Bhutan is the sixth least corrupt country in the Asia-Pacific region

Integrity: The ratification of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) by the Parliament recently is a milestone for Bhutan in following international best practices when it comes to fighting corruption.

The UN Deputy Resident Representative Niamh Collier-Smith lauded Bhutan’s ratification of the convention yesterday in Thimphu at a function organized to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day. “This is a milestone to ensure that Bhutan’s anti-corruption legal frameworks are in line with international good practice.”

Themed “Break the Corruption Chain”, the day serves as an occasion to raise awareness on corruption issues and to promote anti-corruption programmes worldwide.

She said the focus now should be on keeping Bhutan’s momentum and recognizing the emerging risks to integrity facing the country. “The ACC has been instrumental not only in exposing corruption but also in establishing accountability and ethics,” she said.

She also spoke about the UN-supported “My World Survey”, which asked people around the world to vote for issues they think are the most important to them in order of priority.

Since its launch in 2013, a total of 8.5 million people voted in the global survey, of which 2,600 are from Bhutan. She said 55 percent of the Bhutanese respondents (aged from 16 to 30 years) wanted “an honest and responsive government.”

She said Bhutan is making steady progress in the Transparency International’s corruption perception index (CPI). Since Bhutan’s inclusion, Bhutan’s ranking has improved from 49th in 2009 to 30th least corrupt countries in 2014 out of 177 countries.

In the Asia-Pacific, she said, Bhutan is the 6th least corrupt country. Bhutan Transparency Initiative also organized a debate to create awareness on corruption. Speakers said it was every citizen’s responsibility to fight and report corruption.

One of the reasons for corruption, they pointed out was the unemployment situation and inadequate salaries of civil servants. They also said that corruption was more rampant in urban areas than in rural Bhutan.

Globally, Niamh Collier-Smith said the judiciary is perceived as the most corruption-prone sector after police. Corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion cost about US $1.26 trillion for developing countries a year, she said citing a UN document.

MB Subba