Bangladesh has been identified as the “country with the highest risk” in terms of bribery threats in South Asia, according to the latest Global Bribery Risk Index.
In the updated index report titled Trace Bribery Risk Matrix, Bangladesh scored 72 out of 100 this year, which is two points higher than last year. The global average score is 51.
This means that the threat of business bribery has grown stronger as the country was ranked in the 178th position.
Bangladesh has also fared poorly in measures taken to discourage bribery and anti-bribery enforcement, the 2019 Trace Bribery Risk Matrix said.
Trace, headquartered in the United States and registered in Canada, is a globally recognised anti-bribery business association.
In the report, each country is given a score from 1 to 100 for each domain and for the total bribery risk. A higher score indicates a higher risk of business bribery, Trace said.
In South Asia, Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries where the bribery risk is “high”. India and Pakistan are ranked 78th and 153rd.
Except for Bhutan, which has a “low” risk of bribery demands, the risk level of other countries in the region is “medium”. Bhutan, which has the lowest risk score of 41, was placed ranked 52nd.
The five countries with the lowest bribery risk in the world are New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.
The countries with the highest risk are Venezuela, Yemen, North Korea, South Sudan and Somalia.
Bangladesh has consistently been named a “high-risk” country on the Trace bribery matrix since 2014, when the first matrix was released. But in 2016, Bangladesh was categorised as a country with a “very high” bribery risk.
“The TRACE Matrix provides multidimensional, actionable insights about business bribery risk that can be used by companies to develop more targeted compliance procedures,” TRACE President Alexandra Wrage said.
The matrix is based on four domains that measure potential business bribery risks in a country.
Business interactions with the government is the first domain where Bangladesh scored 86, which indicates that there is a high degree of government interaction in business, a high expectation of bribes and a high regulatory burden in the country.
Bangladesh scored 63 in the anti-bribery deterrence and enforcement. In other words, the quality of both anti-bribery dissuasion process and anti-bribery enforcement is low.
In the government and civil service transparency category, Bangladesh scored 60, which means there were medium levels of governmental transparency and poor transparency of financial interests.
Capacity for civil society oversight is the fourth domain, where Bangladesh’s score, 64, is poor, meaning there was a low degree of media freedom and also a low degree of civil society engagement.
According to Transparency International’s annual report — Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 2018 — published in January, Bangladesh has scored 26 out of 100, two points lower than the 28 in 2017.
The slide is worse in terms of ranking. Bangladesh has been ranked in the 149th position from the top among 180 countries, which is six steps lower than the 143rd in 2017.