Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has found no corruption practices related to quarantine facility management and allocation in Phuentsholing.

The investigation was started back in August after the commission received complaints of alleged bribery against hoteliers, who are the quarantine facility service providers, and those officials who were allocating the services.

“It was alleged that the officials managing the quarantine facilities were accepting and demanding bribes. It was also alleged that certain hotels were given undue preference over others,” an ACC official said.

The official said that all the people and hotels that served as quarantine facilities were investigated.

The ACC official said that the investigation reviewed and analysed the bank statements of those suspected to have been involved in bribery.

A total of 44 hotels under Phuentsholing Thromde were investigated.

“Our team also visited all the hotels, including those that were delisted as quarantine facility service providers after the Delta Variant transmission was reported,” he said, adding that the procedures for allocating the quarantine services were also investigated. “However, none of the hoteliers and officials was aware of such corrupt practices. There was also no corruption.”

The ACC also found that the hotels were following all the standard health protocols and guidelines. Quarantine facilities have a well-developed system.

The ACC also found that all the hotels were given equal opportunities and that there were no suspected differences in their income.

Sources say that the complaints could have been made by those hoteliers who were delisted from the quarantine service providers’ list after the Delta Variant cases emerged in the town.

The ACC official said that they are still investigating the quarantine facility.

After the first Covid-19 positive case in the country, the government has invested about Nu 187.59 million (M) in Phuentsholing.

Due to repeated lockdowns, records show that more than 8,000 people have left Phuentsholing. However, it also includes those people who have left Phuentsholing temporarily and officially and have returned.

During the last lockdown in Phuentsholing, which lasted about four months, many Phuentsholing residents raised concerns that they did not get quarantine facility services for months and questioned the transparency.

The ACC is also investigating alleged corruption practices at the Mini Dry Port (MDP) and truck parking (temporary) port in Phuentsholing.

Officials and staff from law enforcement agencies and private agencies are being investigated. A few have been even detained for interrogation, confirmed the ACC.

Along with bribery, corrupt practices such as import of contraband items and Indian Rupee repatriation are also being investigated, sources said.

A total of 24 ACC officials are working on this investigation, which the ACC has termed as “unprecedented and complicated.”

The investigation is expected to be concluded only by December.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk