If the involvement of more government officials than politicians in siphoning off money out of the country has surprised Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, it also testifies to a saga of corruption in government offices. Politicians may come and go but the bureaucracy through which the government functions stays almost impervious. Small wonder that public servants have, contrary to their definition and literal meaning, ever remained masters of the common people. They are used to having the cake and eating it too. This is why quite a significant number of them can amass wealth more than enough to have a second home in Canada's Toronto or in Malaysia. They can also afford their children's educational expenses there, as the minister observes. The minister is candid to admit that although it is 'difficult to get information' about the money launderers, 28 of them in Toronto's what is known as 'Begum Para' have been detected. Only four of those are politicians, he claims.
Begum Para has been in the spotlight because a cluster of second homes of Bangladeshi citizens is there. But not all such money launderers are supposed to live in the same area. They may have opted for different residential areas, cities and towns within Canada and other countries where emigration rules are lax and/are conditional to a certain amount of money for citizenship. Politicians, government officials and alleged smugglers or businesspeople involved in suspected trades have opportunities for unearned income. To its credit, the government has netted a number of infamous barons -- some professing proximity to power -- of illegal trades. The latest such catch is 'Golden Monir' on Saturday. Their phenomenal rise could not have been possible without help from powerful quarters. Also it is impossible for anyone to siphon off an enormous sum of money without cooperation from official channels.
All this points to the fact that people from both official and unofficial channels find it mutually beneficial for colluding with each other. When the news of a car driver of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) can amass wealth of outrageous proportion, the reference is all too clear: the entire system is rotten and perhaps everyone there takes his/her share of the commission. Similarly, a meter reader or a supplier of medical equipment has an opportunity of becoming filthy rich simply because he has backers in workplaces or organisations taking his supplies.
The foreign minister, according to a report, has stated that money sent illegally abroad can be brought back. It is easier said than done. Better it would be to plug the hole through which money is illegally channelled. Still better it is to leave no room for making illegal money. When the government raised salaries of its employees nearly double the previous amounts, it was expected that bribery and speed money would be a thing of the past. But there is hardly any evidence of positive result. This government's drives against drug and casino underworld lords have been well appreciated but a campaign against corruption in the officialdom has not been equally forceful and sustainable. Let such a drive gather a desirable momentum.