Bhutan targets to make it to the 20th position in the global corruption perception index by 2020.

The target is a jump by five ranks from the existing rank among 180 countries.

As Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI) and Gelephu observed the International Anti-Corruption day in Gelephu yesterday, discussions were held if the target is achievable or not.

Executive director of BTI, Pema Lhamo, said the answer to it lies within everyone. “It depends on how prepared we are to challenge corruption and how willing we are to say ‘No’ to corruption.”

She said the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has made significant progress in the fight against corruption.

“The number of backlog cases has reduced significantly, investigation and prosecution has been more effective and preventive measures have been mainstreamed in the development agenda of the plan document, Pema Lhamo said.

She said Bhutan has made a tremendous advancement in combating corruption and has come a long way. “However, responding to the challenges of fast-evolving time and context requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders.”

The executive director said that as a civil society organisation, BTI has already made efforts to complement the efforts of the ACC and has generated a national corruption perception report, a citizen report card on the 11th Plan and government to citizen (G2C) services.

“On the part of BTI, we’re daring and venturing to expose corruption slowly but tactfully,” she said.

In a move towards strengthening the voice of the mass against corruption, BTI will soon begin implementing a project on ‘Amplying the voice of women’ in Zhemgang and Sarpang.

Sarpang dzongdag, Karma Galay, said that at the local level, the recent reforms such as introduction of service delivery standards and icitisation of delivery of public services have reduced the turnaround time and interfaces between the service deliver and the recipients.

He said such reforms have brought about significant impacts in reducing corruption at local level. “As much as we made tremendous headway, we still have a long way to go,” he said. “ACC alone can’t fight corruption. We need all agencies, both public and private to come forward and support ACC.”

The resident coordinator of United Nations (UN), Gerald Daly, who attended the event spelt out three key messages to the people of Gelephu – preserve honesty that is deep in our culture, the importance of ‘Sem-dha No-Sam Thing-go’ and keep investing today in anti-corruption so we can keep harvesting tomorrow.

“As much as possible, we the UN wish to look for ways to do holistic development and this often looks like combining heart and kind thinking with action,” he said.

The BTI launched its advocacy and legal advice programme, which aims to bring justice closer to the public.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu