In a step towards preventing, educating and investigating allegations of corrupt practices, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Construction Development Board (CDB) in Thimphu yesterday.

CDB would be entrusted with the primary responsibility to regulate and promote a fair, competitive, quality-based and corruption-free construction industry.

The MoU is expected to encourage strong partnership to prevent and combat corruption and work in cooperation and collaboration between CDB and ACC to foster good governance.

CDB’s director, Phub Rinzin, said the signing of MoU was an important tool to prevent corruption in the construction industry and to cut short the administrative procedure in accessing information with CDB.

“This will send a strong message to all the procuring agencies and contractors against misuse of e-tool system during tender evaluation, submission of forged documents like CVs, certificates and bank guarantees, among others,” Phub Rinzin said. “It will also help prevent malpractices and alert procuring agencies and contractors to be cautious.”

Some of the objectives of the MoU are to establish and strengthen cooperation between the parties by setting framework and assistance for exchange of information, develop policy and procedures for the use of the e-Zotin (electronic evaluation tool), and sharing information and registration data related to construction industry.

According to the MoU, the CDB would institutionalise integrity and anti-corruption measures within the board with assistance and guidance from the ACc, and refer construction related cases to the commission.

“This MoU will also promote ethics and integrity within the CDB secretariat, while providing the public service delivery and regulating and monitoring construction firms and sites. With this, we look forward to work together to prevent and combat corruption in the construction,” Phub Rinzin said.

He added that 60 percent of the 11th Plan outlay is allocated for procurement, of which, about 80 percent accounts for construction projects. There are currently 4,038 contractors and 1,307 engineers, of which 354 are non-Bhutanese. According to the records, there are 2,645 earth moving equipment.

“Most public construction projects are characterised by 64 percent time overrun,84 percent cost overrun, and sub-standard quality,” Phub Rinzin said. “There is high probability of corruption in the sector.”

Total of 43 arbitration cases were reported between 2015 and 2017, which involved  Nu 1 billion in the arbitration of disputes.

Only one case was referred to ACC after arbitration.

ACC’s chairperson, Kinley yangzom, said that the MoU provided ACC with access to online database and CDB was one of the few agencies that willingly shared their database, which is critical for ACC to fight corruption. “We can get access to information by law from agencies, but CDB provided the data immediately. We’re working on accessing information from other agencies like database pertaining to citizenship, census, and properties.”

The commission received about 305 complaints in 2017.

Yangchen C Rinzin