Recommends Transparency International for the ACC to clear backlogs and maintain independence

ACC: Delinking from the Royal Civil Service Commission is one of the solutions to address the shortage of human resources in the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

This is one of the recommendations of Transparency International (TI) to improve the functioning of the ACC. Delinking the ACC is expected to grant full operational autonomy over the commission’s staff and enable it carry out its own recruitment strategy.

The shortage of human resources has caused a backlog of investigations for the ACC.

The assessment echoes ACC’s long-standing plea for autonomy or complete independence over finance and personnel administration. Earlier this year, the ACC also wrote to the Speaker requesting the parliament to discuss the autonomy issue but the National Assembly rejected it.

However, foreign minister Damcho Dorji said there is no need for the ACC to be delinked from the RCSC. Lyonpo was also present at the launch of the ACC assessment report.

Lyonpo said it is natural for people to leave their jobs in the ACC due to occupational hazards. “But once jobs become scarce, the human resources issues in the ACC would be naturally resolved,” he said, adding that he does not believe that there is an acute shortage of human resource in the commission. “The ACC is already an autonomous institution,” he said.

The Constitution states that the ACC is an “independent authority” which can take necessary steps to prevent and combat corruption in the Kingdom.

Discussions over delinking the ACC have been going on for years but the parliament is yet to adopt any resolution towards that end. The report states there are good and sound arguments behind both the positions of the government and the ACC. “But a decision needs to be made to prevent the issue from dragging out the new commission’s work,” it states.

The other option to address the human resource shortage is to maintain the current system with more power for the ACC with respect to its human resources needs. If ACC is not delinked, it is paramount to have the RCSC and the parliament plan out a strategy for addressing human resource needs and urgently, in concurrence with the ACC.

Should ACC be given independence with respect to its human resources needs, the report recommends that the RCSC create a new functional management group under the civil service for all staff of the Royal Audit Authority (RAA), the ACC and the Office of Attorney General (OAG). The RCSC or the ACC should then produce a financial and strategic plan that identifies financial needs, environmental constraints and specific recruitment targets.

It is recommended that efforts be made by the parliament and the government to determine the fluctuating needs for legal and prosecutorial expertise in the ACC, ensuring there are enough resident prosecutors to facilitate collaboration with the OAG and ultimately enable the ACC to directly prosecute in relief of the OAG.

The report also states that need-based financial requests by the commission should not be denied, for which the public financial management practices should be revised. In the past two years, this requirement has been disregarded, the assessment found.

This requirement is cited as critical because the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC), which has financed a significant proportion of the ACC budget, is implementing an exit strategy.

The incumbent commissioners and chairperson must decisively and definitely address the problems, according to the report.

Meanwhile, on the report calling for transparency in the nomination process of chairperson and commissioners of the ACC, Lyonpo Damhco Dorji said that the manner in which they are nominated are constitutionally correct.

“That is how the nomination of chairperson and commissioners are indented by the Constitution,” he said. A committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Speaker, the Chairperson of the National Council, the Opposition Leader and the Chief Justice of Supreme Court nominate the post holders, who Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said are the most trusted.

MB Subba