RIGSS: As business grows, it will become powerful, and as it becomes powerful, its influence will expand. With corrupt practices already in the country, there is a growing need of caution in the private sector.

This was what Malaysia’s Trident Integrity Solution’s (TIS) chief executive officer Dr Mark Lovatt said while discussing the “Introduction to Bhutan Private Sector Integrity Programme” yesterday during the launch of Business Integrity Portal and training on Business Code of Conduct Royal Institute of Government Strategic Studies (RIGSS) in Phuentsholing.

The launchings and discussions were organized coinciding with the 12th International Anti-Corruption Day.

“As private sector has a key role to play, and as Bhutan develops as an economic country, do you think the way business is done will have a significant impact on the culture of the country?” Dr Mark Lovatt asked. “Without doubt, the answer is yes.”

Citing examples of corrupt incidences that recently had occurred in Phuentsholing, including the Dagapela highway, the TIS CEO mentioned corruption works could be very profitable.

“Bhutan is in a very strategic position and at a very critical moment in the development,” he said.

Dr Mark Lovatt said that India being close, Bhutan might pick up bad habits of corruption from the neighbouring country, which in the long run was extremely bad for the country. India, he said was not well known for its best practices.

“The good news is we can stop it,” Dr Mark Lovatt said. “And we can lead the private sector into the direction it has to go.”

He also said that Malaysia, despite many advantages still struggled to earn a national GDP of USD 10,000 a year a head. Singapore’s GDP per annum, on the other hand, was USD 33,000, despite few advantages.

However, Dr Mark Lovatt said Bhutan would be in the top 10 economies in the world for growth in 2016 with a predicted growth of 7.1 percent, according to the economic 2016 forecast.

Economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk who was the chief guest at the launch said economic engagement is a new phenomenon in Bhutanese society.

Lyonpo said the takes in the economy is enticing and the weak can fall prey to this enticement of the economic goals. “This is something we need to be extremely cautious about because the examples we all see around us can be lucrative in the short term, maybe lucrative to individuals, but nation as a whole stand to lose,” lyonpo said.

Summoning a police personnel from his security team onstage, lyonpo narrated stories of the policeman refusing numerous bribes offered while on duty at Tanalung checkpost.

Mentioning to learn from the example of police personnel, Jigme Norzang, lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk told to the crowd to go collectively against corruption.

“Many say there is no silver bullet to hydra headed corruption challenges but I think the silver bullet is that we resist being corrupt and we do not tolerate corruption in others,” he said.

Meanwhile, the integrity portal that was launched will serve as a website, which forms the focal point of the business integrity program in Bhutan, including a repository of signatories for the Corporate Integrity Pledge, updates for companies, information on events, and functional tools for self-assessment.

Such portal will provide a platform for the private sector in enriching their knowledge in doing ethical business and hence strengthening their market outreach in the region and abroad.

The training on code of conduct is expected to strengthen the national safeguards against corruption, by introducing best-practice private sector integrity measures to the Bhutan business environment.

Rajesh Rai, Phuentsholing