Corruption, the main cause of inequality
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.