Dis­crim­i­na­tory, non­uni­form ap­pli­ca­tion of laws: big­gest cause of cor­rup­tion

More than a quar­ter of re­spon­dents felt that cor­rup­tion was nor­mal, and that ev­ery­one in­dulged in it think­ing it was nor­mal

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Pema Sel­don from Thim­phu

Dis­crim­i­na­tory and non-uni­form ap­pli­ca­tion of laws and rules stood out as the big­gest cause of cor­rup­tion in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Cor­rup­tion Barom­e­ter Sur­vey (NCBS) con­ducted by Bhutan Trans­parency Ini­tia­tive (BTI), which was launched on Wed­nes­day.

Other no­tice­able fac­tors in­clude lengthy

pro­ce­dures, a weak and in­ef­fec­tive me­dia and a strong pro­tec­tive so­cial net of those ac­cused of cor­rupt ac­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, dis­crim­i­na­tion on the ba­sis of so­cial sta­tus is one of the com­mon prob­lems faced by peo­ple on a daily ba­sis while ac­cess­ing public ser­vices. About 20% of re­spon­dents ad­mit­ted that such kind of dis­crim­i­na­tion was the key prob­lem in ac­cess­ing public ser­vices and that the trend is on the rise.

The study re­vealed that cor­rup­tion in fa­voritism and nepo­tism in re­cruit­ment, pro­mo­tion and trans­fer were among the most preva­lent forms of cor­rup­tion in the coun­try.

The most alarm­ing find­ings from the sur­vey were that more than a quar­ter (25.32%) of re­spon­dents thought that cor­rup­tion was nor­mal, and that ev­ery­one in­dulged in it think­ing it was nor­mal. The re­port states that these find­ings in­di­cate the ex­is­tence of per­va­sive cor­rup­tion in the coun­try and a high level of ac­cep­tance of cor­rup­tion as a norm in the so­ci­ety.

Among oc­cu­pa­tional groups, civil ser­vants and stu­dents were the main re­spon­dents (43.8% each) who re­ported the oc­cur­rence. De­lib­er­ately de­lay­ing de­ci­sions with cor­rupt mo­tives was per­ceived as an­other sig­nif­i­cant form of cor­rup­tion with 68.8% preva­lence in the coun­try.

A to­tal of 10.2% of the cit­i­zens re­ported hav­ing paid a bribe in the past 12 months. At least 2.6% of the cit­i­zens re­ported of brib­ing a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial to get the doc­u­ments they needed. The pro­por­tion of cit­i­zens who paid a bribe was sig­nif­i­cantly higher in the ur­ban ar­eas (14.3%) than in ru­ral ar­eas (6.16%).

The sur­vey also found that 13.43% were scared that com­bat­ing cor­rup­tion would be an up­hill task as do­ing so would re­quire tak­ing on a pow­er­ful nexus of judges, bu­reau­crats, politi­cians, and busi­nesses.

The sur­vey in­di­cated that cor­rup­tion is highly con­cen­trated at the top de­ci­sion mak­ing level while it was thought to be com­par­a­tively low at the lower su­per­vi­sory level.

Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of BTI, Pema Lhamo, said the civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tion will con­tinue to for­mu­late a suit­able re­search strat­egy that con­trib­utes more ef­fec­tively to­ward gen­er­at­ing knowl­edge on the cor­rup­tion sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to her, the re­search on cor­rup­tion in the coun­try is still limited and not able to an­swer many ques­tions par­tic­u­larly on the dy­nam­ics of cor­rup­tion at var­i­ous sec­tors, sub-sec­to­rial and in­sti­tu­tional lev­els both na­tion­ally and lo­cally.

The in­ter­ven­tions against cor­rup­tion need to match the causes in or­der for anti-cor­rup­tion ac­tions to be ef­fec­tive.

She fur­ther stated that the study will serve as a base­line for BTI as the find­ings of the sur­vey will be use­ful in as­sess­ing a gen­eral level of cor­rup­tion and per­cep­tion.

“BTI will use the find­ings of the re­port to de­sign rel­e­vant in­ter­ven­tions to strengthen ini­tia­tives against cor­rup­tion,” said Pema Lhamo.

A higher pro­por­tion of ur­ban cit­i­zens re­ported the preva­lence of all forms of cor­rup­tion. Peo­ple be­low the age of 25 years were found to be more con­cerned about it.

Fur­ther­more, cit­i­zens with for­mal ed­u­ca­tion re­ported a much higher preva­lence of cor­rup­tion in the coun­try than those with no for­mal ed­u­ca­tion.

Weak lead­er­ship, lack of in­for­ma­tion and trans­parency on rules and pro­ce­dures, and poor or lack of ro­bust ac­count­abil­ity mech­a­nisms in place were found to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in in­creas­ing cor­rup­tion in the coun­try.

Pref­er­en­tial treat­ment given to in­flu­en­tial peo­ple was re­ported to af­fect or­di­nary cit­i­zens’ ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices and this was pointed out as one of the ma­jor prob­lems in the health sec­tor.

The re­port also states that the gen­eral per­cep­tion among the peo­ple is that cor­rup­tion level has been steadily in­creas­ing since the in­tro­duc­tion of democ­racy in the coun­try. Around a third (31.5%) of the re­spon­dents stated that the level of cor­rup­tion has ‘in­creased some­what’ af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of democ­racy.

A high pro­por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion per­ceived judges as cor­rupt, more than half of the pop­u­la­tion (63.2%) re­ported some judges be­ing cor­rupt while 31.1% of the re­spon­dents re­ported that most judges are cor­rupt.

The sur­vey was cov­ered 1,200 re­spo­dents from both ru­ral and ur­ban ar­eas.

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