activity, create employment, and support the dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

2. With an effective check on corruption national exchequer can easily gain nearly double of the annual allocations earmarked under Kerry Lugar Bill carrying strikingly harsh conditions for
national sovereignty and autonomy.

3. The cycle is really vicious rampant corruption in tax and custom and excise collection and WAPDA dues and costly public-sector purchases, and inefficient major public sector entities like PIA, Railway, Steel Mill, etc. cause a major deficit for the government every year in terms of resource generation and expenditure that makes the government borrow from IMF and other foreign and domestic resources which through increased debt repayments broadens the gap and compels the government to increase the price of the utilities like electricity, gas, CNG, and petroleum. That takes a heavy toll on the people of Pakistan. Resultantly corruption which is done at far away and much higher places from the common citizens has a direct and deep impact on their lives. Thus the act of corruption, whether direct or indirect, close or remote is not innocuous for the common man.

4. The country has lost many years of development effort because of eating up development funds at a very large scale and because of overcharging for almost every item of work.

5. Other than the government offices and public sector, corruption has thoroughly permeated the political arenas. Party tickets are openly bought and sold and so does the transaction flourish for hunting or hounding the voters. This has resulted in the dominance of the political scene by the drug barons, black marketers, hoarders, and speculators who not only have in many cases snatched away the true representative character from the democratic process in the country but who make good their investment in the election process through massive corruption while in power and add to the miseries and the cost of living of the common man.

6. Still worse is its impact on religious circles who sell fake degrees to the needy politicians with impunity, show fake entries of students to get more Zakat money, and sell religion edicts
on a need basis. At times it appears that the whole structure has been soiled and has replaced scholarship as it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a genuine religious scholar from any quarter.

7. Rampant trends of corruption have also badly affected the business ethics in the country which is devoid of any egalitarianism. Hood winking the regulators, stockpiling, hoarding, and black marketing are the order of the day and individual businessman, business firms, business groups and sometimes a whole industry is found pegged in these malpractices.

8. And when corruption affects the institution of the last resort that is the judiciary the country loses its track and direction. The absence of a fair judicial system does not affect the individual litigant alone it affects the whole economy where domestic and foreign investments shy away for fear of usurpation and misappropriation.

9. The worst of all is a breakdown of law and order because of pervasive corruption in the police and the lower judiciary. The influential, the wealthy, and the mighty have a fair chance of getting away with whatever they do if they pay the right price at the right stage. This had lead to an increased incidence of crimes of all nature and at all levels.

10. In short the unbridled corruption has negatively impacted all spheres of activity in the country and the whole society has suffered serious blows to its social fabric and working environment.

Most experts think that corruption is one of the most difficult problems in Pakistan’s society. Its impact on the country’s towns and villages is extremely profound and poses a long-term threat to the culture economics and general well-being of provinces such as Sindh. The following are some of the steps and  methods at grassroots and government levels that have helped to curb corruption in some countries, particularly in South East Asia, where once corruption was as rampant as it is now in Pakistan:

Increase salaries of government officials and workers in line with the remuneration prevalent in the private sector of Pakistan.

Persons who can clearly see the damage that is being caused by corruption in Pakistan must speak up. They should discuss, debate, and voice their concerns openly with friends and family.
They should help create a culture where corruption is looked down on. The virtue of being honest and simple living should be lauded and only the persons who possess such qualities to be accepted as role models.

The media should take a lead in launching anti-corruption campaigns. They should conduct investigations and report cases of corruption supported by facts report on estimated damage done and
identify people who are involved in such cases.

Authorities that provide funding for projects should encourage whistle-blowing and provide monetary and other awards to those whose reports on corruption have proven to be correct.

Authorities should maintain black lists of those officials and agencies that are known to engage in corrupt practices and should keep them away from assignments that involve public projects and services.

Authorities should not shy away from prosecuting senior civilian and military officials and political leaders who engage in corruption to set examples.

The political parties of Pakistan should have policies that shun any leaders and workers who engage in corruption practices.

All institutions including political parties should have policies that force those officials to temporarily resign when credible allegations of corruption surface until those allegations are proven
to be false in a court of law.

At the heart of Pakistan’s recent anti-corruption drive are the country’s National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) launched in 2002, the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999 (amended 2002), and the National Accountability Bureau – the agency charged with the implementation and overall coordination of the NACS and the Ordinance. A general discussion on these is out of the scope of this answer (there is a bulk of information on these general reform efforts widely available and some good resources are listed in Part III of this answer).

In this section, reform initiatives in some of the specific sectors perceived to be most affected by corruption ) are listed. Namely, efforts in areas of police and law enl~ment, judiciary and the legal
profession, and public procurement are discussed. The second section of Part II lists some reform initiatives in other areas.

It is hoped that the reorganization outlined by the new Police Order of 2002 and the Police Complaints department will improve the functions of the police and provide relief to the citizens. Reportedly, one of the first steps taken in the reorganization has been the separation of the police force into various branches, divisions, bureaus, and sections. It is intended to help improve the efficiency but in fact, may lead to more corruption and less efficiency due to non-cooperation or lack of coordination. The Police Order of 2002 has also outlined a forn1at for setting up the District Public Safety Commission (PSC).

The functions of such commissions will inter alia include investigations of complaints on excesses and neglect against police officers and encourage greater police-public participation. The
PSCs are to be set up within the Federal and Provincial governments and the District and Town Local Governments. There shall also be a National Public Safety Commission. Further, the Order
makes provisions for setting up of federal and provincial police complaints authorities for enquiring into serious complaints against the members of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies. Other
measures provided for by the Order include the establishment of the Criminal Justice Coordination Committee, to work on the improvement of the system as a whole and promote good practices, and of the National Police Management Board, to work on overall technical and human resource capacity building within the Police.

In 2002, the National Accountability Bureau as a part of its study in preparing the NACS organized an international workshop, resulting in the stakeholders adopting a resolution related to
ensuring transparency in Public Procurement in Pakistan. This resolution was incorporated in the NACS report and was approved by the Ministerial Cabinet and the President of Pakistan in October 2002. Amongst others, the recommendations provide that:

  • the Standard Procedures for Procurement of Works, Goods, and Consultants should be revised by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority. Either the World Bank or PEC by-laws
    should be uniformly implemented in all government and semi-government departments till such time the PPRA prepares its own Guidelines;
  •  to ensure transparency and public participation, the Transparency International-Pakistan tool ‘Integrity Pact” should be made an integral part of all tenders;
  • for every new project, public hearings should be made mandatory for scrutiny of the necessity of the project and for the environmental assessment, prior to concept clearance approval;
  • evaluation Committees for Pre-qualification and Award of Contracts must include at least two departmental members, and a minimum of three independent experts, (One each from the
    Pakistan Engineering Council, Institute of Chartered Accountants, and FPCCI), and others.

An important part of the recommendations of the NACS is the incorporation of the TI Integrity Pacts in all contracts for goods and services where the estimated cost of the project is over Rupees 5
million for consultancy and over Rupees 50 million for Construction Contracts.

This has been a major breakthrough in the efforts of Tl-Pakistan whereby all major contracts will not only provide for the “Integrity Pact” but also include all other recommendations, which have been put out in the NACS Document (outlined above). An example of the Integrity Pact in use is to be found in the Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme (KIII Project) project. An integrity pact, with a formal no-bribery commitment, was signed by KWSB, consultant bidders, and TI Pakistan.

It resulted in a successful bid of Rs 62 million($ 1.04111) against the reserved fees of Rs 249m ($4.2m). The project adopted the least costly selection method. The bidding process was monitored by Transparency International- Pakistan to ensure it is clean and transparent. In the event of a breach of the Integrity Pact, sanctions come into force against the bidders and officials, including liability for damages, and blacklisting from future tenders. The procurement process is to be followed by monitoring of the contract by civil society, specifically TI Pakistan. The Karachi government had expressed plans to apply the same transparent process to other projects.

It is suggested that some of the weaknesses may be addressed by the government’s Project to Improve Financial Reporting and Auditing (PIFRA). The World Bank has carried out a country
Financial Accountability Assessment in December 2003. Further, the ADB has approved a US$ 204 million loan (part of a wider sequence) to support the Government of Punjab. Among other objectives, the program aims to improve the effectiveness and accountability of financial management by bringing in transparent and user-friendly budgets and accounts, and financial and procurement systems.

The Supreme Audit Institution of the country (the Auditor General’s office) is trying to reform itself by following international best practices, such as those of the International Organization of
Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), as part of its reform agenda. It has been noted that there seems to be some progress in reorganizing the department with a view to adopting modern techniques of audit and reporting formats. It has initiated a capacity-building progran1 under the project to Improve Financial Reporting and Auditing (PIFRA). Some of the other reform efforts include the design of diagnostic tools, such as a “Financial Government Rating Index (FGRI)” and an “Internal Quality Rating (IQR) for its departments, etc.

The Government of Pakistan has undertaken a number of steps to strengthen the AntiCorruption Agencies and has especially concentrated on the National Accountability Bureau for its reforms. The reforms include the creation of NAB as the sole Anti Corruption Agency at the Federal level; adding the functions of prevention through research and monitoring and public awareness and coalition building with civil society to NAB’s mandate; provisions on appointments of ACAs (from the elected opposition members) and security of tenure of key office bearers of the ACA and others.

Further reforms and restructuring are in the process.

The future of Pakistan and alleviation of poverty in rural areas of Pakistan is highly dependent on the success and completion of all development projects. This success is threatened by the evil of corruption that must be stopped urgently before it is too late. The religious extremism, deteriorating economic conditions, and worsening living conditions are unnerving the people of rural Sindh and Balochistan, who until now have refused to fall into the trap of extremism. It is imperative that all stakeholders including political parties, government officials, civil society organizations, private companies, donor agencies, and common people recognize the carnage that current levels of corruption can do to the heartlands of Pakistan. They must form a grand coalition to stop the menace before it is too late.

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