From the Editor-in-Chief: The scandal we are confronted with

Enayetullah Khan
Saturday, March 19th, 2016
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We welcome the bold step taken by Atiur Rahman to resign from his position as Governor of Bangladesh Bank. We are in agreement with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has described Rahman’s decision to resign on moral grounds as an act of courage. In a country where voluntary resignations are a rarity, where there are the many reasons out there for people in public service to leave on their own and yet who choose to hang on to their jobs, Atiur Rahman has set a fine example. It is an example which we hope will serve as a precedent and will be emulated in future by others.

 

That said, the question we now have before us relates to the manner in which the country’s central bank has been subjected to such huge embarrassment. With $80 million-plus of state money being cyber stolen from the safety of the Federal Reserve vaults in New York and with no one aware of the crime taking place, we as citizens have all the questions the authorities must answer. The very first question, one that has been raised by so many others already, relates to why Bangladesh Bank kept information about the theft concealed from the finance ministry, indeed from the government, for a whole month. The departing governor of the bank was quite unable to justify such an act, or non-act if you will, at his post-resignation news conference on Tuesday. The matter ought to have been brought to the attention of the government as well as citizens immediately when it became known. Could we not now safely suggest that had the Philippine Daily Inquirer not come forth with its report on the scam we might not have known about the incident at all?

 

The circumstances call for a thorough and speedy inquiry, something the government has already promised. The inquiry must look into every aspect of the situation and that includes the manner in which the central bank has been administered, the efficiency or lack of it that defined the performance of its senior officials, et cetera. The government and specifically the finance minister has acted quickly in sacking as well as reshuffling some significant bureaucrats in Bangladesh Bank or associated with it in their official capacity. That too is a welcome step.

 

The nation has been buffeted by too many financial scandals in the last few years. It is time for the government to sit back and reflect why matters have regularly slipped out of its control. The $80 million-plus heist leaves all of us red in the face. Governance ought to be better than that.

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