Dechen Dolkar  

Complaints to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) dropped by 24 percent last year compared to 2019 according to the commission’s annual report is due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

During the 18-month reporting period, the ACC received 451 complaints and complaints against abuse of the functions in the area of resources topped the list with 150 complaints. 

National Council Good Governance Committee (GGC) presented the annual report for 2020-2021 yesterday to the House.

Presenting the report, GGC committee member MP Lhatu said that of 451 complaints, 241 were from anonymous sources and the remaining 210 complaints were from known sources. 

“Out of 451 complaints received, only 289 complaints warranted further action,” Lhatu said.

Fifty complaints were on abuse of functions in the area of resources followed by 33 complaints related to contracts, another 18 in natural resources and 17 more related to personnel. 

Of the total, 42 qualified for investigation, 74 assigned for Information Enrichment, 117 shared for action, 59 shared for sensitisation and 162 dropped.

From January 2020-June 2021, there were 37 backlogs complaints. To date, there are 96 complaints, which are yet to be assigned for investigation.

The report states that abuse of functions by public servants have been the most alleged corruption offence. “Despite various efforts made by the ACC in promoting integrity and fixing accountability, the issue of abuse of functions tops the lists of corruption-related complaints.”

Lhatu said that gewog administrations had the highest number of complaints (92) followed by ministries with 50 complaints and dzongkhag administrations with 24 complaints.

Gewogs of Paro, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang received the highest number of complaints. 

The high rate of complaints of abuse of functions in the Local Government (LGs) is attributed to the size of the LG functionaries and it called for more education and awareness programmes. 

The GGC committee recommended that ACC create awareness on the need to follow the model code of conduct and avert the risk of agencies developing and using their own models.

Similarly, the report also states that abuse of functions especially among LG officials is reported as the highest form of corruption almost every year.

In the past, the National Council recommended the ACC to target vulnerable groups for any corruption mitigation programs or training. Given the limited financial and human resources, such training must be institutionalised within the LG institutions and made sustainable so that when the members complete their term and leave office, the administration is in a position to transfer the knowledge to new members.

Therefore, it is recommended that the ACC explore a systematic process that would help institutionalize any ACC related training and programmes within the LG institutions for sustainability. 

Among the ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests had most number of complaints it followed by education and works and human settlement ministries had 

The highest number of complaints received by the ACC pertained to occurrence in Thimphu and least pertained to Lhuentse. 

Edited by Tshering Palden