Trends of decline in num­ber of com­plaints over the years: ACC re­port

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Pen­jor

Com­bat­ing cor­rup­tion is one of the core man­dates of the Anti Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion ( ACC ) as em­pow­ered un­der sec­tion 24 (d) of the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Act of Bhutan (ACAB) 2011 and one of the prin­ci­pal func­tions of the ACC as pro­vided un­der sec­tion 25.1 (f) of the ACAB 2011 is to re­ceive and con­sider any com­plaints of the com­mis­sion of an of­fence un­der the Act lodged with it by a per­son or author­ity and in­ves­ti­gate such com­plaints as the Com­mis­sion con­sid­ers prac­ti­ca­ble.

This is ac­cord­ing to the an­nual re­port of ACC 2014, the ACC has re­ceived on an av­er­age 450 com­plaints an­nu­ally, high­est be­ing 791 in 2007 and low­est be­ing 336 in 2014. While, the num­ber of com­plaints over the years is hav­ing de­clin­ing trend which shows that this is due to con­stant ef­forts of the ACC on public ed­u­ca­tion on cor­rup­tion thereby im­prov­ing qual­ity of com­plaints or be­cause of the time that the ACC takes in re­spond­ing to the com­plaints.

The re­port states that, the ACC re­ceives com­plaints, both known and anony­mous, through tele­phone, fax, post, web­site and walk in. While the pre­dom­i­nant mode of com­plaints was through post, mak­ing up about 39 per­cent of all com­plaints re­ceived. While in the re­port­ing year, 134 com­plaints were re­ceived through post, which is about 40 per­cent of the to­tal 336 com­plaints.

The com­plaints through post also in­clude re­fer­rals from Royal Au­dit Author­ity ( RAA) that are re­ferred to the ACC when there are sus­pi­cions of cor­rup­tion of­fences. Dur­ing the pe­riod 2006 to 25th March 2015, the ACC re­ceived a to­tal of 85 such re­fer­rals cases con­sti­tut­ing of 2.10 per­cent of the to­tal com­plaints. Out of this, 34 were qual­i­fied for in­ves­ti­ga­tion, 36 were shared with agen­cies and 15 which had no cor­rup­tion el­e­ments were re­ferred back to RAA. Out of the 34 that qual­i­fied for in­ves­ti­ga­tion, 18 were re­ferred for pros­e­cu­tion, 13 were shared with agen­cies for ad­min­is­tra­tive ac­tions and 3 are pending in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Over­all, out of the 85 re­fer­rals, 63 have been brought to their log­i­cal con­clu­sions and closed, 15 have been dropped, 3 are pending in­ves­ti­ga­tion and the rest 4 are at var­i­ous stages of pros­e­cu­tion. 30 in­di­vid­u­als were con­victed of cor­rup­tion charges and ad­min­is­tra­tive sanc­tions

were im­posed upon 56 in­di­vid­u­als, states the an­nual re­port 2014.

The re­port fur­ther state that from the to­tal of 4050 com­plaints re­ceived over the last nine years, 51 per­cent were anony­mous and 49 per­cent were from known sources. Dur­ing the re­port­ing pe­riod, known com­plaints were 68 per­cent of the to­tal 336 com­plaints, an in­crease of 15 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year. The grow­ing trend of known com­plaints may in­di­cate public trust in the ACC.

Big­gest num­ber of com­plaints which ac­counts to 27 per­cent of the to­tal com­plaints was abuse of func­tions by public ser­vants in po­si­tions of power fol­lowed by em­bez­zle­ment ac­counts to 16 per­cent.

While the re­port states that Public ser­vants are per­ceived to be per­form­ing or omit­ting to per form an act amount­ing to fa­voritism, nepo­tism or pa­tron­age in vi­o­la­tion of laws, in dis­charg- ing their func­tions to ob­tain ad­van­tage for them­selves or for an­other per­son or en­tity. In com­par­i­son, the com­plaints on bribery were very min­i­mal ac­counts to only 7 per­cent, which ei­ther may in­di­cate that out­right bribery is not a com­mon fea­ture in the coun­try or as the bribe giver bears greater crim­i­nal cul­pa­bil­ity than the re­ceiver s/he does not dare com­plain.

Be­sides, public ser­vice cul­ture is such that ser­vice re­cip­i­ents are com­pelled to pay sub­tle bribes such as grat­i­fi­ca­tion, hos­pi­tal­ity, ex­pen­sive birth­day gifts, “lend money” and “buy mo­bile phones, tablets, etc. on re­im­burse­ment ba­sis”, states the re­port.

Public ser­vants may not so­licit out­right bribe but cre­ate con­di­tions for sub­tle forms of bribery. The cat­e­gory ‘Oth­ers’ were those com­plaints that did not con­sti­tute cor­rup­tion of­fences, per se but were means to cor­rupt acts such as de­cep­tion, co­er­cion, forgery and col­lu­sion. Al­most half of the to­tal com­plaints re­ceived over the past nine years were not cor­rup­tion of­fence that in­di­cates the need to make con­stant ef­forts in rais­ing public aware­ness about cor­rup­tion of­fences. This could be also be due to public’s ex­pec­ta­tion of the ACC as the only plat­form for re­dres­sal of their griev­ances in the ab­sence of any griev­ance re­dress mech­a­nisms in other public agen­cies. Peo­ple ex­pect the ACC to solve their prob­lems, states the re­port.

Dur­ing the re­port­ing pe­riod, com­plaints on abuse of func­tions con­sti- tuted about 36 per­cent, em­bez­zle­ment 18 per­cent and bribery 2 per­cent out of 336 com­plaints.

Mean­while, com­plaints re­ceived by the ACC against each dzongkhag dur­ing the past 9 years was that Thim­phu Dzongkhag has the high­est num­ber of com­plaints (to­tal 1000, av­er­age 111 in a year) fol­lowed by Chukha (to­tal 437, av­er­age 49 in a year) and Paro (to­tal 253, av­er­age 28 in a year). Gasa and Lhuentse Dzongkhags had the least num­ber of com­plaints (to­tal 23, av­er­age 3 in a year and to­tal 41, av­er­age 5 in a year, re­spec­tively).

Such a pat­tern of com- plaints, that is re­mote dzongkhags hav­ing lesser num­ber of com­plaints, may be at­trib­uted to lesser eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties in those dzongkhags, smaller pop­u­la­tion, com­plainants’ prox­im­ity to the ACC and level of public aware­ness on cor­rup­tion and knowl­edge of where and how to re­port cor­rupt prac­tices.

Dur­ing the re­port­ing pe­riod, the pat­tern re­mained the same with the high­est com­plaints be­ing re­lated to Thim­phu Dzongkhag with 77 com­plaints (23 per­cent) and the least be­ing Gasa with just 2 com­plaints (0.6 per­cent) out of 336 com­plaints.

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