The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has received more than 500 corruption complaints related to the constructions sector since 2006 of which more than 100 are related to road construction.

ACC officials shared this and the findings of a survey at the 16th Construction Association of Bhutan’s (CAB) general meeting on October 9.

According to the survey, 3.4 percent of the total contractors have experienced corruption, while only 1.9 percent of public officials experienced corruption. The official added that although the rate is minimum, the need to work against corruption is must. There are about 4,000 contractors in the country today.

The complaints by type of allegation showed that 41 percent of complaints were on misuse of authority while bribery was the least at 1.7 percent.

Contractors suggested that the government and the private sector work together to further curb corruption in the road construction sector.

A contractor said that private sector is pressured for most of the works. “While working, pre-tendering procedure is done by the government. At the end if a contract doesn’t work well, all the blame comes to the contractors.”

Similarly if a corruption complaint is lodged, he said that ACC should involve individuals who were involved from the beginning of a project. He added that the employer and employees should also be equally held responsible if a project fails.

ACC officials pointed out that corruption is caused because of weak accountability, unfair practices, dishonesty, undue influence, poor supervision, monitoring and enforcement.

These would include abuse of authority, bribery, bid rigging, failure to declare conflict of interest and trading of influence among others.

Another contractor said that the related stakeholders must work together to solve problems related to providing tender to the lowest bidder. “Government officials themselves are aware that the lowest bidder will either compromise on the quality or have issues with the banks and in the worst case abandon the work.”

He added that the tender is provided to the lowest bidder and sometimes it is impossible to work with the given budget.

The meeting recommended to develop guidelines for contract implementation, supervision and monitoring, implement gift rule, train engineers and contractors on ethics and integrity, and engage community for monitoring and assessment of farm and gewog centre roads, among others.

The survey conducted to provide recommendations to enhance efficiency, accountability and transparency in road construction would be further discussed with other stakeholders before it is published.

The four-day general meeting and construction fair ended yesterday.

Phurpa Lhmao