Cor­rup­tion, the main cause of in­equal­ity

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Lhakpa Tsh­er­ing

Cor­rup­tion is the main cause of un­equal re­source dis­tri­bu­tion and the root cause of grow­ing in­equal­ity that af­fects poor peo­ple in the so­ci­ety.

Fight­ing cor­rup­tion is an up­hill task and that or­di­nary peo­ple can­not do any­thing sub­stan­tial to curb cor­rup­tion that oc­curs at all lev­els of the so­ci­ety.

That was what the Bhutan Trans­parency Ini­tia­tive ( BTI) shared at the launch­ing of the Na­tional Cor­rup­tion Barom­e­ter Re­port 2016 and a doc­u­men­tary on cor­rup­tion and Bhutan on 21 De­cem­ber in Thim­phu.

Ac­cord­ing to the study, a large per­cent­age of the Bhutanese think that the ju­di­ciary is cor­rupt.

The in­ter­ven­tions against cor­rup­tion in the coun­try need to match the causes of anti- cor­rup­tion to be ef­fec­tive.

A coun­try may have strong com­mit­ment against cor­rup­tion from the high­est po­lit­i­cal ech­e­lon with poli­cies and in­fra­struc­ture in place but cor­rup­tion may still be a chal­lenge for var­i­ous rea­sons.

Cor­rup­tion is per­ceived as one of the most crit­i­cal is­sues that any government has to tackle. The Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of BTI, Pema Lhamo, said, “Cor­rup­tion is a chal­lenge that no coun­try or sec­tor can claim to be im­mune to.”

Dif­fer­ent forms of cor­rup­tion be­come more com­plex, pos­ing many new and dif­fi­cult chal­lenges with the in­crease of neg­a­tive ef­fects on po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity, so­cioe­co­nomic devel­op­ment, wel­fare, and jus­tice be­cause of tech­ni­cal ad­vance­ment.

The Chair­per­son of Anti-cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion, Kin­ley Yang­zom, said in her ad­dress at the gath­er­ing that peo­ple had been warned and re­minded time and again by His Majesty about the dan­gers of cor­rup­tion and its con­se­quences.

The is­sue of cor­rup­tion is very se­ri­ous and it is a global con­cern which, she said, no coun­try is im- mune to. “Gross Na­tional Hap­pi­ness and cor­rup­tion are in­com­pat­i­ble,” she said.

Some of the per­ceived preva­lent forms of cor­rup­tion high­lighted in the re­ports are fa­voritism and nepo­tism in hu­man re­source man­age­ment such as re­cruit­ment, pro­mo­tion and trans­fers who fur­ther con­firm the find­ings of ACC re­search on Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment in the civil ser­vice.

The study found that 10.2 per­cent of the re­spon­dents re­ported hav­ing paid bribes in the last 12 months which the re­port state was very dis­turb­ing.

The re­port also pointed out dis­crim­i­na­tory and non-uni­form ap­pli­ca­tion of laws and rules as the ma­jor cause of cor­rup­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the gen­eral per­cep­tion is that cor­rup­tion level in Bhutan has been in­creas­ing since the in­tro­duc­tion of democ­racy and cor­rup­tion highly con­cen­trated at the top de­ci­sion-mak­ing level.

ACC was es­tab­lished in 2006 in prepa­ra­tion for democ­racy as per a Royal De­cree. The chair­per­son of ACC said that ACC had made no­table achieve­ment in the fight against cor­rup­tion. “It has earned good rep­u­ta­tion, both in the coun­try and in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion,” she said.

The most alarm­ing find­ing was high level of tol­er­ance for cor­rup­tion at 25.32 per­cent. These per­cent­ages of peo­ple think that cor­rup­tion is a nor­mal so­cial phe­nom­e­non that ev­ery­one in­dulges in. So, they think that it is ac­cept­able to be cor­rupt.

Cor­rup­tion re­duc­tion has been in­cor­po­rated as one of the key na­tional ar­eas in the next five-year plan.

Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional Cor­rup­tion Per­cep­tion In­dex ranked Bhutan as the 6th clean­est coun­try in Asia-Pa­cific and it stands at 27th least cor­rupt po­si­tion out of 168 coun­tries in 2015.

How­ever, the chair­per­son of ACC said that con­sid­er­ing the find­ings of the BTI re­port, Bhutan’s goal of im­prov­ing its rank to 20th po­si­tion by 2020 looks far-fetched.

ACC in col­lab­o­ra­tion with BTI pre­vents cor­rup­tion and has been im­por­tant part­ners in the fight against cor­rup­tion.

The chair­per­son said, “Preven­tion and fight against cor­rup­tion re­quires col­lec­tive and con­tin­u­ous ef­fort.”

Kin­ley Yang­zom said that it is the con­sti­tu­tional duty of every Bhutanese to up­hold jus­tice and to act against cor­rup­tion. “We must en­hance and pro­mote ac­count­abil­ity, trans­parency and in­tegrity,” she said, ad­ding that each one of the Bhutanese must prac­tice and pro­mote in­tegrity.

ACC con­tin­ues to face many chal­lenges such as dif­fi­cult and thank­less job es­pe­cially given the small and co­he­sive so­ci­ety.

The chair­per­son said there is the need for greater ef­fort and more im­por­tantly to sus­tain the trust between the peo­ple and the government.

BTI ex­pects to con­tinue to for­mu­late a suit­able re­search strat­egy that con­trib­utes more ef­fec­tively to­wards gen­er­at­ing knowl­edge on cor­rup­tion sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.

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